A Look Back at Recent Red Sox Home Openers at Fenway Park

Thursday was supposed to be Opening Day at Fenway Park for the Red Sox. They were scheduled to take on the Chicago White Sox in the first of a three-game series at approximately 2:05 PM EDT.

Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected millions across the country and the globe has pushed back the start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season for the foreseeable future.

In these times, baseball should take a backseat to more pressing issues we are all facing, but not having the comfort and distraction sports can provide over these past few weeks has certainly been odd.

So, since Thursday was supposed to be the first game played at Fenway Park this year, I thought it would be interesting to look back at some memorable Fenway Opening Day moments in recent years starting with the 2013 home opener. Let’s get to it.

April 8th, 2013: Red Sox 3, Orioles 1

Daniel Nava provided the only offense the Sox needed in this one to secure their fifth win of the year.

Going into their half of the seventh inning having yet to really muster anything offensively, Nava came through big time in his third trip to the plate against Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, as he took the left-hander deep to left off a 1-1, 91 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate to drive in both Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli to make it a three-run contest.

Former Sox closer Joel Hanrahan wound up giving one of those runs back on an Adam Jones leadoff homer in the ninth, but the right-hander held on to notch his third save of the season in what would turn out to be a 3-1 victory for Boston.

This took place exactly one week before the Boston Marathon bombings, and as we already know, the 2013 season that ended in a World Series title was a very emotional one for the Red Sox.

April 4th, 2014: Brewers 6, Red Sox 2

Speaking of World Series titles, the Red Sox received their 2013 World Series rings on this day in 2014.

Will Middlebrooks also homered in this contest, although Boston would eventually be swept by Milwaukee in their first three home games of the year in what would turn out to be a mostly forgettable title defense.

April 13th, 2015: Red Sox 9, Nationals 4

Coming off a solid 4-2 road trip in Philadelphia and New York to begin the season, the new-look Red Sox got the home portion of their 2015 schedule off with a bang against Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals.

In his first home start as a member of the Red Sox, right-hander Rick Porcello provided Boston with eight solid innings of work while Mookie Betts and David Ortiz both went deep.

Speaking of Betts, the now-four-time All-Star was just getting his career started at this point in time.

Fresh off making his first career big-league Opening Day roster, the 22-year-old swiped second and third base in consecutive order against Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann right away in the bottom half of the first inning. He also collected four RBI in addition to mashing his second homer of the season.

The Red Sox improved to 5-2 with the five-run victory over the Nats, and they looked like a team poised to bounce back from a last-place finish in 2014. That did not happen though, and come October, the Sox finished in the basement of the American League East for the third time in the past four seasons.

April 11th, 2016: Orioles 9, Red Sox 7

The sixth game of the Red Sox’ 2016 campaign marked David Price’s first start at Fenway Park since inking a then-record-setting seven-year, $217 million deal with Boston the previous December.

Unlike his Red Sox debut in Cleveland, where he fanned 10 over six two-run innings, Price struggled in his first start home, as he yielded five runs, all of which came in the top half of the third for Baltimore, over five innings of work.

Betts did impress once again though, as the 23-year-old plated a pair of runs on a solo homer and RBI single.

Ortiz, meanwhile, also shined in what was his final Opening Day as a member of the Red Sox, which was commemorated with a special pregame ceremony and his daughter, Alex, singing the National Anthem.

 

April 3rd, 2017: Red Sox 5, Pirates 3

While many expected the newly-acquired Chris Sale to get the Opening Day nod, ex-Sox manager John Farrell went with Rick Porcello, who was coming off winning his first Cy Young Award the year before.

Porcello was solid, racking up five strikeouts while surrendering three runs over 6 1/3 quality innings of work.

Offensively, all five of Boston’s runs came in their half of the fifth inning, with Pablo Sandoval and Dustin Pedroia plating a pair of runs on a pair of RBI singles and rookie outfielder Andrew Benintendi, fresh off making his first Opening Day roster, driving in three on a three-run blast to right off Pirates ace Gerrit Cole.

Benintendi would wind up finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting behind Yankees slugger Aaron Judge in 2017.

April 5th, 2018: Red Sox 3, Rays 2 in 12 innings

The only extra-innings game on here wound up in a one-run win for the Red Sox to open up the home portion of their 2018 schedule.

David Price contributed to the cause by hurling seven scoreless frames against his former team, while Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts came through with a pair of run-scoring knocks off Alex Colome in the ninth to make extra innings possible in the first place.

Fast forward all the way to the 12th, and Ramirez delivered in the clutch once more, this time coming to the plate with one out and the bases loaded against Ryan Yarbrough and plating Jackie Bradley Jr. from third on an RBI single to right field.

The Red Sox’ first walk-off victory of the season improved their record to 6-1 and they really wouldn’t have to look back en route to capturing their ninth World Series title that October.

April 9th, 2019: Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 5

Finally, we arrive at the most recent home opener. Another one in which the Red Sox received their World Series rings on what was an otherwise dreary day at Fenway Park.

Things did not get much better after the ceremony though, as Chris Sale surrendered five runs over four innings to eventually fall to 0-3 through his first three starts of the season.

Mitch Moreland and Mookie Betts did both homer, but at the end of the day, the Red Sox fell to 3-9 on the season and they never really were able to recover from that sluggish start despite finishing with a winning record.

So, there you have it. A nice look back at the last seven Opening Days at Fenway Park. Hopefully the next one will happen sooner rather than later.

Red Sox’ Chris Sale Undergoes Successful Tommy John Surgery in Los Angeles

Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale has undergone successful Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, industry sources have told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

The typical recovery time from this procedure is anywhere between 14 to 15 months, so Sale will likely be out of commission until sometime around June 2021 at the earliest.

The Red Sox announced that Sale, who turned 31 on Monday, would undergo Tommy John surgery on March 19th, six days after he began throwing again and felt more discomfort in his left elbow following a brief session outside that following Tuesday.

Per Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, Sale had experienced enough pain then to shut things down once more, and “the decision after that became clear.”

Since the club announced that the Florida native would be undergoing Tommy John, things had been relatively quiet surrounding the matter before Monday. That is mostly due to the fact that many states have put limitations on elective procedures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting healthcare facilities across the country.

As Speier notes in the attached article above, “Among the doctors who have stopped performing Tommy John procedures in response to the pandemic is Dr. James Andrews. An Andrews Institute spokesperson said on Monday that the institute had suspended elective procedures, including Tommy John.”

The Red Sox themselves just announced via Twitter that Sale’s procedure to repair his left UCL was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, CA, so there’s that.

Entering the first year of the five-year, $145 million extension he signed with Boston last March, Sale is set to earn approximately $30 million in 2020.

Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez Celebrates MLB’s Opening Day at Home by Gaming

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez was more than likely going to make his first career Opening Day start against the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon. Instead, he, like the rest of Major League Baseball players, staff, and executives, is currently sitting at home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has pushed back the start of the 2020 season by several weeks.

That did not stop the soon-to-be-27-year-old from suiting up in full uniform though, as he took to social media to promote MLB’s ‘Opening Day at Home’ initiative that encouraged fans on Thursday to ‘feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to, while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.’

An avid gamer and streamer, Rodriguez posted a video of himself on Instagram and Twitter putting on a gaming headset and tossing a PS4 controller up and down like a baseball with the caption, “When you don’t want to get out of the routine but you only have video games #OpeningDay #StayatHome.”

Recently, Rodriguez has been streaming Fortnite online with Xander Bogaerts, Xander’s brother Jair, and former Red Sox outfielder Gorkys Hernandez.

You can follow Rodriguez on Twitch here. His PlayStation Network ID is ‘thegualo’, although he has yet to accept my friend request.

Bogaerts’ PSN ID is ‘thebogiestud2.’ He, too, has not accepted my friend request.

UPDATE: Rodriguez is now streaming online with Dustin Pedroia. You can watch that here.

Red Sox Minor-Leaguer Tests Positive for COVID-19, Club Shuts Down Fenway South Complex for at Least Two Weeks

A Red Sox minor-league player has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Tuesday night.

Per a team spokesman, that player tested positive and received the results of the test on Monday, eight days after he had last been at the Red Sox’ facility in Fort Myers.

That player is now recovering and “doing well” at home, and the Red Sox believe that it is “more likely” he contracted COVID-19 upon departing from Fort Myers last week.

With this news though, the Fenway South complex will now be shut down for at least the next two weeks, effective immediately. During that time, the facility, JetBlue Park included, will undergo a deep cleaning.

Some Red Sox players were still using the facilities at Fenway South to continue their workouts even after spring training was suspended by Major League Baseball. Those players will now have to find somewhere else to work out.

The Red Sox also advised any player or staff member who came into contact with the aforementioned minor-leaguer who tested positive for the virus to self-quarantine for the next two weeks.

Although this Red Sox minor-leaguer has yet to be identified, he is now the third known professional baseball player to test positive for COVID-19 after two Yankees minor-leaguers tested positive earlier in the month.

Red Sox Social Media Team Gets Creative in Promoting Social Distancing

In the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that has seemingly shut down the sports world, the Red Sox got creative in promoting something we should all be doing during this time: social distancing.

Yes, across the three major social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter –the Red Sox changed their avatar/profile picture to what you see in the tweet above, which features the two “hanging Sox’ of the club’s primary logo being separated by an inch or two and the caption ‘#NewSociallyDistantProfilePic.’

This comes around the same time the Sox changed their bio on Twitter to ‘Wash your hands’ and on Instagram to ‘Official IG of the Boston Red Sox. Pls wash your hands.’

Per the Red Sox’ 2020 media guide, Maria Schroeder is the team’s social media coordinator. I can’t say for sure if this was solely her idea, but it is ingenious nonetheless.

The Salem Red Sox, the High-A affiliate of Boston, followed suit by changing their Twitter avatar and Instagram profile picture as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social distancing can best be defined as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”

The CDC also recommended last week that no gatherings of 50 or more people should take place for the next eight weeks. A recommendation that Major League Baseball rightfully complied with, meaning the start of the 2020 season will be pushed back even further than initially anticipated.

If you want to learn more about COVID-19, here’s a helpful link from the CDC.

Red Sox Should Wear Red Alternate Jerseys on the Road in 2020

When baseball does finally return this year, the Red Sox should try something new and wear their red alternate jerseys on the road. It would look something like this:

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

I say this because before spring training games were suspended last week, the Sox wore their red tops with their grey pants for every single game away from JetBlue Park, and quite honestly, I thought it was a sharp look.

From what I recall, I don’t think the Red Sox have ever wore their red tops on the road during the regular season or postseason. That look is typically reserved for Friday night home games or a doubleheader at Fenway Park.

The same goes for the navy blue tops as well in that they are reserved for Friday night games on the road.

But, as recently as the 2018 postseason, that pattern seemed to cease under former manager Alex Cora, who appeared to let whoever that day’s starting pitcher was choose which jersey to wear. A prime example of this is how Eduardo Rodriguez went with the red or blue tops for the majority of the 34 starts he made last year.

Another factor here is that the red tops the Red Sox wore during spring training this year included the player’s last names on the back unlike the alternate home jerseys they have worn in years past.

That may be the case becuase Nike is the new uniform provider for Major League Baseball, but according to MLBShop.com, it looks like the Sox’ red alternates will not include last names once again.

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They could still wear these at home, but why not go with the spring training version for regular season games on the road in 2020? Sure, the front of the jersey would read ‘Red Sox’ opposed to ‘Boston’, but in today’s day and age, I don’t think that matters as much anymore.

Wearing red on the road would provide the Red Sox with a new look, which makes perfect sense since the 2020 team will surely be deemed ‘the new-look Red Sox’ to at least begin the season.

Major League Baseball Places Temporary Ban on All Scouting Activity

Major League Baseball is temporarily prohibiting all scouting activity on both the domestic and international level, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Per Rosenthal, no public or private tryouts will be permitted, while amateur games, showcases, workouts, and in-home or in-person visits are off limits as well. This has been done because Major League Baseball “does not want any clubs seeking a scouting advantage over any other.”

With the amateur draft set to take place from June 10th through the 12th, it appears that the league is trying to be as cautious as possible in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

The draft, which had been done at MLB Network’s studious in Secaucus, New Jersey since 2009, was set to take place in Omaha, Nebraska, the host city of the annual College World Series, this year.

But, with the NCAA announcing last Thursday that all remaining winter and spring championships had been cancelled due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, that went for the College World Series as well.

Although nothing has been made official yet, it doesn’t make too much sense anymore to hold the amateur draft in Omaha when nothing will be going on there by the time June rolls around.

In this case, though, the logistics of when and where the draft will take place are not all that important. It’s the events leading up to the event that I am now more interested in.

Why is that? Because with high school and collegiate athletics seemingly being shut down across the country, MLB clubs no longer have the chance to scout and evaluate potential targets after sending their scouts back home.

Of course, these same teams are diligent in the pre-draft process and presumably already have plenty of information on plenty of prospects from previous seasons.

But, as Tigers general manager Al Avila told The Athletic’s Keith Law, “The unfortunate part is if you had the rest of March/April/May, there’s some players you may have not liked, didn’t have as high, all of a sudden they had a really good spring to elevate them, and some players maybe would have fallen a little bit. it doesn’t happen that drastically that many times, (but) we can only go on the information we have now.”

If the draft does still take place in June, and some executives suggested to Law that it be pushed back, it would be interesting to see how teams approach it given the reality that it really is just a crapshoot that also involves millions in signing bonuses.

Narrowing things down to just the first round of the draft, the Red Sox have had a diversified approach of taking both high school and college players with their first selection in recent years.

Of course, former University of Arizona infielder Cameron Cannon was Boston’s first pick in 2019 despite being drafted in the second round. That was related to luxury tax penalties from 2018.

This year, the Sox are set to make their first selection with the 17th overall pick in what will be Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Boston’s chief baseball officer. This is not to say that Bloom is solely responsible for draft preparations, but I would assume that he has final say in who the team drafts over that three-day span in June, or whenever it takes place.