Red Sox make Masataka Yoshida signing official, designate Jeter Downs for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida to a five-year contract that runs through the 2027 season, the club announced on Thursday. In order to make room for Yoshida on the 40-man roster, infielder Jeter Downs was designated for assignment.

Yoshida, 29, agreed to a five-year, $90 million deal with the Red Sox last week — just hours after he was posted by the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball — and was introduced to the media at Fenway Park on Thursday afternoon. Boston also paid Orix a $15.375 million posting fee for Yoshida’s services, which takes the total value of the club’s investment to over $105 million.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Yoshida received a $13 million signing bonus from the Red Sox and will earn $15 million in 2023 before earning $18 million per year from 2024 through 2027. The deal does not contain any performance bonuses, team options, or opt-out clauses and is the second-largest contract Chaim Bloom has given out since taking over as Boston’s chief baseball officer in October 2019. Only the six-year, $140 million deal that Trevor Story signed back in March surpasses it.

A native of Fukui, Yoshida initially broke in with Orix in 2016 and spent the last seven seasons playing at Japan’s top level. In 2022, the left-handed hitter batted a stout .335/.447/.561 with 28 doubles, one triple, 21 home runs, 88 RBIs, 56 runs scored, four stolen bases, 80 walks, and just 41 strikeouts over 119 games (508 plate appearances). For his NPB career, he is a lifetime .327/.421/.539 hitter who hit 133 homers and collected 467 RBIs in 762 games with the Buffaloes.

Yoshida has drawn more walks than strikeouts in each of the last four seasons and is well-regarded for his plate discipline. With that kind of approach, he could profile best as Boston’s leadoff hitter or even as a middle-of-the-lineup option in 2023.

Defensively, Yoshida figures to see the majority of his playing time with the Red Sox come in left field. There are some question marks surrounding the 5-foot-8, 176-pounder’s range and arm strength, but he could always be an option to fill in at designated hitter when needed.

Yoshida, who turns 30 in July, will wear the No. 7 with the Red Sox. He becomes the first position player and the fourth overall free agent signing Boston has made this winter, joining the likes of relievers Joely Rodriguez, Chris Martin, and Kenley Jansen.

Downs, on the other hand, was one of three players — along with Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong — acquired from the Dodgers in the February 2020 trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles. The native Colombian came into the Red Sox organization as one of its top prospects but has since seen his stock fall significantly.

After the 2020 minor-league season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Downs began the 2021 campaign with Triple-A Worcester. The right-handed hitter batted just .191/272/.333 with 14 home runs and 39 RBIs in 99 games (405 plate appearances) with the WooSox, but showed signs of promise in the Arizona Fall League and was added to Boston’s 40-man roster last November.

Downs returned to Worcester this spring and slashed .197/.316/.412 with 16 home runs and 33 RBIs over 81 games (335 plate appearances). The 24-year-old made his major-league debut in June but managed to go just 6-for-39 (.154) at the plate with one double and one homer while striking out 21 times. He was sent down in late July and then suffered a season-ending left ankle sprain at Polar Park on August 18.

Despite the offensive struggles he has endured at both the Triple-A and big-league level, it is still somewhat surprising to see the Red Sox designate Downs for assignment. As noted by Cotillo, the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder is seen as a competent middle infielder who possesses both speed and power. While the rate at which he swings-and-misses is concerning, Downs does have two minor-league options remaining and could therefore appeal to other clubs.

The Red Sox, for their part, will have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Downs. If he clears waivers, Boston can outright him to Triple-A and keep him in the organization as a non-40-man roster player.

(Picture of Masataka Yoshida: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox keeping 7:10 p.m. as standard start time for Fenway Park night games in 2023

The Red Sox will keep 7:10 p.m. as their standard first pitch time for weekday home games at Fenway Park, according to The Eagle-Tribune’s Mac Cerullo.

A team spokesperson confirmed to Cerullo on Tuesday that the club’s default start times for the 2023 season will be 7:10 p.m. on weekdays, 4:10 p.m. on Saturdays, and 1:35 p.m. on Sundays, just as they were in 2021 and 2022.

There are still a number of games with start times to be determined, but the Red Sox are planning on trying out an earlier 6:10 p.m. start time for at least three midweek night games next season, per Cerullo. Those will happen against the Blue Jays on Thursday, May 4, against the Marlins on Thursday, June 29, and against the Rays on Wednesday, September 27. All three of those games will take place before the start of a road trip.

The Red Sox also plan on hosting two midweek, non-holiday games that will start at 1:35 p.m. The first will come against the Pirates on Wednesday, April 5, and the second will come against the Twins on Thursday, April 20. Both of those contests fall on getaway days as well.

As far as holiday games are concerned, Boston will be hosting the Angels on Patriots’ Day (April 17), the Cardinals on Mother’s Day (May 14), the Yankees on Father’s Day (June 18), and the Rangers on Independence Day (July 4).

The decision for the Red Sox to keep start times the same as they have been comes at a time when other clubs across Major League Baseball have elected to do the opposite. The Rays, for instance, experimented with a 6:40 p.m. start time for the majority of their home games at Tropicana Field this past season and will keep things the same in 2023.

Clubs have begun starting night games earlier in an effort to keep fans at the ballpark for entire games. Team president and CEO Sam Kennedy acknowledged last month that the Red Sox were looking into a similar change after averaging the second-highest time of game (3 hours and 11 minutes) in the American League.

“We’re looking at start times in the context of what’s best for our fans, what’s best for the baseball operation,” Kennedy told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) at the club’s end-of-season press conference. “We’ve had lots of discussions with players and (Alex Cora) and his staff and baseball operations. We are looking at potentially some different start times next year.”

Though they ultimately decided against moving up the start time of weekday night games in 2023, the Red Sox are optimistic that MLB’s new pace-of-play initiatives (such as the pitch clock) will enhance the in-game viewing experience for fans beginning next season.

With that being said, the Red Sox are scheduled to open the 2023 campaign against the Orioles on March 30 at Fenway Park.

(Picture of Fenway Park: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox fan favorite Brock Holt retires from baseball

Former Red Sox fan favorite Brock Holt is calling it a career. The 34-year-old took to Instagram on Thursday afternoon to officially announce his retirement from baseball.

“Damn it that was fun,” Holt wrote. “For parts of 10 years I got to do the only thing I ever wanted to do…play Major League Baseball. Today I hang them up knowing I did the best I could for me, my family, and my teammates. I’m proud of every single second of it. If you were a part of it at any point…know that I love you and I am forever grateful! We had one hell of a ride.”

Originally selected by the Pirates in the ninth round of the 2009 amateur draft out of Rice University, Holt first broke in with Pittsburgh towards the tail end of the 2012 season. That December, he and veteran reliever Joel Hanrahan were traded to the Red Sox in exchange for four players, including Mark Melancon.

Holt would spend the next seven seasons in Boston, gradually establishing himself as a versatile and valuable utility player. In 2014, he finished eighth in American League Rookie of the Year voting. The following year, he hit for his first career cycle and made his first career All-Star team.

From 2016-2018, Holt helped the Red Sox win three straight American League East titles. During Boston’s memorable World Series run in 2018, the left-handed hitter hit for the first (and only) cycle in MLB postseason history in Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium.

In his seven seasons with the Red Sox, Holt played every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher. Off the field, the native Texan was Boston’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award on four separate occasions thanks in part to his work as the Red Sox’ Jimmy Fund captain.

After reaching free agency at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign, Holt signed a one-year deal with the Brewers the following February. But he was limited to just 16 games with Milwaukee during the COVID-shortened season before being designated for assignment that August. He finished the year with the Nationals and made his return to an empty Fenway Park later that summer.

Last February, Holt signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers and made the club’s Opening Day roster out of spring training. While his .579 OPS left much to be desired, he made one appearance as a pitcher against the Athletics on Aug. 7 and threw the slowest pitch to be called a strike in an MLB game since the league began tracking pitches in 2008. It was a 31.1 mph first-pitch eephus that got Josh Harrison looking.

Holt once again became a free agent last winter before inking a minors pact with the Braves in March. The deal included an invite to major-league spring training, but Holt ultimately asked for and was granted his release when he realized he was not going to make the team out of camp.

While Holt was unable to latch on with another club this past season, he did keep himself busy. In June, he paid a visit to Fenway Park to reconnect with some old teammates. In September, he was a part of NESN’s pre- and postgame coverage as a studio analyst while the Red Sox were in Cincinnati for a two-game series against the Reds.

Now that he has officially retired from playing baseball, Holt very well could be in NESN’s future plans for 2023 and beyond. As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the network has previously discussed bringing on Holt as part of its Red Sox coverage moving forward. Whether that coverage comes from the studio or broadcast booth has yet to be determined.

In the meantime, Holt is planning on running the Boston Marathon in 2023. He and his wife, Lakyn, will run to support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute next April.

All told, Holt steps away from the game as a veteran of 10 big-league seasons. He collected 621 career hits and clubbed 25 home runs over 751 total games between the Pirates, Red Sox, Brewers, Nationals, Rangers. A career .262 hitter, Holt’s accolades include one All-Star selection and two World Series championships in 2013 and 2018. He was also a well-respected teammate and is still to this day adored by Red Sox fans.

(Picture of Brock Holt: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez homers twice as Red Sox finish off sweep of Rays to close out 2022 season

The Red Sox closed out the 2022 season on Wednesday night by completing a three-game sweep of the Rays. Boston defeated Tampa Bay, 6-3, at Fenway Park to finish the year with a 78-84 record.

With left-hander Josh Fleming starting for the Rays, the Sox drew first blood right away in their half of the first inning. After Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts hit back-to-back one-out singles, Alex Verdugo grounded into a force out at second base.

That put runners at the corners with two outs for J.D. Martinez, who worked a full count before depositing a hanging sinker from Fleming 389 feet into the Red Sox bullpen for a three-run homer that gave his side an early 3-0 lead.

The Rays responded in their half of the third. After giving up a one-out single to Randy Arozarena, Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta served up a two-run home run to Ji-Man Choi that traveled 348 feet over the Green Monster and trimmed Boston’s deficit down to one run at 3-2.

Pivetta, making his 33rd and final start of the season for Boston, lasted just four innings due to a high pitch count of 103 (69 strikes). The right-hander yielded two runs on four hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night. He finishes the year with an ERA of 4.56 over 179 2/3 innings.

To break it down even further, Pivetta posted a 6.61 ERA in 16 starts against divisional opponents and a 2.95 ERA in 17 starts against all other teams. The 29-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision on Wednesday.

Shortly after Pivetta’s night had ended, Martinez got to Fleming again. This time around, the veteran slugger clubbed a 406-foot solo shot off the lefty that cleared the Green Monster in 4.9 seconds for his second big fly of the game and his 16th of the season.

Taking a 4-2 lead into the fifth, Eduard Bazardo received the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Bazardo worked his way around a leadoff walk and one-out double before handing things over to Matt Strahm, who faced the minimum in the sixth.

Ryan Brasier, meanwhile, recorded the first two outs of the seventh before yielding a 333-foot home run to Vidal Brujan that barely cleared the right field fence. It appeared as though Verdugo had come up with a tremendous over-the-shoulder catch on the other side of the wall, but he failed to come up with the ball cleanly as it wound up landing in the Red Sox bullpen.

Although the Rays again made it a one-run game, John Schreiber kept them off the board in the top of the eighth. The Sox then tacked on some important insurance runs in the bottom half when Triston Casas drew a bases-loaded walk off Jimmy Yacabonis and Christian Arroyo followed by ripping an RBI single to right field that brought in Yu Chang from third.

Now with a three-run lead in hand, Matt Barnes entered in the ninth and worked a 1-2-3 inning to secure the win and notch his eighth and final save of 2022.

Bogaerts, Martinez receive curtain calls

As Brasier warmed up before the start of the seventh inning, Chang came on to take over for Bogaerts at shortstop. Bogaerts, who is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free-agent this winter, received a standing ovation from the Fenway crowd. He tipped his cap to them as he left the field and was first greeted in front of the Red Sox dugout by Devers, who gave him a hug.

An inning later, Martinez — a pending free-agent himself — was pulled after he stepped up to the plate for what would have been his last at-bat of the season. He, too, received a standing ovation from the crowd and he raised his fist in response as Bogaerts greeted him. Connor Wong pinch-hit for Martinez.

In what might have been their final game as Red Sox teammates, Bogaerts and Martinez each went 2-for-3. Arroyo also enjoyed a multi-hit performance. On the other side of things, Bazardo earned the first win of his big-league career.

The final numbers

As previously mentioned, the Red Sox finish the 2022 campaign with a record of 78-84, good for last place in the American League East. Against divisional opponents specifically, Boston went 26-50. They went 43-38 at home and 35-46 on the road.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Tommy Pham scratched from Red Sox lineup

Tommy Pham was originally leading off and starting in left field for the Red Sox in their season finale against the Rays at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon. He was instead scratched from the lineup minutes before first pitch.

With Pham out, center fielder Enrique Hernandez moved from the six-hole to the leadoff spot while Abraham Almonte was inserted into the lineup as the No. 9 hitter and starting left fielder.

Acquired from the Reds for minor-league infielder Nick Northcut on the eve of the trade deadline, Pham has batted .234/.298/.374 with 12 doubles, six home runs, 24 RBIs, 32 runs scored, one stolen base, 14 walks, and 67 strikeouts in 53 games (235 plate appearances) with the Red Sox.

The right-handed hitting 34-year-old initially got off to a hot start to begin his tenure in Boston, as he clubbed four homers and posted an .812 OPS in 25 August contests. Since the calendar flipped to September, though, Pham has cooled off at the plate significantly and is slashing just .176/.268/.269 with two homers and nine RBIs over his last 28 games. He was in the midst of an 0-for-19 skid before being scratched on Wednesday.

Defensively, Pham has played exclusively left field for the Red Sox and has been quite good there. The 6-foot-1, 223-pounder has recorded eight outfield assists across 419 1/3 innings at the position. Combine that with the seven he notched with the Reds, and Pham finishes the year with a major-league-best 15 outfield assists.

When Pham signed his one-year, $6 million contract with Cincinnati back in March, it was reported at the time that the deal came with a $6 mutual option for 2023. According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, it is actually worth $12 million. If Boston declines its side of the option, Pham will be owed $1.5 million in the form of a buyout.

Pham, who turns 35 in March, would join a long list of pending Red Sox free-agents if his option is declined. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. already have plenty of decisions to make when it comes to the futures of Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts, who is expected to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract this winter and hit the open market for the first time in his career.

(Picture of Tommy Pham: Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts’ grand slam powers Red Sox to rain-shortened 6-0 win over Rays

On a misty Tuesday night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox secured a series victory over the Rays in their penultimate game of the season. Boston defeated Tampa Bay, 6-0, in a rain-shortened five innings to improve to 77-84 on the year.

With old friend Jeffrey Springs on the mound for the Rays, the Sox jumped out to an early lead in the second inning. Alex Verdugo drew a leadoff walk off the left-hander and moved up to second base on a two-out single from Eric Hosmer.

Christian Arroyo followed that sequence by taking the first pitch he saw from Springs and lifting a 169-foot single to shallow right field to drive in Verdugo for the first run of the night.

Fast forward to the fifth, with Springs already out of the game, and the Sox struck again off Colin Poche. Arroyo led off with a single and immediately moved up to third on a line-drive double from Connor Wong. As the lineup turned back over, Rafael Devers drew a one-out walk to bring Xander Bogaerts to the plate with the bases loaded.

Bogaerts came through by unloading on a hanging curveball from Poche and depositing it 421 feet over the Green Monster for his 15th home run of the season. The grand slam was the seventh from a Boston hitter this year and the seventh of Bogaerts’ career. It had an exit velocity of 110.6 mph and gave the Red Sox a 5-0 lead, though they were not done there.

After Poche left the game with an apparent injury, Brooks Raley came on for the Rays and walked two of the first three batters he faced. He then got Hosmer to hit a grounder towards Isaac Paredes at first base. Paredes fielded the ball cleanly, but Raley could not corral his underhanded toss as he attempted to cover the bag.

As a result of Raley’s misses catch error, J.D. Martinez was able to score all the way from second to make it a 6-0 contest in favor of the Sox. Moments after Martinez scored, the grounds crew took the field with the tarpaulin in tow and this game entered a delay at around 8:58 p.m. eastern time. Fifty-two minutes later, it was officially called.

Although the fifth inning was not played in full, the Red Sox were still credited with a 6-0 win since they were ahead in the bottom of the fifth. Nathan Eovaldi, meanwhile, was credited with a complete game shutout.

Making his final start of the season and perhaps his last start in a Red Sox uniform, Eovaldi allowed just two hits on two walks to go along with four strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work.

The veteran right-hander took a no-hitter into the third before giving up a two-out single to Jose Siri. He then stranded Siri by fanning Yandy Diaz on five pitches.

In the fourth, Eovaldi issued back-to-back walks to Wander Franco and Ji-Man Choi to lead off the inning. Franco moved up to third on an Isaac Paredes flyout, but Eovaldi escaped the jam by getting Jonathan Aranda to ground into an inning-ending 6-3 double play that was started by Bogaerts.

From there, Eovaldi worked his way around a two-out double from Taylor Walls in the fifth to ultimately notch his sixth winning decision of the season. The 32-year-old hurler finished with 64 pitches (40 strikes) while lowering his final ERA to 3.87.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Fleming in Game No. 162

The Red Sox will look to end the regular season by completing a three-game sweep over the Rays on Wednesday afternoon. Right-hander Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston while left-hander Josh Fleming will do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts, Eric Hosmer return to Red Sox lineup for Tuesday’s game against Rays

Xander Bogaerts and Eric Hosmer are both back in the Red Sox’ lineup for Tuesday’s contest against the Rays at Fenway Park.

Bogaerts has missed each of Boston’s last two games due to back tightness. He will be batting third and starting at shortstop on Tuesday. Hosmer was activated from the injured list on Monday after missing the last six weeks with low back inflammation. He will be batting seventh and starting at first base in place of Triston Casas.

Hosmer, who was originally placed on the 10-day injured list on August 21, was unable to go out on a rehab assignment since the minor-league season is already over. The 32-year-old instead spent his weekend at Fenway hitting off a high-tech pitching simulator.

“We’ve got this machine down there, it’s like a simulator or whatever,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said on Sunday. “What comes out is pretty similar to the stuff [of MLB pitchers]. You put, for example, Gerrit Cole, and the machine actually calibers the stuff based on his last start. So he’s been facing some good big-league pitching the past few days.”

Since being acquired from the Padres at the trade deadline, Hosmer has been limited to just 12 games with the Sox. The left-handed hitter has batted .225/.311/.300 with three doubles, four RBIs, six runs scored, four walks, and nine strikeouts across 45 plate appearances.

Bogaerts, meanwhile, felt his back tighten up on him when he tried to hit in the batting cage prior to Monday’s 4-3 win over Tampa Bay. As a result, he was scratched from the lineup but is back in there for the penultimate game of the season.

In his last nine games dating back to September 22, Bogaerts has gone 4-for-33 (.121) at the plate, likely putting him out of contention for the American League batting title. Still, the 30-year-old infielder is expected to become a free-agent this winter if he exercises the opt-out clause in his contract, so these could very well be his last few days playing in a Red Sox uniform.

Speaking of pending free-agents, Nathan Eovaldi is on the mound for his final start of the season. Connor Wong will be catching the right-hander while batting out of the nine-hole. Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up as they go up against Rays lefty Jeffrey Springs to start things out on Tuesday:

1. LF Tommy Pham

2. 3B Rafael Devers

3. SS Xander Bogaerts

4. RF Alex Verdugo

5. DH J.D. Martinez

6. CF Kiké Hernández

7. 1B Eric Hosmer

8. 2B Christian Arroyo

9. C Connor Wong

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts and Eric Hosmer: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers collects 3 hits, drives in winning run as Red Sox battle back for 4-3 win over Rays

The Red Sox battled back to earn a series-opening win over the Rays on Monday night. Boston defeated Tampa Bay by a final score of 4-3 to put an end to a three-game losing streak and improve to 76-84 on the season.

Pending free-agent Rich Hill ended his season on a strong note. Making his 26th and final start of the year for the Sox, the veteran left-hander allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over six quality innings of work.

All three of those Rays runs came by way of the long ball. After recording the first two outs of the first, Hill served up a solo shot to Wander Franco to get Tampa Bay on the board first. He proceeded to retire eight of the next nine batters he faced.

With two outs in the fourth, Hill got Harold Ramirez to hit a groundball in the direction of Rafael Devers at third base. Devers fielded the ball cleanly, but he made a poor throw to first base that forced Triston Casas off the bag. Ramirez reached safely as a result and former Boston farmhand Manuel Margot followed by cranking a two-run blast over the Green Monster off a first-pitch cutter from Hill.

Margot’s fourth homer of the season gave the Rays a 3-0 lead through four innings. Hill, for his part, settled back into a groove by sitting down seven of the last eight hitters he faced. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with 80 pitches (60 strikes) and induced 12 swings-and-misses. Though he did not factor into the decision, Hill brought his final ERA on the season down to 4.27.

Moments after Hill ended things in the top of the sixth, the Red Sox lineup finally got going in the bottom half of the inning. After being held in check by Rays starter Tyler Glasnow, Devers led off the sixth with a hard-hit double off Kevin Herget. Devers moved up to third base on a one-out single from Alex Verdugo. Both runners then scored when Christian Arroyo roped a two-run double down the left field line to cut the deficit to one.

Representing the possible tying run, Arroyo advanced to third on a Casas groundout and scored on an RBI double from Hernandez. The bats got back to work after John Schreiber took over for Hill out of the bullpen and faced the minimum in the top of the seventh.

To lead off the bottom half of the inning, Reese McGuire laced a ground-rule double down the right field line. McGuire moved up an additional 90 feet on a Tommy Pham groundout. Devers then came through with a sacrifice fly that was hit deep enough to left field to plate McGuire and give the Red Sox their first lead of the night at 4-3.

From there, Ryan Brasier made quick work of the Rays in the eighth before Matt Barnes avoided disaster in the ninth. After yielding a one-out triple to Franco, Barnes got Ramirez to hit a grounder towards Devers. Franco took off from third in an attempt to score the tying run, but he was instead caught in a rundown and tagged out by Yu Chang, who had come on as a defensive replacement.

Ramirez was able to advance to scoring position on the play, but Barnes got Margot to ground out to second to end it. Barnes was credited with his seventh save of the season while Schreiber picked up the win.

Offensively, Devers led the way by going 3-for-4 with his 42nd double of the year. Hernandez also went 2-for-4 with an RBI. As a team, the Red Sox went 3-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base.

Next up: Eovaldi vs. Springs

The Red Sox will look to secure a series victory on Tuesday by sending right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the mound for the final time this season. The Rays will counter with an old friend in left-hander Jeffrey Springs.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox likely to activate Eric Hosmer from injured list on Monday

The Red Sox are going to activate first baseman Eric Hosmer from the injured list on Monday, manager Alex Cora said prior to Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Hosmer, who has been sidelined with low back inflammation since August 22, will be available for the team’s final series of the season against the Rays in Boston.

With the minor-league season already completed, Hosmer was unable to go out on a rehab assignment in order to get at-bats. He instead spent his weekend hitting off a high-tech pitching simulator at Fenway Park. According to Cora, this machine is expensive and is only owned by five big-league organizations.

“We’ve got this machine down there, it’s like a simulator or whatever,” Cora told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne). “What comes out is pretty similar to the stuff [of MLB pitchers]. You put, for example, Gerrit Cole, and the machine actually calibers the stuff based on his last start. So he’s been facing some good big-league pitching the past few days.”

Cora also indicated that Hosmer would make one start against the Rays in order to get fellow first baseman Triston Casas off his feet for a day.

“Give him a start. Give [Casas] a day off,” Cora said (via MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith). “But we’ll use him. It’s good that he wanted to do it. He put himself in this situation and we’ll use him.”

Hosmer, who turns 33 later this month, has appeared in just 12 games with the Red Sox since being acquired from the Padres at the trade deadline. Boston also received minor-leaguers Max Ferguson and Corey Rosier and cash considerations in the deal while San Diego picked up pitching prospect Jay Groome.

In those 12 games with the Sox, the left-handed hitting Hosmer batted .225/.311/.300 with three doubles, four RBIs, six runs scored, four walks, and nine strikeouts across 45 trips to the plate before being placed on the injured list.

Given that his contract runs through 2025, it should be interesting to see what the Red Sox decide to do with Hosmer this winter. When the trade was made two months ago, the Padres agreed to pay the remainder of Hosmer’s deal down to the league minimum. This means that the Sox are only responsible for a mere fraction of the $39 million owed to the former All-Star over the next three years.

Taking that into consideration, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. could possibly entertain trade offers for Hosmer since Casas — who also hits from the left side of the plate — appears to be Boston’s first baseman of the future.

While a Casas-Hosmer platoon would prove to be redundant, the Sox could still hold on to Hosmer since veteran slugger J.D. Martinez is about to hit free agency. If the club elects to move on from Martinez, Hosmer could potentially fill in at designated hitter next season.

(Picture of Eric Hosmer: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez belts game-winning homer as Red Sox take series from Orioles with 5-3 victory

The Red Sox fell behind early, battled back, and blew a late lead. But they still held on for a series-clinching victory over the Orioles on Thursday afternoon. Boston defeated Baltimore, 5-3, to extend its winning streak to three and improve to 75-81 on the season.

Nathan Eovaldi, making his first start since August 12, pitched well in his return from the injured list. The veteran right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and zero walks to go along with three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.

Both of those Orioles runs came in the top of the third. Following back-to-back singles from Kyle Stowers and Jorge Mateo to lead off the inning, Stowers scored from third by avoiding Connor Wong’s tag on an Adley Rutschman groundout. Anthony Santander then hit a grounder in the direction of Triston Casas, who booted the ball. The fielding error allowed Mateo to score from third to double his side’s lead at 2-0.

The Sox pulled back even with Baltimore in their half of the fourth. J.D. Martinez reached base on a one-out double off Orioles starter Mike Baumann. Casas then made up for his previous mistake by roping a 330-foot double off the Green Monster that plated Martinez to make it a 2-1 game. Enrique Hernandez followed with a run-scoring single of his own to bring in Casas and knot things up at two runs apiece.

Eovaldi, meanwhile, retired the first two batters he faced in the fifth before getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The 32-year-old hurler finished with 72 pitches (51 strikes). He did not factor into the decision, but he did lower his ERA on the season down to 4.05.

In relief of Eovaldi, Eduard Bazardo recorded the final out of the fifth and also sat down the side in order in the top of the sixth. A half-inning later, Boston got to Orioles reliever Cionel Perez.

Alex Verdugo led off with a line-drive single and promptly advanced to second base on a wild pitch. He moved up an additional 90 feet on a Casas single and then raced home when Christian Arroyo grounded out to third base.

With a brand new one-run lead in hand, Matt Strahm almost immediately gave that up in the seventh when Stowers took him 399 feet deep to right-center to tie the score at 3-3.

Following a scoreless top of the eighth from Zack Kelly, though, the Red Sox again responded. With one out and one runner on, Martinez came through with a clutch two-run homer on the very first pitch he saw (a hanging slider on the inner half of the plate) from Dillon Tate.

Martinez’s 14th home run of the season left his bat at 100.1 mph and travelled 392 feet into the Monster Seats to give the Sox a 5-3 lead going into the ninth. There, Kaleb Ort worked his way around a two-out single to notch the first save of his big-league career. Kelly was credited with his first career win as well.

Offensively, Verdugo, Martinez, and Casas accounted for six of Boston’s nine hits. Verdugo went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, Martinez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and Casas went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored, and a walk.

Next up: Final road trip to Toronto

The Red Sox will now head to Toronto for their final road trip of the season. It comes in the form of a three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays. Native Canadian Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston in Friday’s series opener opposite fellow righty-hander Alek Manoah.

First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)