Myocarditis Shuts Down Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez for Remainder of 2020 Season

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will not pitch this season, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom announced Saturday.

The announcement comes as Rodriguez has been dealing with myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, while recovering from COVID-19, which the 27-year-old tested positive for while at home in Miami early last month.

Although mild, the myocarditis Rodriguez is dealing with is still present, resulting in him being shut down for the remainder of 2020. As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, “the prognosis hasn’t changed but the timetable has.”

Bloom said as much when speaking with reporters Saturday, stating that, “While we remain very optimistic he will make a full recovery, due to the fact that it is persistent, and the amount of care we need to take with this, he’s not going to be able to come back and pitch this year.”

Again, the Sox fully expect Rodriguez to recover from this seeing how the myocarditis has not damaged the Venezuela native’s heart “and is not expected to impact him over the long-term,” That being said, “The recovery should be complete. It’s just a question of time.”

Heading into the season, Rodriguez was slated to be Boston’s No. 1 starter with Chris Sale going down for the year due to Tommy John surgery and David Price getting dealt to the Dodgers.

Even when the idea of Rodriguez starting on Opening Day against the Orioles last month was thrown out the window due to his bout with COVID-19, it still appeared likely that the southpaw would be a welcome addition to the Sox’ rotation sometime later in the season.

Now, the Red Sox will have to endure as they have for the first week of the 2020 campaign. That being without their best left-handed starter.

“It certainly makes the mountain a little bit higher,” Bloom said in regards to being without Rodriguez for the remainder of the season. He also mentioned the fact that the Sox are ‘monitoring the market and also working with pitchers in Pawtucket.’

While the Red Sox scour the market for more pitching, here’s to wishing Eduardo Rodriguez the best and hoping he undergoes a full recovery so that he is all systems go in 2021.

Darwinzon Hernandez Could Start Games for Red Sox Again by End of 2020 Season, Ron Roenicke Says

The idea that Darwinzon Hernandez could once again start for the Red Sox has been out there ever since the left-hander was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket for good last July.

Hernandez made his first career major-league start against the Rangers last June at Fenway Park, but never again made an appearance as a starter at the big-league level for the rest of the season.

Instead, as previously mentioned, the now-23-year-old was called up for good in July and proved to be quite effective out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, posting a 4.32 ERA, a .693 OPS against, and a 3.33 xFIP over 27 relief outings and 25 innings of work.

Still, despite that success, the Sox view Hernandez as a starter in the long run. At least, that’s what manager Ron Roenicke said on his weekly segment with WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria on Wednesday.

“Eventually, we think this guy could end up being a starter,” said Roenicke in regards to Hernandez’s future. “Who knows? Maybe he’s starting games by the end of the year.”

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves here, it is worth mentioning that Hernandez is still technically recovering from a bout with COVID-19, which he tested positive for while at home in Venezuela earlier this month.

Since that time, Hernandez reported back to the Red Sox in Boston in last week and has been working out at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket in the meantime while he’s on the 10-day injured list.

At McCoy Stadium, the flame-throwing southpaw is set to throw a live batting practice session on Wednesday, then he’ll throw another one on Saturday before preparing for a simulated game this coming Monday, according to Roenicke.

From there, the Red Sox will evaluate where things stand with him as well as fellow left-hander Josh Taylor before taking any further action.

The most important thing here, particularly in Hernandez’s case, is to build up his workload so he can get stretched out in order to handle two to three innings at a time. That way, he could be more prepared to start at some point this season if that’s the direction the Red Sox decide to go.

Red Sox to Add Chris Mazza, Remove Jonathan Lucroy From Roster Ahead of Wednesday’s Series Opener Against Mets

UPDATE: Jonathan Lucroy has been designated for assignment.

Before taking on the Mets in Queens on Wednesday, the Red Sox will be recalling right-hander Chris Mazza from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, according to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings and Ken Rosenthal. In order to make this happen, veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy will be removed from the Sox’ 30-man roster.

A somewhat surprising move considering the player taken off the roster, but on a team that needs plenty of pitching help at the moment, removing another catcher in Lucroy for a fresh arm in Mazza makes plenty of sense for the Red Sox.

Starting with Mazza, the 30-year-old right-hander was left off Boston’s Opening Day squad earlier this month, nearly seven months after he was claimed off waivers from the Mets back in December.

Throughout Summer Camp workouts at Fenway Park, Mazza looked like a potential candidate to open games for the Sox, but instead of including him on the Opening Day roster, the club opted for more unproven pitchers like Dylan Covey or Phillips Valdez instead.

Now, after joining the Sox in New York for this upcoming road trip, Mazza will get the chance to prove he belongs with his new team. He only has nine career major-league relief appearances under his belt, all of which came with the Mets last season.

As for Lucroy, the 34-year-old backstop made the Sox’ Opening Day roster as the club’s third catcher but only got into one game as a defensive replacement against Baltimore last Friday, and as Jennings mentions in the tweet above, never got an at-bat.

At the time he signed a minor-league deal with Boston back in February, it appeared as though Lucroy could legitimately contend with Kevin Plawecki for the Red Sox’ backup catcher spot behind Christian Vazquez.

Both Lucroy and Plawecki were impressive during the spring, and because of the 30-man rosters for the first two weeks of the season that were implemented as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Sox were able to carry all three backstops on their Opening Day squad.

But, as SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall notes, “It didn’t make much sense to carry three catchers when you can have one on the taxi squad, who doesn’t take up a roster spot. With the Red Sox pitching struggles, another arm is much more useful at this point.”

Former Brewers and Angels catcher Jett Bandy will now be the third catcher on the Sox’ taxi squad and will not take up a roster spot in doing so.

Following Wednesday’s moves, the Red Sox could have an open spot on their 40-man roster depending on what happens with Lucroy. Perhaps they could use that opening on someone like Tanner Houck?

Red Sox Lineup: Andrew Benintendi Batting Ninth in Series Finale Against Mets

For the first time since his debut season in 2016, Andrew Benintendi is batting ninth for the Red Sox in Tuesday night’s game against the Mets at Fenway Park. This is likely the case because New York will be rolling with 24-year-old rookie left-hander David Peterson as their starting pitcher to close out this short two-game series.

Outside of the 2016 season, the only other time Benintendi has been in the nine-hole has been as a pinch-hitter. In 95 career plate appearances as a No. 9 hitter, the 26-year-old is slashing .329/.372/.553 with two home runs, 11 doubles, and 13 RBI.

Narrowing that sample size down, Benintendi is a lifetime .222/.211/.222 hitter in 20 career plate appearances against southpaws when batting out of the nine-hole.

That second set of data may not be as encouraging as the first, but perhaps moving Benintendi down in the Sox’ batting order is what the former first-round pick needs in order to clear his head a little bit seeing how he is off to a 1-for-14 start at the plate four games into the 2020 season.

Before Monday’s game against the Mets, Benintendi didn’t seem too concerned about his slow start. At the time, he had yet to record a hit, but as previously mentioned, he picked up his first knock of the season later that same day on an infield bunt single.

“I’m usually a slow starter,” Benintendi said when speaking to reporters via Zoom. “I’m not panicking. So hopefully I’ll get that first one tonight and then roll from there.”

Out of the nine-hole on Tuesday, Benintendi certainly has the opportunity to get on a roll. Just like everyone else in the Red Sox lineup, he has never faced Peterson before at the major-league level.

Here’s how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind left-hander Matt Hall, who will be making his first career big-league start in this one.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Last game in Boston for the Sox before they spend five straight days in New York City.

 

 

Red Sox Lineup: Andrew Benintendi Back in Leadoff Spot in First Game Against Mets

After dropping two out of three to the Orioles over the Weekend, the Red Sox will look to get back on track in the first of a four-game, home-at-home series against the Mets beginning on Monday night at Fenway Park.

Boston’s first interleague opponent of the season, the Mets last visited Fenway in September 2018, where they too dropped two out of three to the eventual World Series champions that year.

As far as this week’s series goes, left-hander Josh Osich will be making his first career big-league start for the Sox in Monday’s opener. I say that, but Oscih will really serve as the opener for Boston, meaning he’ll work an inning or two before right-hander Zack Godley is dispatched as the team’s “bulk” pitcher.

Osich, 31, mainly relies on a cutter, sinker, and slider. He made his Red Sox debut on Saturday against the O’s and worked a scoreless ninth inning.

Offensively speaking, here’s how the Boston bats will line up behind Osich as they’ll be matched up against veteran right-hander Michael Wacha for the Mets.

Right off the bat, Andrew Benintendi is back in the leadoff spot after being limited to pinch-hit duty in Sunday’s loss to Baltimore. The 26-year-old has yet to record a hit this season in 12 trips to the plate, so it’s imperative that he gets it going if he wants consistent playing time going forward.

From there, it goes J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers, who collected his first base knock of 2020 on Sunday, and Xander Bogaerts making up the 2-3-4 portion of the lineup.

Mitch Moreland will be making his second start of the season at first with a right-handed pitcher on the mound for New York, while Christian Vazquez will be catching Osich to begin things on Monday.

Rounding up this edition of the Red Sox lineup are Alex Verdugo, getting the start in right field, Jackie Bradley Jr., getting the start in center, and Jose Peraza, who is batting ninth while once again starting at second base.

Per Rotowire, Peraza and reserve catcher Jonathan Lucroy are the only two Red Sox position players who have any experience against Wacha, which is understandable seeing how all three previously spent a decent amount of time playing in the National League Central.

Peraza is 4-for-13 (.308) lifetime off the Mets right-hander with one double and three RBI. Lucroy, on the other hand, is 6-for-16 (.375) lifetime with one double, one home run, and three RBI.

As you might have already figured out, Wacha, who turned 29 earlier this month, will be making his first career regular season start against the Red Sox on Monday. He started Games 2 and 6 of the 2013 World Series against Boston while a member of the St. Louis Cardinals and went 1-1 with an ERA of 7.45 over those two outings.

The Red Sox will be looking to get back to .500 to kick off the week against the Metropolitans of Queens, who are also 1-2 three games into the 2020 campaign.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN, ESPN, and WEEI.

Just Three Games Into Season, Lack of Starting Pitching Depth Already Coming Into Light for Red Sox

The Red Sox went into the 2020 season with three true starting pitchers — Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, and Ryan Weber — on their Opening Day roster. The other two spots in the Sox’ rotation were going to go to openers.

Now three games into the 60-game campaign, Red Sox starting pitching has been a bit of a mixed bag of sorts against the Baltimore Orioles of all teams. Eovaldi impressed on Friday with six innings of one-run ball and a win, Perez struggled in his Boston debut but did end his outing with three scoreless innings in a losing effort on Saturday, and Weber had issues with his command in the rotation’s shortest start of the weekend on Sunday.

All together, Red Sox starting pitchers own an ERA of 11.99 (11 earned runs in 14 2/3 total innings pitched) thus far. Take that for what it’s worth, and then remember that as they prepare for a two-game series against the Mets this week, the two “starters” they are planning on going with have amassed a total of zero career games started in the majors.

Those two “starters,” or openers, for Boston on Monday and Tuesday will be left-handers Josh Osich and Matt Hall, both of whom were acquired by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom over the winter.

Osich, claimed off waivers by Boston from the White Sox last October, made his Red Sox debut and tossed a scoreless ninth inning in Saturday’s 7-2 loss to Baltimore.

Hall, meanwhile, was acquired by Boston in a trade that saw minor-league catcher Jhon Nunez go to the Detroit Tigers back in January. The 27-year-old impressed during Summer Camp, but has yet to make his Red Sox debut.

With Osich, the plan for the 31-year-old is to pitch an inning or two against New York on Monday before the recently-signed Zack Godley enters in a bulk role.

“It’s the left-handed pitcher against their left-handed lineup,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said in regards to opening with Oscih against the Mets. “Just trying to get through an inning or two, then go to more of a bulk guy. So that’s the plan right now. We’ll see how it goes.”

As for Hall, expect Roenicke to have more to say about the southpaw following Monday’s bout with the Mets at Fenway Park.

Ryan Weber Only Makes It Into Fourth Inning as Red Sox Drop First Series of Season to Orioles

For the first time this season, the Red Sox find themselves in the midst of a losing streak as they dropped their second straight to the Orioles on Sunday afternoon.

Ryan Weber, fresh off making his first ever Opening Day roster, struggled in his first official start of 2020. The right-hander yielded six runs, all of which were earned, on six hits and three walks, all while failing to record a single strikeout, over 3 2/3 innings of work.

The O’s offense got on the Sox starter right away on Sunday, with Rio Ruiz crushing a two-run homer off a first-pitch, 85 MPH cutter in the first.

Following that mishap, Weber managed to retire three of the four hitters he faced in the top half of the second, which seemed encouraging at the time until he served up four additional runs over the next two innings.

Weber’s day came to a close as soon as Anthony Santander finished rounding the bases after crushing a 3-2, 80 MPH cutter from the 29-year-old into the Red Sox bullpen with two outs in the top of the fourth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 65 (42 strikes), Weber relied on his sinker exactly 40% of the time he was on the mound Sunday and topped out at 89.6 MPH with the pitch. His next outing should come against the Yankees in the Bronx on Friday night.

In relief of Weber, Colten Brewer entered with two outs in the fourth, got out of the inning unscathed, and also tossed a scoreless top half of the fifth.

From there, Marcus Walden and Matt Barnes combined to walk four Orioles over three shutout innings of relief in the sixth, seventh, and eighth, while Austin Brice surrendered one run on a Chris Davis RBI double in the ninth.

That proved to be a back-breaking hit, as Baltimore went on to take the series by a final score of 7-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against veteran left-hander and Orioles starter Wade LeBlanc on Sunday.

Already trailing by a pair of runs before even taking their first at-bats of the day in this one, the Sox offense was catapulted by Christian Vazquez, who put his side on the board in the second inning with his first home run of 2020, a 389-foot solo shot over the Monster. 2-1.

Fast forward to the fifth, and another right-handed hitter went deep for the first time this season, as Kevin Pillar led the inning off by depositing a 2-2, 87 MPH sinker from LeBlanc onto Lansdowne Street. His first homer as a member of the Red Sox made it a 6-2 game in favor of Baltimore.

In the sixth, a leadoff single courtesty of Jackie Bradley Jr. and a two-out double off the bat of Rafael Devers, his first hit of the year, chased LeBlanc out as the Orioles brought in right-hander Miguel Castro to face off against Xander Bogaerts.

After fanning against Castro on Saturday, Bogaerts rebounded by lacing a two-run double through the left side of the infield to score both Bradley Jr. and Devers. Just like that, Boston was only trailing by two.

A las, nothing more came for the Boston bats as they went down rather quietly in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings to ultimately come up short in this one by a final score of 7-4.

Some notes and observations from this loss:

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith: Ryan Weber has a 6.55 ERA in 12 major league starts (55 innings, 40 earned runs).

The Orioles went 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and still managed to win this game by three runs.

Speaking of runs scored, the Red Sox have scored six over their last 18 innings. That’s not going to get the job done.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll welcome the New York Mets into town for a four-game, home-at-home series beginning on Monday.

Left-hander Josh Osich will serve as the opener for Boston and will be making the first start of his career in doing so, while the Mets will roll with veteran right-hander Michael Wacha.

Osich, who turns 32 in September, tossed a scoreless ninth inning on Saturday in his Red Sox debut.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking to halt a two-game skid.

 

Alex Verdugo Left Out of Red Sox’ Opening Day Lineup; Outfielder Reassured Ron Roenicke That He ‘Hits Left-Handers Well’

As he is about to embark on his first season with his new team, Alex Verdugo will not be starting for the Red Sox on Opening Day.

With left-hander Tommy Milone getting the start for Baltimore opposite Nathan Eovaldi on Friday night, the 24-year-old outfielder was left out of the Sox’ starting lineup by manager Ron Roenicke in favor of right-handed hitting outfielder Kevin Pillar.

When speaking with reporters prior to Friday’s season opener against the Orioles at Fenway Park, Roenicke addressed this decision, saying that he called Verdugo earlier in the day to let him know that he was not starting against the left-handed starter.

“He reassured me that he does hit left-handers well,” Roenicke said via Zoom in regards to Verdugo’s response. As a reverse splits guy, that is indeed true for the left-handed hitter.

In 106 games played for the Dodgers last season, the Arizona native racked up 109 plate appearances against southpaws. Over the course of those 109 PAs, he slashed .327/.358/.485 with two home runs, nine RBI, and a 121 wRC+. Against right-handed pitching, his OPS dropped by 36 points and his wRC+ dropped by 10 points over 268 plate appearances.

Earlier this month, Verdugo insisted that he wanted to be an everyday player with the Red Sox, but he also acknowledged that he could start the season in a platoon role with his new team.

“I want to play and I want to be a starter,” he said during one of his Summer Camp media sessions. “That’s what everybody comes into the big leagues for. That’s what everybody wants to be. So I want to play every day. But, if they want to do what they have to do, then I’ll follow and I’ll play as hard as I can.”

Perhaps we’ll see Verdugo make his first start with the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, when right-hander Alex Cobb will be taking the mound for the O’s.

 

Red Sox Opening Day Lineup: Let the 2020 Season Begin

At long last, Opening Day for the 2020 Boston Red Sox has arrived. The Sox will be hosting the Orioles in a three-game weekend series beginning Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

According to team chairman Tom Werner, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker, Boston mayor Marty Walsh, and one other special guest “who’s very important to our community” will be throwing out a ceremonial first pitch prior to the actual first pitch.

As for the game itself, right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will be matched up against left-hander Tommy Milone for Baltimore. Here’s how the rest of the Sox will be lined up behind thier first-time Opening Day starter:

One notable thing to notice here is the fact that J.D. Martinez is batting out of the two-hole, something manager Ron Roenicke experimented with during this week’s exhibition games against the Blue Jays.

Entering his third season with Boston, Martinez has never hit in the two-spot as a member of the Red Sox. He last did it in 2016 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Because the Sox are facing a southpaw, Roenicke likely wanted to move Martinez up in the order to break up the left-handed bats of Andrew Benintendi, who is batting leadoff, and Rafael Devers, who is batting third.

Speaking of pitching matchups, Kevin Pillar is starting over Alex Verdugo in right field, and Michael Chavis is starting at first base over Mitch Moreland. Chavis, Jackie Bradley Jr., and newcomer Jose Peraza round out the Sox’ lineup in this one.

Again, first pitch for the first of 60 games this season is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. It’s time.

Red Sox’ Michael Chavis Helping Teammate Alex Verdugo Get Acclimated to New Club

Upon getting traded from the Dodgers to the Red Sox in February, Alex Verdugo never could have expected what was in store for him or the 2020 Major League Baseball season. That being Opening Day getting pushed back nearly four months because of a global pandemic.

At the time he first reported to the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers on February 15, it looked as though Verdugo would miss the opening stages of the 2020 season due to a stress fracture in his lower back.

Now though, in part because of the long, pandemic-induced layoff, the young outfielder is just about all systems go as Opening Day 2.0 approaches.

Verdugo, along with the rest of the Red Sox for that matter, have been getting back into playing shape these past few weeks at Summer Camp in Boston, and it has given him the opportunity to get closer, but not too close, to some of his new teammates.

As a matter of fact, one of those new teammates reached out to Verdugo and asked if he would want to share a Fenway Park suite with him during camp. That teammate’s name? Michael Chavis.

When speaking with NESN’s Jahmai Webster on Thursday night’s installment of After Hours, Verdugo went into detail about how that over-the-phone exchange between Chavis and him played out.

“He texted me ‘Hey bro, did you have anyone you wanted to room with?'” Verdugo recounted to Webster. “I was like, ‘Man, I don’t really know anybody…I don’t know…no?’ And he was like, ‘All right, I’m putting your name down for mine.’ I was like, ‘All right, cool, man. It’s all good.’ I think it helps. It’s made this transition easy, cool. We kind of already knew each other. We’ve been messing around with each other, talking hitting and just picking each other’s brains. I know when I’m getting frustrated he’s there to be like, ‘Hey man, I know you can hit, bro. Just relax, you’re good.’ So, it’s cool to have that.”

Seeing as how they were both drafted out of high school in 2014, I would assume that’s how Verdugo and Chavis knew each other a little bit prior to them being on the same major-league ballclub.

Both players are also 24 years of age, and both are coming into a season where they will be competing for at-bats in a rather crowded Red Sox infield and outfield. Fortunately, they can both play multiple positions, as Verdugo is more than capable of moving around the outfield when necessary, while Chavis can play a little bit of first and second base depending on different pitching match-ups.

For Verdugo, coming into a new organization after only knowing one for the last 5 1/2 years of your life has to be somewhat of a daunting task. That being said, it’s encouraging to see that the Arizona native appears to be getting more comfortable with his new club with the help of a fellow 2014 draft class member.

Also, it was quite amusing when, on the subject of not being able to access the home clubhouse at Fenway Park due to COVID-19 concerns, Verdugo said, “We’re so used to having no space, now we have all the space in the world” when referencing the aforementioned suites that have been converted into locker rooms on the pavilion level.