Friday night’s Red Sox-White Sox game has been postponed due to inclement weather, the team announced Friday afternoon.
Right-handers Nick Pivetta and Dylan Cease were slated to oppose one another in the first of a four-game Patriots’ Day weekend set at Fenway Park on Friday, but that will now have to wait due to “winter-like” conditions.
Instead of playing four games in four days, the Red Sox are now slated to play four games in three days — something they just did in Minnesota — starting on Saturday.
Friday’s contest between Boston and Chicago has been rescheduled to Sunday evening and will be made up as part of a split doubleheader that day.
The first game of Sunday’s twin bill is scheduled to begin at 1:10 p.m. eastern time, as it has been, while the second game will start at approximately 5:10 p.m. ET.
Per MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, “tickets for Friday’s game will be good for the 5:10 p.m. game” on Sunday and “Fenway Park gates will open 45 minutes before at 4:25 p.m.”
Smith also notes that Pivetta is likely to start on Saturday since the Red Sox have yet to name a starter for the second game of their series against the White Sox.
(Picture of Fenway Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Of the four starts Nathan Eovaldi made for the Red Sox over the course of spring training, his outing against the Rays in Fort Myers was undoubtedly his worst one.
Over four innings of work back on March 19, the veteran right-hander surrendered five earned runs on eight hits, one walk, and five strikeouts.
It may have just been a meaningless Grapefruit League game, but the lessons Eovaldi learned from that performance last month proved to be worthwhile during his second start of the regular season on Wednesday.
Working against the Rays at Fenway Park this time around, the 31-year-old dazzled by yielding just one earned run on three hits and three walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the afternoon. He needed just 91 pitches (60 strikes) to get through those seven frames.
“[Kevin] Plawecki and I had a good game plan going into it,” Eovaldi said when asked about his impressive showing against his former team on Wednesday. “We were able to follow up with everything, try to keep them off balance. In spring training, I learned a lot when they got to me early in the game. So I had to really mix my pitches today, and I was able to do that.”
Of the 91 pitches Eovaldi threw on Wednesday, 35 were four-seam fastballs, 20 were curveballs, 19 were sliders, nine were cutters, and eight were splitters. He induced 17 swings-and-misses from Rays hitters in total.
“I didn’t really have one pitch that wasn’t working,” added Eovaldi. “I was able to use the curveball, the slider — I used that a lot today, the cutter, splitty was good. I was able to locate the fastball. I made some mechanical adjustments the other day and they really helped me out. So I feel really good out there.”
With the Red Sox finishing off a three-game sweep of the Rays on Wednesday, Eovaldi was able to pick up his first winning decision and improve to 1-1 on the young season.
That Eovaldi was able to go seven innings in his second start of the year proved to be crucial for the Sox considering how spent their bullpen was following Tuesday night’s 6-5 win over Tampa Bay that took 12 innings to complete.
“We needed that,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “The fact that he only threw 91 pitches, it was very important. But he went seven. Where we were pitching-wise today, we needed a big performance from him, and he did.”
Eovaldi himself echoes this same sort of sentiment in regards to picking up a depleted pitching staff the day after a lengthy game.
“The way we started the season 0-3 against the Orioles, obviously we’re not happy with that,” Eovaldi said. “But then to come in, last night was a huge game for us. We were able to come back from behind, tie it up in the late innings, ultimately win the game. Both sides of the bullpen, we were down. So we were short on guys.
“For me to be able to come out there today, go a little deeper in the game for us, and then for us to come out on top today, have the sweep — especially against the Rays — it’s a big one for us,” he added. “Big series win.”
Through his first two starts of the year, the Houston-area native has allowed just two earned runs over his first 12 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 1.46 as well as a 0.89 WHIP.
“He was amazing,” Cora said of Eovaldi. “He’s got two starts already. He’s done an amazing job mixing up pitches, throwing strikes. The fact he only made like 92 [pitches] in the first one, [91 pitches] today. Now he gets one more day in between starts. That’s really good for him.”
Eovaldi is slated to pitch again against the Twins in Minnesota next Tuesday.
(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
In the span of four innings, J.D. Martinez went from zero to hero for the Red Sox in their contest against the Rays at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
After committing a costly baserunning blunder while representing the tying run in the bottom half of the eighth, the 33-year-old slugger had the chance to redeem himself later on well into extra innings.
With two outs and two runners on in a 5-4 game in the 12th, Martinez — matched up against Rays reliever Ryan Thompson — drilled a flyball over the head of an outstretched Randy Arozarena in right field plenty deep enough to plate both Hunter Renfroe and Alex Verdugo to give the Sox their first walk-off victory of the season with a 6-5 win.
Martinez, who finished the day 2-for-6 with three RBI, stays hot and is now slashing .476/.522/1.000 through his first five games of the year.
Martin Perez tosses five-plus solid frames
Well before Tuesday’s late-night drama, Martin Perez made his first start of the new campaign.
Working five-plus innings, the veteran left-hander surrendered three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with six strikeouts. The second walk he gave up came with no outs in the top half of the sixth, and it marked the end of his outing.
Of the 92 pitches Perez threw on Tuesday, 52 went for strikes. The Venezuelan hurler also mixed in 29 cutters, 21 changeups, 19 sinkers, 15 curveballs, and eight fastballs on his way to picking up the no-decision. His next start should come against the Twins sometime next week.
Matt Barnes dazzles with two perfect innings of relief
After Austin Brice, Hirokazu Sawamura, and Darwinzon Hernandez managed to keep Tampa Bay off the scoreboard through the end of the eighth inning, Matt Barnes was called in for the ninth as he was tasked with holding the Rays at three runs.
Making just his second relief appearance of the year, the flame-throwing righty did exactly that by retiring the side in order in the ninth and then doing the same in the 10th after the Sox had knotted things up.
In total, Barnes struck out four of the six batters he faced and induced six swings-and-misses in the process of doing so.
Tanner Houck, Phillips Valdez close things out
Red Sox manager Alex Cora had said before Tuesday’s game that rookie right-hander Tanner Houck would be available to pitch out of the bullpen against the Rays.
Having just thrown 85 pitches in his start against the Orioles over the weekend, it seemed unlikely that the 24-year-old would be used in this one, but he was after all.
With a runner on second base to start each extra inning, Houck wound up surrendering the go-ahead run to the very first hitter he faced in Willy Adames, who ripped an RBI double down the left field line to give his side a 4-3 edge.
Houck did manage to escape the top half of the 11th without giving anything else up, though fellow righty Phillips Valdez fell victim to the unearned run himself an inning later.
All in all, Sox pitching combined to yield five runs (three earned) on eight hits, five walks, and 13 strikeouts on Tuesday night.
Christian Vazquez comes through in the clutch
Before Martinez’s late-inning heroics, the Boston bats were finding it difficult to score runs just one night after plating 11 in their first win of the season.
Facing off against vaunted Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow, the only run the Sox managed to bring across over the first seven innings came when Christian Arroyo scored from third on a wild pitch.
Martinez tacked on the first of his three RBI with a run-scoring double in the eighth off Pete Fairbanks in the eighth, then it was Christian Vazquez’s time to shine in the ninth.
Going into his fourth plate appearance of the night without a hit, Vazquez did not waste any time in greeting new Rays reliever Diego Castillo, as he led the bottom of the ninth off by crushing a solo shot 383 feet well over the Green Monster for his first big fly of the season.
That moonshot would pull the Red Sox back even with the Rays at three runs apiece, and it would ultimately set up the Martinez walk-off later on in the 12th.
Franchy Cordero makes leaping grab in left field
One key moment that cannot be lost in the shuffle of Tuesday’s drama was the play Franchy Cordero made to end the top half of the seventh inning.
With one out in the frame and runners on first and second, Rays centerfielder Manuel Margot lifted a flyball to left that was on the cusp of bouncing off the Monster before a leaping Franchy Cordero robbed the former Red Sox prospect of extra-bases.
There was some confusion as to whether Cordero caught the ball or trapped it against the left field wall, and that confusion allowed the outfielder to double off one of the runners — Arozarena — at second base to end the inning.
The Rays disputed the call on the field by challenging it, but it was upheld by replay review.
Next up: Eovaldi vs. Yarbrough
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this three-game series on Wednesday afternoon, so it’s certainly a quick turnaround.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is slated to get the ball for Boston, and he will be opposed by left-hander Ryan Yarbrough for Tampa Bay.
First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on YouTube. Yes, you read that correctly. YouTube.
(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Behind five strong innings from Nick Pivetta, the Red Sox snapped their three-game losing streak and secured their first win of the 2021 season following a 7-2 victory over the Rays on Monday.
Pivetta, making his 2021 debut, kept the Rays off the scoreboard while scattering just two hits and four walks to go along with four strikeouts over his five frames of work.
By the time the right-hander recorded his final out of the night to retire the side in the fifth, he had thrown 92 pitches, 52 of which went for strikes.
Of those 92 pitches, Pivetta relied on his four-seam fastball 46% of the time he was on the mound Monday. He topped out at 97.1 mph with his four-seamer and also induced seven swings-and-misses with his slider — a pitch he threw 38 times.
Ultimately picking up his first winning decision of the season later on in this one, the 28-year-old hurler is now 3-0 in three starts with the Sox since being acquired from the Phillies via trade last August. His next start should come against the Orioles in Baltimore on Sunday.
In relief of Pivetta, Matt Andriese managed to keep Tampa Bay off the scoreboard into the sixth and seventh innings but ran into some trouble in the eighth when he filled the bases with just one out.
That predicament led to the veteran righty getting the hook in favor of Darwinzon Hernandez, though the left-hander did not fare much better considering the fact he walked in a pair of inherited runners.
While Hernandez did get the second out of the inning, the Sox still went back to their bullpen and brought in Adam Ottavino, who punched out Mike Brosseau on a nasty, knee-buckling slider to escape the jam.
Phillips Valdez, making his third appearance of the season already, wrapped things up by sitting down the only three hitters faced in the ninth.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox broke out of an offensive slump in tremendous way on Monday night.
Matched up against Rays right-hander Michael Wacha, Franchy Cordero got the scoring started for his side — and gave them their very first lead of the season — with a two-out, run-scoring double off the Green Monster to bring in Christian Vazquez.
Cordero struck again in the fourth, this time following up a Hunter Renfroe run-scoring sacrifice fly by plating Marwin Gonzalez to give Boston a 3-0 edge.
An inning later, Xander Bogaerts managed to drive in J.D. Martinez as well as himself on an RBI double that nearly left the yard.
While it was ruled a double, Bogaerts initially wound up at third on the throw home, then took off for home and scored when an errant throw from Rays catcher Mike Zunino landed in left field. That little-league home run gave the Sox a 5-0 lead.
Kiké Hernández and Alex Verdugo tacked on two additional insurance runs with an RBI double and sacrifice fly in the sixth, then the Boston bats exploded for four runs to blow this one open in the eighth.
Those four runs — all of which were scored off former Red Sox reliever Chris Mazza — came on a Verdugo run-scoring single and three-run, opposite field home run off the bat of Martinez.
Martinez’s second home run of the season traveled 326 feet before clanking off Pesky’s pole in shallow right field. It also gave the Sox a commanding 11-2 lead, which would go on to be Monday’s final score.
Some notes from this victory:
From Red Sox Notes:
Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena made one of the catches of the season in the fourth inning of Monday’s contest and robbed Hunter Renfroe of multiple bases — and multiple RBI — in the process of doing so.
Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set on Tuesday night. Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his first start of the season for Boston, and he will be opposed by right-hander Tyler Glasnow for Tampa Bay.
First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox going for their first series victory of the season.
(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
In case you missed it, the Red Sox got swept by the Orioles over the weekend to kick off the 2021 season, marking the first time since 2012 they have started a season by losing three straight out of the gates.
It’s also the first time since 1948 that they have started the home portion of their schedule with three consecutive losses at Fenway Park.
In the process of getting swept by the O’s these last three days, the Sox never held a lead, went a collective 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position, and were outscored 18-5 over 27 total innings.
To put it simply, Boston’s 2021 campaign is off to a rather disastrous start, but it is still early, meaning there is time to turn things around.
Taking that optimistic outlook into consideration, there were still some positives the Red Sox can take away from their first series of the year. Here are three of them:
Tanner Houck picks up where he left off in 2021 debut
Pitching with family members in attendance for the first time as a major-leaguer, Tanner Houck carried over the success he enjoyed last September (0.53 ERA in three starts) into his first start of the 2021 season on Saturday.
Starting in place of the injured Eduardo Rodriguez (left elbow inflammation), the 24-year-old surrendered three runs — two of which were earned) on six hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts, though his line was not indicative as to how well he pitched on account of some sloppy defense behind him.
“He did a good job,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about the righty. “He was good. Velocity was up, moving all the pitches. He did an outstanding job. Good fastball up in the zone, controlled his emotions. He did an amazing job for us.”
Despite the strong performance on Saturday, there is no guarantee that Houck will make his next start the next time through Boston’s rotation. That all depends on if Rodriguez, who threw a simulated game in Worcester on Friday, is ready to return to action later this week.
Garrett Whitlock shines in major-league debut
After being selected by the Red Sox from the Yankees in the major-league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, Garrett Whitlock emerged as one of the stories of spring training out of Fort Myers.
The 24-year-old allowed just one run over four Grapefruit League appearances this spring on his way to making the Sox’ Opening Day roster.
On Sunday, Whitlock made his big-league debut, pitching in relief of Garrett Richards and Josh Taylor, who combined to surrender 10 runs to the Orioles in just 2 2/3 innings of work.
Coming on with two outs and runners at every base in the top half of the third, the right-hander got out of the jam by getting Maikel Franco to fly out to right field. He then proceeded to retire nine of the next 12 hitters he faced while striking out five and not walking a single batter.
Per Red Sox Notes, Whitlock became the first Red Sox pitcher ever to allow zero runs, zero walks, and punch out five-plus hitters in a big-league debut. 39 of the 59 pitches he threw went for strikes.
Sunday’s outing marked Whitlock’s first time pitching in a competitive (non-spring training) environment since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2019. He had never pitched above Double-A prior to going under the knife.
“It was a dream come true,” the Alabama native — who had his mother and wife on hand to watch him –said in regards to making his major-league debut on Sunday. “It was an honor to be wearing the Red Sox name making that dream come true. I just can’t thank everyone with the Red Sox enough for giving me a chance.”
Of the 59 pitches Whitlock threw on Sunday, 44 were two-seam fastballs, 13 were changeups, and two were sliders. Seven of the eight swings-and-misses he induced on the day came on the two-seamer.
“He was good,” said Cora. “He pounded the strike zone, used his fastball up, mixed up his offspeed pitches. It was fun to watch.”
J.D. Martinez off to hot start at the plate
While the majority of the Red Sox lineup stumbled out of the gate against Orioles pitching over the weekend, J.D. Martinez did not.
Following a 2-for-4 showing in which he crushed his first home run of the season on Sunday, the 33-year-old slugger is now 6-for-12 with that one homer, three doubles, three RBI, and two runs scored to kick off his 2021 campaign.
The homer he hit on Sunday — which traveled 429 feet to dead center field off a 92 mph fastball from Bruce Zimmermann — was the 239th of Martinez’s career.
For Martinez, who would surely like to put a dismal 2020 season (seven homers, .680 OPS in 54 games) behind him, what he did over the weekend was a great place to start.
“He’s such a workaholic,” Cora said of the three-time All-Star. “In spring training, we saw him swinging and swinging and swinging, chasing pitches. All of the sudden, boom. The strike zone gets smaller, he gets pitches he can handle and he’s driving the ball. That was a good pitch down in the zone and he put a good swing on it It’s good to see him start off this way.”
So for how miserable of an opening series the Red Sox had, there were still some bright spots that indicate that this team may be better than the slow start they have gotten off to would show.
Coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Orioles, though, things do no get any easier for the Sox with the reigning American League champion Tampa Bay Rays coming into town for another three-game set that begins on Monday night.
If Boston wants to show that they can compete and play winning baseball at Fenway Park, they will need to turn things around quickly or otherwise risk falling out of contention much sooner than anticipated.
“We know where we’re at. It wasn’t a good weekend,” Cora said on Sunday. “But at the end of the day, it’s only three games. We have a chance to come tomorrow and do it again. We have to be better. Like I said, we have stuff to work on. I still feel the same way about the team five days ago than right now. We have a good team, but we still have to work, and work for our stuff.
“We just got to be ready,” he added. “And the goal whether it’s Baltimore, Tampa, or Seattle, it doesn’t matter. You try to win the series. So tomorrow is a new series. We got a chance to win it and we’ll go at it.”
(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
The Garrett Richards era did not off to a great start for the Red Sox on Sunday, as the club extended its season-opening losing streak to three consecutive games following an 11-3 defeat at the hands of the Orioles at Fenway Park.
Richards, who signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Sox in February, made his highly-anticipated team debut in this one. To put it simply, it did not go well.
The right-hander yielded six runs — all of which were earned — on seven hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the afternoon. In the process of allowing all those runs, Richards managed to record just six outs before getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora after walking the bases full in the top half of the third inning.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 61 (35 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball nearly half of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing two swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.6 mph with the pitch.
Ultimately hit with his first losing decision of the year while seeing his ERA inflate to 27.00, Richards will look to rebound in his next time out against these same Orioles next Saturday in Baltimore.
In relief of Richards, left-hander Josh Taylor inherited a mess and closed the book on the Sox starter’s day by allowing seven more runs (four of which were charged to him) before Garrett Whitlock came on for what was his major-league debut.
Pitching in a competitive environment for the first time in nearly two years, Whitlock — a 2020 Rule 5 Draft pick — carried over the success he enjoyed this spring into his first appearance with the Red Sox by twirling 3 1/3 scoreless frames of relief while scattering just three hits and punching out five.
From there, Hirokazu Sawamura worked a scoreless top of the seventh, while Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino both made their 2021 debuts in the top halves of the eighth and ninth innings of Sunday’s contest.
Barnes, responsible for the eighth, maneuvered his way around a one-out walk in an otherwise clean frame. Ottavino, responsible for the ninth, surrendered one run on two hits and two walks in what was also his Red Sox debut.
All in all, Sox pitching combined to give up 11 runs to the Orioles on 17 hits, eight walks, and 15 strikeouts. The Boston pitching staff had been effective in the team’s first two games of the season, but that was not the case on Sunday.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was again held in check by a Baltimore pitching staff that was led by rookie left-hander Bruce Zimmermann this time around.
By the time the Boston bats managed to push something across on a Kiké Hernández sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third, they were already in a 10-0 hole.
J.D. Martinez continued his hot start to the new season by crushing a 429-foot solo home run to deep center field — his and his team’s first big fly of the year — off Zimmermann to lead off the fourth to make it a 10-2 contest.
Fast forward to the sixth, and Martinez again got the best of Zimmermann, this time lifting a run-scoring double to the left field corner that brought in Hernandez all the way from first.
Martinez’s second of two hits on the afternoon cut the Boston deficit to 10-3, but three runs is all the Sox could manage as 11-3 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.
Some notes from this loss:
From Sox Notes:
From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:
The Red Sox have started a season 0-3 for the first time since 2012. This is also the first time they have started a season 0-3 at Fenway Park since 1948.
Next up for the Red Sox, they will look to bounce back from a series-opening sweep to the Orioles by welcoming in another divisional foe to Fenway in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Right-hander Nick Pivetta will be making his 2021 debut for Boston, and he will be opposed by former Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha, who will also be making his 2021 debut for Tampa Bay.
First pitch Monday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Red Sox still looking for their first win of the season in what will be their first game under the lights this year.
(Picture of Garrett Richards: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
The Red Sox’ Opening Day contest against the Orioles has been postponed due to inclement weather, the team announced Thursday morning.
Boston’s first game of the 2021 season, which was supposed to begin at 2:10 p.m. eastern time Thursday at Fenway Park, has now been pushed back to Friday afternoon at that same time.
“The decision to postpone our first game of the season was not made lightly,” Red Sox President & CEO Sam Kennedy said in a statement. “The built-in off day was created for just this purpose and tomorrow’s forecast for sunshine also factored into our decision. We have been eager to have fans back at Fenway Park for the first time in 18 months and look forward to welcoming everyone back tomorrow under brighter and drier conditions.”
With Thursday’s game being postponed, the Sox will now push back their Opening Day ceremonies to Friday afternoon. First pitch Friday is still scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is now slated to start for the Sox on Friday. He will be matched up against Orioles left-hander John Means.
First pitch, once again, is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
Because of this postponement, the Red Sox lose an off day this Friday and will now play seven games in seven days before their “first” scheduled off day of the season next Friday while the team is in Baltimore.
(Picture of Fenway Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Since making his major-league debut with the Astros in 2014, Kiké Hernández has played for four different managers in his time with the ‘Stros, the Marlins, and Dodgers.
Never before has Hernandez played under a manager who hails from his home island of Puerto Rico. That will all change on Thursday afternoon when the 29-year-old takes the field for a Red Sox team led by the Puerto Rican-born Alex Cora.
“It’s an honor and I feel extremely proud to be playing for a Puerto Rican manager,” Hernandez explained Wednesday. “Growing up, almost every manager — if not every manager — was an American. So for me to be playing for a Puerto Rican manager, it means a lot. It’s something that the island is very proud of — I’m very proud of.”
The relationship between Hernandez and Cora goes back well before the former inked a two-year, $14 million deal with Boston back in February.
While growing up in Puerto Rico in the late 90s/early 2000s, Hernandez served as batboy for the same winter ball team Cora was playing for at that time, so the two got to know one another through that and their bond has only evolved since then.
“To play for Alex, the guy that I’ve known for 20 years, I’m just really happy,” the right-handed hitting Hernandez said. “I feel really comfortable because I feel like we’ve had this relationship for so long. I feel like we were friends before that. To have that relationship with your manager, it means a lot.
“Even when he wasn’t saying anything, when I was just watching him as a kid, I was learning a lot from him,” added Hernandez. “Once I grew up and I started playing winter ball and he was managing against me, every once in a while he would hit me up and give me little hints or help me out on defense, on double plays or whatever. So he’s had a huge impact on my career and I’m really proud and really happy to be playing for him.”
While he is happy and proud to play for Cora, Hernandez is also looking forward to soaking in his first official regular season game as a member of the Red Sox.
Fenway Park is a venue the 5-foot-11, 198 pounder has played inside plenty of times as a visitor, but Wednesday marked the first time he could experience the ballpark from the other side of the field.
“One of the first things I did was go into the dugout,” Hernandez recounted. “And the view from the first base dugout is a lot more special in this stadium than the view from the third base dugout. I can tell you that. It felt special. The magic of Fenway, you can actually feel it from the first base dugout.
“Like I’ve said, there’s a lot I’m looking forward to, a lot that I’m excited about, and it’s nothing that I take for granted,” he said. “There’s been times and there will be times [Thursday] where I’m going to sit back and think about everything. Just really happy to be here.”
(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
It goes without saying that Garrett Whitlock has been one of the feel-good stories at Red Sox camp throughout the spring.
Selected from the Yankees organization in the Rule 5 Draft over the winter, Whitlock came into camp with the proposition of having to stick on the Sox’ active roster throughout the entirety of the 2021 season or he would otherwise be offered back to his former club.
That may seem like a daunting task for a 24-year-old right-hander who hadn’t pitched in an organized minor-league game since 2019 and was working his way back from Tommy John surgery, but Whitlock has clearly been up to the challenge.
Through four Grapefruit League appearances this spring, the Georgia native has allowed just one earned run on eight hits and no walks to go along with 12 strikeouts over nine total innings of work.
To say Whitlock has been impressive would be an understatement, and he was informed on Thursday that he made the Sox’ Opening Day roster.
“Yesterday we informed Garrett Whitlock that he made the team,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced Friday morning. “With everything he’s done throughout camp, not only on the field but also the way he acts, the way he conducts himself. That adds to the equation, and we were very pleased to tell him yesterday.”
Whitlock, a former 18th-round draft pick of the Yankees out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2019. His recovery from the procedure coincided with the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re going to be careful with him, obviously,” Cora said. “He’s a Rule 5 pick and he hasn’t pitched in a while. But everything we’ve seen has been good. So he’ll be with us. It’s another addition, and obviously we have to make decisions in the upcoming days, but I do believe this is a solid bullpen.”
While Cora added that the game will dictate how Whitlock will be used, it does seem likely that the lanky righty — despite having 38 career minor-league starts under his belt — will be used in a swingman role with more of an emphasis on pitching multiple innings out of the bullpen when needed.
The Red Sox are planning on carrying 14 pitchers on their 26-man Opening Day roster. For Cora, informing Whitlock that he would be one of those 14 pitchers was a very enjoyable experience.
“He can be a Rule 5 or a 10-year vet, but the way he threw the ball — you guys saw it — he’s getting better and better,” said the Sox skipper. “It’s one of those that as a manager, as a president of baseball operations, GM, whatever, it’s a great moment when you tell somebody that you’re going to be a big-leaguer.
“His reaction was priceless,” added Cora. “It’s all about him. The organization did their homework and we decided to draft him. From there on, it was up to him and he did everything possible to make the team. And I know he’s not going to stop. Trying to keep getting better, studying the game, doing all the right things for him to get to the next level.”
It’s been a unique journey for Whitlock to get to where he is today being on the cusp of making his major-league debut at some point next month.
“My college coach told me the best pitching advice I’ve ever had,” Whitlock said while reflecting on his time at UAB. “And that was: ‘When they hand you the ball to go get outs, you go get outs until they come take the ball away from you.’ And so whatever role that is, that’s always going to be my mindset.”
(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Former Red Sox utility man Brock Holt has made the Rangers’ Opening Day roster, per the Dallas Morning News’ Evan Grant.
Holt, 32, initially signed a minor-league deal with Texas last month and had the ability to opt out of said deal on Wednesday of this week if he was not added to the Rangers’ 40-man roster.
At the time of his signing in February, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Holt “had major-league offers but chose the Rangers because of the opportunity at third base.”
Since then, the native Texan has appeared in 10 games for the Rangers in Cactus League play thus far and is currently slashing .273/.407/.455 with four doubles, two RBI, five walks, and two stolen bases through his first 27 trips to the plate. He has primarily played third base with a little bit of second base and shortstop mixed in there as well.
A former ninth-round draft pick of the Pirates back in 2009, the left-handed hitting Holt spent 2013-2019 with the Red Sox after being part of the trade that sent reliever Joel Hanrahan to Boston in December in 2012.
In his time with the Sox, Holt emerged as a fan favorite who took on a variety of roles both in the lineup and on the field. He played every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher in his seven seasons in Boston and even earned a trip to the All-Star Game in 2015.
Because of his versatility, the 5-foot-10, 180 pounder proved to be a valuable member of the Red Sox during the club’s historic run to a World Series in 2018. He became the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to hit for the cycle in the postseason in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Yankees that year.
The success Holt enjoyed in 2018 carried over into 2019 — the final season leading up to his free agency– as well, as he posted career-highs in batting average (.297) and on-base percentage (.369) over 87 games played.
Off the field, you can argue that Holt’s impact was even greater. He served as Jimmy Fund captain in each of his final five seasons with the Sox and was the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award on four separate occasions.
Despite putting up impressive numbers in his walk year, Holt struggled to latch on with a team last winter before eventually signing a one-year deal with the Brewers last February.
Holt’s time in Milwaukee did not last long, though, as he was cut loose in late August after getting off to a rough 3-for-30 (.100) start at the plate with his new club.
Signing on with the Nationals for the remainder of the year on August 29, Holt bounced back to the tune of a .262/.314/.354 slash line over the course of 20 games and 70 plate appearances before hitting the open market once again in October.
Even while looking to add several versatile left-handed bats who could play multiple positions this winter, the Red Sox never seemed like serious suitors to reunite with Holt.
The former All-Star, now donning the No. 16, instead returns to his hometown team in the Rangers and will look to make an impact down in Arlington as he prepares to embark upon his age-33 season.
As of now, the Red Sox are scheduled to play a four-game weekend series against the Rangers at Globe Life Field from April 29 through May 2, while the Rangers are scheduled to travel to Boston for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park from August 20 through August 22.