Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo ‘Probably Farther Along Than Anyone,’ According to Ron Roenicke

In terms of preparations for the upcoming, abbreviated 2020 season, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo is “probably further along than anyone,” manager Ron Roenicke told reporters earlier Monday afternoon.

That being the case because, according to Roenicke, the 24-year-old “has been on the field and hitting in the cage” under team supervision while other players have not gotten that opportunity.

Coming off a stress fracture in his lower back suffered while with the Dodgers last season, Verdugo, along with left-hander Chris Sale, had the opportunity to report back to JetBlue Park earlier than most players last month in order to continue his rehab.

Because of this, in addition to the fact that he remained in Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic-induced shutdown, the Arizona native was able to get some work in at the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers.

Prior to said shutdown ordered by Major League Baseball back in March, it looked as though Verdugo would miss the first chunk of the original 2020 season due to that stress fracture.

Now, as chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters last week, the former Dodgers top prospect “should be all systems go” once the Red Sox report to Fenway Park for summer training camp on Wednesday.

As things stand at the moment, it looks like Verdugo could split time in right field with Kevin Pillar as he eases his way back from that back ailment.

Roenicke also mentioned that things “could change [for Verdugo] depending on how things match up with opposing teams.”

Since making his major-league debut with Los Angeles in 2017, the former second-round draft pick owns a career .273/.335/.448 slash line in 355 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, and a career .306/.333/.452 slash line in 133 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers.

The day-to-day status of Verdugo will certainly be something to monitor once training camp begins this week. As Roenicke put it, hopefuly there won’t be any setbacks and he’ll be ready to go once Opening Day 2.0 rolls around in late July.

Red Sox’ Chris Sale Speaks on Tommy John Surgery for First Time Since Undergoing Procedure Last Month

Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale spoke with the media on Tuesday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery late last month.

Speaking via a conference call with several reporters, the 31-year-old said that he’s “really happy” with where he’s at right now and he’ll get his cast taken off sometime on Thursday.

From there, Sale said that he will “probably” begin the rehab process at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, but if worst comes to worst in regards to the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic, he could start working out again at his own house in nearby Naples.

“We could have done this six months ago,” Sale said in regards to the procedure. “But I’m okay with that. I didn’t want to jump the gun, I wanted to make sure this was something that needed to be done.”

After being shut down last August due to inflammation in his left elbow, Sale was eventually given the go-ahead to begin throwing again right around Thanksgiving.

Heading into the start of spring training, Sale was completely healthy outside of a bout of pneumonia he dealt with earlier in the year.

“I truly thought I was in the clear,” the hurler said. “I had all the confidence in the world coming into spring training that my arm was going to be as good, if not better, than it was my entire career.”

That turned out not to be the case though, as Sale experienced soreness in his left elbow in early March, shortly after he faced live hitters for the first time since before he was shut down last August.

Later diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain, Sale was prescribed a two-week period of rest and did not begin throwing again until the middle of March.

Even after that period of rest, Sale again experienced discomfort in his left elbow while throwing and that’s ultimately how the decision for the Florida native to undergo Tommy John was reached.

“It was a punch to the gut,” he said. “It was tough to let my teammates down.”

As tough as it may have been, Sale did say that he “sleep[s] easier knowing we did everything we could. We turned over every stone.”

Sale’s rotation-mate Nathan Eovaldi has undergone Tommy John surgery twice in his career. When seeking advice from Eovaldi, Sale was advised to “set little goals” for himself and to not look at the recovery process as a year-long endeavor, but instead focus on two weeks at a time.

“I have a chip on my shoulder,” Sale said. “Well, I guess I have a chip in my elbow, too.”

The typical recovery time for Tommy John surgery is usually 14-15 months, so we probably won’t see Sale on a big league mound again until June 2021 at the earliest.

On a positive note, Sale did say that he throws a “mean” right-handed cutter with a wiffle ball to his sons, so that’s pretty neat.

J.D. Martinez Homers, Rafael Devers Makes Spring Debut as Red Sox Fall to Twins

After getting blown out by the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, the Red Sox fell to 3-4-1 on Grapefruit League play on Friday following a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Twins at nearby Hammond Stadium.

Making his first start and second appearance of the spring for Boston was Kyle Hart, who took the loss in his last time out against Minnesota this past Monday.

Working the first two innings of this one, the left-hander looked much better this time around, as he retired six of the seven Twins hitters he faced while walking one and striking out another.

Hart is one of several candidates vying for a spot in Boston’s starting rotation to begin the season.

In relief of Hart, fellow lefty Josh Taylor made his spring debut and punched out a pair in a clean third inning, Austin Brice worked his way around a leadoff double and fielding error in a scoreless fourth, Hector Velazquez walked two in an otherwise harmless fifth, former Twin Trevor Hildenberger yielded two runs on two hits and one walk in the sixth to eventually take the loss, Robinson Leyer allowed another pair of Twins runs on an Alex Kirilloff two-run homer in the seventh, and left-hander Matt Hall fanned two wand walked another in a rather quick bottom half of the eighth inning.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to surrender four runs on five hits and five walks to go along with seven strikeouts over eight total frames of work.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox starting lineup that featured Rafael Devers making his spring debut was matched up against veteran right-hander Homer Bailey for the Twins.

Nothing in terms of offensive production came against Bailey though, and it wasn’t until the top of fourth when the Boston bats showed some signs of life.

There, with one out in the frame, J.D. Martinez greeted new Twins reliever Cory Gearrin by unloading on a 1-2 pitch down the heart of the plate and depositing it deep to right field for his first big fly of the spring.

That solo shot actually gave Boston an early one-run lead, but Minnesota jumped out to a one-run lead of their own two innings later and would not have to look back, as they took this Grapefruit League contest by a final score of 4-1.

Some observations from this loss:

Rafael Devers in his 2020 spring debut, batting out of the two-hole: 0-for-2 with one strikeout.

J.D. Martinez on Friday: 2-for-2 with a triple, home run, and RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Yankees for the first time this spring on Saturday in a game that will be televised!

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is expected to get the start in his spring debut for Boston, while fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery will start for New York.

Rodriguez was slated to make his spring debut last Sunday, but after slipping in a bullpen session earlier that week and twisting his left knee, that debut was pushed back until Saturday.

The 26-year-old could very well be the Sox’ Opening Day starter with Chris Sale expected to start the 2020 season on the injured list.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST on NESNplus.

 

Red Sox Sign Outfielder César Puello to Minor-League Deal, Invite Him to Major League Spring Training

As pitchers and catchers report to Fenway South in Fort Myers on Tuesday, the Red Sox have made another roster addition, signing outfielder Cesar Puello to a minor-league deal that includes an invite to big league camp.

Puello, who turns 29 at the beginning of April, had spent the 2019 season between the Angels and Marlins, slashing .248/.356/.384 with four home runs and 18 RBI over 44 total games between the two clubs.

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Mets in 2007, the Red Sox will be the ninth organization Puello has spent time with.

Despite only playing in 44 games last year, Puello was worth 1.0 fWAR thanks to some exceptional defense in the Angels and Marlins outfield, per FanGraphs. He logged time at all three outfield positions as well.

Puello will earn $625,000 if he makes it to the majors this year, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

With this signing, as well as the other non-roster invitees mentioned in the tweet above, the Red Sox now have 65 players attending major-league spring training this year. That number will have to be trimmed down to 26 by the time March 26th comes around.

 

 

Red Sox Bring Back Jaun Centeno on Minor-League Deal

The Red Sox have brought back veteran catcher Juan Centeno on a minor-league contract for the 2020 season, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invitation to major-league spring training.

Centeno, 30, appeared in just seven games for Boston last year after being called up at the beginning of September when rosters expanded. In those seven contests, the Puerto Rico native went 2-for-15 (.133) with two walks and two RBI while catching 34 innings behind the plate, per FanGraphs.

While with Triple-A Pawtucket last season, Centeno slashed .248/.321/.350 with four home runs and 40 RBI over 81 games played.

In Centeno, the Red Sox have acquired additional catching depth to supplement fellow veteran backstop Jett Bandy, who was brought in on a similar minor-league deal last month. Those two will more than likely compete for a starting role with the PawSox once pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers in February.

And since Bandy and Centeno are both out of minor-league options, they will have to be exposed to waivers if the Red Sox plan on bringing either of them up and sending them back down at any point this season.

Dustin Pedroia Would Not Have Undergone Knee Surgery in 2017 If He Knew What He Knows Now.

When speaking with reporters at JetBlue Park on Friday, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia revealed that if he knew what he does now, he would not have opted to have surgery done on his left knee in the 2017 offseason.

No, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. “I don’t regret doing it, but looking back and knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it.”

Now 35, Pedroia appeared in just three games for Boston this past season following a cartilage restoration procedure on his left knee two October’s ago.

According to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, “the surgery involved grafting cartilage from a cadaver into Pedroia’s knee. He also had microfracture surgery on his tibia at the same time.”

That held the long time infielder out for approximately seven months until he began a rehab stint with Triple A Pawtucket on May 14th.

Less than two weeks later, Pedroia was back up with the Red Sox, batting sixth in a May 26th contest against the Atlanta Braves.

A las, three games and 13 plate appearances into his 2018 season, Pedroia was on the shelf yet again, eventually being placed on the 10-day injured list on June 2nd with left knee inflammation.

In late July, Pedroia went under the knife once more to remove scar tissue from that same knee and has since been rehabbing as spring workouts begin.

It’s been a complicated year-and-a-half for Pedroia, but now the Arizona native is pushing to make Boston’s 2019 Opening Day lineup, and more importantly, bat leadoff, a promise made by Red Sox manager Alex Cora in November.

“I appreciate him doing that,” Pedroia said. “He better not give me too many days hitting leadoff, I might stay there. But I appreciate that. These guys have seen how hard I’ve worked and what I’m trying to get back from. To give me that opportunity would be cool.”

Since making his debut in 2006, Pedroia has played 1,506 games in a Red Sox uniform, good for 11th most in franchise history. He’s under contract through 2021.

David Price Changes #RedSox Uniform Number from No. 24 to No. 10.

On yet another slow day in the baseball offseason, The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham came through with an interesting tweet Thursday afternoon regarding Red Sox uniform numbers for 2019, with the most significant number change coming from David Price.

That’s right, after spending his first three seasons in Boston rocking No. 24, the left-hander has apparently made the switch to the No. 10 for the 2019 season.

Neither Price or the Red Sox have provided a reason for the uniform number change, but Abraham also tweets that, “there is nothing going on with No. 24. Price just wanted to switch to No. 10.”

Some speculated that perhaps the club was preparing to retire the number in honor of Dwight Evans or Manny Ramirez this upcoming season, but as Abraham states above, this move was based strictly off of Price’s own preference.

In order for this uniform number change to happen, Red Sox bench coach had to give the No. 10 up. Perhaps Price will have to pay for a team dinner or something of the sorts like Eduardo Rodriguez had to do last year to obtain the No. 57 from third base coach Carlos Febles. Roenicke will wear the No. 30 in 2019.

Tzu-Wei Lin also reclaimed the No. 5, which had been briefly taken over by Ian Kinsler, who is now with the San Diego Padres.

Bryce Brentz, who the Red Sox re-signed to a minor-league contract earlier this month, will wear the No. 54.

Here are some other uniform numbers for Red Sox big league camp in Fort Myers.

The No. 46, which was worn by Red Sox and current free agent closer Craig Kimbrel for the last three seasons, has yet to be assigned. That’s something to keep an eye on as February 13th looms near.

JD Martinez Will Reportedly Be Introduced By the #RedSox Tomorrow.

 

After nearly a week of waiting, it looks like JD Martinez will finally be introduced to the media tomorrow at JetBlue. All this after nearly a week of waiting. By the time the press conference happens, we’re talking about just under a full week between the reported and official deal. I wrote on Friday about how odd this process has been. Given the injury history Martinez has, it’s understandable as to why things have moved so slowly. The Red Sox acted cautiously, gathering all the knowledge they need on what has affected the 30-year-old outfielder in the past. Since he joined the Detroit Tigers in 2014, the most games Martinez has played in a single season, excluding the postseason, is 158, which is a bit of an outlier because the second most games he has played in goes down to 123. In all honesty, I’m not expecting Martinez to play in more than 150 games with the Red Sox this season. Considering the fact he hit 45 home runs in only 119 games last season, I believe Martinez can still put up great numbers despite the number of missed games.

According to Jon Heyman, the terms of the contract will still be the same, $110 million over five years with multiple opt-outs. Can’t wait to put this behind us and see what JD Martinez can bring to the table for his new club. If I can catch it tomorrow, I should have a reaction post up sometime in the afternoon.