Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom Appears Confident Andrew Benintendi Can Bounce Back in 2021

On the night of August 11, it appeared as though Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi was on the verge of potentially turning his 2020 season around.

Entering the day with just two hits through his first 36 plate appearances of the year, the 26-year-old managed to double his hit total within the first three innings against the Rays that Tuesday with a pair of leadoff singles.

Fast forward to the eighth, and Benintendi again reached base after getting plunked by an Aaron Loup sinker.

An Alex Verdugo single to shallow left field moments later allowed Benintendi to advance to second base, but as the University of Arkansas product rounded the bag to take off for third, he subsequently slipped while on the run and wound up getting caught in a rundown.

As he made one last effort to reach third base, Benintendi slid head first before getting tagged out, but appeared to get up rather slowly after said out was recorded.

On August 12, the Cincinnati native was placed on the injured list after getting diagnosed with a right rib cage strain, which would wind up costing him the rest of the season.

“It’s frustrating,” Benintendi said at the time he was placed on the IL. “I got a few hits. I was feeling good. Felt like I was about to get hot, so, I mean, I’m frustrated.”

With his 2020 season prematurely coming to a close, Benintendi has now seen his on-field performance continue to decline going back to the start of the 2019 campaign.

In his first full two seasons with Boston, the 2015 first-round draft pick got on base 36% of the time while posting an OPS+ of 113 over a 299-game span that saw him nearly win American League Rookie of the Year and become a first-time All-Star.

Since then, though, as previously mentioned, Benintendi has been rather underwhelming, as he slashed .266/.343/.431 with 13 home runs and 68 RBI in 138 games played last year before running into the buzz saw that was 2020.

Still, even as he trends ever so slightly in the wrong direction two years out from free agency, Benintendi is still viewed as a plus-player in the eyes of the Red Sox front office. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom made that much clear when speaking with reporters via Zoom on Tuesday.

“I think talent-wise, I wouldn’t factor this year into an evaluation of his talent at all,” Bloom said of Benintendi’s prospects. “I mean, this guy has great all-around ability. It’s just unfortunate how the year started. He actually looked great at Summer Camp, and then for whatever reason the season opened and he wasn’t operating on all cylinders. He had a couple bad weeks and then got hurt, so I wouldn’t let that change anyone’s mind.

“I thought he looked great coming in both in spring training and Summer Camp,” Bloom continued. “This is a guy who has shown the ability to perform at a really high level, including in some really critical situations. Still young, still has all that ability. It’s just a shame that his year kind of got wiped out.”

As he continues to recover from that rib cage strain, Benintendi is expected to undergo a typical offseason where he will not be limited in his activities.

“He’s not full-go at this moment if we were still playing,” said Bloom. “That shouldn’t be a surprise. But, substantively, his offseason should be pretty normal.”

From there, depending on what Bloom and Co. do between now and February, Benintendi should be in line to be a prime bounce-back candidate in 2021, especially with the potential he still brings to the table.

Red Sox Right-Hander Nathan Eovaldi Placed on Injured List Due To Mild Calf Strain

Before taking on the Nationals on Saturday, the Red Sox placed right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on the 10-day injured list retroactive to August 26 and recalled right-hander Chris Mazza from the alternate training site, manager Ron Roenicke announced.

Eovaldi was originally slated to start against Washington on Sunday, but Roenicke said Friday that the 30-year-old hurler would not be ready in time due to a right calf cramp suffered in Baltimore last weekend.

As it turns out, an MRI on Eovaldi’s calf revealed a mild strain, hence the move to place him on the IL Saturday.

“We feel like, to do it right, we want him to throw two bullpens before he pitches,” Roenicke said of Eovaldi’s status going forward. “He’ll be eligible [to return] Saturday. He’ll throw a bullpen tomorrow. He’ll throw an up-and-down bullpen Wednesday to try and make sure we don’t spike too much after his layoff, and then he’ll be eligible to pitch in Saturday’s game.”

That start on Saturday, September 5, would come against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Prior to straining his calf, Eovaldi had posted a 4.98 ERA and 4.58 FIP through his first six starts and 34 1/3 innings pitched of the season. Other than lefty Martin Perez, the Houson native is just about the only starter the Red Sox can rely on to make it through at least five innings when he takes the mound. And even if he is only out for another week, the reliability that Eovaldi provides will surely be missed in the meantime.

“We’ve been kind of chasing this thing around with the calf,” Roenicke continued. “Yesterday’s bullpen was definitely the best we’ve had. I kind of felt like it was going to be a while anyway, being able to back-date it and have a plan for him, we feel really good about him being ready on Saturday. Even though we know we’re losing him, I know now with the MRI that it’s nothing serious and that we can get back on the mound and have him pitch games again. You always wonder what’s going on and how long is this going to last? We feel pretty good about what it is and when he’ll be back.”

With Eovaldi sidelined, Mazza will start against the Nationals on Saturday night, while right-hander Zack Godley will do the same on Sunday afternoon to close this three-game weekend series out.

Red Sox Activate Darwinzon Herndandez From COVID-19 Related Injured List, Designate Christian Arroyo for Assignment

Before taking on the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, the Red Sox made yet another roster move, activating left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez from the 10-day COVID-19 related injured list and designating infielder Christian Arroyo for assignment.

Hernandez, 23, had been on the injured list since July 14 after testing positive for COVID-19 while at home in Venezuela.

Upon recovering from the virus, the southpaw reported to Fenway Park late last month for Summer Camp workouts and was subsequently shuttled down to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket to continue to build up his stamina.

While in Pawtucket, Hernandez had been getting stretched out and most recently worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings in an intrasquad game this past Sunday.

Per Sox manager Ron Roenicke, Hernandez will likely be used as a bulk-inning reliever first before a potential move to the starting rotation is made towards the later stages of the 2020 season.

Because Hernandez was not counted towards Boston’s 40-man roster while he was on the IL, the Red Sox needed to clear a roster spot in order to activate the young hurler, hence the move, albeit a surprising one, to designate Arroyo.

Arroyo, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians last Thursday, was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list himself on Wednesday and appeared as if he would make his Red Sox debut in this series against the Orioles.

That outlook has since changed though, and I would have to imagine the Sox would like to see the 25-year-old former top prospect slip through waivers. If not, Arroyo’s tenure with the Red Sox was certainly a short one.

With this transaction made, the Sox’ 60-man player pool is now at 59, so the club has one open slot to work with there. Pretty solid breakdown from The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch on that matter here:

Red Sox Left-Hander Josh Taylor ‘Ready To Go’ After Getting Activated From COVID-19 Related Injured List

Going into the year, Josh Taylor would have never thought that he would be making his 2020 debut in the middle of August.

But, his testing positive for COVID-19 resulted in him being sidelined for about six weeks before he was finally  activated from the injured list prior to Monday’s game against the Yankees.

When speaking with reporters for the first time in a while on Monday, the left-hander admitted that he really did not know what to expect upon getting that positive test result back in the beginning of July.

“I was asymptomatic, so I had no idea [the test] would come back positive,” Taylor said. “I kept looking back and maybe I got it at a grocery store or something. I have no clue. I had two long weeks of sitting in a hotel room to figure it out and nothing really comes to mind.”

In Taylor’s absence, the Red Sox pitching staff endured their fair of struggles, which is something the 27-year-old may have helped with considering he posted a 3.11 ERA and .638 OPS against in 52 appearances out of the Boston bullpen as a rookie last year.

That possibility did not sit too well for Taylor while he was in self-isolation and watching his team getting off to a dreadful 6-16 start to the season.

“It sucks sitting in my hotel room and watching the game on TV,” he continued. “Seeing an inning go bad and saying ‘I could have been there to at least try to help limit the damage or get us through the inning.’ It’s tough, but I’m just happy I’m here know and can help the team contribute and hopefully we can turn things around.

Despite how much it must have gotten on Taylor to to be in that situation, he was at least able to stay in relatively good shape by using what was available to him in his room. That being his own laundry.

“I was throwing a ball into a sock, really,” the southpaw said of his self-isolation routine. “You tape a sock to your hand and throw [the ball] into the sock. That’s about as good as you get.”

Fortunately, Taylor can move on from that and look forward to appearing in a real game for the first time since last September. He is indeed ready for that to happen, as you may expect.

“I haven’t been put in a real-game scenario, but I definitely feel like I’m ready to go,” the Arizona native said. “I feel like my arm should be where it was last year and I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to go out and compete at the level I did last year.”

It’s been a frustrating last few weeks for Taylor, but he’s back in the majors and ready to build off what he accomplished in 2019, shortened season and all.

 

Red Sox’ Andrew Benintendi Could Miss Significant Amount of Time While Recovering From Rib Cage Strain

Before Wednesday’s eventual 9-5 loss to the Rays, the Red Sox placed outfielder Andrew Benintendi on the 10-day injured list due to a right rib cage strain.

At the time that move was announced, Sox manager Ron Roenicke appeared hopeful that Benintendi would only be out the minimum 10 days. But, after further testing, it seems more likely now that the 26-year-old could miss a significant amount of time.

“He did strain it so he’s going to be a while,” Roenicke said of Benintendi’s injury during his postgame media availability on Wednesday night. “It will probably be more than that 10 days that we talked about.”

Prior to straining his rib cage after tripping and falling down while rounding second base in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s loss to Tampa Bay, Benintendi had put together his best game of the season at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. It seemed like that could have gotten the slumping outfielder going offensively, but he will now have to wait a while to get back on the field.

“This is really unfortunate that it happened,” Roenicke said earlier Wednesday. “what [Benintendi] did yesterday could [have gotten] him going. So I think it’s a tough break and hopefully that he’s not out too long to where he loses that feeling of his swing that he’s been working so hard on.”

In the meantime, Alex Verdugo, Kevin Pillar, J.D. Martinez, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Jose Peraza could all see an uptick in playing time patrolling the outfield while Benintendi is on the mend.

Through the club’s first 18 games this season, Red Sox outfielders rank 25th in baseball in collective OPS (.650) and 25th in collective wRC+ (80).

Red Sox Place Andrew Benintendi on Injured List Due to Rib Cage Strain, Recall Ryan Weber From Pawtucket

Prior to taking on the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, the Red Sox have placed outfielder Andrew Benintendi on the 10-day injured list due to a right rib cage strain and in a corresponding move recalled right-hander Ryan Weber from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.

Per Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, Benintendi suffered the strain when he tripped and fell down after rounding second base in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s loss to Tampa Bay.

The hope is that the 26-year-old will only miss the minimum 10 days on the shelf while J.D. Martinez and Jose Peraza will play more outfield in his place. In the meantime, Alex Verdugo will see the majority of his playing time come in left field and Kevin Pillar will see the majority of his come in right.

Prior to straining the right side of his rib cage on Tuesday night, Benintendi had put together his first two-hit game of the 2020 season, so this news comes at a less than ideal time for the struggling outfielder.

“I think it’s a tough break,” Roenicke said of Benintendi being placed on the injured list. “Hopefully he’s not out too long where he loses that feeling of his swing that he’s been working on.”

As for the guy who will be called up in Benintendi’s place, Ryan Weber is back with the big-league club just four days after he was optioned to the alternate training site.

The 30-year-old hurler struggled as the Sox’ No. 3 starter to begin the season, posting a 9.90 ERA over his first three starts. He will be available to pitch in relief of Zack Godley on Wednesday and would otherwise be a “full go” to pitch in relief of Kyle Hart in Thursday’s series finale against Tampa Bay.

With this transaction made, the Red Sox now have 15 pitchers and 13 position players on their active roster. Expect another move to be made on Thursday in lieu of Hart needing to be added before making his first career major-league start.

Red Sox’ Brian Johnson Reportedly Leaves Club’s Alternate Training Site in Pawtucket for Undisclosed Reason

Red Sox left-hander Brian Johnson has left the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket to return home to Florida, according to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Per Smith, the reason Johnson departed from Pawtucket is not yet known, but the “speculation is he could opt out of the rest of the 2020 season.”

The 29-year-old hurler was originally added to Boston’s 60-man player pool last month as a non-roster invitee and most recently worked 5 1/3 one-run innings in a simulated game at McCoy Stadium this past Friday.

This all comes as Johnson, who was outrighted to Pawtucket last November after clearing waivers, looked like a legitimate candidate to start once again for the Red Sox seeing how the club’s starting rotation is not in the best of shape.

Of course, the Florida native would have had to been added back to Boston’s 40-man roster in order to make that happen, but that now appears unlikely at least for the time being given this recent news.

Last year, Johnson missed significant time on the injured list due to left elbow inflammation and a non-baseball related medical matter. He’s also been very open about his past battles with depression and anxiety. I’m not trying to speculate on anything by bringing that up, but given this report, I sincerely hope Johnson is in a good place right now. That’s it.

 

Red Sox Top Prospect Bobby Dalbec Joins Club’s Taxi Squad in Tampa Bay for Series Against Rays

Top prospect Bobby Dalbec has joined the Red Sox for the final leg of their seven-game road trip in Tampa Bay this week, although the 25-year-old will be part of the club’s taxi squad, not their active roster, according to ABC6’s Ian Steele and The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

This news comes as Dalbec was not present at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket on Monday, as he was likely on a flight to St. Petersburg instead.

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 3 prospect, the 6-foot-4, 227 lb. corner infielder was cleared to return to baseball activities last month after a bout with COVID-19 in which he never experienced any symptoms. He was added to the Sox’ 60-man player pool on July 17 and unlike Darwinzon Hernandez, Eduardo Rodriguez, or Josh Taylor, avoided a stint on the injured list.

Originally taken by the Sox in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of The University of Arizona, Dalbec, a native of Washington state, has emerged as one of the top power-hitting prospects in the organization. Just last season, he slugged 27 home runs in 135 total games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, Dalbec will not accrue any service time while he is “up” with the club’s taxi squad, but as was the case last September, the right-handed hitter will be able to familiarize himself with the big-league environment once more.

He’ll have to wait a little bit longer to make his major-league debut, but I would have to think Dalbec’s time is coming relatively soon.

Red Sox Shut Down Eduardo Rodriguez Due to COVID-19 Recovery Complications

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has been shut down from all baseball activities due to minor complications related to his recovery from COVID-19, his manager Ron Roenicke told reporters Thursday.

Per Roenicke, the Sox’ medical staff discovered these “minor complications” before the decision to shut down Rodriguez was made.

The 27-year-old had tested positive for COVID-19 while at home in Miami earlier this month, and even though he would test negative right now, Rodriguez has still “not physically recovered” from his bout with his virus.

As disheartening as this news may sound, Roenicke is viewing it as only a “setback” and is fully confident Rodriguez “will be available to pitch at some point in 2020.” That is probably the case because, as the Sox skipper later clarified, what’s currently hampering Rodriguez has been prevalent in other COVID-19 cases as well.

“The news that we need to shut [Rodriguez] down for a period of time is obviously rough on him,” Roenicke said Thursday. “It is mild. He knows that.”

Rodriguez, along with fellow left-handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor, was placed on the 10-day injured list on July 14 due to testing positive for the virus.

The Venezuela national re-joined his club over the weekend and threw a bullpen session at Fenway Park this past Saturday, but it now appears that he will not be throwing off a mound anytime soon, although Roenicke is hoping the southpaw will only miss a week’s worth of time.

Of course, this coronavirus has proven to be somewhat unpredictable. For all the talk about how harmless it is for people in his age group, it was quite jarring to hear about what Rodriguez, a 27-year-old professional athlete, had to endure while he was sick.

For more on that, I recommend checking out this story from MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Red Sox Place Eduardo Rodriguez, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor on 10-Day Injured List Following Positive COVID-19 Tests

In case you missed it from earlier, the Red Sox placed three pitchers — Eduardo Rodriguez, Darwinzon Hernandez, on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday.

The reason this trio of left-handers were placed on the IL has nothing do with physical ailments, however.

As you may recall, Rodriguez, Hernandez, and Taylor, as well as top prospect Bobby Dalbec, all tested positive for COVID-19 within the last few weeks. It’s unknown if these four are the only Red Sox players to test positive for the virus, but they are the ones who gave the club permission to reveal their names to the public.

Dalbec has since been cleared to report to Summer Camp at Fenway Park and arrived in Boston over the weekend. The pitchers are a different story, though, as Rodriguez is still at home in Miami, Hernandez is still at home in Venezuela, and Taylor is still self-isolating at a Boston hotel.

Rodriguez, entering his sixth fifth season with the Sox, was pegged to be the team’s Opening Day starter for next week’s season opener against the Baltimore Orioles. It now looks like that responsibility will be handed over to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi.

Hernandez and Taylor, meanwhile, proved to be two key cogs for Boston’s bullpen in their rookie seasons in 2019, and will likely not be available for the start of the 2020 campaign depending on how things go in the coming days.