Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi Tosses Four Scoreless Innings in Intrasquad Action at Fenway Park

For the first time in nearly 10 months, the Red Sox played a baseball game at Fenway Park on Thursday afternoon.

Granted, it was a 5 1/2 inning intrasquad contest that was umpired by Jason Varitek and featured a handful of hitters batting for both teams, but regardless of that, it was still nice to get baseball back in some capacity.

As announced by manager Ron Roenicke earlier this week, the two starting pitchers for this game were right-handers Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Mazza, with the former representing the home side and the ladder representing the away.

Making his first in-game start since March 7th, Eovaldi picked up right where he left off in Florida by twirling four scoreless, one-hit innings at Fenway on Thursday.

Over those four frames of work, Eovaldi fanned four hitters while walking one and plunking another. The 30-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 58, 34 of which were strikes. And even though there was no radar gun available on the Red Sox’ live stream of the game, it definitely looked like Eovaldi’s fastball was humming, as per usual.

On having former Red Sox captain Jason Varitek calling balls and strikes, Eovaldi said, “I thought he did good. I liked it. I like having him back there behind the plate and felt like he was making some really good calls for me.”

On the flip side of things, Mazza, one of several candidates the Sox are considering for a back-end starter/opener/bulk role, was also effective in two fewer innings pitched.

The 30-year-old Californian worked two scoreless frames for the Away Sox while walking one and facing the minimum six batters over that stretch. All while rocking stirrups.

Among the relievers who appear to be locks to make Boston’s Opening Day roster, Marcus Walden fanned a pair and walked another in a shutout third inning of work for the Away Sox, Heath Hembree stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the fourth for the Away Sox, and Brandon Workman got rocked for four runs in the fifth for the Away Sox.

Josh Osich and Colten Brewer, meanwhile, combined to work a scoreless top half of the fifth and sixth inning in relief of Eovaldi to wrap up the 4-0 victory for the Home Sox.

Offensively, all four runs for the Home Sox came off Workman, as previously mentioned.

Worcester native John Andreoli was responsible for three of those, as he took Boston’s closer deep to right for a three-run blast around Pesky’s Pole in the bottom half of the fifth.

Veteran backstop Jonathan Lucroy, who was added to the Sox’ Summer Camp player pool as a non-roster invitee last week, also had two hits.

Following the 4-0 victory for the Red Sox, Roenicke announced that the club is planning on having a six-inning  intrasquad game at noon on Friday and may even “experiment” with some fake crowd noise.

Not sure who the starting pitchers for that game on Friday will be yet, but I will leave you with this quote from Roenicke.

 

New Red Sox Catcher Jonathan Lucroy: ‘I Feel a Lot Better Than I Have in a Long Time’

New Red Sox catcher Jonathan Lucroy is entering uncharted territory as he enters his 13th season in professional baseball. That being a veteran on a minor-league deal when just a few years ago you could argue he was one of the top catchers in the game.

When speaking to reporters at JetBlue Park for the first time on Thursday, the 33-year-old backstop did not make light of how he ended up in his current predicament.

“It’s a little strange,” Lucroy said on attending big league camp as a non-roster invite. “This is the first time I have had to do this. But, it’s OK. It’s just a part of the business side of baseball. Honestly, it’s what I deserve. I haven’t played good. So, it’s kind of where we’re at. You make your bed, you got to sleep in it. It’s just something I have to deal with and that’s OK. It’s a part of life.”

Spending last season with the Angels and Cubs, Lucroy posted an unimpressive .232/.305/.355 slash line to go along with eight home runs and 36 RBI over 101 total games played. He also ranked as one of the worst defensive catchers who caught at least 500 innings, according to FanGraphs.

The Florida native did miss time last year due to a broken nose and concussion, and he underwent major neck surgery earlier in the offseason to replace a cervical disc that he discussed in detail on Thursday.

“I had a herniated disc in my neck the past three years,” said Lucroy. “I’d like to sit here and make excuses to say that was the reason I haven’t played good, but I’m not going to. It did effect me, but I got it taken care of and I feel a lot better than I have in a long time.”

Going back to his days with the Brewers, Lucroy does have some familiarity with Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke, who served as Lucroy’s skipper from 2011 until May 2015.

“I’ve known Ron for a long time,” Lucroy said. “We had a lot of good times together. He’s a really good guy, a really good manager. He’s a quality pickup for the Red Sox. Speaking from experience with him, he’s a huge positive for the Red Sox for sure.”

Lucroy also said that before signing with Boston, he received a call from Roenicke to essentially recruit him.

“He called me and wanted me to come,” Lucroy said of Roenicke. “He was like ‘Look, you got an opportunity here. You come here and you got an opportunity to make a team’ and right now, that’s all you can ask for as a guy in my position.”

The two-time All-Star also mentioned how enticing it was to get the chance to work with Jason Varitek, as the former Sox captain “is very respected in the catching world.”

The road for Lucroy to break camp on Boston’s Opening Day roster is not an easy one, with the club already having former Mets and Indians backstop Kevin Plawecki on its 40-man roster and on a guaranteed deal for the 2020 season, albeit for only $900,000.

Lucroy did not sound all that concerned about playing time in the majors for the time being though, as he emphasized how he has to “make the team first and contribute where he can to help the [Red Sox] win.”

For someone who has the kind of résumé Lucroy does, you might think he would be one to feel disrespected by the notion of not receiving a major-league contract offer, but as previously mentioned, he was brutally honest about his recent performance over the last few years.

“Analytically, I’ve been terrible,” he said. “Seriously, I’m not trying to make excuses. So, I’m not surprised I didn’t get a big league offer. Not at all.”

If he is able to regain some of the form he put on display during the middle parts of the previous decade, Lucroy could be an intriguing addition to a Red Sox team that dealt Sandy Leon to the Indians back in December.

According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Lucroy would earn $1.5 million if he plays in the majors this season. He will be wearing the No. 12.