Red Sox Add Yairo Muñoz to Spring Training Roster, Option Four Pitchers to Minor-League Camp

The Red Sox officially announced the signing of former Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz on a minor-league deal on Thursday. The 25-year-old has been added to Boston’s spring training roster as a non-roster invitee and will likely begin the year with Triple-A Pawtucket once the 2020 season does begin.

In a series of other moves, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom also announced that Colten Brewer and three pitchers picked up over the course of the offseason — Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, and Jeffrey Springs– had been optioned to minor-league rosters.

Hall and Mazza were both optioned to High-A Salem, while Brewer was optioned to Double-A Portland and Springs was optioned to Pawtucket.

Brewer and Mazza both seemed like potential options to serve as an opener for the Sox this season, but it looks like they’ll start the year in the minors once baseball does resume, although I doubt it will be at the levels they were optioned to on Thursday.

Hall and Springs, meanwhile, were picked up via a pair of trades over the winter. The two left-handers appeared in a total of 41 major-league games last year with the Tigers and Rangers respectively.

With these moves, the Red Sox now have 43 players at major-league camp, 16 of which are pitchers.

 

Ryan Weber Hurls Four Scoreless Innings as Red Sox Sneak Past Braves

In their first game under the lights this spring, the Red Sox won their second consecutive one-run contest, as they topped the Atlanta Braves by a final score of 2-1 on Monday to improve to 7-10-2 in Grapefruit League play.

Making his third start of the spring for Boston in this one was Ryan Weber, coming off three one-run (unearned) innings in his last time out against the Tigers last Monday.

Working the first four innings this time around, the right-hander stayed sharp as he kept the Braves off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts on the evening.

That one hit was a two-out single off the bat of Freddie Freeman in the bottom half of the first. Outside of that, Weber retired the other 12 hitters he faced in order.

Finishing with a final pitch count of  60, the 29-year-old’s next outing should come sometime early next week depending on how many days of rest he gets.

In relief of Weber, Brandon Workman, in his third appearance of the spring, loaded the bases on the first three Braves he faced in the fifth, but he got out of it unscathed thanks to an unassisted double play from Jose Peraza and a strikeout of Shea Langeliers.

From there, Marcus Walden allowed Atlanta to score their first run of the night on one hit, one hit batsman, and one sacrifice fly in the sixth before tossing a clean seventh, and left-hander Jeffrey Springs fanned three while tossing scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth innings to close out the 2-1 win for his side.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Tzu-Wei Lin, Kevin Plawecki, Michael Chavis, Jonathan Lucroy (DH), Peraza, Marco Hernandez, Rusney Castillo, and Jarren Duran was matched up against a familar foe in ex-Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez for Atlanta.

Kicking off the scoring in the fourth, a leadoff walk drawn by Lucroy followed by a single from Peraza put runners at the corners with no outs for Marco Hernandez.

On the third pitch he saw from the Braves’ Hernandez, the Red Sox’ Hernandez laced a line-drive RBI single to the opposite field to drive in Lucroy from third and give Boston an early one-run edge.

Fast forward to the sixth, and it was the same part of the lineup getting things done once more, with Lucroy leading off with another walk against new Braves reliever Touki Toussaint, Jose Peraza advancing the pinch-running Kole Cottam to second on a single, and Hernandez taking a pitch off his left foot to fill the bases for Castillo.

Castillo nearly grounded into a double play, but because of a bad throw from short to second on the part of the Braves, he was credited with an RBI on a groundout that brought in Cottam from third.

That simple play made it a 2-0 game, and after Atlanta got one of their own in their half of the sixth, 2-1 would go on to be Monday’s final score at CoolToday Park.

Some observations from this win:

Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts out of the leadoff spot on Monday.

Tzu-Wei Lin returned to the Red Sox lineup on Monday and went 1-for-1 with a single and a sacrifice bunt.

Kevin Plawecki on Monday: 1-for-3 with a walk.

Jonathan Lucroy on Monday: 1-for-1 with two walks and a run scored.

Jose Peraza is looking pretty good at second base.

Through his first nine innings of work this spring, Ryan Weber has yet to surrender an earned run.

It was nice to see top prospect Triston Casas get some playing time at first base in this one, although he did strike out in his lone plate appearance.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s another afternoon game against the St. Louis Cardinals back at JetBlue Park on Tuesday.

Left-hander Brian Johnson will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Jack Flaherty will do the same for St. Louis.

Following Sunday’s roster cuts, Johnson remains one of the notable non-roster invites still in major-league camp. He is surely vying for a rotation or bullpen spot with Boston to begin the season.

Matt Barnes, Colten Brewer, and Josh Taylor are among the Red Sox relievers expected to follow Johnson.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. This game will not be televised.

 

Jackie Bradley Jr. and J.D. Martinez Both Homer as Pitching Struggles Continue for Red Sox in 13-9 Loss to Tigers

After allowing nine runs in a 9-1 loss against the Yankees on Tuesday, the Red Sox fell to 4-7-2 in Grapefruit League play on Wednesday following a 13-9 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Tigers at JetBlue Park.

Making his first start and third overall appearance of the spring for Boston was Jeffrey Springs, coming off a scoreless inning of relief in his last time out against the Yankees this past Sunday.

Working just the first inning of this one, the left-hander got hit hard for five runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and zero walks to go along with zero strikeouts of the afternoon.

All five of those early Tigers tallies came courtesy of the long ball, with C.J. Cron whalloping a three-run homer off of Springs, and Frank Schwindel following that up with a two-run shot a few moments later.

It was a laborious task, but Springs was able to at least retire the final two of the eight hitters he faced in order to retire the side without giving anything else up.

From there, Eduard Bazardo walked one and struck out another in a scoreless top half of the second, Ryan Brasier bounced back from a tough spring debut with a pair of perfect frames, Heath Hembree followed by serving up two home runs, a solo shot in the fifth plus a two-run shot in the sixth, over two innings of relief, Yoan Aybar worked around a leadoff walk and one-out HBP in an otherwise clean seventh, Mike Shawaryn fanned three in the eighth, and left-hander Matthew Kent got bombarded for five runs, although none of them were earned, in the ninth before Matthew Gorst came on and recorded the final out on a punchout.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to surrender 13 runs (eight earned) on 15 hits, five of which were home runs, and two walks to go along with 10 total strikeouts over nine innings of work.

Since the calendars flipped to March, Red Sox pitching has allowed 35 runs over their last four games.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Christian Vazquez, Jonathan Arauz, Josh Ockimey, Jantzen Witte, and Jeter Downs was matched up against veteran right-hander Ivan Nova to begin things on Wednesday.

Despite going down by five before even taking their first at-bats, the Boston bats responded swiftly in their half of the first, as Pillar and Bradley Jr. greeted Nova with a leadoff single and double to put runners in scoring position with one out for J.D. Martinez.

Martinez didn’t waste anytime, either, as he took the second pitch he saw from the Tigers starter and deposited deep to left field for a three-run shot. His second homer of the spring cut the deficit to two at 5-3.

An inning later, it was the bottom half of the lineup getting it done, with Ockimey leading the frame off with a double and Downs, the organization’s top prospect, driving him in on a one-out, run-scoring single to left. 5-4.

In addition to his first inning double, Bradley Jr. capitalized in his second plate appearance against Nova in the third, as he ripped a leadoff homer over the left field wall to knot things up at five runs apiece. His second big fly of the spring.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh, after Detroit had jumped out to an 8-5 edge, Chad De La Guerra brought his side back to within two runs on another solo shot off Tigers reliever Rony Garcia.

And in the ninth, in what had suddenly turned into a runaway for the Tigers, Roldani Baldwin came to the plate with two outs and the bases full, and he promptly unloaded them on a three-run double off Jose Cisnero.

That three RBI knock made it a 13-9 contest, which would go on to be Wednesday’s final score after Nolan Blackwood got Ryder Jones to line out to short.

Some observations from this loss:

Xander Bogaerts, in his spring debut at designated hitter: 0-for-2 with two strikeouts.

This game was not televised, but the fact that Heath Hembree has a 10.13 ERA through his first two appearances of the spring is far from promising. His roster spot could be in jeopardy if he continues to struggle.

Nice to see Ryan Brasier bounce back with two scoreless innings of relief Wednesday. Probably the highlight of the day pitching-wise.

Kevin Plawecki walked in his lone plate appearance of the afternoon after replacing Christian Vazquez behind the plate in the fifth. Jonathan Lucroy did not play.

Rusney Castillo hit a triple.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Houston Astros at JetBlue Park on Thursday afternoon.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Josh James will do the same for Houston.

As mentioned before, Hart is one of several candidates vying for a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation. He owns an ERA of 9.00 through two appearances (one start) this spring.

The Astros have been subject to plenty of boos from opposing crowds this spring, so it will be interesting to see, or hear about, how the JetBlue Park crowd handles things given the fact that the 2018 Red Sox are still under investigation by the league.

Anyway, first pitch Thursday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. This game will not be televised.

 

 

Rafael Devers Homers but Red Sox Pitching Falters in 9-1 Loss to Yankees

After enduring their second tie of the spring to kick off the first week of March on Monday, the Red Sox fell to 4-6-2 in Grapefruit League play on Tuesday following a 9-1 defeat at the hands of the New York Yankees in Tampa Bay.

Making his second start of the season for Boston was Martin Perez, coming off two one-run innings in his last time out against the Pirates last Wednesday.

Working just 2/3 of an inning this time around, the left-hander was eventually charged with six runs, only one of which was earned, on four hits and one walk to go along with no strikeouts on the afternoon.

Those numbers certainly don’t look encouraging, but it’s difficult to place all the blame on Perez when the reality of the situation is that he gave up a fair amount of soft contact and endured some bad luck thanks to the defense behind him.

The 28-year-old wound up facing the first eight hitters in the Yankees lineup and finished with a final pitch count of 34 before being pulled by interim manager Ron Roenicke. His third start of the spring should come against the Twins on Sunday.

Turning to the bullpen earlier than they would have liked to, minor-league right-hander Hunter Haworth inherited a messy situation with one out still to get and the bases full.

A wild pitch to begin his outing allowed that runner on third, Luke Voit, to easily score, and the bases were re-filled once more following a walk of Clint Frazier.

A hard-hit single off the bat of D.J. LeMahieu plated another two runs, and just like that, the Yankees had themselves a 6-0 lead before Haworth was able to retire the side in what turned out to be a 39-minute first inning.

From there, Haworth sat down the side in order in the bottom half of the second, left-hander Josh Taylor served up a solo homer to Gio Urshela in the third and worked a scoreless fourth, Austin Brice fanned two in a clean fifth, Josh Osich stranded the bases loaded in the sixth, Domingo Tapia allowed one run on two hits, one walk, and an RBI forceout in the seventh, and R.J. Alvarez surrendered another run on three hits and a walk in the eighth.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to give up nine runs (four earned) on 13 hits and seven walks to go along with eight total strikeouts over eight innings of work.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Michael Chavis, Jonathan Lucroy, Jose Peraza, Tzu-Wei Lin, C.J. Chatham, Jarren Duran, and John Andreoli was matched up against a familiar opponent in Yankees veteran right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to begin things on Tuesday.

Going down by six runs before even taking their second at-bats of the day had to be a kick in the gut, and the only offense generated by Boston came courtesy of Rafael Devers in the top half of the fourth inning.

There, facing off against new Yankees reliever Clarke Schmidt, the 23-year-old led the frame off by crushing a fastball to deep center for his second home run of the spring.

That solo blast cut the Yankees’ advantage down to six runs at 7-1, but that was all the Sox could muster in an eventual 9-1 loss.

Some observations from this defeat:

Andrew Benintendi, in his return to the lineup on Tuesday: 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Jonathan Lucroy on Tuesday: 0-for-2 with a few mishaps behind the plate. Kevin Plawecki did not play.

Tzu-Wei Lin was pulled early due to tightness in his left hamstring. Cole Sturgeon took over for him.

I won’t post the numbers, but Austin Brice has looked pretty decent through three spring appearances out of the bullpen.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll host the Detroit Tigers at JetBlue Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Ivan Nova will do the same for Detroit.

Springs, 27, could be a viable option to serve as an opener given the current state of the Red Sox’ starting rotation. Speaking of which, an update regarding the status of Chris Sale should be available Wednesday morning, so stay tuned for that.

In regards to Tuesday’s game, first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. It will not be televised.

Red Sox Trade Travis Lakins to Cubs, Outright Bobby Poyner to Triple-A Pawtucket

In a series of roster moves made Tuesday, the Red Sox have essentially moved on from two bullpen pieces, as right-handed reliever Travis Lakins was traded to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later or cash considerations and left-handed reliever Bobby Poyner was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

The move to deal Lakins comes four days after the 25-year-old hurler was somewhat surprisingly designated for assignment last Friday in order to make room on the Sox’ 40-man roster for the newly-acquired Matt Hall.

In 16 appearances (three starts) in 2019, Lakins posted an ERA of 3.86 and FIP of 3.64 over 23 1/3 innings of work during his rookie year.

The Ohio State product, taken in the sixth round of the 2015 amateur draft, opened some eyes while serving as the opener on three separate occasions for Boston in September, which made the decision to take him off the 40-man roster on Friday all the more puzzling.

Now, Lakins will have the chance to start fresh with a new organization, all while having two minor-league options remaining on his current contract.

As for Poyner, the 27-year-old was designated for assignment by the Red Sox last Wednesday after the club had acquired fellow southpaw Jeffrey Springs from the Texas Rangers in exchange for first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis.

In his second year in the majors, Poyner surrendered nine earned runs on 10 hits and five walks over 13 outings (one start) and 11 2/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 6.94 and WHIP of 1.29. He’ll look to provide left-handed depth for Boston while with Pawtucket, where he fared much better in 2019 (3.77 ERA, 1.29 WHIP).

Red Sox Outright Marco Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket After He Clears Waivers

Less than a week after designating him for assignment in order to make room for reliever Austin Brice on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox outrighted utility infielder Marco Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday.

This roster move comes one day after the club dealt another utility piece in Sam Travis to the Texas Rangers in exchange for left-handed reliever Jeffrey Springs.

Like Hernandez, Travis was designated for assignment and outrighted to Triple-A earlier in the month, so it does not seem out of the realm of possibilities that the 27-year-old could also be traded in the coming weeks if there is any interest.

Returning from a two-year absence in 2019 due to multiple shoulder surgeries, Hernandez slashed .250/.279/.338 with two home runs and 11 RBI over 61 games for Boston last season.

Since Chaim Bloom took over as the Sox’ chief baseball officer last October, the Dominican Republic native has been non-tendered, brought back as a free agent, designated for assignment, and outrighted to the minors in the span of just over a month. Quite the eventful offseason.

Entering his sixth season with the Red Sox organization, Hernandez will look to compete for a spot back on Boston’s 40-man roster once spring training begins, if he is not already traded by then.

Red Sox Trade Sam Travis to Rangers for Reliever Jeffrey Springs, Designate Bobby Poyner for Assignment

On a busy Wednesday at Fenway Park, the Red Sox made their first series of roster moves of the post-Alex Cora era, acquiring left-hander Jeffrey Springs from the Texas Rangers in exchange for first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis.

In order to make room for Springs on Boston’s 40-man roster, fellow left-hander Bobby Poyner was designated for assignment. The club made the transactions official earlier Wednesday.

The move to trade Travis comes nearly two weeks after the 26-year-old was designated for assignment in order to make room for then-newly-signed catcher Kevin Plawecki on the Sox’ 40-man roster. Travis was then subsequently outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket last week after going unclaimed on waivers.

The former 2014 second-round pick posted a .215/.274/.382 slash line to go along with six home runs and 16 RBI over a career-high 59 games played in 2019. He’ll look to catch on with the Rangers in the spring, although he is without any more minor-league options.

As for the hurler the Red Sox acquired in this deal, the 27-year-old Springs posted an ERA of 6.40 and FIP of 4.98 over 25 relief appearances and 32 1/3 innings of work. He was designated by Texas on the same day he was traded.

Per Statcast, Springs, a former 30th-round pick out of Appalachian State University in 2015, threw his slider 58% of the time he was on the mound in 2019. His pitch arsenal also includes a changeup and slider.

Springs now joins an interesting group of major-league relievers that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has acquired this offseason in Austin Brice, Chris Mazza, and Josh Osich.

Poyner, meanwhile, was a 40-man casualty even though he still has one minor-league option remaining. Like Travis earlier in the month, the 27-year-old lefty will either be released, traded, or waived by this time next week.