Red Sox Add Right-Hander Seth Blair, Release Outfielder John Andreoli From Player Pool

Before opening up a three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays on Friday, the Red Sox made a minor roster shake-up, as the club added right-handed pitcher Seth Blair to their player pool and in a corresponding move released outfielder John Andreoli.

Blair, 31, was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round of the 2010 amateur draft out of Arizona State University and spent six years in the organization before getting released in April 2015.

From there, according to this New York Times feature on Blair, the Illinois native “took a five-year break from baseball” before signing a minor-league deal with the Padres last May.

While in San Diego’s farm system, Blair posted a 4.11 ERA and 3.64 xFIP over 17 outings (two starts) and 35 innings pitched for High-A Lake Elsinore before once again getting released on August 9.

Since then, again going back to that NYT piece, the former Sun Devil had been running a training facility for major and minor-leaguers in the backyard of his Scottsdale home to provide players a place to work out during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Based off said article and Blair’s own Instagram page, it would appear that the flame-throwing right-hander has bought into the whole Driveline revolution in baseball that was started by the likes of Trevor Bauer and Kyle Boddy in Washington state. What he’s learned there could be useful to other pitchers in the Red Sox organization who are currently working out in Pawtucket.

As for Andreoli, the 30-year-old outfielder out of Worcester, Mass. inked a minor-league pact with Boston back in December after spending the 2019 season with the Giants, Twins, and Mariners organizations.

The UCONN product was added the Sox’ 60-man player pool last month, but his stint there obviously did not last too long seeing how he was cut loose on Friday.

By essentially swapping Andreoli for Blair, the Red Sox’ 60-man player pool is still at full capacity. Blair will presumably report to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket within the next few days.

 

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.

 

Martín Pérez Punches out Seven Over Four Scoreless Innings as Red Sox Hold on to Defeat Twins

After splitting a split-squad doubleheader on Saturday, the Red Sox improved to 6-10-2 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday following a tight 7-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins at JetBlue Park.

Making his third start of the spring for Boston was Martin Perez, coming off just 2/3 of an inning of work in his last time out against the Yankees this past Tuesday.

Tossing four full innings this time around, the left-hander experienced much better results as he kept his former team off the scoreboard while scattering four hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts on the afternoon.

Despite dealing with a fair share of traffic on the base paths, Perez was able to avoid any real damage with the help of ground ball and strikeout-inducing pitches.

The most impressive takeaways, for me at least, were how Perez worked his way around a leadoff walk in the second by inducing a 4-6-3 double play before striking out the side in order in the third. He retired three of the final five hitters he faced in the fourth.

Finishing with a rather high final pitch count of 84, Perez’s next start should come sometime next weekend depending on if he gets four or five days of rest in between outings.

In relief of Perez, Ryan Brasier got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the fifth for his third appearance of the spring, and he retired the only three Twins he faced in order.

From there, Heath Hembree surrendered the first run of the contest on two hits in the sixth, left-hander Matt Hall yielded another pair of runs on three hits and one walk in the seventh, Chris Mazza maneuvered his way around a one-out double in an otherwise clean eighth before being charged with three runs on three hits while only being able to record the first two outs of the ninth, and pitching prospect Durbin Feltman allowed one of his inherited runners to score before closing things out to secure the 7-6 win for his side.

All in all, Sox pitching combined to give up six earned runs on 14 hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts over nine innings in a contest that turned out to be much closer than initially anticipated.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox starting lineup that featured Kevin Pillar, Rafael Devers, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland, Michael Chavis, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Jose Peraza was matched up against a familiar foe in Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda to begin things on Sunday.

Nothing came against Maeda, who like Perez also tossed four scoreless innings, but Martinez did eventually get the Sox on the board in the bottom half of the sixth.

There, matched up against Twins reliever Matt Wisler, the slugger drove in Pillar from second on a two-out RBI single laced down the left field line that knotted things up at one run apiece.

In the seventh, after falling behind by two runs, Worcester native John Andreoli cut that deficit in half by driving in fellow Massachusetts native Nick Longhi in from third on a run-scoring single to left off of Cory Gearrin.

One groundout and walk later, Jonathan Lucroy stepped to the plate with one out and the bases loaded, and he came through with arguably his biggest hit of the spring to this point, a two-run double blistered off the wall in left field to plate Jantzen Witte and John Andreoli.

Tyler Esplin followed with a run-scoring groundout that brought in Johan Mieses from third, and just like that, the Red Sox had themselves a 5-3 advantage.

What would turn out to be much-needed insurance was added on to that two-run lead an inning later, with Witte and Andreoli both reaching on two-out singles off of Sam Clay and Chad De La Guerra driving in the pair on a two-run triple to the opposite field.

That three-base hit put the Red Sox up 7-3, and after the Twins stormed back with three runs of their own in their half of the ninth, 7-6 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some observations from this win:

Martin Perez has a solid cutter.

Xander Bogaerts is 0-for-his-first-9 this spring.

Jonathan Lucroy, off the bench, on Sunday: 1-for-2 with one double and two RBI. Kevin Plawecki did not play.

Heath Hembree, Matt Hall, and Chris Mazza all had far from impressive showings on Sunday. Ryan Brasier, on the other hand, looked sharp.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll once again head to North Port for their first night game of the spring against the Atlanta Braves on Monday.

Right-hander Ryan Weber will get the start for Boston, while fellow righty Felix Hernandez will do the same for Atlanta.

Through his first two outings of the spring, Weber has surrendered one unearned run over his first five innings pitched. He appears to have a strong grip on a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation to begin the new season.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 6:05 PM EDT on NESN.