Red Sox’ Christian Vázquez leaves Sunday’s win early due to groin tightness

Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez was removed from Sunday’s 12-2 win over the Orioles due to groin tightness, manager Alex Cora told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham) at Fenway Park.

Vazquez was replaced behind the plate by Kevin Plawecki in the eight inning on Sunday after going 2-for-3 with two doubles, one RBI, and one run scored out of the six-hole. Plawecki drew two walks and scored an additional run in his place.

While he was taken out of the game and will be further evaluated on Monday, Vazquez is confident he will be back in Boston’s lineup for the series finale against Baltimore.

It is understandable why Vazquez would want to return to action as soon as possible. Over his last 15 games, the right-handed hitting backstop has slashed a scorching .412/.455/.569 with one home run, 14 RBIs, and six runs scored.

On the 2022 campaign as a whole, he has thrown out six of the 23 base runners who have attempted to steal against him while logging 282 2/3 innings behind the plate.

Vazquez, who turns 32 in August, can become a free-agent for the first time this winter. The native Puerto Rican has spent the entirety of his professional career with the Red Sox since being selected by Boston in the ninth round of the 2008 amateur draft out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy in Gurabo.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox reinstate Kevin Plawecki from COVID-19 related injured list, option Connor Wong to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have reinstated catcher Kevin Plawecki from the COVID-19 related injured the list, the team announced before Monday’s series opener against the Blue Jays in Toronto. In a corresponding move, fellow backstop Connor Wong was optioned to Triple-A Worcester.

Plawecki, who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, initially tested positive for the virus last Monday and was placed on the COVID-related IL as a result. Since he is vaccinated, the 31-year-old was eligible to return sooner than 10 days so long as he registered two negative PCR tests, showed no signs of a fever, and received approval from the joint COVID medical committee.

In total, Plawecki missed seven games while sidelined due to COVID-19. Before that, the right-handed hitter appeared in four games for Boston and went 1-for-10 with one RBI, one run scored, one walk, and four strikeouts. He will be batting ninth and catching Nathan Eovaldi to begin things on Monday at Rogers Centre.

Wong, meanwhile, was called up for the first time this season when Plawecki tested positive on April 18. The 25-year-old caught two games in the Sox’ last series against the Jays at Fenway Park and went 1-for-6 with one RBI and one strikeout.

With Plawecki being reinstated, the only Red Sox player who remains on the COVID-19 related injured list is infielder Jonathan Arauz, who tested positive one day after Plawecki did.

Elsewhere, Sox manager Alex Cora has yet to re-join the team after testing positive last Thursday. Acting manager Will Venable told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) earlier Monday that Cora is feeling better and has not been ruled out for the Blue Jays series, though he has not yet been cleared to return either.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

Red Sox reinstate Christian Vázquez from COVID-19 related injured list, option Ronaldo Hernández to Triple-A Worcester

Before Wednesday’s contest against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, the Red Sox reinstated Christian Vazquez from the COVID-19 related injured list. In a corresponding roster move, fellow backstop Ronaldo Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Worcester.

The Red Sox originally placed Vazquez on the COVID IL on Tuesday after he tested positive for the virus. Because the 31-year-old is vaccinated, though, he was able to return as soon as he cleared Major League Baseball’s protocols, which include registering two negative PCR tests and not showing signs of a fever.

Even with Vazquez back in the fold and active, Connor Wong is still slated to start behind the plate for Boston and catch right-hander Nick Pivetta on Tuesday night.

By reinstating Vazquez on Wednesday, the Sox now have just two players on the COVID-19 related injured list in catcher Kevin Plawecki and infielder Jonathan Arauz.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Red Sox call up top catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández, place left-hander Rich Hill on bereavement list

In addition to the moves they made earlier Tuesday, the Red Sox also recalled catcher Ronaldo Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester and placed left-hander Rich Hill on the bereavement list before taking on the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

The move to call up Hernandez was expected and comes in the wake of fellow catchers Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list within the last two days.

When Boston placed Plawecki on the COVID IL on Monday morning, they recalled Connor Wong from Worcester. Wong will start behind the plate and catch Nathan Eovaldi in Tuesday night’s series opener against the Jays. Hernandez, meanwhile, will serve as the Sox’ second catcher.

The two backstops will likely split time behind the plate in the absence of Vazquez and Plawecki. Since both Vazquez and Plawecki tested positive for the virus, they could be out for the next 10 days. That said, Major League Baseball’s health and safety policy for 2022 dictates that players who test positive can return to action sooner if they clear certain protocols.

As for Hernandez, the Colombian-born catcher was originally acquired by the Red Sox from the Rays in the February 2021 trade that sent pitchers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to Tampa Bay. He came into the 2022 season regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking first among backstops in the organization.

After spending the majority of the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland, Hernandez earned a late-season promotion to Worcester and posted an .844 OPS in seven games with the affiliate.

Coming off an off-season in which he played six games in the Dominican Winter League, Hernandez broke camp this spring with the WooSox and has batted .143/.143/.214 with two doubles, four RBIs, and three runs scored across seven games spanning 28 plate appearances.

The 24-year-old right-handed hitter was already on Boston’s 40-man roster and is now in line to become the first member of the 2022 Red Sox to make their major-league debut as he takes Hill’s roster spot for the time being.

Hill — who was placed on the bereavement list — lost his father, Lloyd, at the age of 94 last week. The veteran left-hander made his second start of the season just three days after his father’s passing on Monday and is still slated to make his next scheduled start against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Saturday.

That being said, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) that he is not yet committing to Hill, who will be away from the team for the next few days while attending his father’s services in Milton.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox expected to call up top catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández from Triple-A Worcester, per report

The Red Sox are expected to call up catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester, reports Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. As noted by Cotillo, Hernandez has been active on Instagram, sharing stories of people congratulating him on getting promoted.

The timing of Hernandez’s call-up is certainly interesting, as the Red Sox just recalled fellow catcher Connor Wong from Worcester after placing Kevin Plawecki on the COVID-19 related injured list due to a positive test ahead of Monday afternoon’s loss to the Twins at Fenway Park.

With that, it seems likely that Hernandez — who is already on Boston’s 40-man roster — could be replacing either Wong or Christian Vazquez on the major-league squad before Tuesday’s series opener against the Blue Jays.

Hernandez, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among catchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally acquired the native Colombian (and infielder Nick Sogard) from the Rays in exchange for right-handers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs last February.

After spending the majority of the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland, Hernandez was promoted to Worcester in late September. He played winter ball in the Domincan Republic and broke camp this spring with the WooSox.

In seven games for the WooSox thus far, the right-handed hitter has gone 4-for-28 (.173) at the plate with two doubles, four RBIs, three runs scored, no walks, and eight strikeouts. He has also thrown out one of three base runners who have attempted to steal off him.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 247 pounds, Hernandez is known more for his abilities as a slugger than a defensive stalwart behind the plate, though he does possess plus arm strength. Still, with just one minor-league option year remaining, this could prove to be a worthwhile opportunity for Hernandez, who is in line to become the first member of the 2022 Red Sox to make their big-league debut.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Kevin Plawecki on COVID-19 related injured list after catcher tests positive for virus; Connor Wong recalled from Triple-A Worcester

Before taking on the Twins on Monday morning, the Red Sox placed Kevin Plawecki on the COVID-19 related injured list after the catcher tested positive for the virus.

In a corresponding move, fellow backstop Connor Wong was recalled from Triple-A Worcester and will be active for Monday’s series finale, the team announced.

In addition to Plawecki, two unidentified Red Sox staff members (not coaches) have also tested positive for the virus, manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) prior to Monday’s contest against the Twins.

Plawecki, who is fully vaccinated, arrived at Fenway Park Monday morning per usual but was seen leaving in street clothes approximately one hour before first pitch.

The 31-year-old could be out for the next 10 days, though he could return sooner if he has two negative PCR tests, no fever, and receives approval from the joint COVID medical committee since he is vaccinated.

In the midst of his third season with the Sox, Plawecki has gone 1-for-10 with one RBI, one run scored, one walk, and four strikeouts through his first four games of the 2022 campaign.

Wong, meanwhile, made his major-league debut for Boston last year and went 4-for-13 (.308) with one RBI, three runs scored, one walk, and seven strikeouts over six games. So far this season, the 25-year-old has appeared in four games with the WooSox.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Rich Hill gets shelled, Kevin Plawecki homers as Red Sox fall to Rays, 9-3

The Red Sox fell to 9-6 in Grapefruit League play on Friday following a 9-3 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park.

Despite losing by six runs, it was actually the Sox who got on the board first in their half of the third inning. With starter Ryan Yarbrough on the mound for the Rays, Rob Refsnyder led off with a single, advanced to second base on a Jonathan Arauz walk, and advanced to third on a Christian Arroyo groundout.

Trevor Story, who made the trip to Port Charlotte for Friday’s contest, then drove in Refsnyder on a sacrifice fly to left field. Story’s second RBI of the spring gave Boston an early 1-0 lead, though it did not last long.

Red Sox starter Rich Hill began his afternoon by retiring each of the six batters he faced, but immediately ran into trouble in the bottom of the third when he issued a leadoff single to Taylor Walls. A double from Brett Phillips to follow put runners at second and third for Harold Ramirez, who put the Rays up 2-1 on a two-run single to left field.

Wander Franco moved Ramirez up to second base with another single and both runners scored on back-to-back run-scoring hits from Brandon Lowe and Manuel Margot to make it a 4-1 game.

Having recorded just one out in the third, Hill was temporarily pulled in favor of Jacob Wallace out of the Red Sox bullpen. Wallace, in turn, allowed both runners he inherited to score on a two-run double off the bat of Austin Meadows.

After getting through the third, Wallace made way for Hill once more. The veteran left-hander rebounded by facing the minimum three batters in the fourth, but got shelled for three more runs on three more hits in the fifth.

All told, Hill surrendered nine runs — all of which were earned — on 11 hits and no walks to go along with one strikeout over 3 2/3 total innings of work. The 42-year-old southpaw should be making one more start before the regular season begins.

In relief of Hill, Brendan Nail came on for Hill in the fifth and recorded the final two outs of the frame via swinging strikeout. From there, Jake Diekman maneuvered his way around a hit batsman and walk in a scoreless sixth, Austin Davis sat down the side in order in the seventh, and Tyler Danish did the same in the eighth.

Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Nick Sogard led the inning off by reaching first base on a fielding error. Kevin Plawecki then took Rays reliever Christopher Gau deep to left-center field for his first home run of the spring.

Plawecki’s two-run blast made it a 9-3 game in favor of Tampa Bay, which would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

Rafael Devers went 1-for-1 with a double and was also hit by a pitch. He is now batting .450 this spring.

Franchy Cordero doubled in his only at-bat of the day after being used as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning. He is now batting .476 this spring.

Top prospect Marcelo Mayer came on as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning and went 0-for-1 with the game-ending flyout.

Next up: Brubaker vs. Eovaldi

The Red Sox return to Fort Myers to take on the Pirates at JetBlue Park on Saturday afternoon. Nathan Eovaldi will be making one final tune-up before Opening Day and he will be opposed by fellow right-hander J.T. Brubaker.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox avoid arbitration with all eligible players, including Rafael Devers

The Red Sox have avoided arbitration with all five of their arbitration-eligible players heading into the 2022 season, the club announced on Tuesday.

Boston was able to come to terms with pitchers Nick Pivetta and Josh Taylor, infielders Christian Arroyo and Rafael Devers, and outfielder Alex Verdugo on Tuesday, thus avoiding a possible hearing. They did the same with reliever Ryan Brasier and catcher Kevin Plawecki prior to last November’s non-tender deadline.

Pivetta, 29, was entering his first season of arbitration eligibility and was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $3.2 million in 2022. The right-hander will instead net $2.65 million this year, according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel.

Taylor, 29, was also entering his first season of arbitration eligibility and was projected by MLBTR to earn $1.1 million in 2022. The left-handed reliever may not be ready for the start of the season due to a back issue, but he will be making $1.025 million this year regardless, per McDaniel.

Arroyo is another first-year arbitration-eligible player. The 26-year-old second baseman was projected by MLBTR to also earn $1.1 million in 2022. He has instead avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $1.2 million salary for the upcoming season, according to the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam.

Devers is undoubtedly the most notable name on this list and the most expensive as well. As a second-year arbitration-eligible player, the 25-year-old All-Star was projected by MLBTR to earn $11.1 million in 2022 — representing a 143% raise from the $4.575 million he made in 2021.

There were some rumblings that Devers and the Red Sox were not going to come to an agreement on a salary figure for the 2022 season ahead of Tuesday’s 1 p.m. eastern time deadline and would instead be going to an arbitration hearing. Those concerns turned out to be premature, though, as the two sides have since settled on a $11.2 million salary for the year, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

Finally, we arrive at Verdugo, who is also embarking upon his first season of arbitration eligibility. The 25-year-old was projected by MLBTR to earn $3.2 million in 2022 but will actually make a little more than that at $3.55 million, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

These agreements do not preclude the Red Sox from engaging in contract extension talks with any of the aforementioned players leading up to Opening Day on April 7. This is particularly prevalent for Devers, who can become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2023 season.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ decision to pick up Christian Vázquez’s 2022 team option was ‘not a no-brainer’, per report

The Red Sox may have exercised Christian Vazquez’s club option for the 2022 season back in November, but it apparently was not a simple decision for the team to make.

As part of the three-year, $13.35 million contract extension Vazquez signed with the Sox before the 2018 season, there was a team option attached for a potential fourth year in 2022.

The value of that option was dependent on the number of plate appearances Vazquez accrued during the 2020 and 2021 campaigns. Since he fell short of the threshold he needed to reach, the veteran catcher’s option for 2022 decreased from $8 million to $7 million.

Coming off a season in which he batted .258/.308/.352 with 23 doubles, one triple, six home runs, 49 RBIs, 51 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 33 walks, and 84 strikeouts over 138 games (498 plate appearances) while leading all big-league backstops in innings caught (1,051 1/3), the Red Sox were put in a position where they had to decide if they wanted Vazquez back for $7 million.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. ultimately decided on having Vazquez return for 2022, but that resolution may not have been reached unanimously within the organization.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, “sources indicate the decision to pick up Vázquez’s $7 million option was not a no-brainer, and that there was internal debate over whether he was worth that salary after a down year in 2021.”

The idea that Boston would decline Vazquez’s option and allow the 31-year-old to become a free agent can be backed up by a recent report from the Miami Herlad which states that the Red Sox made an offer “and at one point thought they had a deal” to acquire Gold Glove Catcher Jacob Stallings from the Pirates.

Stallings, who was dealt from the Marlins to the Pirates in late November, is slightly older than Vazquez as he turns 32 next week. He was also the best catcher in baseball this season when it comes to Defensive Runs Saved (21) and is under team control through the end of the 2024 season.

Because of the Sox’ reported interest in a controllable backstop such as Stallings, Cotillo writes that it would not be surprising if “the Red Sox make a surprising move to upgrade at catcher — and add a controllable player — sooner rather than later.”

At present, the Red Sox have four catchers on their 40-man roster between Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, and prospects like Connor Wong and Ronaldo Hernandez.

Although Vazquez and Plawecki are seemingly locked in to begin 2022 as Boston’s top two catchers with Wong and Hernandez waiting in the wings at Triple-A Worcester, the expectation seems to be that Bloom and his staff are not done adding.

Once the Major League Baseball lockout ends and the transaction freeze is lifted, it appears as though the Red Sox will continue to explore upgrading at catcher. And while the free-agent market may be decimated in that department, the trade market certainly is not.

The Padres, as noted by Cotillo, also have four catchers on their 40-man roster in Jorge Alfaro, Luis Campusano, Victor Caratini, and Austin Nola. The Athletics, who are expected to tear down their roster once the lockout is lifted, represent another intriguing match since they could offer Sean Murphy.

Murphy, 27, won the Gold Glove Award for American League catchers this season and is not slated to hit free agency until after 2025. His asking price would presumably be high, but it could be something worth exploring for the Red Sox.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign Kevin Plawecki to one-year deal, thus avoiding arbitration; veteran catcher will earn $2.25 million in 2022

The Red Sox have signed catcher Kevin Plawecki to a one-year deal for the 2022 season, thus avoiding salary arbitration, the club announced Wednesday morning.

Plawecki, who turns 31 in February, will earn $2.25 million in 2022, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. He was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive $2 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility.

Originally signed to a one-year deal last January, Plawecki has emerged as a stable presence behind the plate while backing up Christian Vazquez in his time with the Red Sox.

This past season, the 30-year-old backstop slashed a solid .287/.349/.389 to go along with seven doubles, three home runs, 15 RBIs, 15 runs scored, 12 walks, and 26 strikeouts over 64 games spanning 173 plate appearances.

Plawecki put up those numbers while earning $1.6 million in 2021, so the $2.25 million he will receive this coming season represents a a 40.6% increase from that amount.

The right-handed hitter out of Purdue University figures to once again slot in behind Vazquez as Boston’s No. 2 catcher going into the spring and is slated to become a free agent for the first time in his career at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.

By locking up Plawecki for 2022, the Red Sox have now signed two of their eight arbitration-eligible players after inking right-handed reliever Ryan Brasier to a one-year pact and not tendering a contract to speedy outfielder Tim Locastro on Tuesday.

Besides Plawecki and Brasier, Alex Verdugo, Christian Arroyo, Rafael Devers, Hunter Renfroe, Nick Pivetta, and Josh Taylor are all arbitration-eligible players who remain unsigned, though they have been tendered contracts for the 2022 season.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)