Kiké Hernández makes impressive shoestring catch, Marwin González starts double play with glove-hand flip as part of Red Sox’ win over Mariners

The Red Sox got a defensive boost from two of their newest, most versatile position players in Sunday’s 5-3 victory over the Mariners at Fenway Park.

In the top half of the third inning, Kyle Seager laced a fly ball off Eduardo Rodriguez that traveled 370 feet off his bat to right-center field.

Kiké Hernández, who started in center field for Boston on Sunday, had been playing Seager pretty straight up and started headed towards the triangle as if that is where the ball was going to end up.

Instead, a strong gust forced Hernández to make a quick adjustment while he was tracking the ball.

Rather than continue towards the triangle, he took a sharp right turn in front of the Red Sox bullpen and made a shoestring catch by the JetBlue sign in right-center for the final out of the inning.

“It’s very windy at the ballpark,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of the conditions at Fenway during his postgame media availability. “It’s playing different than two years ago or three years ago. It feels so windy out there. When he hit that ball, Kiké said that ball was going toward the triangle and it just stopped in the air and he had to reroute and make the play.”

Hernandez, who made his 15th start of the season in center for Boston on Sunday, was originally slated to start at second base in Cora’s initial lineup.

Alex Verdugo was to start in center field in the series finale, but he was scratched by Cora about an hour before first pitch on account of the hamstring cramp he sustained on Saturday and the wet conditions on a rainy Sunday.

Because of that, Hernandez moved from second base to center field in Cora’s lineup, while Christian Arroyo got the start at second.

The 29-year-old went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs run scored out of the leadoff spot for the Sox to close out the weekend. He is currently slashing .250/.295/.432 with three home runs and eight RBI through 22 games played thus far.

In the top half of the eighth inning, right-hander Adam Ottavino took over for Rodriguez and walked the first man he faced in Mitch Haniger with his team up two runs at 5-3.

On his very next pitch, though, Ottavino got out of a potentially-binding jam by inducing soft contact off the bat of Ty France.

France dribbled a grounder to the left side of the infield and while playing the ball on a bounce, Marwin Gonzalez ran in, fielded the ball with his glove-hand, and nonchalantly flipped said ball with his glove-hand to Arroyo at second base to start an impressive 6-4-3 double play.

“Marwin played excellent shortstop,” Cora said.

Of the 18 starts Gonzalez has made so far this season, only three have come at shortstop. The other 15 have come at first base (six), second base (four), third base (two), left field (two), and right field (one).

On the play in which Gonzalez was involved in his ninth twin killing of the year, Cora also liked what he saw from the second baseman who helped turn it in Arroyo.

“Not an easy play for the second baseman because you don’t expect that flip,” said the Sox skipper. “He stayed with it and was able to turn it.”

The fact that Arroyo was still playing after getting drilled in the left hand by a 93.8 mph fastball in the first inning was a somewhat awe-inspiring feat on its own.

The 25-year-old was clearly in discomfort after taking that heater off his glove hand, but he remained in the game until its conclusion. The X-rays he got on his hand came back negative.

“I told him just don’t worry about your at-bats,” Cora said. “If you can play defense, just grind it out, and he did.”

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)


Eduardo Rodríguez punches out 8, improves to 4-0 on season as Red Sox split series with Mariners following 5-3 win

On a day where it looked like it would be difficult for baseball to be played in the Boston area due to rainy conditions, the Red Sox closed out their longest homestand of the season on Sunday with a 5-3 victory over the Mariners at Fenway Park.

Rodriguez fans eight over seven solid frames

Eduardo Rodriguez made his fourth start of the season for Boston in Sunday’s series finale and proved to be effective once again even without his best stuff.

Over seven steady innings of work, the left-hander yielded just three runs — all of which were earned — on six hits and and no walks to go along with a season-high eight strikeouts on the afternoon.

While he ultimately put together yet another strong outing, Rodriguez did not get off to the best starts Sunday by surrendering back-to-back doubles to Mitch Haniger and Ty France out of the gate in the top half of the first. That gave the Mariners an early 1-0 lead.

Rodriguez was able to settle into a groove from there, as he sat down 12 of the next 13 hitters he faced before running into some trouble in the fifth.

There, the bottom-third of the Mariners’ lineup got the best of the southpaw, with Sam Haggerty leading the inning off with a single before back-to-back run-scoring doubles off the bats of Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford cut Boston’s deficit down to two runs at 5-3.

Again faced with some adversity, Rodriguez did not back down and instead ended his day by retiring the final nine Mariners he faced in order leading into the middle of the seventh.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 98 (71 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler threw 36 changeups, 34 four-seam fastballs, 12 cutters, eight sinkers, and eight sliders. He averaged just 91.1 mph with his heater, but still managed to induce seven swings-and-misses with it anyway.

Ultimately improving to 4-0 while raising his ERA on the year from 3.38 to 3.52, Rodriguez will look for win No. 5 in his next time out, which should come against the Rangers in Arlington on Saturday.

Ottavino gets some help from Gonzalez, Barnes notches save

In relief of Rodriguez, right-hander Adam Ottavino got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen to work the eighth inning of what was a 5-3 game in favor of his side.

The veteran reliever issued a leadoff walk to Haniger to bring the tying run to the plate almost immediately, but then got some help from Marwin Gonzalez when he got Ty France to hit a grounder towards the left side of the infield.

Gonzalez, who started at shortstop on Sunday, fielded France’s softly-hit grounder on a hop with his glove and instead of transferring the ball to his throwing hand, flipped the ball to Christian Arroyo — who was covering second — to start an impactful 6-4-3 twin killing.

Ottavino then punched out Kyle Seager to retire the side, which paved the way for Matt Barnes to come on for the ninth.

After a rocky outing in his last time out on Friday, Barnes needed all of 16 pitches on Sunday to toss a 1-2-3 ninth inning, notch his fourth save of the season, and preserve a 5-3 victory for the Sox.

Walks lead to early scoring for Red Sox

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Nick Margevicius for the Mariners, who came into Sunday averaging 2.3 walks per nine innings through his first four appearances (two starts) of the season.

That being said, Margevicius walked four of the first seven Red Sox he faced in this one and could only record one out before getting the hook because of it.

Enrique Hernandez led things off with a single, moved up to second on a Rafael Devers walk, moved up to third on a J.D. Martinez walk, and scored on a one-out RBI single off the bat of Christian Vazquez.

Hunter Renfroe plated Devers by drawing yet another free pass of the Mariners starter, and Gonzalez drove in Martinez by doing the very same.

Margevicius would then make way for reliever Drew Steckenrider, who plunked the very first hitter he faced — Arroyo — on the left wrist to bring in yet another Red Sox run.

In the second, walks came back to bite the Mariners once more, as Steckenrider put on Hernandez and Devers via ball four before Bogaerts drove in Hernandez on an RBI double to left field.

Bogaerts’ eighth double of the year put Boston up 5-1, which would prove to be enough in an eventual 5-3 win.

Some notes from this victory:

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From Red Sox Stats:

The Red Sox wrap up their longest homestand of the season with a 5-5 record, which takes them to 13-9 on the year overall.

After an off day on Monday, the Sox will embark on a two-city, six-game road trip that starts with a two-game interleague tilt against the Mets in Flushing on Tuesday night.

Right-hander Garrett Richards is slated to get the start for Boston in Tuesday’s series opener at Citi Field. He will be opposed by left-hander Drew Peterson for New York.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and ESPN.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts hits first home run of season, Eduardo Rodríguez punches out 6 in return to Fenway Park as Red Sox top Blue Jays, 4-2

For the second consecutive day, the Red Sox were matched up against one of the top pitchers in the American League. And for the second consecutive day, the Red Sox needed just one inning to get the best of that pitcher.

They did so in the first inning of Monday’s 11-4 win over the White Sox by getting to Lucas Giolito for six runs. They did so in the fourth inning of Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Blue Jays by getting to Hyun-Jin Ryu for all four of their runs.

Facing off against one of the toughest left-handed pitchers in baseball to kick off a quick two-game series at Fenway Park, the Sox lineup went down quietly the first time through the order, but eventually got to Ryu in their half of the fourth.

There, back-to-back singles off the bats of Christian Arroyo and J.D. Martinez to lead off the frame set the stage for Xander Bogaerts, who — on a 1-2, 91 mph fastball on the inner half of the plate from Ryu — crushed his first home run of the season 408 feet over the Green Monster.

Not only did Bogaerts club his first homer of the year in the fourth inning, but Marwin Gonzalez also collected his first double with one out.

Bobby Dalbec, meanwhile, hit the first triple of his big-league career on a 101.3 mph scorcher that traveled 408 feet to deep center field and brought in Gonzalez from second to make it a 4-1 game.

That would be all the scoring the Sox would need in this one, but it should not be ignored that Arroyo went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored while batting out of the two-hole Tuesday.

Rodriguez shines in return to Fenway

Eduardo Rodriguez made his third start of the season for the Red Sox on Tuesday, marking the first time he had started a game at Fenway Park since the final day of the 2019 season.

In his return to Fenway, the left-hander was impressive as he held the Blue Jays to just two runs on three hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over six-plus innings of work.

Both runs Rodriguez gave up came by way of the long ball, with Bo Bichette taking the southpaw deep to lead off the top half of the fourth and Randal Grichuk doing the very same thing three innings later.

Rodriguez serving up a solo shot to Grichuk would mark the end of his night, but his homecoming of sorts was a triumphant one to say the least.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (62 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 33% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing six swings-and-misses while topping out at 94.8 mph with the pitch.

Able to improve to 3-0 on the young season while lowering his ERA to 3.38, Rodriguez’s next start should come against the Seattle Mariners in the final game of the Sox’ homestand on Sunday.

Andriese, Ottavino, and Barnes close things out

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Andriese got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen for what was essentially a clean top half of the seventh inning. The right-hander retired the only three hitters he faced and capped off his outing by punching out noted Red Sox killer Rowdy Tellez on five pitches.

From there, Adam Ottavino maneuvered his way around a two-out walk and a throwing error committed by Christian Vazquez in an otherwise perfect eighth inning, while Matt Barnes notched his third save of the season and preserved the 4-2 victory for his side by working a scoreless ninth inning.

The Red Sox are now 12-6.

Next up: Richards vs. Thornton

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the finale of this two-game set against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be making his fourth start of the season for Boston, and he will be opposed by fellow right-hander Trent Thornton for Toronto.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Marwin González comes through with clutch go-ahead homer as Red Sox come back to defeat White Sox, 7-4, to kick off homestand

Red Sox manager Alex Cora recently described Marwin Gonzalez as a player who “understands what it takes to win ballgames.”

On Saturday, Gonzalez showed why he was worthy of such praise, as he came through with the biggest hit of of the day — a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning — to to help guide Boston to a 7-4 victory over the White Sox at Fenway Park.

Matched up against right-handed reliever Codi Heuer to lead off the bottom of the eighth, Gonzalez, batting from the left side of the plate, took a 1-1, 96 mph sinker at the top of the strike zone and proceeded to crush it 410 feet deep into the Red Sox bullpen in right-center field.

Gonzalez’s first homer as a member of the Red Sox was a huge one, as it put his side up by a run at 4-3 and would wind up being the springboard for a four-run eighth inning.

Another come-from-behind win

The Red Sox came into the weekend already with six comeback victories under their belt, and after being dealt an early two-run deficit in the first of four against the White Sox, that would once again be the case on Saturday.

A pair of sacrifice flies in the third inning from Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers off White Sox starter Dylan Cease evened things up at two runs a piece for a quite a while.

Fast forward to the sixth, and the bottom of the lineup served as the catalyst for more offensive production.

With reliever Evan Marshall on the mound for Chicago, Kevin Plawecki laced a two-out double to center field, which put a runner in scoring position as Boston’s lineup flipped over back to Enrique Hernandez.

As part of a four-hit showing on Saturday, Hernandez ripped a line-drive single back up the middle to drive in Plawecki from second and put the Sox up 3-2.

Matt Andriese gave up that lead after serving up a leadoff single to Tim Anderson, who stole second base and advanced to third on a Xander Bogaerts missed catch error, and a sacrifice fly to Yoan Moncada in the seventh, but that stalemate would not last long.

As previously mentioned, Gonzalez led off the eighth inning with his first big fly of the season for Boston, which was followed up by singles from Christian Arroyo Hernandez.

Verdugo then drew a two-out walk off new White Sox reliever Jose Ruiz, and J.D. Martinez picked up an RBI by drawing yet another free pass to make it a 5-3 contest.

Bogaerts, who like Hernandez collected four hits on Saturday, more than made up for his prior miscue by roping a two-run, ground-rule double down the right field line.

Bogaerts’ third and fourth RBI of the young season provided insurance and gave the Red Sox a commanding 7-3 advantage.

Pivetta shaky, but remains unbeaten with Red Sox

If you were looking for a crisply-pitched game to watch on Saturday, White Sox-Red Sox probably wasn’t between you.

Nick Pivetta, who made his third start of the season for Boston a day later than he was scheduled to due to Friday’s postponement, gave up two early runs, and managed to go just 3 2/3 innings deep in all. The right-hander allowed four hits and four walks while also striking out three in the process of doing so.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 83 (49 strikes), Pivetta was unable to pick up the winning decision on account of how short his outing was. But the Red Sox are now 5-0 in games the 28-year-old pitches in. His next start should come against the Mariners on Thursday.

In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor came on to record the final out of the fourth inning and did just that by fanning Adam Eaton.

Andriese, Ottavino, and Barnes hold it down

From the beginning of the fifth inning on, Andriese surrendered just one unearned run over three solid frames of work.

Adam Ottavino, meanwhile, put together his best performance with the Red Sox to date in the top half of the eighth. The veteran right-hander, fresh off taking the loss in his last time out against the Twins, struck out Chicago’s 5-6-7 hitters in short order and was just a few pitches shy of an immaculate inning.

Andriese’s and Ottavino’s impressive performances — as well as the Red Sox jumping out to a 7-3 lead — set the stage for Matt Barnes to make his seventh appearance of the season in the ninth.

The 30-year-old flamethrower wound up giving up his first run of the year on a pair of hits, but he still managed to hold on and preserve the 7-4 win for his side.

Some notes from this victory:

The Red Sox are now 10-4. They are 1-0 in their Nike City Connect uniforms.

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up: Split doubleheader on Sunday

Next up for the Red Sox, they will be embarking upon their second doubleheader against another American League Central foe in less than a week on Sunday afternoon.

Tanner Houck and Martin Perez will start Games 1 and 2 for Boston. Chicago has only named a starter for Game 1 at this point, and that responsibility will belong to former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel.

First pitch for the day cap of Sunday’s twin bill is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time. The night cap is scheduled to begin at 5:10 p.m. ET. Both games will be broadcast on NESN.

(Picture of Marwin Gonzalez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo comes up with game-saving catch as Red Sox top Twins, 3-2, for eighth straight win in Game 1 of doubleheader

In the first game of a straight doubleheader at Target Field Wednesday afternoon, the Twins had Red Sox closer Matt Barnes on the ropes.

With a 3-2 lead to protect, Barnes had recorded the first two outs of the bottom half of the ninth, but only after putting the tying run on base in the form of a leadoff walk to Cave.

Cave stole second base to advance into scoring position, which brought Luis Arraez to the plate with the chance to knot things up at three runs a piece.

After falling behind in the count at 3-1, Barnes delivered an 86 mph curveball that Arraez — a right-handed hitter — slapped the other way.

Alex Verdugo, having moved from center to left field in place of Franchy Cordero an inning prior had just seconds to react to the screamer heading in his direction.

The young outfielder sprawled out to his right and wound up making a catch that was eerily similar to the one Andrew Benintendi made at Minute Maid Park in Game 4 of the 2018 ALCS.

Verdugo’s was still awe-inspiring snag secured a 3-2 victory for the Red Sox that extends their winning streak to eight consecutive games.

Arroyo, Renfroe stay hot at the plate

Facing off against a tough opponent in Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda, a three-run second inning is what gave the Sox the edge in this one.

Hunter Renfroe stayed hot and got his side in the board first by scoring Marwin Gonzalez from second on an RBI single.

After advancing to second on another single off the bat of Cordero, Renfroe came into score when upon fielding a softly-hit bunt from Kevin Plawecki, Maeda attempted to get the force out at third and instead air-mailed his throw well over Arraez’s head.

That blunder doubled Boston’s lead, and Christian Arroyo tacked on another run by plating Cordero on an RBI base-hit to left field. Arroyo also doubled in the top of the fourth.

Eovaldi improves to 2-1 on the season

The Red Sox continue to get consistency from their starting rotation, and Nathan Eovaldi provided that consistency in his third start of the season on Wednesday.

Over five solid frames of work, the veteran right-hander held the Twins to two runs on five hits, no walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

Both runs Eovaldi gave up came in a rather laborious bottom half of the third, but the fireballer rebounded by retiring six of the final seven hitters he faced through the end of the fifth — with some defensive help mixed in there as well.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 82 (60 strikes), the 31-year-old topped out at 99.1 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 34 times. His next start should come against the White Sox back at Fenway Park on Monday.

In relief of Eovaldi, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth. The 24-year-old needed all of seven pitches to retire the side in order before Barnes came on for the seventh.

Next up: Game 2

Next up, the Red Sox will wrap up this twin bill against the Twins later Wednesday evening.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will make his second start of the season for Boston, and he will be opposed by ace right-hander Jose Berrios for Minnesota.

First pitch of Game 2 is scheduled for approximately 5:25 p.m. eastern time. Red Sox will be going for their ninth straight win.

(Picture of Matt Barnes and Alex Verdugo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Eduardo Rodríguez fans seven over 5 strong innings in first start since 2019; Rafael Devers and Kiké Hernández collect first homers of season as Red Sox top Orioles, 7-3, for fourth straight win

Eduardo Rodriguez picked up on Thursday where he left off 557 days ago.

The left-hander’s last start of the 2019 season came against the Orioles, and he allowed three runs over seven strong innings in that contest.

After missing the entirety of the 2020 season due to myocarditis, Rodriguez finally made his long-awaited return to a big-league mound on Thursday in Baltimore.

Working against the O’s in their home opener, the recently-turned 28-year-old again held Baltimore to three runs — this time over five innings — while scattering four hits and no walks to go along with seven strikeouts on the afternoon.

All three runs Rodriguez surrendered on Thursday came by way of the home run ball, with Ryan Mountcastle crushing a two-run homer in the first and Pedro Severino clubbing a solo shot off the lefty in the fourth.

From that point on, though, Rodriguez did manage to retire each of the final four hitters he faced in order.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 79 (56 strikes), the Venezuelan hurler sat at 91-95 mph with his four-seam fastball — a pitch he threw 13 times — while also inducing four swings-and-misses with his changeup — a pitch he threw 25 times.

Able to pick up his first winning decision of the year because of his triumphant effort, Rodriguez’s next start should come against the Twins next Wednesday.

Whitlock, Barnes sharp out of the bullpen

In relief of Rodriguez, rookie right-hander Garrett Whitlock got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen. The 24-year-old followed up his impressive big-league debut from last weekend by punching out three of the six Orioles he faced over two perfect frames of work to pick up his first career hold.

Matt Andriese, who helped Whitlock develop his changeup over the course of spring training, maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk and one-out single to toss a scoreless eighth.

Matt Barnes, meanwhile, was on the cusp of an immaculate inning (nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts) in the ninth, but he still struck out the side on 11 pitches anyway to preserve the 7-3 victory for his side.

Devers gets on the board with first homer

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Orioles right-hander Matt Harvey, whom they had just seen last weekend.

Following a one-out double from Alex Verdugo, Rafael Devers got the scoring started for the Sox right away by mashing his first home run of the season — a two-run shot — off Harvey to give his side the early 2-0 advantage.

Per Baseball Savant, Devers’ first big fly of 2021 left his bat at 111 mph and traveled approximately 452 feet to deep center field.

Retaking the lead and adding on some insurance

Harvey managed to hold the Boston bats in check after giving up that Devers homer, and him doing that coincided with the Orioles jumping out to a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.

In the sixth, though, the Orioles starter put the first two hitters he faced — Devers and Christian Vazquez — on base on a pair of singles, and that would lead to his exit from this contest.

Matched up against lefty reliever Paul Fry now, Marwin Gonzalez drew a six-pitch walk, which allowed Christian Arroyo and Franchy Cordero to plate a pair of runs on an RBI groundout and RBI single.

Verdugo sparked more offense in the seventh, as he collected his second double of the afternoon and later scored on a two-base hit off the bat of a red-hot J.D. Martinez — marking the seventh straight game the vaunted slugger has reached base on an extra-base hit out of the gate.

That sequence put the Red Sox up two at 5-3, and Gonzalez added on to that with a run-scoring single of his own to make it a 6-3 contest going into stretch time.

Kiké Hernández comes through with first home run

Devers was not the only member of the Red Sox to notch his first homer of the year on Thursday, as Kiké Hernández did the very same in the top half of the eighth.

On a 2-2, 86 mph slider from Orioles reliever Tyler Wells, the 29-year-old pulled said pitch 372 feet to left field for his first home run in a Sox uniform.

Hernández’s 72nd career homer put the Red Sox up 7-3, which would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Next up: An off day

Now winners of four straight after starting the season 0-3, the Sox will enjoy an off day on Friday before they look to keep things rolling against the O’s on Saturday.

Right-hander Garrett Richards is slated to get the ball for Boston in that contest, and he will be matched up against rookie left-hander Bruce Zimmermann for Baltimore.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Marwin González homers from each side of the plate against Twins, Alex Cora says ‘we’ll play him against lefties and righties whenever we have the chance’

During his pregame media availability on Thursday morning, Alex Cora made the point of saying that Marwin Gonzalez was going to be important to not only what the Red Sox do on the field in 2021, but what they do off the field as well.

Gonzalez made his sixth start of the spring for Boston against the Twins at Hammond Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

Batting out of the two-hole behind fellow newcomer Enrique Hernandez, the soon-to-be 32-year-old switch-hitter showed why he can be a valuable addition for a club with championship aspirations by going 2-for-2 at the plate with a pair of home runs, his first two of the spring.

He also stole a base after getting hit by a pitch in the fourth inning.

In his first at-bat, Gonzalez was matched up with Twins starter Matt Shoemaker, a right-hander, so he naturally hit from the left side of the plate with one out and nobody on in the top half of the first inning.

After watching a first-pitch sinker whiz by his knees for a called first strike, Gonzalez did not waste any more time, as he took an 0-1, 77 mph slider right down Broadway and deposited it 406 feet into the left field seats.

His first big fly of the spring — and in a Red Sox uniform — traveled 406 feet off the bat with an exit velocity of over 107 mph, per Baseball Savant.

Fast forward to the fifth, after the bottom of the Sox lineup had been productive with two outs and Hernandez collected an RBI on a run-scoring single, Gonzalez came to the plate once more, this time matched up against Twins southpaw Devin Smeltzer.

The versatile Venezuelan — hitting right-handed this time around — again watched the first pitch go by for a called strike, then proceeded to foul off a curveball to put himself in a quick 0-2 hole.

The third pitch from Smeltzer was an 87 mph heater at the top of the zone, right around the same area his catcher wanted it.

Despite accurately locating the pitch, Gonzalez was ready for it, as he demolished that fastball from Smeltzer and sent it 372 feet to left field, well far enough for his second home run of the afternoon.

This one was good for three runs and had an exit velocity of 101 mph.

Gonzalez’s day would come to an end a half inning later with Jonathan Arauz replacing him at second, but the damage had already been done considering the fact the former Twin was responsible for four of the five runs the Sox scored in what would turn out to be a 5-4 victory over Minnesota in eight innings on Thursday.

“He’s a good player,” Cora said of Gonzalez following the win. “We always talk about versatility and all that and it’s a good at-bat. It’s a good at-bat from both sides of the plate. He’s been very consistent throughout his career. We’ll play him against lefties and righties whenever we have the chance and whenever we find a matchup that we like, or to protect other guys.”

The Red Sox signed Gonzalez to a one-year, $3 million deal last month with the idea that he can play a plethora of defensive positions given his pedigree as a utility man.

In two seasons with the Twins alone between 2019 and 2020, the 6-foot-1, 205 pounder saw time at every position besides, pitcher, catcher, and centerfield.

“That’s the beauty of this, he can get a lot of at-bats playing at first, playing at second, giving Xander [Bogaerts] an off-day, even [Rafael Devers],” Cora added. “He’s been working hard with [Tim Hyers]. It was a tough year for him last year. In ’19, he hit the ball hard. He was top of the league in hard-hit balls. So, just put him in a good spot physically and just let him play. He enjoys playing the game and I’m happy that he’s with us.”

As previously mentioned, Hernandez had a front row seat to what Gonzalez did on Thursday since he was hitting ahead of him in Boston’s lineup.

The two were signed by the Red Sox over the winter for similar reasons, and Hernandez went into detail about what his versatile counterpart can bring to the table.

“He definitely won the MVP of the day today,” Hernandez said while praising Gonzalez’s performance at the plate. “I don’t think there’s going to be a player in baseball with a better day than he had today. Marwin’s a great player. Everybody knows that.

“Last season, it’s a little hard to dictate on players based off a 60-game season,” added Hernandez. “I would guarantee that he’s going to do better this year than he did last year. Also the fact that he can help us on both sides of the ball. Defensively, his versatility, he’s a plus-defender everywhere he plays. He can run the bases just like he did today. He got a great read on a dirt ball and he took off before the catcher or the infielders knew he was running, and he was able to get an extra 90 feet for us.

That’s going to be huge, especially with our lineup,” he continued. “Everybody can do damage. And a lot of times I feel like in Fenway, being at first, you’re already in scoring position, but the extra 90 feet are always huge.”

Given the versatility both Hernandez and Gonzalez — among other position players — can provide, Cora said the Red Sox could very well begin the 2021 season with 14 pitchers and 12 position players on their Opening Day roster.

“These two guys, and others, they help us to accomplish that,” Cora explained.

(Picture of Marwin Gonzalez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora leaning on Kiké Hernández, Marwin González for more than just their versatility

The Red Sox brought in Enrique Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez to provide versatility on the field and in the lineup. That much is true.

What is also true, however, is that the pair of veteran utilitymen were signed by Boston for their sage wisdom and leadership abilities as well.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has prior connections with both players. He’s known Hernandez since the former Dodgers fan favorite was a kid growing up in Puerto Rico and he served as Gonzalez’s bench coach with the Astros in 2017.

Given those connections, it’s safe to assume that Cora played a role in recruiting both Hernandez and Gonzalez, both of whom won World Series with their previous clubs, to Boston and ensured that the two would not only play key roles on the field, but off the field as well.

“There’s something about those guys and the experience of being with winners that they can add to the equation here,” Cora said Thursday. “As you know, my expectations are the same as the fanbase and it’s to play in October and win a championship. Guys like that, when they talk in the clubhouse and they talk baseball, it’s loud and clear.”

As Cora put it, Hernandez, 29, and Gonzalez, who turns 32 on Sunday, have the “green light” to speak up in the clubhouse in order to help those around them.

One way in which those two are already utilizing that green light is by talking with Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts about their defense.

“They connected with Raffy already,” said Cora. “You can see those two — Marwin and Enrique — talking to him a lot about defense. And it’s a tradeoff. The way they see it is like, ‘OK, we’ll help Xander and Raffy defensively, they’ll help us offensively. And we’ll be good.’ So, it’s a good tradeoff.”

For some veterans, being put in Hernandez’s and Gonzalez’s position would not be easy simply because of the fact they are new to an organization and are already being asked to undertake a vocal leadership role.

Despite that potential hurdle, Cora did not seem all that concerned that the two versatile infielders/outfielders would have any difficulty in familiarizing themselves with their new teammates.

“I told them straight up: We have a bunch of humble kids here,” the Sox skipper recounted. “Like I told you guys in ’18, I think the eye-opening thing about that team was the media during the playoffs was like, ‘They’re just such good kids and they’re such a good group.’ Like I told you guys, I wanted them to be cocky and go out there and do your thing in ’18. I had to push these guys to be something else, like if you hit a home run, enjoy it.

“It’s not the same group, but we still have two very good kids at shortstop and at third base,” he added. “I think these guys are going to push them to be leaders and push them to speak to the group. They know already, and they have the confidence of the manager — not only on the field, but off the field — and I think that means a lot. Whatever they have on their mind, they always come up to me and I tell them that’s a good way to put it or I tell them not to do it.

“They know they have my support in anything they want to do in the clubhouse.”

(Picture of Rafael Devers, Enrique Hernandez, Marwin Gonzalez, and Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Might recently-signed Danny Santana cost Christian Arroyo his spot on Red Sox’ roster?

Could the Red Sox signing utilityman Danny Santana to a minor-league contract on Thursday ultimately cost Christian Arroyo his spot on the club’s 40-man roster. One writer in particular —’s Chris Cotillo — thinks that may be the case.

In his weekly notes column for MassLive, Cotillo made 10 predictions for the Sox’ 2021 season, and one of those predictions was that Santana makes the team out of spring training after winning the competition for the final bench spot.

“Though he’s a late entrant into the competition for Boston’s final bench spot, Santana is actually a better fit for the roster than the club’s other options,” Cotillo wrote Friday. “The other three competitors — Christian Arroyo, Michael Chavis and Yairo Muñoz — are all right-handed hitters, which limits Alex Cora to an extent.”

Cotillo notes that while the handedness of the hitters on the Red Sox’ bench would change on a game-to-game basis, “the fact that the backup catcher (Kevin Plawecki) is right-handed means a left-handed bat would be preferable.”

As currently constructed, Jonathan Arauz and Marwin Gonzalez are the only infielders on Boston’s 40-man roster who can hit from the left side of the plate, as both are switch-hitters.

Arauz, who is still just 22 years old, figures to begin the 2021 season at the Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester to continue his development, while Gonzalez, who inked a one-year, $3 million pact with Boston last month, figures to see most of his playing time come in left field as opposed to the infield.

Having said that, Cora and Co. are somewhat limited in what they can do in regards to bench flexibility. That is where Santana — a switch-hitter — comes into play.

In seven major-league seasons between the Twins, Braves, and Rangers, the 30-year-old out of the Dominican owns a lifetime .266/.304/.422 slash line against right-handed pitching and a lifetime .243/.287/.407 slash line against left-handed pitching going back to 2014. He has also seen playing time at every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher.

Arroyo, who unlike Chavis is out of minor-league options and unlike Munoz is on Boston’s 40-man roster, unsurprisingly owns a lifetime .213/.297/.381 slash line in 176 career plate appearances against righties dating back to 2017. He has seen playing time at just three different positions: second base, third base, and shortstop.

Taking those points into consideration, Santana — as noted by Cotillo — “makes more sense than the others,” including Arroyo.

Coming into the spring, Arroyo seemed like almost a lock to make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster considering the fact that he is out of minor-league options like Nick Pivetta is.

The 25-year-old former top prospect had a decent showing in limited action with the Sox last season, going 12-for-50 (.240) at the plate with three home runs, eight RBI, and four walks over 14 September contests (54 plate appearances).

If Boston were to roll with Santana over Arroyo out of the gate, though, that would likely mark the end of Arroyo’s run on the club’s 40-man roster.

In other words, you could see a transaction where the Red Sox purchase Santana’s contract — and in doing so add him to their major-league roster — while designating Arroyo for assignment to clear a roster spot.

The goal then, as Cotillo writes, would be for the Red Sox “to try to sneak Arroyo through waivers” while both Chavis and Munoz would be optioned down to the alternate site.

In this scenario, this would not be the first time the Sox designated Arroyo, as they did the very same thing just days after claiming the Florida native off waivers from the Indians last August.

For what it’s worth, Santana, who turns 31 in November, is only under club control through the end of the 2021 season. Arroyo, meanwhile, turns 26 in May and is under club control through the 2024 season.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Santana will earn a base salary of $1.75 million if he makes it to the majors with the Red Sox this year with the chance to earn an additional $1 million in incentives and another $100,000 in the form of a bonus if he starts at Triple-A.

Those contract details, per Cotillo, makes it “seem like the Red Sox have plans to bring him up to the majors.”

We will have to wait and see if those hypothetical plans come to fruition before Opening Day.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox outright right-hander Marcus Walden to Triple-A Worcester, add him to spring training roster

After being designated him for assignment last Wednesday, right-handed reliever Marcus Walden has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, the Red Sox announced Monday afternoon.

Despite losing his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster, Walden has been added to the club’s major-league spring training roster.

The 32-year-old was initially DFA’d last week so that the Sox could clear a 40-man roster spot for veteran utilityman Marwin Gonzalez.

At that time, the Red Sox had seven days to either trade Walden, release him, or sneak him through waivers, which they ended up doing.

In 15 appearances out of the Boston bullpen last season, Walden struggled to the tune of a 9.45 ERA and 8.59 FIP over 13 1/3 innings pitched in two separate stints with the club.

Going into the 2020 campaign, the California native was coming off a solid showing in 2019 in which he compiled a 3.80 ERA and a 76:32 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 70 relief appearances spanning 78 innings of work.

Walden proved to be one of Alex Cora’s most reliable relievers in ’19, and the Red Sox manager recently acknowledged that it was a difficult decision to cut the righty.

“It’s a tough business,” Cora said last Thursday. “There are certain situations that we like the player, we like the person but it’s a tough one. He didn’t have the best season last year, but at the same time, there’s a lot of good arms out there. It’s tough to make a decision like that but it’s a decision you have to make.”

Walden ultimately returns to the Red Sox in a lesser capacity, but he remains with the organization nonetheless and will look to return to form with the WooSox to begin the 2021 season.

With the addition of Walden, Boston’s spring training roster now stands at approximately 72 players.

Catcher Kevin Plawecki and outfielder Franchy Cordero remain on the club’s COVID-19 related injured list.

(Picture of Marcus Walden: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)