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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brock Holt Bids Farewell to Red Sox in Touching Instagram Post

In case you missed it, former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt officially inked a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers earlier Wednesday, meaning he will no longer be part of the organization he had spent the previous seven years with.

For both his work on and off the field, Holt emerged as a fan favorite in Boston, and he expressed his gratitude towards the city in a touching farewell Instagram post Wednesday.

“Boston. You turned a Texas boy into one of your own,” Holt wrote in the above caption. “It has been my absolute honor to play for your team and be a part of your city. Baseball is just that. Baseball. It doesn’t last forever. The relationships I’ve built will. I became a husband, a father, and a champion while playing for you.”

While with the Red Sox, the Texas native married his wife Lakyn in November 2013 and the two welcomed their first child, Griffin, in December 2016. He also played an integral role for the Sox during their historic run to a World Series title in 2018.

“I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has been a part of this chapter with us,” Holt added. “And thank you for letting me be a part of yours. It was a damn good time!”

Since the start of the 2015 season, Holt had served as the Red Sox’ Jimmy Fund captain and was the club’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award on four separate occasions because of it.

The 31-year-old had become a steady veteran presence in Boston’s clubhouse over the last few years and seemed to have close relationships with several of his teammates, including Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez.

“He was a character in here,” Martinez said of Holt’s departure. “He was fun to be around. You wish him the best, but that’s the business side of it.”

As Holt wrote in his Instagram post, “Baseball is just that. Baseball. It doesn’t last forever. The relationships I’ve built will.” He will be missed and I am already looking forward to the Brewers’ trip to Fenway Park in early June.

Brock Holt Officially Signs With Brewers

Former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt has officially signed a one-year major-league deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, thus putting an end to any hope the versatile 31-year-old could return to Boston in 2020.

Although it has not been revealed how much Holt will earn in 2020, his new contract with Milwaukee does include a club option for 2021, so it could in essence be a two-year deal depending on how the coming season pans out.

A former throw-in the trade that was headlined by reliever Joel Hanrahan going from the Pirates to the Red Sox, Holt had spent the previous seven seasons with Boston.

After making his Sox debut during an up-and-down 2013 campaign, the Rice University product emerged as a fan and clubhouse favorite beginning in 2014, a year in which he finished eighth in American League Rookie of the Year voting while playing in a then-career-best 106 contests.

The 2015 season was when Holt really burst onto the scene though, as he hit for the cycle for the first time in his career on June 16th and was named to his first All-Star team a month later, being the only Red Sox player to get an All-Star nod that year.

Despite finishing in last place in the American League East for the second straight year in ’15, the Sox saw Holt become a valuable asset to their club both on and off the field.

In total, the former ninth-round pick played seven different positions over 129 games that year. It was also the first time he was recognized as the Red Sox’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for his work with the Jimmy Fund, an honor he would receive three more times in his Red Sox career.

2016 saw Holt miss a significant amount of time due to concussion issues. a trend that would carry over into 2017 in what was probably Holt’s most adverse season in the majors because of vertigo.

That Vertigo hampered Holt’s productivity in what was already an odd season for the Red Sox despite them winning 93 games and clinching their second straight American League East title.

In some eyes, perhaps the hiring of Alex Cora, combined with Holt playing in just 64 games the previous year, put the Texas native’s roster spot in jeaporady heading into the 2018 campaign.

With Blake Swihart seemingly a lock to make the Opening Day roster as both the club’s third catcher and a utility player, it looked as though one of the final spots on the Sox’ bench was going to come down to Holt or Deven Marrero.

Holt seemed prepared to be dealt if that is what it came down to, but Boston ultimately traded Marrero to the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later who would turn out to be Josh Taylor.

With those trade rumors behind him, Holt got back to his consistent ways for the Sox in 2018, slashing .277/.362/.411 with seven home runs and 46 RBI over 109 games played.

That October, Holt played a crucial role for the Sox in their run to a historic World Series title. He even hit for the first postseason cycle ever in a dominating 16-1 win over the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALDS.

Trade rumors were still swirling a little bit in Holt’s final offseason before reaching free agency, but he stuck around once more and proved to be one of the better hitters on the 2019 Red Sox.

Yes, the one-time All-Star slashed .297/.369/.402 with three home runs and 31 RBI over 87 games last season, all while maintaining his role as an important veteran presence and player to look up to.

Perhaps he played his way out of the Red Sox’ price range, but the hope had been all offseason that Holt would find his way back to Fenway South this month.

That did not happen though, which is somewhat understandable given the influx of infielders Boston currently has on their 40-man roster.

Still, you cannot deny the impact Holt had on the community in Boston. He cared deeply about his role as Jimmy Fund captain, he spent his offseasons in nearby Needham, and he may have been holding out, waiting for one last offer from the Red Sox before ultimately signing with the Brewers.

You can argue that Holt’s value on the baseball field can be replaced by the group made up of Jonathan Arauz, Michael Chavis, and Jose Peraza, but that does not mean that Holt will not be missed by staff, players, and fans alike.

So, thanks for everything, Brock. Best of luck in Milwaukee. You will be missed in Boston.

 

Red Sox Sign Right-Hander Jhoulys Chacin to Minor-League Deal

UPDATE: The deal is now official, per the Red Sox’ official Twitter account.

The Red Sox have reportedly signed veteran right-hander Jhoulys Chacin to a minor-league contract, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Chacin, 31, was released by the Milwaukee Brewers on August 26th, two days after he was designated for assignment.

In 19 starts this season, Milwaukee’s Opening Day starter posted a 5.79 ERA and .282 batting average against over 88 2/3 innings pitched. The Brewers went 6-13 in those games.

On Friday, the Red Sox reportedly held a workout for Chacin at Angel Stadium before opening up a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. A workout in which the Venezuela native threw a bullpen under the watch of manager Alex Cora and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, according to The Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman.

With Chris Sale presumably out the remainder of the season and David Price set to make his first start since August 4th on Sunday, the Sox are in need of rotation depth. That much is evident by how left-hander Josh Taylor will serve as the opener in what will be a “bullpen day” for Boston on Saturday.

Red Sox Release Tyler Thornburg After Reliever Refused Minor League Assignment

The Red Sox have released right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg, per the club’s official Twitter account.

Thornburg, 30, was returned from his month-long rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday without being activated from the 10-day injured list with a right hip impingement, meaning the Sox had two days to decide whether to add the righty back to the active roster, designate him for assignment, or outright him.

On Tuesday, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that Thornburg would not accept a minor league assignment, so this outcome seemed the most likely before it even occurred.

Acquired by Boston from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for infielder Travis Shaw and minor leaguers, Yeison Coca, Maurico Dubon, and Josh Pennington in December of 2016, Thornburg’s tenure with the Red Sox did not go according to plan.

Given his reputation as one of the better setup men in the National League in his time with Milwaukee, Thornburg was seen as part of the bridge out of the Sox bullpen that would make way for Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning.

Instead, the Texas native missed all the 2017 season due to thoracic outlet syndrome in his throwing shoulder and did not make his Red Sox debut until July 6th of the following season.

There, Thornburg appeared in 25 games for Boston, posting a dismal 5.63 ERA and .901 OPS against over 24 innings pitched before being shut down for the remainder of the year on September 26th.

This year, the former third round pick made his first Opening Day roster as a member of the Red Sox, and allowed 16 earned runs on 21 hits and 10 walks to go along with 22 strikeouts over 16 appearances and 18 2/3 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 7.71 and OPS against of .972. Not great.

Thornburg yielded two runs on two hits and two walks in the sixth inning of a 10-3 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays on may 21st, two days before he was placed on the IL.

While rehabbing with the PawSox, Thornburg posted a 12.66 ERA and 2.44 WHIP over 11 outings (one start) and just 10 2/3 frames pitched.

As mentioned before, his reputation while with the Brewers should give Thornburg another shot with another club, but it was clear that the marriage between him and the Red Sox was never going to work out. Perhaps a change of scenery will do him better.

Out of all the trades Dave Dombrowski has made since taking over as the Red Sox’ president of baseball operations in 2015, this particular one he made with David Stearns should go down as one of the worst.

The Red Sox virtually got nothing of value out of Thornburg while he was with the club, nor could they flip him for any sort of asset(s) either.

Instead, Travis Shaw, despite being demoted to Triple-A San Antonio last month, has gone on to have two 30-plus home run seasons with the Brewers.

Mauricio Dubon, meanwhile, worked his way to becoming Milwaukee’s fifth-ranked prospect before getting the call up the majors on July 7th, where he will look to provide infield depth to a team competing for a National League Central crown.

All this transpiring while the Red Sox continue to deal with struggles in their bullpen and may even trade for a reliever of Thornburg’s perceived caliber before he arrived in Boston.

Milwaukee Brewers Call up Former Red Sox Prospect Mauricio Dubon

The Milwaukee Brewers recalled infielder Mauricio Dubon from Triple-A San Antonio earlier Sunday, meaning another former Red Sox prospect will be making his major league debut this season.

Dubon, 24, was selected by Boston in the 26th round of the 2013 amateur draft out of Capital Christian School in Sacramento, Ca.

In four minor league seasons across Boston’s farm system, the Honduras native rose to become the club’s 17th-ranked prospect before being part of the trade, along with Travis Shaw,  Josh Pennington, and Yeison Coca, that sent right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox in December of 2016.

Since then, Dubon has shined. That much is evident by his .307/.343/.491 slash line to go along with 14 home runs and 42 RBI over 82 games with Triple-A San Antonio in 2019.

Thornburg, meanwhile, has done quite the opposite, posting a 7.71 ERA and 5.34 xFIP through 16 appearances and 18 2/3 innings pitched with Boston this season.

Placed on the injured list with a right hip impingement on May 23 and sent out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on June 9th, the 30-year-old has surrendered 15 earned runs on 16 hits and eight walks over 9 2/3 innings and 10 total appearances. That’s good for an ERA of 13.97 and a batting average against of .340. Not great.

Per MassLive.com, Thornburg’s rehab assignment expires on July 8th, so the Red Sox will have to decide what actions to take with the reliever over the All-Star break. Whether its to add him back to the active roster or designate him for assignment has yet to be determined.

RECAP: Mookie Betts saves the day as #RedSox salvage Game 3 in 4-1 victory.

The Red Sox came into Thursday one loss away from falling to .500 on the season. Luckily for them, there were a few guys who didn’t want that to happen. Let’s start with Eduardo Rodriguez. This guy has really grown on me since the beginning of the season. For a 24-year-old already in the bigs, I think he gets a lot of criticism, guess that’s just what happens here, though. Anyway, ERod had himself a solid outing against a Milwaukee team that can score runs in bunches. Only giving up one run on three hits in six innings is nice to see, especially with the way Pomeranz and Kendrick pitched the past two games. He would have gone out for the seventh, but with a runner on base in the top of the seventh, John Farrell made the decision to pinch hit ERod for Chris Young, which I was fine with. 87 pitches total, and the only real mistake came in the sixth when he gave up a double to Jonathan Villar that allowed Manny Pina to score from second. From the seventh inning on, the bullpen did what they had to do to shut down the Brewers. There was cause for concern in the bottom of the eighth, when there was a man on first with one out. Craig Kimbrel would be inserted into the game earlier than usual, and after giving up an infield single and throwing a wild pitch, Kimbrel struck out Keon Broxton to end the inning. In the ninth, Kimbrel would do something that is rarely done in the game of baseball, toss an immaculate inning. 9 pitches, 9 strikes, 3 K’s. I know we’re only five and a half weeks into the season, but, as of today, Kimbrel’s K/9 of 17.81 is the best it has been throughout his career, based on end of the year stats from 2010-2016. If the Red Sox get elite Kimbrel and he pitches longer outings, then that would be great for this bullpen which can be characterised as unreliable.

After Mookie Betts scored in the first because of a fielding error, the Red Sox bats went relatively dormant. They had plenty of chances, like in the eighth, when they loaded the bases with only one out. Jackie Bradley and Josh Rutledge both got their chance to drive in some runs, but they both struck out. It wasn’t until the ninth when the Red Sox took advantage of what was given to them. After Christian Vazquez walked and Deven Marrero reached on a fielder’s choice, Mookie Betts came to the plate looking to take the lead, and that’s exactly what he did. Betts took Neftali Feliz deep to left field, mashing his fifth home run of the season, while also plating three runs, making it a 4-1 game. And that blast would do it.

Mother’s Day Weekend series against the Rays next, Porcello and Sale will be pitching. David Price is rehabbing in Pawtucket on Sunday, Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg are getting healthier, things aren’t looking awful. Just wait until this team has a good few weeks, just you wait.

18 down, 76 to go.