Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke on Jose Peraza: ‘I’m So Impressed With What He’s Doing’

Jose Peraza has not gotten a whole lot of attention since signing with the Red Sox back in December, but manager Ron Roenicke has been impressed with what he has seen from the 26-year-old since Summer Camp broke at Fenway Park last week.

“Everyday I watch him, and I’m so impressed with what he’s doing,” Roenicke told reporters via Zoom on Wednesday in regards to Peraza and his swing.

The Sox inked Peraza to a one-year deal for the 2020 season worth $3 million plus more in incentives on December 12th, less than two weeks after the Venezuela native was non-tendered by the Reds.

Because he was cut loose by Cincinnati prior to his first season of arbitration eligibility, Pereza could be under team control with the Red Sox through the end of the 2022 campaign if all goes according to plan.

A once touted prospect in the Braves and Dodgers’ organizations, Peraza has struggled to consistently find his footing in the majors to this point in time.

Since the start of the 2017 season, the right-handed hitter has posted fWARs of -0.3, 2.6, and -0.6 respectively while with the Reds.

Despite those inconsistent tendencies, upside is certainly there with Peraza, who is capable of playing both middle infield positions and even some outfield if need be.

With Boston, the former 2010 international signee figures to split time with Michael Chavis at second while also providing some insurance for Xander Bogaerts if the All-Star shortstop needs time off for whatever season.

Prior to the pandemic-induced layoff that began in March, Peraza slashed .233/.233/.300 with two doubles, one RBI, and one stolen base for the Red Sox in 12 Grapefruit League games.

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts Says Alex Verdugo Is ‘Going to Be a Guy We Lean Heavy On’

Since Summer Camp workouts began at Fenway Park last Friday, Red Sox players have used the ballpark’s luxury suites as locker rooms in order to practice social distancing.

Whenever a player isn’t doing something on the field or in the concourse, you will typically find him in his suite, eating a pre-packaged meal or simply hanging out.

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts was in that scenario on Monday, and while taking in the view of Fenway from his luxury box, he also had the chance to watch new teammate Alex Verdugo take batting practice. That is something he did not have the opportunity to do in Fort Myers during the initial version of spring training because Verdugo was working his way back from a stress fracture in his lower back.

Now, after watching a healthy Verdugo in his element at the plate, Bogaerts is impressed with what he saw.

“I saw him take BP yesterday,” the two-time All-Star told reporters via Zoom on Tuesday. “He was hitting that ball pretty good, to be honest. I was watching him from the top of my suite. He came here and he was hurt and he was getting treatments so I didn’t see a lot of him while he was with us (in spring training). Obviously only with the Dodgers. But he seemed pretty good and obviously that’s going to be a guy that we lean heavy on. And he’s healthy. So the more guys that are healthy, the better.”

The centerpiece of the Mookie Betts trade with the Dodgers from February, Verdugo is hoping to see regular playing time for Boston despite being part of a crowded outfield picture that includes Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Pillar, and J.D. Martinez, to an extent.

“I want to play and I want to be a starter,” the 24-year-old said Saturday. “That’s what everybody comes into the big leagues for. That’s what everybody wants to be. So I want to play every day. But, if they want to do what they have to do, then I’ll follow and I’ll play as hard as I can.”

A left-handed hitter by trade who made his major-league debut in September 2017, Verdugo owns a career .273/.335/.448 slash line in 355 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, and a career .306/.333/.452 slash line in 133 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers. He will be the first Red Sox player to ever don the No. 99 on his uniform.

 

Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez, Bobby Dalbec Test Positve for COVID-19

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez and first/third baseman Bobby Dalbec have tested positive for COVID-19, manager Ron Roenicke announced Tuesday.

Per Roenicke, Rodriguez is feeling better and still believes he can be ready for the start of the 2020 season.

“Rodriguez wants to be ready for Opening Day but we’ll have to see how it goes,” the Sox skipper told reporters via Zoom. “The medical team will follow him, give him instructions.”

For the time being, the 27-year-old will remain at home in Miami, where he was orginally exposed to the virus, before traveling to Boston.

As for Dalbec, Boston’s top power-hitting prospect had yet to work out with the team at Fenway Park for the start of Summer Camp, and now we know why that is.

By testing positive for COVID-19, Rodriguez and Dalbec join left-handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor as Red Sox players who have contracted the virus. There could still be additional players who have tested positive, but these four have given permission to the Red Sox for their names to be revealed to the public.

According to MLB’s COVID-19 testing protocols, “Players testing positive must quarantine for two weeks and then must be free of symptoms and test negative twice before rejoining their clubs.”

Red Sox Sign Top Draft Pick Nick Yorke for $2.7 Million

The Red Sox officially signed top draft pick Nick Yorke on Tuesday, per Yorke himself.

According to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, the 17-year-old Yorke signed with Boston for $2.7 million, which is about $900,000 below the slot value assigned to the 17th overall pick in the 2020 first-year player draft.

By doing this, the Red Sox were able to sign third-round selection Blaze Jordan for $1.75 million, which is well past the 89th pick’s recommended slot value of $667,900.

Regarded by Baseball America as the 96th-ranked draft-eligible prospect ahead of this year’s draft, Yorke went as early as he did because, as Callis notes, the Sox “legitimately loved” his bat.

The prep second baseman out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif. slashed .457/.552/.709 with 11 home runs and 77 RBI over four seasons and 94 games played for the Monarchs’ varsity baseball team.

Many were surprised that Boston went in the direction of taking Yorke with their top pick, but as previously mentioned, they had legitimate reasoning to do so.

When speaking with reporters after the 2020 draft, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said that Yorke “has a chance to be a special bat who is going to play the infield.”

On top of that, amateur scouting director Paul Toboni added, “We feel like if there would have been a full spring, there probably would have been industry consensus that this kid was a first-round pick.”

Yorke was committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona. He will instead become a professional and will likely have to wait a while to actually start playing in organized minor-league games due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On another note, as brought up by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox now have approximately $679,900 to work with to sign fourth-round pick Jeremy Wu-Yelland and fifth-round pick Shane Drohan.

Dodgers’ Mookie Betts Says He Has No Regrets About Turning Down $300 Million Contract Extension From Red Sox

Former Red Sox star and current Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts says he has no regrets about turning down a 10-year, $300 million contract extension from Boston during the 2019 offseason.

According to WEEI’s Lou Merloni, the Sox had made that offer to Betts in their third attempt to keep the 2018 American League MVP in Boston long-term.

Betts countered that offer with $420 million over 12 years, and things only fell apart from there as the four-time All-Star was dealt to Los Angeles in February.

At the time he was traded, Betts was gearing up to become one of this winter’s most coveted free agents and seemed locked in on signing a record-setting deal with whichever team would be willing to pay up.

Flash forward a little less than five months later, and the 27-year-old may have to settle for less of a payday than he was originally expecting due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has placed financial constraints on a many major-league ballclub.

Despite facing that potentially harsh reality, Betts still has no remorse about turning down that aforementioned extension from the Red Sox. He said as much at press conference at Dodger Stadium earlier Monday.

“I don’t regret turning down that [offer],” the Tennessee native told reporters. “Once I make a decision, I make a decision. I’m not going back and questioning myself. I don’t worry about that. The market will be what it is. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Added Betts: “Free agency is really on the back-burner. That’ll come. That’s nothing that I’m really thinking about right now. Right now, the main concern is (health and safety). There’s a lot going on, we haven’t gotten tests back and we don’t know who’s sick and not sick. There’s just a lot going on that needs to be addressed and free agency is not one of those things right now. That will come when it comes.”

It’s also worth mentioning that Betts is one of a number of players who don’t seem entirely confident that this truncated 2020 season will reach its conclusion even though Opening Day is less than three weeks away. He even said that he still has doubts about playing for the Dodgers in a real game.

How things continue in terms of adequate COVID-19 testing and protocols for teams will certainly be something to monitor moving forward.

Red Sox Pushed Back Start Time of Night Games at Fenway Park to ‘Have Greater Prime-Time Window for NESN’

Note: This is more of a rant than anything. 

The Red Sox have moved the start of home night games this season from 7:10 p.m to 7:30 p.m. eastern time. The reason for that?

Well, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, the Red Sox pushed back the start time of their night games at Fenway Park by 20 minutes to “have a greater prime-time window for NESN.”

Even worse, as Abraham notes, the Sox “have three 7:30 p.m. [home] games on getaway days with a road game the next day.”

In addition to that, as previously mentioned in my last post, 23 of the 30 home games the Red Sox are supposed to play at Fenway Park this year will start at 7:30 p.m.

It’s only a twenty-minute difference from what we’re used to for night games, sure, but when you see clubs like the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays move up the start time of their weeknight home games to 6:40 p.m, the move by the Red Sox to push back the start time becomes even more questionable.

I mean, what is the point of doing this when you are not even going to have fans at the ballpark? What good is it to make fans wait even longer to watch the Red Sox on a weeknight when many will have to wake up early the following morning for work or school?

It’s definitely confusing, that’s for sure. Over The Monster’s Matt Collins aptly sums it all up in this tweet:

As for what’s next, maybe backlash from people on the internet can get the Red Sox to move up the start time of their night games at Fenway Park? Probably won’t happen, but a man can hope.

End rant.

UPDATE:

Red Sox’ 2020 Schedule Revealed

If Major League Baseball is to be played in 2020, the Red Sox will play 60 games in 65 days against American and National League East opponents beginning on July 24th.

The league released this year’s schedules for all 30 clubs on Monday evening via an MLB Network TV special. Here’s how the Red Sox’ season will go over the next two-plus months:

First off, the Sox will open the truncated season with a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. In other words, Boston’s home opener will be on July 24th with first pitch at 7:30 PM eastern time.

From there, the homestand continues with a two-game interleague series against Rick Porcello and the Mets before the club embarks on a seven-game road trip that includes stops in both Queens and the Bronx as well as Tampa Bay.

The Sox’ first set of road games will be followed by a seven-game homestand against the Blue Jays and Rays before again facing off against the Yankees in a four-game set in New York.

Boston’s final trip to Yankee Stadium will be succeeded by a quick two-game series against the Phillies at Fenway and a lengthy trip to Baltimore and then Toronto for seven games against the O’s and Jays.

After getting back home to Boston from Toronto, the Sox will get to enjoy their longest homestand of the season, a 10-gamer in which the club will host the defending World Series champion Nationals, the Braves, and Blue Jays in three separate series.

As it turns out, that homestand comes immediately before the longest roadie of the 2020 campaign, a nine-game venture that features match-ups against the Phillies, Rays, and Marlins in that order. In other words, a trip to southeastern Pennsylvania will be followed by a week-long stay in Florida.

Upon arriving back to Boston from Miami, the Sox will wrap up the home portion of their schedule by welcoming the Yankees and Orioles into town for two separate three-game series. For the Yankees, it’s their lone trip to Fenway on the year.

Finally, the Red Sox will travel to Atlanta and finish their season series as well as the 2020 regular season as a whole against the Braves at Truist Park. That is, if all goes according to plan, of course.

60 games total, 40 of which will come against divisional opponents.

Based off the schedule above, it would appear that 23 of the 30 home games the Red will be playing in start at 7:30 PM eastern time. That doesn’t sound like the best of ideas in my opinion, but hey, the season might not even happen because of this whole global pandemic thing going on, right?

Red Sox’ Bobby Dalbec Not Yet Working Out With Team at Summer Camp

Power-hitting prospect Bobby Dalbec has yet to participate in Red Sox Summer Camp, according to manager Ron Roenicke.

Per Roenicke, “There is still some intake things [the Red Sox] need to do with him.”

Although Roenicke could not further specify on this, it seems that there are at least two possibilities as to why Dalbec has been absent from Summer Camp thus far. The first of those being that the Sox are still waiting for the 25-year-old’s COVID-19 test results to come back from Salt Lake City; the second being that he tested positive for COVID-19 and did not give the team permission to reveal his name.

I don’t want to speculate on this, but if Dalbec is placed on the 10-day injured list anytime soon, it would seem as though the slugging first/third baseman did indeed test positive for coronavirus.

So far, the Red Sox have revealed that at least two players have tested positive for COVID-19 in left-handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor. Hernandez got it while at home in Venezuela, while Taylor is currently self-isolating at a Boston hotel.

In addition to that, Roenicke did tell reporters Monday that the Sox “still have a couple potential COVID cases that are pending.”

Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez All for Universal Designated Hitter Moving Forward

When J.D. Martinez inked a five-year, $110 million contract with the Red Sox back in February 2018, he did so knowing that he would have the chance to opt out of that deal on three separate occasions.

The first of those occasions arose at the end of this past season. Martinez decided to opt in.

The second of those occasions will come at the conclusion of the 2020 season. This time around, Martinez may decide to test the free agency waters.

Why would Martinez, who turns 33 next month, do that, you ask? Well, the answer is simple. The National League is adopting the designated hitter for the 2020 campaign and will likely keep it that way moving forward.

With the addition of the DH in the senior circuit, several more jobs in baseball just opened up, as Martinez put it.

When asked by reporters via Zoom on Sunday about the new rule change, Martinez said, ““I’m all for it, obviously. I’m a DH. I think you could speak to a lot of pitchers who are for it, too. A lot of pitchers like it and a lot of pitchers in the AL like it because they feel like the pitchers in the NL have an advantage. That’s one less hitter they have to face and one less elite hitter they have to face. I like it. I like to even the playing field across the board. I understand the history of it, so I see the other side of it too, but I’m in favor of it.”

Added the three-time Silver Slugger Award winner: “It’s 15 more jobs around the league. I think it’ll make things really interesting. There wouldn’t be that whole AL (versus) NL argument. It would be what team is the best and how does every team measure up against each other now. Not how every team measures up in each league.”

Because of the shortened season, Martinez will earn approximately 37% of the $23.75 million he was supposed to make this year, or about $8.78 million to be more exact.

This winter, the Florida native will have to decide between returning to Boston for $19.35 million in 2021 or opt out of his deal and become a free agent.

For now though, Martinez is more focused on preparing for a truncated 2020 season in a shorter amount of time than he is used to.

“It’s going to be really, really tough to get everything back, get your body underneath you,” Martinez said when asked about the unique Summer Camp experience with under three weeks to go until Opening Day. “It’s a sprint. You don’t have that month, month and a half to get ready for a season.”

The Red Sox will open the 2020 season against an American or National League East opponent on July 24th. If I were to guess, I would say Martinez starts that game at DH and hits out of the cleanup spot.

 

Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi to Pitch in Intrasquad Game on Thursday, Could Start on Opening Day Depending on Eduardo Rodriguez’s Status

Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi has impressed thus far at Summer Camp. The 30-year-old tossed a three-inning simulated game at Fenway Park on Saturday where he threw about 45 pitches.

In that sim game, Eovaldi faced Alex Verdugo, Jonathan Lucroy, Connor Wong, and Jett Bandy and utilized his pitch mix effectively, according to Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke.

“The stuff was great,” Roenicke said of Eovaldi on Saturday. “The cutter was good, the slider, the curveball. Threw some really good split-fingers and the velocity was there on his fastball. He got what he needed to do today.”

In terms of velocity, the flame-throwing Eovaldi topped out at about 100 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball. His next outing will likely come in a five-inning intrasquad game at Fenway on Thursday.

Taking that date into account, Eovaldi would be lined up to start for Boston on Openinf Day 2.0 on July 24th. That being said, Roenicke and the Red Sox still expect left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who has been at home in Florida awaiting the results of his COVID-19 test, to get the starting nod on that day.

As mentioned by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Roenicke has been noncommittal on who his Opening Day starter will be to this point. Rodriguez was expected to handle the duty prior to MLB suspending spring training back in March, but his status for the start of the 2020 season is now up in the air due to potential exposure to the coronavirus.

If Eovaldi’s impressive run continues on Thursday while Rodriguez is still absent from camp, Roenicke might not have any choice other than to name the Houston native his Opening Day starter. We’ll have to wait and see on that.