#RedSox Activate Dustin Pedroia from 10-Day Injured List, Option Tzu-Wei Lin to Triple-A Pawtucket

The Red Sox have activated second baseman Dustin Pedroia from the 10-day injured list ahead of their home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. To make room on the 25-man roster, utility man Tzu-Wei Lin was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket in a corresponding move.

The club made the transaction official earlier Tuesday morning.

Pedroia, 35, completed his three-game rehab stint with the Class A Greenville Drive this past Sunday, where he went 3-for-9 with one double, one run scored, and a pair of walks to go along with a handful of defensive plays as well.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday that whether or not Pedroia would be activated for Boston’s home opener would be dependent on how the infielder was feeling Tuesday morning.

Now, with Pedroia being activated from the injured list, it appears that all systems are a go, as the four-time All-Star bats seventh and starts at second for the Red Sox in their 12th game of the 2019 season.

Having only played in a total of three games since the end of the 2017 campaign, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Pedroia is out for vengeance this year in what will be his 14th season in the majors. Whether or not he can stay on the field, though, is also something to pay attention to.

Again, first pitch Tuesday against the Blue Jays is scheduled for 2:05 PM EDT.

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Former #RedSox Closer Craig Kimbrel Will Not Be in Attendance for Tuesday’s Ring Ceremony, Says Team President and CEO Sam Kennedy

Earlier last week, Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy extended a formal invitation to former closer Craig Kimbrel to attend the club’s Opening Day festivities at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Fast forward to Monday, the day before Boston’s home opener, and Kennedy told reporters that Kimbrel will in fact not be in attendance, as he does not want to cause any distractions.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo has the full quote from Kennedy:

Kimbrel, who of course won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2018, has yet to sign a contract with a big league club and remains a free agent.

When the report first popped up that the 30-year-old hurler could make an appearance at Fenway to receive his World Series ring, my initial reaction was that if you’re Dave Dombrowski, you can’t let that man leave without a contract offer.

Now, as we talk about the Red Sox bullpen 11 games into the new season, things do not as dire as many expected them to be. That much is highlighted by both Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier owning an ERA of 0.00 in eight combined appearances so far this year.

Still, one of the more elite relievers baseball has seen should be contributing in a major league bullpen right about now. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens anytime soon though, especially with a compensatory draft pick potentially on the line for the Red Sox.

Any way, first pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays is scheduled for 2:05 PM EDT on Tuesday at Fenway Park, with pregame festivities kicking off the day at 1 PM EDT.

#RedSox’ Dustin Pedroia Collects Two Hits in First Game of Rehab Assignment with Class A Greenville

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia made his first ever start for the Class A Greenville Drive on Thursday as part of his rehab assignment after beginning the 2019 season on the 10-day injured list.

Batting second and manning second base per usual, the 35-year-old veteran went 2/3 at the plate with a fourth inning single, a sixth inning walk, and an eighth inning double.

On the field, the four-time Gold Glove Award winner turned a 6-4-3 double play in the fifth inning.

Playing all nine innings in front of a record crowd of 7,551 for Greenville’s home opener at Fluor Field, Pedroia had nothing but positive things to say about his experience playing down in South Carolina.

“It was fun,” Pedroia said following the Drive’s 1-0 loss to the West Virginia Power, a minor league affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. “This is a great atmosphere here. I mean these guys are lucky. The stadium is unbelievable. The fans are great. The playing surface is awesome. You couldn’t ask for more out of a minor league affiliate. This is a pretty special place for these guys, so it was a great experience to be out there.”

Pedroia is slated to play another nine innings Friday before getting the day off on Saturday, then doing it all again on Sunday in what could be his last rehab appearance before being activated from the injured list ahead of the Red Sox’ own home opener on Tuesday.

“That would mean a lot,” Pedroia said. “That would be pretty cool.”

In the past two seasons, Pedroia has only managed to play in 108 out of a possible 324 regular season games with Boston due to different injuries.

Eight games into the 2019 campaign, Red Sox second baseman rank 27th out of 30th in OPS from the second base position. Not great.

When he does finally make his return to the big league club, perhaps a healthy Pedroia can provide the Red Sox with a spark they need to get back to winning baseball.

#RedSox Activate Steve Pearce from Injured List, Option Sam Travis to Triple-A Pawtucket

After starting his first full season with the Red Sox on the 10-Day injured list, Steve Pearce is back, as the club activated him from the IL prior to Thursday’s game against the Oakland Athletics.

As the above tweet reads, to make room on Boston’s 25-man roster, first baseman Sam Travis was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket Wednesday night.

Pearce, 35, strained his left calf while running out a ground ball in the first inning of a Grapefruit League game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 17th.

He was removed from that game seemingly as a precaution, but did not appear in any other big league games for the remainder of the spring.

Now, after getting some work in at the minor-league level down in Fort Myers, the South Carolina native appears ready to make his 2019 debut. He re-joined the club in Oakland Wednesday.

Given his .304/.400/.559 slash line to go along with five home runs and 20 RBI in 120 plate appearances against left-handers last season, it would not be surprising to see Pearce in the three-hole against southpaw Brett Anderson and the Athletics Thursday afternoon.

In Pearce’s place, Sam Travis went 2/7 with two singles in two games played while making Boston’s Opening Day roster for the first time in his career.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 3:37 PM EDT on NESN.

Chris Sale Gets Lit up for Seven Runs as #RedSox Get Blown out by Mariners on Opening Day

Exactly five months after clinching their ninth World Series title in franchise history, the Red Sox set out on the journey to defend that crown, starting with an Opening Day showdown against the Seattle Mariners at the newly-minted T-Mobile Park out in the Pacific Northwest.

Getting the start for Boston in this one, as announced last week, was none other than ace left-hander Chris Sale.

The new $145 million man, who also recorded the last out of that 2018 World Series against the Dodgers, did not have himself an Opening Day to remember in this one.

Working just the first three innings on Thursday, Sale surrendered seven earned runs on six hits, two walks, and one HBP to go along with four strikeouts on the night. Three of those Mariners hits were home runs, with a pair coming from infielder Tim Beckham and the other coming from Edwin Encarnacion.

Control was clearly an issue for Sale in his first meaningful start of 2019, and according to Statcast, the 29-year-old failed to induce one swing and miss when throwing his four-seam fastball, which he went to 25 times.

Also using Statcast, Sale’s fastball topped out at 94.5 MPH in the first inning. His average fastball velocity on the night was 92.3 MPH, which incrementally decreased from inning to inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 76 (45 strikes), Sale’s next start should come against the Oakland Athletics next Wednesday. Perhaps with some more innings under his belt after a fairly light spring, we’ll see a more improved Sale in his next time out.

In relief of Sale, Hector Velazquez. Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, and Brian Johnson combined to give up five more runs, four of which were earned, on six hits, two walks, one HBP, and five strikeouts over the final five frames on Thursday.

Velazquez, who figures to take on a long-relief/spot start role this season, was responsible for three of those runs, with one of them coming on a Ryon Healy fifth inning solo homer.

After loading the bases with one out in the sixth, Heath Hembree would enter his first contest of 2019 to try and escape the jam, but would give up an additional pair of runs on a bases-loaded walk and Eduardo Nunez fielding error. Both runs (one earned) were charged to Velazquez.

From there, Tyler Thornburg’s 2019 debut didn’t go quite as planned, as the ex-Brewer allowed two more Mariners runs to score while serving up Seattle’s fifth home run of the evening courtesy of Domingo Santana.

And finally, Brian Johnson, who should be starting Tuesday in Oakland if the Red Sox remain committed to a six-man rotation, had the best outing of any Boston reliever, limiting Seattle to just one base runner in a scoreless eighth inning of work.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales to start things out in Seattle’s home opener.

Entering Thursday having already made an official start last week in Tokyo, Gonzales looked fairly shaky early against the defending World Series champions.

In fact, three straight one out first inning hits from Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and JD Martinez resulted in Boston’s first run of the season to cross the plate on an RBI single from Martinez.

Just an inning later, a Mariners E3 that allowed Eduardo Nunez to reach first to leadoff the second allowed another Red Sox run to score, this one coming after Nunez had advanced to third and Andrew Benintendi had driven him in with an RBI sacrifice fly to shallow left field.

So, with an early 2-0 lead, things were looking pretty good for the Red Sox, until they weren’t, because Gonzales got into a bit of a groove from the beginning of the third inning up until the sixth.

There, Nunez was at it again, this time leading the inning off with a line drive double.

After a Jackie Bradley Jr. strikeout and an apparent balk committed by Gonzales, Christian Vazquez came through with his first RBI of 2019 by pulling a double to left field, allowing Nunez to score.

That run-scoring two-bagger would mark the end of the night for Gonzales, who was replaced in favor of fellow southpaw and ex-Red Sox hurler Roenis Elias.

Matched up against Benintendi in his first action of the game, Benintendi won the lefty-on-lefty matchup, pulling an RBI single to right to drive in Vazquez.

At the time, that cut Seattle’s lead to four runs, but as the final score of 12-4 indicates, the Mariners would go on a little run of their own to put this one out of reach for the Red Sox in their first loss of the 2019 season.

Some notes from this loss:

The seven runs given up by Chris Sale are tied for the most he has given up in a Red Sox uniform.

Per WEEI’s Evan Drellich, “the 2018 Red Sox allowed 12 runs or more only three times. The season high for runs allowed was 13.”

From the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, when speaking with Red Sox manager Alex Cora:

An ugly loss to be sure, but let’s not forget how Opening Day last year went with that blown lead in Tampa Bay.

Compared to other teams, this Red Sox club had an atypical spring coming off a 2018 in which they played deep into October. It could take some time until we see this team at their full capacity. That’s what I’m trying to say.

Anyway, next up for the Red Sox, it will be a starting pitching matchup featuring right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and rookie left-hander Yusei Kikuchi on Friday

Eovaldi, entering his first full season with Boston, has only pitched at T-Mobile Field once before in his seven-year career.

For Seattle, Kikuchi allowed two runs (one earned) over 4 2/3 innings in his first career start against the Oakland Athletics last week in Tokyo.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 10:10 PM EDT on NESN. Time to put that first win on the board.

#RedSox Catcher Sandy Leon Accepts Assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket

After clearing waivers and being outrighted from the Red Sox’ 40-man roster on Tuesday, catcher Sandy Leon accepted his assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday. The club made the official announcement earlier.

Leon, 30, will now report to the PawSox and look to provide Boston with depth at the Triple-A level, which is something I would have to assume the team is happy about.

Since he remained in the organization through Opening Day, the backstop’s $2.475 million salary for 2019 is now guaranteed and will count towards Boston’s luxury tax.

Well respected by the Red Sox pitching staff, the possibility remains that Leon could be dealt if he impresses in the minors and another club feels the need to acquire a backup-caliber catcher.

Leon will join the likes of 29-year-old ex-Rangers backstop Juan Centeno, who signed a minor-league pact with Boston last November, down in Pawtucket.

Together, the pair have racked up exactly 1460 big league plate appearances since 2012, so they should provide some solid depth behind Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart and be solid injury fill-ins if necessary.

#RedSox Manager Alex Cora Announces Opening Day Starting Lineup, Featuring Andrew Benintendi Leading off and Christian Vazquez Catching Chris Sale

With Opening Day just mere hours away, Red Sox manager Alex Cora on Wednesday announced the starting lineup for his team’s first game of the 2019 season against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.

  1. Benintendi, LF
  2. Betts, RF
  3. Devers, 3B
  4. Martinez, DH
  5. Bogaerts, SS
  6. Moreland, 1B
  7. Nunez, 2B
  8. Bradley Jr., CF
  9. Vazquez, C
    Sale, SP

To nobody’s surprise, Andrew Benintendi will be serving as Boston’s leadoff man for the majority of the season, as announced by Cora himself last December.

In 97 career plate appearances batting leadoff for Boston, the 24-year-old outfielder, who is entering his third full big league season, is slashing .322/.381/.598 with seven doubles, one triple, five home runs, and 15 RBI.

After Benintendi, Mookie Betts will be sliding into the two-hole, which was also expected.

What may not have been expected is what comes next, with third baseman Rafael Devers getting the chance to bat in between Betts and JD Martinez.

According to Cora, the third spot in Boston’s lineup will not be reserved for one specific hitter over the course of the season, with Devers, Mitch Moreland, and Steve Pearce also in the mix depending on pitching matchups. But, with Pearce currently on the injured list back in Fort Myers, it will go to the young corner infielder for Opening Day.

“Steve is not here and (Devers) did a good job,” Cora said to reporters on Wednesday afternoon. “So go get ‘em, kid.”

Devers, 22, made his major league debut in Seattle back in July of 2017.

From there, as it reads above, we have Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, and Mitch Moreland making up a pretty solid 4-5-6 portion of the lineup

And to round it off, it will go Eduardo Nunez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Christian Vazquez, who of course will be catching Chris Sale in Game 1 of 162 on Thursday.

Per Baseball Reference, Sale owns a 3.40 ERA and .643 OPS against in 53 total innings pitched over 11 outings with Vazquez behind the plate.

He had been mostly working with Sandy Leon in his first three seasons with the Red Sox, but with Leon now off Boston’s 40-man roster, it will be interesting to see how the left-hander performs with Vazquez, or even Blake Swihart, serving as his catcher.

Whether or not Vazquez will be Sale’s personal catcher has yet to be revealed, but I doubt that.

Anyway, it looks like I’m going to run out of time to post a huge 2019 preview blog, but first pitch against the Mariners is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT Thursday on ESPN. Get excited.