After Four-Hit Debut, Jose Peraza Moving up in Red Sox Lineup

After going 4-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI in his Red Sox debut on Friday night, second baseman Jose Peraza has moved up in Boston’s lineup for Saturday’s contest against the Baltimore Orioles.

For the first time in his Red Sox career, Peraza will be hitting out of the five-hole less than 24 hours after he was the club’s No. 9 hitter on Opening Day.

In his five plate appearances on Friday, Peraza saw a total of just eight pitches, proving a patient approach might not work best for every hitter.

“He doesn’t waste a lot of time,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said of Peraza postgame. “First pitch, if he sees it and it’s in there, he rips it.” The average exit velocity of Peraza’s four hits was 95.6 mph off the bat.

Prior to coming over to Boston in December, the Venezuela native accrued 19 plate appearances out of the five-hole over four seasons with the Reds and posted a .316 batting average in that spot.

Cincinnati non-tendered Peraza back in December after he mustered an OPS+ of 62 in 2019, which prompted the Red Sox to sign the infielder to a one-year deal just days later.

During Summer Camp workouts earlier this month, Peraza seemed very confident that he would be able to bounce back offensively in 2020 when speaking with reporters via Zoom on July 14.

“Offensively I feel like I’m a completely different person,” he said. “Because I put in so much work during the offseason and then obviously during (spring training) camp and even during this pandemic while we were waiting, just making the minor tweaks. Offensively I’m a different person than I was back in Cincinnati.”

It was only one game, but Peraza could prove to be a key piece of the Red Sox’ infield puzzle this season and beyond seeing how he is under team control through 2022.

Alex Verdugo Left Out of Red Sox’ Opening Day Lineup; Outfielder Reassured Ron Roenicke That He ‘Hits Left-Handers Well’

As he is about to embark on his first season with his new team, Alex Verdugo will not be starting for the Red Sox on Opening Day.

With left-hander Tommy Milone getting the start for Baltimore opposite Nathan Eovaldi on Friday night, the 24-year-old outfielder was left out of the Sox’ starting lineup by manager Ron Roenicke in favor of right-handed hitting outfielder Kevin Pillar.

When speaking with reporters prior to Friday’s season opener against the Orioles at Fenway Park, Roenicke addressed this decision, saying that he called Verdugo earlier in the day to let him know that he was not starting against the left-handed starter.

“He reassured me that he does hit left-handers well,” Roenicke said via Zoom in regards to Verdugo’s response. As a reverse splits guy, that is indeed true for the left-handed hitter.

In 106 games played for the Dodgers last season, the Arizona native racked up 109 plate appearances against southpaws. Over the course of those 109 PAs, he slashed .327/.358/.485 with two home runs, nine RBI, and a 121 wRC+. Against right-handed pitching, his OPS dropped by 36 points and his wRC+ dropped by 10 points over 268 plate appearances.

Earlier this month, Verdugo insisted that he wanted to be an everyday player with the Red Sox, but he also acknowledged that he could start the season in a platoon role with his new team.

“I want to play and I want to be a starter,” he said during one of his Summer Camp media sessions. “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.”

Perhaps we’ll see Verdugo make his first start with the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, when right-hander Alex Cobb will be taking the mound for the O’s.

 

Red Sox Opening Day Lineup: Let the 2020 Season Begin

At long last, Opening Day for the 2020 Boston Red Sox has arrived. The Sox will be hosting the Orioles in a three-game weekend series beginning Friday night at 7:30 p.m.

According to team chairman Tom Werner, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker, Boston mayor Marty Walsh, and one other special guest “who’s very important to our community” will be throwing out a ceremonial first pitch prior to the actual first pitch.

As for the game itself, right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will be matched up against left-hander Tommy Milone for Baltimore. Here’s how the rest of the Sox will be lined up behind thier first-time Opening Day starter:

One notable thing to notice here is the fact that J.D. Martinez is batting out of the two-hole, something manager Ron Roenicke experimented with during this week’s exhibition games against the Blue Jays.

Entering his third season with Boston, Martinez has never hit in the two-spot as a member of the Red Sox. He last did it in 2016 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Because the Sox are facing a southpaw, Roenicke likely wanted to move Martinez up in the order to break up the left-handed bats of Andrew Benintendi, who is batting leadoff, and Rafael Devers, who is batting third.

Speaking of pitching matchups, Kevin Pillar is starting over Alex Verdugo in right field, and Michael Chavis is starting at first base over Mitch Moreland. Chavis, Jackie Bradley Jr., and newcomer Jose Peraza round out the Sox’ lineup in this one.

Again, first pitch for the first of 60 games this season is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. It’s time.

Blue Jays to Play Majority of 2020 Home Games in Buffalo, Team Announces

The Blue Jays will play a majority of their home games this season in Buffalo, N.Y., the club officially announced Friday.

Per said statement, the Jays will be taking up residence at Sahlen Field, where the Buffalo Bisons, the club’s Triple-A affiliate, play.

This news comes two days after Toronto’s initial plan to play the majority of its 2020 home games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pa. fell through after the Pennsylvania Department of Health denied the club’s request to share the ballpark with the Pirates this year while citing the risks that would involve.

Baltimore’s Camden Yards, home of the Orioles, and Dunedin’s TD Ballpark, the Jays’ spring training home, had also been viewed as possible contingency plans for Toronto, but due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in Baltimore County and Florida, those ideas were seemingly thrown out the window.

Instead, after the Canadian government ruled last week that the Blue Jays could not play at Rogers Centre this season, the country’s lone MLB team finally has a home for 2020.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to play the Red Sox 10 times during this truncated 60-game season, and three of those games will now take place in Buffalo from August 25 through August 27 if all goes according to plan.

Red Sox 2020 Season Preview: Prepare for Weirdness Over the Next Two-Plus Months

You want to get weird? Well, the 2020 Major League Baseball season is going to get weird. Teams will be playing 60 games in 66 days from now until the end of September, all while playing in mostly empty ballparks since the United States is still in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic.

The Red Sox are in for a rather weird season themselves considering everything that’s gone down since last September.

With chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and manager Ron Roenicke at the helm now, the Sox are projected to be a mediocre club in 2020, which we’ll touch on later.

For now, here’s an overview for what this season preview is going to look like:

  • 2020 schedule and break down of opponents
  • Roster
  • Projections
  • Prospects
  • Predictions
  • Summary

Let’s get to it.

THE SCHEDULE:

THE OPPONENTS ON THE SCHEDULE:

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, teams will be limited to playing opponents in the same region this season (AL East vs. NL East in the Red Sox’ case).

Atlanta Braves – 6 games (3 at home, 3 on road)
Baltimore Orioles* – 10 games (6 at home, 4 on road)
Miami Marlins – 3 games (all on road)
New York Mets – 4 games (2 at home, 2 on road)
New York Yankees* – 10 games (3 at home, 7 on road)
Philadelphia Phillies – 4 games (2 at home, 2 on road)
Tampa Bay Rays* – 10 games (4 at home, 6 on road)
Toronto Blue Jays* – 10 games (7 at home, 3 on road)
Washington Nationals – 3 games (all at home)

* – Divisional opponent

THE OPENING DAY ROSTER: 

Right-handed pitchers:
Nathan Eovaldi
Ryan Weber
Brandon Workman
Matt Barnes
Ryan Brasier
Colten Brewer
Austin Brice
Marcus Walden
Heath Hembree
Phillips Valdez
Dylan Covey

Left-handed pitchers:
Martin Perez
Matt Hall
Jeffrey Springs
Josh Osich

Catchers:
Christian Vazquez
Kevin Plawecki
Jonathan Lucroy

Infielders:
Mitch Moreland
Michael Chavis
Jose Peraza
Jonathan Arauz
Xander Bogaerts
Rafael Devers
Tzu-Wei Lin

Outfielders:
Andrew Benintendi
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Alex Verdugo
Kevin Pillar
J.D. Martinez (DH)

THE PROJECTIONS:

According to FanGraphs, the Red Sox are projected to be a .500 team this year and finish with a 30-30 record, good for third-place in the American League East. The site has the Sox outscoring their opponents by an average of .07 runs per game. For full team projections courtesy of FanGraphs, click here.

THE PROSPECTS:

Among MLB Pipeline’s top-100 prospects in baseball, the Red Sox are represented by middle infielder Jeter Downs (No. 44) and first baseman Triston Casas (No. 77).

Unlike Casas, Downs is in Boston’s 60-man player pool along with a handful of the club’s other top prospects, such as Bobby Dalbec (No. 3), Bryan Mata (No. 4), Jay Groome (No. 7), Jarren Duran (No. 8), Tanner Houck (No. 10), C.J. Chatham (No. 12), Connor Wong (No. 15), and Jonathan Arauz (No. 30)

With there being no organized minor-league baseball this year, it was imperative that the Red Sox gather up their most touted prospects to ensure they continue to develop during these unprecedented times.

Among the bunch, Dalbec and Houck seem like the most ready for the jump to the majors, while as a Rule 5 Draft pick, Arauz made the Sox’ Opening Day roster so that he would not have to be offered back to the Houston Astros for the time being.

THE PREDICTIONS:

Like FanGraphs, I believe the Red Sox will finish third in the American League East this year with anywhere between 28 and 33 wins on the season. The lineup, led by Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez, will be one of the best in the American League, but pitching struggles will ultimately hinder the Sox’ hopes of making it back to the postseason even with the league’s playoff format for this year expanding to 16 teams.

SUMMARY:

Watching the Red Sox offense score their fair share of runs will probably be enjoyable. Watching the pitching staff give up their fair share of runs on the other hand? Not so much.

Still, even if Boston is not aiming to be an American League powerhouse this year, it’s great to have Major League Baseball back in the fold.

 

Red Sox’ Michael Chavis Helping Teammate Alex Verdugo Get Acclimated to New Club

Upon getting traded from the Dodgers to the Red Sox in February, Alex Verdugo never could have expected what was in store for him or the 2020 Major League Baseball season. That being Opening Day getting pushed back nearly four months because of a global pandemic.

At the time he first reported to the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers on February 15, it looked as though Verdugo would miss the opening stages of the 2020 season due to a stress fracture in his lower back.

Now though, in part because of the long, pandemic-induced layoff, the young outfielder is just about all systems go as Opening Day 2.0 approaches.

Verdugo, along with the rest of the Red Sox for that matter, have been getting back into playing shape these past few weeks at Summer Camp in Boston, and it has given him the opportunity to get closer, but not too close, to some of his new teammates.

As a matter of fact, one of those new teammates reached out to Verdugo and asked if he would want to share a Fenway Park suite with him during camp. That teammate’s name? Michael Chavis.

When speaking with NESN’s Jahmai Webster on Thursday night’s installment of After Hours, Verdugo went into detail about how that over-the-phone exchange between Chavis and him played out.

“He texted me ‘Hey bro, did you have anyone you wanted to room with?'” Verdugo recounted to Webster. “I was like, ‘Man, I don’t really know anybody…I don’t know…no?’ And he was like, ‘All right, I’m putting your name down for mine.’ I was like, ‘All right, cool, man. It’s all good.’ I think it helps. It’s made this transition easy, cool. We kind of already knew each other. We’ve been messing around with each other, talking hitting and just picking each other’s brains. I know when I’m getting frustrated he’s there to be like, ‘Hey man, I know you can hit, bro. Just relax, you’re good.’ So, it’s cool to have that.”

Seeing as how they were both drafted out of high school in 2014, I would assume that’s how Verdugo and Chavis knew each other a little bit prior to them being on the same major-league ballclub.

Both players are also 24 years of age, and both are coming into a season where they will be competing for at-bats in a rather crowded Red Sox infield and outfield. Fortunately, they can both play multiple positions, as Verdugo is more than capable of moving around the outfield when necessary, while Chavis can play a little bit of first and second base depending on different pitching match-ups.

For Verdugo, coming into a new organization after only knowing one for the last 5 1/2 years of your life has to be somewhat of a daunting task. That being said, it’s encouraging to see that the Arizona native appears to be getting more comfortable with his new club with the help of a fellow 2014 draft class member.

Also, it was quite amusing when, on the subject of not being able to access the home clubhouse at Fenway Park due to COVID-19 concerns, Verdugo said, “We’re so used to having no space, now we have all the space in the world” when referencing the aforementioned suites that have been converted into locker rooms on the pavilion level.

 

Jackie Bradley Jr. to Wear Microphone During Red Sox’ Home Opener on Friday

With no fans allowed in ballparks for at least the opening stages of the 2020 season, MLB clubs are going to try to do their part in keeping spectators attuned to what’s transpiring on the field.

The Red Sox, for instance, will be miking up players and coaches during select home games throughout the 2020 season, the club announced via a press release Thursday.

As noted in this tweet from The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. will be receiving the honors for this experience first during Friday night’s season opener against the Orioles at Fenway Park

In what could be his final Opening Day as a member of the Red Sox, it will be interesting to see what Bradley Jr. has to say with a microphone attached to his jersey collar and how often NESN utilizes his sound bites.

Given the fact that Bradley Jr. will be mic’d up in a regular season game, I can’t imagine he will be partaking in any on-field interviews with Dave O’Brien, Jerry Remy, or Dennis Eckersley, but it should still be entertaining considering the level of access the 30-year-old Gold Glover could provide to fans watching the game on television.

Speaking of in-game interviews, Bradley Jr. does have some experience being mic’d up, as he chatted with the ESPN broadcast team during a Grapefruit League game against the Pirates last year.

Red Sox Shut Down Eduardo Rodriguez Due to COVID-19 Recovery Complications

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez has been shut down from all baseball activities due to minor complications related to his recovery from COVID-19, his manager Ron Roenicke told reporters Thursday.

Per Roenicke, the Sox’ medical staff discovered these “minor complications” before the decision to shut down Rodriguez was made.

The 27-year-old had tested positive for COVID-19 while at home in Miami earlier this month, and even though he would test negative right now, Rodriguez has still “not physically recovered” from his bout with his virus.

As disheartening as this news may sound, Roenicke is viewing it as only a “setback” and is fully confident Rodriguez “will be available to pitch at some point in 2020.” That is probably the case because, as the Sox skipper later clarified, what’s currently hampering Rodriguez has been prevalent in other COVID-19 cases as well.

“The news that we need to shut [Rodriguez] down for a period of time is obviously rough on him,” Roenicke said Thursday. “It is mild. He knows that.”

Rodriguez, along with fellow left-handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor, was placed on the 10-day injured list on July 14 due to testing positive for the virus.

The Venezuela national re-joined his club over the weekend and threw a bullpen session at Fenway Park this past Saturday, but it now appears that he will not be throwing off a mound anytime soon, although Roenicke is hoping the southpaw will only miss a week’s worth of time.

Of course, this coronavirus has proven to be somewhat unpredictable. For all the talk about how harmless it is for people in his age group, it was quite jarring to hear about what Rodriguez, a 27-year-old professional athlete, had to endure while he was sick.

For more on that, I recommend checking out this story from MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Red Sox Announce 30-Man Opening Day Roster for 2020 Season

The Red Sox have released their 30-man Opening Day roster for the 2020 season, the club announced earlier Thursday afternoon.

As manager Ron Roenicke told reporters last week, the Sox will carry 15 pitchers and 15 position players on their roster to begin the year.

Among the notable additions to Boston’s Opening Day squad are right-handers Phillips Valdez and Dylan Covey, left-hander Josh Osich, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and infielder Jonathan Arauz.

Among the notable players who were left off the Sox’ active roster are left-hander Brian Johnson, right-handers Zack Godley and Chris Mazza, and infielder Yairo Munoz.

In order to make this all happen, the Red Sox needed to recall Valdez, Osich, Jeffrey Springs, Matt Hall, and Colten Brewer from the minors while also giving 40-man roster spots to Covey and Lucroy.

By adding Covey and Lucroy, Boston’s 40-man roster now stands at 37 players, meaning someone like Johnson, Godley, or Munoz could be added at a later date if necessary.

As mentioned in the tweet above, Darwinzon Hernandez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Josh Taylor, Chris Sale, and Dustin Pedroia will begin the truncated 2020 season on the injured list. The first three players listed here should be able to re-join the Red Sox relatively soon. The other two? Not so much.

All teams will be allowed to carry 30 players on their active roster from now until August 6, when rosters will be reduced to 28 players. Two weeks after that date, on August 20, rosters will again be reduced to the conventional 26 players.

So, even though Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have put together this here Opening Day roster ahead of Friday’s season opener against the Orioles, there will still be some important decisions to make down the line.

 

Zack Godley Works Three Scoreless, No-Hit Innings in Red Sox’ Final Exhibition Game Before Opening Day

In their final tune-up before the start of the 2020 regular season, the Red Sox only managed to play 4 1/2 innings of exhibition baseball against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night due to the weather. If games were official after only 4 1/2 innings, the Sox would have lost by a final score of 2-0, but it’s not like that matters too much anyway.

Zack Godley got the start for Boston in this one, and he made a solid case for a spot in the back end of the Sox’ rotation by working three scoreless, no-hit innings to go along with just one walk and two strikeouts on the night.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 35, 24 of which were strikes, the veteran right-hander turned to his curveball exactly 40% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday while also topping out at 91 MPH with his cutter, a pitch he threw 16 times.

If things align the way he wants them to, Godley could open the season as Boston’s No. 4 or 5 starter, meaning his first official start in a Red Sox uniform would come in next week’s interleague series against the New York Mets.

In relief of Godley, Brian Johnson was the only other Sox hurler to get some work in on Wednesday due to the weather, and he did not look his best given the fact that he served up a two-run blast to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on a hanging, 3-2 curveball down the heart of the plate in the top half of the fourth.

Still, if there is any positives to take away from the left-hander’s rather rough outing, it’s that he tossed a scoreless fifth inning right before this game was going to be called.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, fresh off plating six runs on Tuesday, was matched up against Blue Jays right-hander Trent Thornton to begin things on Wednesday.

As it turns out, the Boston bats were only able to muster one hit off of Thornton, a two-out single from former Blue Jay Kevin Pillar in the third, and another hit off of Toronto reliever Shun Yamaguchi in the fourth. That being a two-out single off the bat of Xander Bogaerts.

Other than that, not much to report on seeing how Mother Nature cut this exhibition contest short.

Some observations from this one:

Should Zack Godley start over Brian Johnson? The answer at this point seems to be leaning towards ‘yes.’

Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette is pretty good.

Next up for the Red Sox, the games finally start to count. Opening Day is this Friday and a three-game weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles is on tap.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will be making his first career Opening Day start for Boston, while lefty Tommy Milone will be doing the same for Baltimore.

The Sox won 63% of their games against the O’s last year. That would translate to six wins in 10 games against their divisional foes in 2020.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Real baseball is back, folks.