Red Sox Held Team Meeting Prior to Sunday’s Loss to Yankees

The Red Sox dropped their seventh consecutive game in a 4-2 loss to the Yankees on Sunday night, but before the game even started, a team meeting was held earlier this weekend.

In the meeting, which was called for by Red Sox leadership and held at an outdoor area at the team hotel, Kevin Pillar said the goal was to try to come together as one cohesive unit in the midst of a disastrous 6-16 start to the 2020 season.

“We got together. We talked about some things,” Pillar said during his postgame media availability via Zoom Sunday night. “We’ve got to to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got good leadership on this team. They called for [a meeting]. This season is going to happen whether we want it to happen or not. We’ve got 30-some-odd games. A lot can change.”

One of the struggles in organizing this meeting was finding the right venue to have it in. With proper social distancing protocols needing to be followed while the United States is dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, that was not the simplest thing to do. And that lack of intimacy has also had an effect on players’ abilities to jell so far this year.

“Especially for us, with the configurations we have at Fenway — not having the locker room dynamic — it’s been extremely difficult to get on the same page with a lot of people,” Pillar added. “We’ve got to find ways to stay together and find ways to make this fun.”

Currently on pace to win fewer than 17 games by the end of the season, the Red Sox certainly do not look like a team that has had a ton of fun on the field to this point. The procedures in place because of the aforementioned pandemic likely do not help that cause, which is kind of what Pillar alluded to on Sunday.

“Baseball is so difficult to begin with,” said the veteran outfielder. “When you have any sort of external or outside factor that takes away from the task at hand it makes it even more difficult.”

Pillar is a veteran of eight major-league seasons. From Toronto, to San Francisco, and now Boston, the 31-year-old has presumably been part of many team or player-only meetings in his day.

In this particular meeting held by Boston at the Lotte New York Palace in Manhattan, though, Pillar said “quite a few players talk” and the team “just wanted to open the floor up to everyone.”

What was specifically said in the Sox’ team meeting will probably never be fully disclosed to the general public, but Pillar’s closing statement to reporters on Sunday was quite intuitive.

“We’re our best teachers,” he said. “When things go wrong we lean on each other.”

 

Red Sox Announce Schedule Changes for August and September

The remainder of the Red Sox’ 2020 schedule got shaken up a little bit by Major League Baseball on Thursday in order to accommodate other clubs who have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the changes, first pitch against the Phillies at Fenway Park on August 19 has been moved up to 1:35 p.m. eastern time, while a double-header against the Phis will now be played at Citizens Bank Park on September 8. On top of that, in addition to now having off-days on September 9 and 14, the Sox will wrap up a three-game series against the Marlins in Miami on September 17 rather than September 16.

Originally, first pitch against the Phillies on August 19 was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time, and a two-game series in Philadelphia was scheduled for September 8-9 while that series against the Marlins in Miami was slated to conclude on September 16.

As the tweet above points out, traditional double-headers this season will persist of two seven-inning games, something new for 2020.

If all goes according to plan, the Red Sox will hopefully still be able to get in a full 60 games this year. Of course, the threat of more teams other than the Marlins, Phillies, or Cardinals experiencing coronavirus outbreaks is still as prevalent as ever.

Myocarditis Shuts Down Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez for Remainder of 2020 Season

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will not pitch this season, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom announced Saturday.

The announcement comes as Rodriguez has been dealing with myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, while recovering from COVID-19, which the 27-year-old tested positive for while at home in Miami early last month.

Although mild, the myocarditis Rodriguez is dealing with is still present, resulting in him being shut down for the remainder of 2020. As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, “the prognosis hasn’t changed but the timetable has.”

Bloom said as much when speaking with reporters Saturday, stating that, “While we remain very optimistic he will make a full recovery, due to the fact that it is persistent, and the amount of care we need to take with this, he’s not going to be able to come back and pitch this year.”

Again, the Sox fully expect Rodriguez to recover from this seeing how the myocarditis has not damaged the Venezuela native’s heart “and is not expected to impact him over the long-term,” That being said, “The recovery should be complete. It’s just a question of time.”

Heading into the season, Rodriguez was slated to be Boston’s No. 1 starter with Chris Sale going down for the year due to Tommy John surgery and David Price getting dealt to the Dodgers.

Even when the idea of Rodriguez starting on Opening Day against the Orioles last month was thrown out the window due to his bout with COVID-19, it still appeared likely that the southpaw would be a welcome addition to the Sox’ rotation sometime later in the season.

Now, the Red Sox will have to endure as they have for the first week of the 2020 campaign. That being without their best left-handed starter.

“It certainly makes the mountain a little bit higher,” Bloom said in regards to being without Rodriguez for the remainder of the season. He also mentioned the fact that the Sox are ‘monitoring the market and also working with pitchers in Pawtucket.’

While the Red Sox scour the market for more pitching, here’s to wishing Eduardo Rodriguez the best and hoping he undergoes a full recovery so that he is all systems go in 2021.

‘You Do Not Go Into Nightclubs. You Do Not Go Into Bars’; Red Sox Players Will Not Be Allowed to Do Certain Things While on Road Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

After Tuesday night’s game against the Mets, the Red Sox will hit the road for the first time this season. The club’s first road trip of 2020 includes stops in Queens, the Bronx, and Tampa Bay. With all that traveling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic comes a great deal of responsibility for players and staff alike, especially in Florida, which has emerged as one of the hot spots for coronavirus in recent weeks.

When speaking with reporters prior to Monday’s series opener against New York, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke detailed a Zoom meeting the team held to inform players what they can and cannot do on the road. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was also involved.

“We’re going on the road. We need to be careful with what we do,” Roenicke said regarding his team’s upcoming travels. “We are talking about different cities and who’s more at risk doing things in certain areas. New York has done a good job. You may be okay walking to a place there more than you would be in Florida.”

Earlier Monday, it was revealed that at least 14 Miami Marlins players and coaches tested positive for COVID-19, which led the club to cancelling their home opener against the Orioles while they remain in self-isolation in Philadelphia, where they spent the weekend playing the Phillies.

According to the Center for Disease Control’s COVID Data Tracker, there have been nearly 419,000 total coronavirus cases in the state of Florida thus far, which is second-most in the Untied States behind only California.

With all that information in mind, playing baseball games in Florida, whether it be in Miami or Tampa Bay, will obviously raise concerns among MLB players and staff while cases continue to rise.

As previously mentioned, the Red Sox will be arriving in Florida next week for a brief-two-game set against the Rays. With an off day on the Monday before that series begins, it will be imperative that the Sox follow the proper virus-related protocols. Roenicke said as much when speaking with reporters earlier.

“You do not go into nightclubs. You do not go into bars,” he stated when recounting what was told to the players in Monday’s Zoom meeting. “To be a hermit and stay in your room for the whole time and just go to the ballpark and stay home, it’s hard to tell a player they have to do it.”

With all the virus-related issues that have sprung up in the past 24 hours, more players may be leaning towards opting out of the remainder of the 2020 season. Roenicke, however, is hopeful that if the Red Sox can make players feel more comfortable, then they will not have to worry about that possibility.

“I don’t want to make them fearful of going on the road and playing. We’ve done a good job so far,” said the Sox skipper. “The more we keep them safe, the more comfortable they feel. We can continue on with this.”

Again, the Red Sox will be departing Boston for New York on Tuesday night. Hopefully we’ll still have a Major League Baseball season to talk about by then.

 

 

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.

Blue Jays to Play Majority of 2020 Home Games at PNC Park, Meaning Red Sox Will Travel to Pittsburgh Instead of Toronto in Late August

UPDATE: It looks like this could be falling apart as I am typing this, so there’s that.

The Red Sox were originally supposed to visit PNC Park earlier this month to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-game, Independence Day weekend series.

Instead, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Sox will be limited to just playing regional opponents this year, but they will still be making a trip to Pittsburgh after all.

That being the case because, as of Wednesday morning, it looks like the Toronto Blue Jays will be playing a majority of their 2020 home games in the Steel City, barring a few exceptions against the Nationals and Yankees.

This all comes as the Canadian government ruled over the weekend that the Blue Jays would not be permitted to play regular season games in Toronto due to the pandemic. From the Associated Press’ report:

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said Saturday the federal government had denied the Blue Jays’ request to play at Rogers Centre, confirming what an official familiar with the matter had told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.

Ahead of this truncated, 60-game season, the Red Sox are scheduled to play the Jays 10 times in 2020. Three of those games were supposed to take place at Rogers Centre from August 25 through August 27, but it now looks like they will now take place at PNC Park, a venue the Sox last visited in 2014.

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’ 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’ Alex Verdugo Progressing ‘Really Well’ From Back Injury

For the first time since last September, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo faced live hitting on Saturday.

Throughout spring training and the COVID-19 pandemic-induced layoff, the 24-year-old was limited to hitting at home and in the batting cages at JetBlue Park while working his way back from a lower back stress fracture.

As excited as he was to get back to seeing live pitching at Fenway Park on Saturday, facing off against flame-throwing right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was no easy task.

“Let’s say I got welcomed real quick to good old 99 MPH,” Verdugo told reporters via Zoom. “The biggest thing for me today was to see the (velocity) out of his hand, see one of the most elite, best pitchers and go from there. I took a full swing, swung and missed and had no pain or discomfort. That was reassuring. That’s what this is about, to get my timing back, to reassure that my body, physically, is handling progression really well.”

The COVID-19 break has physically “done wonders” for Verdugo’s body in terms of endurance and strength. He is now looking forward to making a name for himself in a crowded Red Sox outfield.

“For me, I’m an everyday player,” the left-handed hitter said when asked about the prospect of being part of a platoon. “That’s just that. It’s that simple. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. I want to be out there every single day competing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lefty out on the mound to a righty on the mound. I feel like my splits are reversed. I hit lefties better than I hit righties. So I’m just someone who wants to be out there every single day. I want to play and I want to be a starter.”

Speaking of splits, since making his major-league debut with Los Angeles in 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. So, he’s not entirely wrong about having reverse splits.

As currently constructed, the Red Sox have three left-handed hitting outfielders on their active roster in Verdugo, Andrew Benintendi, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Kevin Pillar and J.D. Martinez represent the opposite side of that coin as two right-handed hitting outfielders.

Despite how amped up he may be to get back on the field, it would not be shocking to see the Sox ease Verdugo back into things, especially when considering how serious back injuries can be.

How Roenicke manages the outfield once the 2020 campaign begins will definitely be something to keep an eye on.