Red Sox prospect Cedanne Rafaela hits first home run of spring

Versatile Red Sox prospect Ceddanne Rafaela hit his first home run of the spring in Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Pirates at LECOM Park in Bradenton. He actually accounted for Boston’s only two runs on one swing of the bat.

After pinch-running for Christian Arroyo in the top half of the seventh, Rafaela registered his first and only plate appearance two innings later. With one out and one runner on in the ninth, the right-handed hitter took Pirates reliever Austin Brice 399 feet deep to right-center field to make it a 6-2 game.

Rafaela, 21, has made the most out of his limited playing time this spring. Following Tuesday’s performance, the young infielder/outfielder is batting .273 (3-for-11)/.273/.636 with one double, one homer, two RBIs, four runs scored, and one stolen base over five Grapefruit League appearances.

Originally signed out of Curacao for just $10,000 in July 2017, Rafaela comes into the 2022 season regarded by Baseball America as the best defensive outfielder and No. 22 overall prospect in Boston’s farm system.

As that superlative suggests, Rafaela is known more for his defense than his offense. With Low-A Salem last year, the 5-foot-8, 152 pounder saw playing time at six different positions (2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF) en route to being named the Sox’ Minor League Defensive Player of the Year in September.

So far this spring, Rafaela has logged two innings at shortstop, five innings in left field, and 14 innings in center field. He has yet to commit an error at either of the three positions.

On the other side of the ball, Rafaela is coming off a 2021 campaign with Salem in which he batted .251/.305/.424 (95 wRC+) to go along with 20 doubles, nine triples, 10 home runs, 53 RBIs, 73 runs scored, 23 stolen bases, 25 walks, and 79 strikeouts across 102 games spanning 432 plate appearances.

Among qualified hitters in the Low-A East last season, Rafaela ranked 10th in strikeout rate (18.3%), 22nd in batting average, 12th in slugging percentage, 22nd in OPS (.729), 10th in isolated power (.173), second in speed score (9.0), and 29th in wRC+, according to FanGraphs.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, what makes Rafaela so dynamic defensively is his speed, which allows him to take “excellent routes and jumps on hard-to-reach contact to the outfield.” His arm strength also grades “as above-average to plus in both the infield and outfield.”

Considering that he does not turn 22 until September, there still may be some room for Rafaela to grow physically. Regardless of that, though, it would appear that the Willemstad native has the makings to be a super-utility player at the major-league level if he can reach his full potential.

Well before that happens, however, Rafaela still has to work his way up the organizational ladder. He is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 minor-season with High-A Greenville.

(GIF of Ceddanne Rafaela via GIPHY)

How did former Red Sox infielder Michael Chavis fare this season after getting traded to Pirates?

A little less than five months ago, the Red Sox traded infielder Michael Chavis to the Pirates in exchange for left-handed reliever.

To that point in the 2021 season, the Sox had used Chavis sparingly after not including him on their Opening Day roster. Across five stints with Boston, the 26-year-old batted an underwhelming .190/.207/.342 with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, six RBIs, 12 runs scored, one stolen base, one walk, and 32 strikeouts over 31 total games spanning 82 plate appearances.

Upon arriving in Pittsburgh in late July, Chavis assigned to the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis, and it took him a little more than three weeks for him to make his way back to the big-leagues.

On August 23, the Pirates recalled Chavis from Triple-A Indianapolis and he made his National League debut that very same day against the Diamondbacks at PNC Park while batting seventh and starting at second base.

For the next week or so, Chavis was a regular in Pittsburgh’s lineup and even made his first career start in right field against the Cardinals on Aug. 28. In the third inning of that contest, however, the Georgia native suffered a right elbow strain while sprawling out for a sharply-hit fly ball off the bat of Edmundo Sosa.

Chavis was removed from the game at the beginning of the fifth inning and was subsequently placed on the 10-day injured list because of it the following day. He was sidelined for more than two weeks before being sent out on a rehab assignment with Indianapolis on September 16 and later returning to the Pirates on Sept. 28.

In the process of starting four of Pittsburgh’s final six games, Chavis ended an eventful year on a high note. All told, the right-handed hitter slashed a scorching .357/.357/.500 to go along with three doubles, one homer, five RBIs, four runs scored, zero walks, and 10 strikeouts across 12 games (42 plate appearances) in his debut with the Pirates.

Chavis, who does not turn 27 until next August, is heading into his final year of pre-arbitration eligibility in 2022, meaning he remains under club control for at least the next four seasons.

When the Red Sox originally selected Chavis in the first round of the 2014 amateur draft, they did so while Ben Cherington was still heading the team’s baseball operations department. Cherington, of course, now serves as general manager of the Pirates, so there is a level of familiarity there.

In his time with the Red Sox, Chavis logged time at every infield position besides shortstop and made 12 appearances in left field during the compressed 2020 campaign. He briefly added right field to his repertoire this past season, making it seem as though the Pirates value his defensive versatility.

While Chavis will likely get the opportunity to compete for a utility tole on Pittsburgh’s Opening Day roster next spring, there are still some areas of his game he needs to improve on, such as faring better against right-handed pitchers (.547 OPS this year) or better handling off-speed and breaking pitches.

To that end, Chavis does have one minor-league option year remaining, so the Pirates could shuttle him between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh next season if they so choose.

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘thought they had a deal’ in place for Jacob Stallings before Pirates traded veteran catcher to Marlins, per report

Before trading him to the Marlins earlier this week, the Pirates nearly traded catcher Jacob Stallings to the Red Sox, according to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson and Craig Mish.

Per Jackson and Mish, the Red Sox made an offer to the Pirates for Stallings “and and at one point thought they had a deal. But the Marlins landed him by including pitching prospect Kyle Nicolas in their bid, along with pitcher Zach Thompson and outfield prospect Connor Scott.”

Stallings, who turns 32 later this month, was among the top defensive backstops in baseball this year en route to taking home his first career Gold Glove Award. He threw out 12 of the 57 base runners who attempted to steal against him while leading all big-league catchers in defensive runs saved with 21.

In addition to what he did behind the plate, the right-handed hitter slashed .246/.335/.369 (95 wRC+) with 20 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 53 RBIs, 38 runs scored, 49 walks, and 85 strikeouts over 112 games (427 plate appearances) with Pittsburgh in 2021.

At the onset of the off-season, Stallings became an attractive option for clubs looking for quality catching since he is under club control through 2024, was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $2.6 million in arbitration, and was arguably better than any free agent catcher on the open market.

The Marlins ultimately pounced on Stallings by swinging a trade with the Pirates on Monday — after they had previously failed to pry him away from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline.

When speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Pirates general manager Ben Cherington indicated that the decision to move Stallings came about quickly.

“There certainly was never a timeline up until probably 24 hours before it happened,” Cherington said. “Our full expectation was that [Stallings] would be a Pirate going forward, but, you know, these things sometimes come together quickly. In this case, it did.”

That the Red Sox may have been among the teams other than the Marlins who inquired on Stallings is certainly interesting. Within the last month, Boston has picked up Christian Vazquez’s $7 million club option and signed Kevin Plawecki to a one-year, $2.25 million deal for the 2022 season.

With veteran backstops such as Vazquez and Plawecki already locked up for 2022 and prospects such as Connor Wong and Ronaldo Hernandez waiting in the wings on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox likely would have been looking at moving one of the four aforementioned names were they to have acquired Stallings.

That being said — after the Pirates sweetened their offer by adding Nicolas — it presumably would have taken additional prospects for Boston to land Stallings, which may have led chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to take the Sox’ offer off the table altogether.

(Picture of Jacob Stallings: Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Saturday was a long day for Red Sox manager Alex Cora

Editor’s note: This is a bad title and I will try to be better next time.

The week leading up to Opening Day is typically one filled with optimism around baseball.

This year, though, as has been the nature of things since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic began last March, those days for the Red Sox are now filled with plenty of uncertainties as April 1 draws closer.

Earlier Saturday morning, Red Sox manager Alex Cora revealed that reliever Matt Barnes had tested positive for COVID-19 and right-hander Matt Andriese was one of several players away from the team due to contact tracing protocols.

Barnes, who was vying for the role as Boston’s closer, took a COVID test on Thursday and got his positive result back on Friday shortly after throwing in a simulated game at the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers.

Cora found out about the veteran hurler’s positive test shortly after arriving to JetBlue Park at around 7 a.m. Saturday morning.

While Barnes is not showing any symptoms, he will be away from the team for at least 10 days due to the protocols MLB has in place.

This means that the UCONN product will not be included on the Sox’ Opening Day roster and will miss a minimum of four regular season games before being cleared to return to action.

The fallout of Barnes’ testing positive resulted in a feeling of unease throughout the Red Sox’ clubhouse on Saturday.

“It’s nobody’s fault,” Cora said via Zoom. “That’s the first thing. They’ve been very responsible. We’ve been praising them throughout camp. It just happened. Today, you can feel… you don’t want to hear this. You start thinking about if something else happens or where we’re going to be in a few days. It’s not comfortable but, at the same time, if we keep doing the things we should be doing, the hope is we’re going to be fine as a group.

“It’s just one isolated quote-unquote incident. Let’s hope that’s the case,” he added. “But it’s a different mood, to be honest with you. It’s not a good feeling, but trusting the process, trusting our medical staff, trusting the testing system. We should be OK.”

Despite having a confirmed positive COVID case, Red Sox players and coaches who were slated to travel to Bradenton for the team’s Grapefruit League contest against the Pirates did, but only after taking a rapid COVID-19 test before the bus ride there.

Upon arriving at LECOM Park, not only did the Sox top the Pirates by a final score of 7-4 — which allowed Cora to triumph over his brother Joey, who is Pittsburgh’s third base coach — they also received some encouraging news later in the afternoon.

That being, of all the rapid tests the club’s traveling party took earlier in the day, none came back positive.

“Everybody who was here was negative,” Cora said during his postgame media availability. “We got the results throughout the day. Of course, there were people who stayed back. I’ll get those results, probably, on the way to Fort Myers.”

Taking those words into consideration, Barnes remains the only known player to test positive thus far, though that number could increase as Major League Baseball conducts conduct tracing with those on the Sox who were in close contact with the righty — including Andriese.

“We have a positive, but we did everything we’re supposed to do to keep moving forward,” said Cora. “Everybody was nervous at one point, but when we went through the whole thing, the whole process, you feel better.

“But we’re not out of it,” he continued. “We still have to wait for tonight and tomorrow and the next couple of days. But we got it in, we got our work in. We’ll do the same thing tomorrow. Hopefully we can do it the next three days and go up north.”

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the team at the moment on account of COVID-19, Cora has yet to name a starter for the Red Sox’ next Grapefruit League contest against the Twins at JetBlue Park on Sunday afternoon.

To put it simply, between Christian Vazquez suffering a contusion under his left eye on Thursday, Eduardo Rodriguez being scratched from starting on Opening Day on Friday, and Barnes testing positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, the past three days or so have been a real whirlwind for the Sox skipper. But he understands the problems he is dealing with don’t really compare to other things currently going on throughout the country and the rest of the world.

“This is bigger than sports,” Cora said. “We’ve been living through this since March last year. We’re doing the best possible to put a show out there for the fans and get their minds away from the pandemic. That’s the way I see it.”

(Picture of Alex Cora: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Rays viewed Red Sox’ Nick Pivetta as another potential Tyler Glasnow before right-hander was traded to Boston

Red Sox pitchers and catchers may not report to spring training in Fort Myers until next week, but it goes without saying that Nick Pivetta will be one of the more intriguing players to watch during camp.

The soon-to-be 28-year-old right-hander yielded just two earned runs on eight hits, five walks, and 13 strikeouts over two September starts spanning 10 innings pitched with Boston last season after being acquired from the Phillies in August.

By impressing Red Sox brass in 2020, Pivetta seems to be on track for a spot in Boston’s starting rotation in 2021.

The thing is though, the Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, were not the only team interested in trading for Pivetta before last summer’s trade deadline.

According to The Athletic’s Peter Gammons, the Phillies believed Pivetta was in need of a change of scenery, and “the Rays tried hard to beat Bloom to him.

“We think he can be another [Tyler] Glasnow,” one Rays official said of Pivetta when speaking with Gammons.

Boston ultimately won the Pivetta sweepstakes, acquiring him as well as right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold from Philadelphia in exchange for right-handed relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree on August 21.

That said, it’s not difficult to see why the Rays would want another reclamation project such as Pivetta given their track record with starting pitchers.

Using Glasnow as an example here, both he and Pivetta have similar baseball backgrounds.

Glasnow, who like Pivetta is also 27 years old, is a former fifth-round draft pick of the Pirates and was once regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in Pittsburgh’s farm system.

The California native couldn’t quite put it together upon getting called up to the majors in 2016, though, as he produced a 5.79 ERA and 4.90 FIP over 56 appearances (17 starts) in parts of 2 1/2 seasons with the Pirates.

Once Glasnow, as well as outfielder Austin Meadows and right-handed pitching prospect Shane Baz, was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for veteran righty Chris Archer in July 2018, things started to turn around for the better.

Since then, Glasnow has for the most part found his footing at the major-league level, posting a 3.32 ERA and 3.40 FIP through his first 34 starts (173 2/3 innings pitched) with the Rays.

Pivetta, meanwhile, got his big-league career with the Phillies off to a rocky start as well.

The former fourth-round draft pick of the Washington Nationals (traded to Philadelphia for Jonathan Papelbon in 2015) struggled to the tune of of a 5.50 ERA and 4.64 FIP through 92 outings (71 starts) and 396 1/3 innings with the Phils from 2017-2020 before the organization ultimately gave up on him.

It’s a much smaller sample size than what Glasnow has done in Tampa Bay thus far, but as previously mentioned, Pivetta impressed in his two turns through Boston’s rotation last September. Some of that success is likely due to what he worked on at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket after he was traded.

“Nick has had success in the big leagues before. The game can be your friend one minute and your enemy the second,” Worcester Red Sox pitching coach Paul Abbott said of Pivetta back in October. “You can be on top of the world, an up-and-coming young guy with four pitches that grade out highly, and then all of the sudden, you lose all confidence. A change of scenery can do a guy a lot of good. He came down here with a purpose, with a mission. Very determined. He’s got all of it. All of the pitches. It’s just a matter of him… I think his two starts were really good for him to get back into that mindset where he can definitely pitch at that level. When a guy can get that mindset with the stuff that he had, we have, potentially, a front-of-the-rotation type guy.”

Like Abbott said, perhaps a change of scenery was what Pivetta, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 214 lbs., needed to revitalize his major-league career; especially if he locks up a spot in Boston’s Opening Day starting rotation.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Pivetta is out of minor-league options, so the 2021 season, which is his last before becoming eligible for salary arbitration in 2022, could prove to be quite impactful for the British Columbian.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Red Sox free agency: right-hander Keone Kela comments that he would ‘love’ to play in Boston

Former Pirates reliever and current free-agent right-hander Keone Kela recently expressed an interest to play with the Red Sox through social media.

Early Friday night, Major League Baseball’s official Instagram account posted an update pertaining to the Red Sox’ rehiring of Alex Cora to be their next manager.

Within minutes of the post going live, Kela took to the comment section, tagged the Sox’ official Instagram handle (@redsox) and simply expressed his thoughts through the use of the ‘100’ emoji (💯).

According to Dictionary.com, the ‘100’ emoji is “used in digital communication to express or emphasize achievement, support, approval, and motivation. It also generally means ‘absolutely’ or ‘keep it 100’ (keep it real), so it would appear that Kela approves of the move by the Red Sox to bring Cora back.

On top of that, when urged by a fellow commenter to ‘come on down [to Boston], Kela replied, “I’d love to” followed by a heart emoji. The full exchange can be seen in this accompanying screenshot, courtesy of Reddit user u/williamsw21.

Kela, 27, has spent the last 2 1/2 seasons with the Pirates after beginning his big-league career with the Rangers in 2015.

In his time with Pittsburgh, the Los Angeles native posted a 2.49 ERA and 3.54 FIP over 51 total appearances and 47 innings pitched going back to July 2018.

Most recently, in what was already a truncated 2020 campaign, Kela managed to appear in just three games for the Pirates on account of testing positive for COVID-19 in July and going down with right forearm tightness in late August.

Seeing how he is still relatively young as he enters free agency for the first time, Kela could look to take a short-term deal this offseason in order to better establish his value next winter if he can stay healthy.

According to Statcast, the righty has in his arsenal a curveball that hovers around 82-83 mph, a four-seam fastball that hovers around 96 mph and can top out at 98 mph, and a changeup that hovers around 90-91 mph.

Taking that into consideration, the Red Sox could perhaps benefit from adding someone of Kela’s caliber to the mix in their bullpen. The club is coming off a 2020 season in which it owned the second-worst bullpen ERA (5.72) in the American League.

There are certainly other free-agent relievers the Red Sox could target here, such as Liam Hendriks, Trevor May, or Blake Treinen, but seeing how Kela, or whoever runs his Instagram account, has expressed an interest in signing with Boston, this may very well be an avenue worth exploring for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co.

On another note, Cora’s return makes it seem as though the Red Sox could become a more popular destination for free-agents since the Sox skipper is so well regarded by players. That should be something worth paying attention to as the offseason progresses.

Red Sox Managerial Search: Padres Associate Manager Skip Schumaker, Twins Bench Coach Mike Bell, and Marlins Bench Coach James Rowson Have All Interviewed for Opening, per Report

The Red Sox have reportedly interviewed three more candidates for their managerial opening. Those three candidates? Padres associate manager Skip Schumaker, Twins bench coach Mike Bell, and Marlins bench coach James Rowson, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee and The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Per Acee, Schumaker has already ‘interviewed for multiple managerial vacancies’ thus far, with the Red Sox being the latest.

The former big-league outfielder, who turns 41 in February, has spent the last five seasons with the Padres organization in both a front office and coaching capacity. His past roles with San Diego include assistant to baseball operations and player development under A.J. Preller, third base coach under Andy Green, and associate manager under Jayce Tingler.

Before embarking on his coaching career, Schumaker enjoyed an 11-year major-league career in which he racked up 905 hits in 1,149 games between the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Reds.

Bell, meanwhile, served as Twins manager Rocco Baldelli’s bench coach this past season in Minnesota. Prior to that, the soon-to-be 46-year-old had spent the previous 13 years with the Diamondbacks organization as a minor-league manager, minor-league field coordinator, director of player development, and vice president of player development.

Given all the time he spent in Arizona, Bell likely formed some sort of relationship with current Diamondbacks and former Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen, who was hired away from Boston back in October 2016.

A native of Cincinnati who was a former first-round draft pick of the Rangers in 1993, Bell comes from quite the baseball family. His grandfather, Gus, was a four-time All-Star over the course of a 15-year major-league career. His father, Buddy, was a five-time All-Star as a player who also managed the Tigers, Rockies, and Royals for a total of nine seasons between 1998 and 2007. And his brother, David, is the current manager of the Reds.

Finally, we arrive at Rowson, who also has one of year of major-league coaching under his belt, which he accrued under Don Mattingly in Miami this year.

Prior to joining Mattingly’s coaching staff, the 44-year-old out of Mount Vernon, NY spent three seasons as hitting coach in Minnesota. In 2019, Rowson, under Baldelli, oversaw a Twins offense that clubbed a major-league record 307 home runs while leading the league in RBI (906) en route to an American League Central crown.

Rowson’s coaching career also includes stints as Yankees’ minor-league hitting coordinator and Cubs’ minor-league hitting coordinator and major-league hitting coach.

In addition to Rowson, Bell, and Schumaker, the Red Sox have also interviewed Cubs third base coach Will Venable, Pirates bench coach Don Kelly, and Diamondbacks Luis Urueata for their vacancy at manager.

That means at least six candidates have been interviewed, and assuming no one is hired between now and the end of the World Series, former Sox skipper Alex Cora could very well be the seventh, eighth, or ninth individual interviewed for the position. Whoever else Boston interviews is obviously up to chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and whoever he may consult in seeking out additional candidates.

Red Sox Managerial Opening: Cubs Coach, Former Major-League Outfielder Will Venable Has Been Interviewed for Job, per Report

The Red Sox have reportedly interviewed Cubs third base coach Will Venable for their managerial opening, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Per Heyman, Venable has already interviewed for the job, while the likes of Dodgers first base coach George Lombard and Pirates bench coach Don Kelly, among others, are thought to be on Boston’s short list of other potential candidates.

Venable, who turns 38 later this month, has spent the last three seasons with the Cubs as both a first and third base coach.

Prior to beginning his coaching career, the former outfielder enjoyed a nine-year major-league career from 2008 until 2016 in which he spent time with the Padres, Rangers, and Dodgers.

An alumnus of Princeton University, Venable was a two-sport athlete in college, excelling in both baseball and basketball prior to getting drafted by San Diego in the seventh round of the 2005 amateur draft.

Even though he has no previous big-league managerial experience, Venable is an appealing candidate for the Sox’ opening based solely on the fact he’s the first person not named Alex Cora to be legitimately linked to the job.

Of course, the Red Sox can not speak to Cora about a potential reunion until the conclusion of this year’s World Series due to the fact that Cora was handed down a one-year suspension by Major League Baseball back in April for the role he played in the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal.

As for Lombard, the 45-year-old has spent the last five seasons with the Dodgers as a coach, but he also spent parts of six seasons as a minor-league coach for the Red Sox from 2010 until 2015.

Kelly, meanwhile, served as Derek Shelton’s bench coach in Pittsburgh this past season after coaching first base for the Astros in 2019. The former big-leaguer, who is brothers-in-law with Neil Walker, also has experience as a professional scout.

Now that we have gotten our first insight into who chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. are targeting for the Red Sox’ managerial opening, it should be fascinating to see how much this search heats up once this year’s World Series between the Dodgers and Rays comes to a close.

Blue Jays Still Without a Home Ballpark for 2020 Season as Pittsburgh Plan Unravels

Contrary to what was posted on here earlier Wednesday, the Red Sox will not be traveling to Pittsburgh for their lone road series of the year against the Toronto Blue Jays this season.

That being the case because, according to The Associated Press’ Marc Levy, the Pennsylvania Department of Health will not allow the Jays to play their home games at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This decision from the PDH comes despite the fact that the Blue Jays and Pirates had already reached an agreement to share the ballpark for this truncated, 60-game season, which for Toronto begins this coming Friday.

With no home ballpark at this point, the Blue Jays have quite a bit of work to do before their “home” opener on July 29 against the Nationals. As a matter of fact, it looks like that series could take place at Nationals Park seeing how the two sides play two games against each other in the nation’s capital right before then.

schedule

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Mason, “It’s unclear where the Jays go from here. Hypothetically, they could play all 30 of their home games in road cities, but that would leave them at a massive disadvantage.”

Alternative venues the Blue Jays could use for their home games in 2020 include TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., the home of their spring training facility, and Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY., the home of their Triple-A affiliate that has been serving as the club’s alternate training site since Summer Camp began.

Baltimore’s Camden Yards has been thrown out there as well.

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.