Red Sox to Option Dylan Covey to Triple-A Pawtucket, Ron Roenicke Says

Following Saturday’s 7-2 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles, the Red Sox optioned right-hander Dylan Covey to Triple-A Pawtucket, manager Ron Roenicke announced.

Covey, who turns 29 next month, surrendered two earned runs on two hits and three strikeouts over two innings of relief in his Red Sox debut on Saturday.

The California native was acquired by Boston in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday and was subsequently added to the Sox’ 40-man roster the following day.

The goal in optioning Covey, per Roenicke, is to get him stretched out in Pawtucket. Of course, with no minor-league baseball this season, the righty will likely be limited to simulated games and live batting practices at McCoy Stadium in order for that to happen.

A corresponding move will be made by the Red Sox on Sunday and whoever is called up should get into a game in some capacity on Monday or Tuesday against the Mets, according to Roenicke.

If Boston elects to promote someone from their own 40-man roster, Kyle Hart, Chris Mazza, or Mike Shawaryn seem like logical choices. If it’s someone who is currently not on the 40-man roster, like Zack Godley or Brian Johnson, they will obviously need to be added in order to make this pending transaction possible.

There will be more to this before Sunday’s game against the Orioles, so stay tuned for that.

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 Acquire Right-Hander Dylan Covey in Trade With Rays

The Red Sox have acquired right-hander Dylan Covey from the Tampa Bay Rays, the club officially announced Tuesday.

By acquiring Covey and adding him to their player pool while removing left-hander Bobby Poyner, the Sox now have 59 players in said pool.

Covey, who turns 29 in August, was originally a fourth-round pick of the Oakland Athletics in the 2013 amateur draft.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 220 lbs., the University of San Diego product made his major-league debut with the White Sox in April 2017 after being taken by Chicago in the previous year’s Rule 5 draft.

Since that time, Covey has not had a simple time of things in the big-leagues, as he owns a career ERA of 6.54 and career FIP 5.56 through 63 outings, 45 of which were starts, and 250 1/3 innings pitched.

While he was consistently shuttled between the majors and Triple-A the past two seasons, Covey was ultimately designated for assignment by the ChiSox in January before he inked a minor-league pact with the Rays the very next month.

For what it’s worth, Covey was having a decent spring for Tampa Bay before things were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Through his first four Grapefruit League appearances of the spring, he had yielded just four runs (three earned) over 7 2/3 innings of work out of the Rays’ bullpen.

Per his Statcast page, Covey’s 2019 pitch mix included six pitches: a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a sinker, a slider, a changeup, and a curveball. He punched out 14.6% of the batters he faced last season.

With Covey, as well former Diamondbacks hurler Zack Godley, the Red Sox have added two intriguing rotation and/or bullpen options to their ranks in the past week.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the acquisition of Covey from the Rays marks the first time chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has made a deal with his former employer in St. Petersburg.

Red Sox’ Collin McHugh Opts Out of 2020 Season

Right-handed pitcher Collin McHugh has opted out of the 2020 season, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke announced Sunday.

Per Roenicke, McHugh made this decision based off the fact that he really was nowhere close to appearing in a game anytime soon and it had nothing to do with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Under normal circumstances, the 33-year-old would have begun the year on the injured list and it would have taken about “half a season” to get him back healthy. Now, while at Summer Camp with the Red Sox, it became apparent that McHugh, who is recovering from an elbow procedure, was more in “rehab mode” rather than “game prep mode,” as Roenicke put it. In other words, “His arm just didn’t respond as fast as he’d like it to.”

By opting out of the 2020 season, McHugh will be removed from Boston’s 40-man roster, meaning the club now has two open spots on said roster to work with. Those two spots could go to Brian Johnson and Zack Godley.

As for McHugh, the veteran right-hander initially signed a one-year, major-league deal with the Sox back in February after undergoing a non-surgical procedure to repair a flexor strain over the winter. He will now return to his family in Atlanta.

 

 

Can 2020 Be a Redemption Year for Red Sox’ Brian Johnson?

Last fall, Brian Johnson’s future with the Red looked uncertain. The left-hander was outrighted off Boston’s 40-man roster in November and was subsequently demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign.

Over 21 appearances (seven starts) and 40 1/3 injury-riddled innings pitched last season, Johnson posted an ERA of 6.02, an ERA+ of 80, a FIP of 5.32, and a WHIP of 1.88, all the worst marks of his major-league career since 2017.

Because of those poor results, it’s somewhat understandable why Johnson, who turned 29 in December, lost his spot on the Sox’ major-league roster. Despite all the turmoil he went through during the offseason though, the Florida native received an invite to big league spring training and put up solid numbers in Grapefruit League play.

Prior to the pandemic-induced shutdown in March, Johnson looked like a potential rotation option for Boston in the wake of the team losing Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery and David Price in a trade with the Dodgers.

Flash forward about four months later, and that much still holds true for Johnson now, as the former Florida Gator got the start opposite fellow left-hander Kyle Hart in the Sox’ intrasquad game at Fenway Park on Sunday afternoon.

Working three scoreless, no-hit innings against the Away Sox, Johnson walked one and fanned another while 24 of the 38 total pitches he threw on the day went for strikes.

Following his first in-game action since March 10, Johnson had plenty to say to reporters via Zoom, starting with what went down over the winter.

“It kind of gives you a chip on the shoulder,” he said regarding getting taken off the Sox’ 40-man roster. “A little bit of extra motivation.”

Johnson missed time on the injured list on two separate occasions in 2019. The first stint began in early April, ended in early June, and was caused by inflammation in his left elbow. The second stint began later that month, lasted until the beginning of August, and was related to a “non-baseball related medical matter.”

“That really wasn’t me at times,” the former-first round pick said Sunday when reflecting on his 2019 season. “I get it. My numbers weren’t good. But I wasn’t expecting to be taken off the roster.”

He was ultimately taken off Boston’s 40-man roster in the offseason, but as previously mentioned, Johnson has worked his way back into a position where he could potentially be the club’s No. 4 starter to open the 2020 season in two weeks.

“We really liked the way he threw the ball today,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said of the lefty’s outing on Sunday. When asked if he sees Johnson as the club’s No. 4 starter, Roenicke responded by saying, “Yes, I do. We all do.”

Assuming left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez misses the start of the season, the Sox’ starting rotation will likely look something like this to begin things later this month:

1.Nathan Eovaldi
2. Martin Perez
3. Ryan Weber
4. Brian Johnson
5. Opener

Johnson has been through plenty both on and off the field since joining the Red Sox organization in 2012. In a season that will be full of question marks surrounding Boston’s pitching staff, Johnson would be an easy figure to pull for as he aims to redeem himself.

Of course, as a non-roster invitee at Summer Camp, Johnson would need to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster before Opening Day.

 

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.

 

Red Sox Pitching Coach Dave Bush Tells His Pitchers to Maintain ‘Normal Throwing Programs’ While Awaiting MLB’s Return

At this point exactly one year ago, Red Sox pitchers had combined to throw exactly 411 innings through the club’s first 46 games of the 2019 season.

Flash forward to 2020, and that number of innings pitched on the same date stands at zero, and it appears that it will stay at zero until at least early July.

First-year Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush, who was appointed to the position last October in place of Dana LeVangie, would be learning the ropes of his new post under normal circumstances. Instead, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has put Major League Baseball on hold for the time being, Bush, like many across the sport, have to find new ways to coach up his players.

In a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Peter Gammons, Bush, 40, said that he has told the Boston pitching staff to stick with “normal throwing programs” until they know when they can get back to a spring training setting and can “begin a supervised program for the season” from there.

This is the same sort of sentiment Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom echoed earlier this month in a radio interview with WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria regarding the pandemic-induced shutdown’s effect on players.

“Even if we have a spring training, however long that spring training is, guys will need to get ramped up well in advance of that to make sure they’re in shape and make sure they can safely get back up to ready to roll whenever the season does start,” he said. “We are so used to working backward from a specific start date and we can’t do that right now. So we’re trying to keep them at a level that is responsible where we’re not trying to get them at too high a gear and then ask them to hold. But we also want to make sure they don’t run out of time to get up to speed if and when we do get a specific start date. So we’re just trying to find that happy medium.”

The conventional version of spring training was suspended by MLB on March 13th. The majority of Red Sox players left Fort Myers at the time to return to their respective homes, but it appears that some individuals, such as Alex Verdugo and Chris Sale, have returned to work out at the Fenway South complex in recent weeks. More could return relatively soon, too, considering how Florida has been loosening its COVID-19-related restrictions across the state.

According to Gammons, MLB clubs are currently terrified of two things. The first being a potential second wave of the coronavirus and all the ramifications that come with it, and the second being “that the re-ramping-up process, coming four-plus months after the initial ramping-up process, will result in a rash of injuries.”

To add on to that, Gammons writes, “Two prominent orthopedic surgeons with significant baseball experience have predicted waiting lines at the doors of Dr. James Andrews, Dr. Neal ElAttrache and the many other physicians who have preserved so many careers.”

The re-ramping up process that Gammons mentions should be a concern for pitching coaches and general managers across the league. I can’t say for sure, but it seems like these guys went into ‘prepare for the season mode’ around the same time they are accustomed to and then all of a sudden were told to go into ‘offseason mode’ just like that. I’m no pitching guru, but disrupting someone’s routine like that has to have negative connotations, right?

For now, it will be fascinating to see how Bush continues to coach his pitching staff without being in the same physical location as them.

Who Could Red Sox Target in First Round of This Year’s MLB Draft?

The start date and length of the 2020 MLB first-year player draft may both be unknowns at this point in time, but that’s not stopping clubs from doing their due diligence ahead of the annual amateur selection process.

After not having any first-round picks last year due to luxury tax-related penalties from 2018, the Red Sox are slated to make their first selection with the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft. That being the case because at 84-78, Boston finished with the 17th-worst record in baseball last season.

According to Baseball America, the 17th overall pick in the 2020 draft has an assigned slot value of approximately $3,609,700, meaning that’s how much money the Sox will have to spend on that pick, although they can go over that allotted amount if they are willing to incur some tax penalties.

Personally, I’m no draft expert, but since the 2020 MLB Draft is right around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to look into who Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. could be targeting in the earliest stage of this year’s draft. Let’s get into it.

Target No.1: RHP Nick Bitsko, Central Bucks High School East (Doylestown, PA)

In his mock draft from April 15th, CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa had the Red Sox taking high school right-hander Nick Bitsko out of Doyleston, Pa.

Bitsko, 17, was initially set to graduate from Central Bucks High School East in 2021, but he will instead graduate early, adding on to an already impressive list of draft-eligible pitching prospects this year.

A University of Virginia commit, Bitsko posted a 1.18 ERA over six starts during his sophomore season last year, per MaxPreps.

According to a Baseball America scouting report from 2019, “Bitsko has a great pitcher’s frame, standing at 6-foot-4, 220-pounds and has a smooth and easy operation on the bump, with an overhead windup and clean three-quarter slot.”

From that same scouting report, Bitsko’s arsenal includes a 92-96 MPH fastball, a 76-83 MPH curveball, and an 86-87 MPH “firm” changeup.

If drafted by the Red Sox over the summer, Bitsko would presumably become one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the organization, although there certainly are some minor concerns given just how young he is and how he didn’t get the chance to really throw in front of scouts this year.

Target No. 2: C Patrick Bailey, North Carolina State University

Moving to the college ranks now, Dan Zielinski III of the Baseball Prospect Journal has the Red Sox taking North Carolina State backstop Patrick Bailey in his latest first-round mock draft.

The 20-year-old out of Greensboro was drafted by the Twins in the 37th round of the 2017 draft, but he opted to honor his commitment to North Carolina State instead, and it looks like that decision is going to pay off for him.

Although he played in just 17 games for the Wolfpack this year due to the college baseball season being shut down last month, Bailey produced over the course of that small sample size, as he slashed .296/.466/.685 with six home runs and 20 RBI.

Per a March scouting report from Perfect Game USA, Bailey “has significant value as a switch-hitting catcher with pop on both sides of the plate to go along with strong defensive skills.”

If taken by the Red Sox this summer, I would guess that Bailey would slide behind Connor Wong as the second-best catching prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Target No. 3: RHP Tanner Burns, Auburn University

The first college hurler on this list, My MLB Draft’s most recent 2020 mock from earlier in the month has the Red Sox taking Auburn right-hander Tanner Burns in the first round.

Another former 2017 37th-round pick, Burns was limited to just four starts and 22 1/3 innings pitched this season due to the aforementioned shutdown. In those four starts though, the 21-year dazzled by posting a 2.42 ERA and averaging nearly 13 strikeouts per nine innings.

Listed at 6’1″ and 205 lbs., MLB Pipeline has Burns ranked as their No. 28 draft prospect. They describe the junior as a hurler, who “can work at 92-97 mph with his fastball and locate it to both sides of the plate. His breaking ball can be a plus pitch at times, combining slider velocity in the low 80s with curveball depth, but it gets slurvy at others. He hasn’t had much need for his changeup, though it has some sink and shows some signs of becoming an average third pitch.”

Burns also comes with some durability concerns, as he dealt with right shoulder soreness throughout the majority of his sophomore season in 2019.

Like Bitsko, Burns would presumably become one of the top right-handed pitching prospects in the Sox’ farm system if he is drafted by Boston at some point this summer.

Target No. 4: LHP Garrett Crochet, University of Tennessee

Sticking with the Southeastern Conference here, Prospects Live has the Red Sox selecting University of Tennessee southpaw Garrett Crochet in their 2020 Mock Draft 2.0.

A native of Mississippi who turns 21 in June, Crochet was only able to make one start for the Volunteers this year due to upper back soreness. To add on to that, the left-hander broke his jaw last May after taking a line-drive to the face in his final start of the 2019 regular season that resulted in him missing two weeks of action.

According to a Prospects Live scouting report from Crochet’s lone outing of the 2020 campaign against Wright State in March, the junior’s pitch arsenal included a fastball that sat around 95-97 MPH and maxed out at 99 MPH, an 84-86 MPH slider, an 80-90 MPH changeup, and an 80 MPH curveball.

MLB Pipeline has Crochet ranked as their 18th-best draft-eligible prospect, so he could very well still be on the board by the time the Red Sox make their first pick at No. 17.

Target No. 5: OF Heston Kjerstad, University of Arkansas

Last but not least, we have the lone outfielder on this list in the University of Arkansas’ Heston Kjerstad, who Perfect Game USA’s Brian Sakowski has going to the Red Sox in the first round of his most recent 2020 mock draft from late last month.

The Amarillo, Texas native did nothing but rake in his three seasons as a Razorback, putting together a .343/.421/.590 slash line to go along with 37 home runs and 129 RBI over 150 total games dating back to 2018.

Sakowski’s scouting report for Kjerstad looks a little something like this:

The left-handed slugger has double-plus raw pop along with the bat speed and impact generation to crush balls with wood. There are some positional questions long-term, but the Red Sox have shown the willingness to take prospects with big power and figure out how to get them into the lineup later.”

MLB Pipeline has Kjerstad ranked as their 10th-best prospect in this year’s draft, so he might not even be on the board by the time the Red Sox make their first selection at No. 17, but if he is, and the Sox take him, that would be quite the addition to an already fascinating mix of outfield prospects that includes Jarren Duran, Marcus Wilson, and Gilberto Jimenez to name a few.

Well, there you have it. Five prospects the Red Sox could take with the 17th overall pick in the 2020 first-year player draft. If they do wind up taking one of these five young players with their first pick, you can come back here and remember that I had it first.

Also, the 17th overall pick is the lowest first-round pick the Red Sox have had since 2016, so it’s probably important that they hit on it in order to improve a poorly-regarded, but steadily-improving farm system.

Red Sox Interim Manager Ron Roenicke on Not Having Any Games to Manage in Late April: ‘This Is so Strange’

In an ideal world, Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke would presumably be in his Boston home right about now, preparing for his team’s 26th game of the season against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

Instead, the coronavirus pandemic that has halted the sports world has led the baseball lifer to have no games to coach or manage at a point in time he would typically be doing so.

“I’ve been through some strikes, some lockouts, some crazy late starts in spring training, but nothing like this” Roenicke told NESN’s Tom Caron in a TV interview Tuesday. “This is so strange. I wake up every morning knowing and know I should be going to the ballpark and I’m at home. That’s just really weird.”

Roenicke was officially named interim manager by Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on February 11th, so the 63-year-old had a little more than a month to make preparations for the 2020 campaign before Major League Baseball suspended spring training and delayed the start of the season on March 12th.

From that point, Red Sox players, coaches, and staff, for the most part, have all left the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers and returned to their respective homes.

Roenicke, a California native, still has to communicate with his players though, and that has been a lot easier to do now thanks to modern technology.

“With the players, it’s [mostly] texting and phone calls,” Roenicke told Caron. “I know Chaim and [GM Brian O’Halloran] are reaching out to some guys with some things on what’s going on. It’s a lot of text messaging. It’s hard for players also to be sitting at home during this time. Anytime we can be with them in a text or phone call, it’s helpful for them just sitting and wondering what’s going on.”

Although there is no set date for the start of the 2020 MLB season, Roenicke still believes three to four weeks is all his players need to ramp things back up.

“I don’t think we need to go longer than that,” the interim skipper said of the three to four week training period. “If MLB can give us a little bit of a heads up so guys can start getting at it more at their home or wherever they are, it certainly would help to speed this thing up.

“It’s the starting pitching, trying to get them stretched out,” said Roenicke. “If we can get those starters to start throwing some bullpens, even if they’re at home. Some up-downs. And we start up this thing, we won’t need those 3-4 weeks. It will shrink down, and if we can get them maybe three starts or something in a spring….That’s what some of the conversation we had with the commissioner, the managers trying to figure out what we can do and how we can get these starters back in shape.”

Per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, “Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke for one hour [Friday] morning with major-league managers” in which he “offered no specifics on how the season might begin.” That’s the conversation Roenicke was referencing.

Speaking of Manfred, Roenicke, like seemingly everyone else in the Red Sox organization, still does not know when the results of the league’s investigation into the 2018 team will be released.

“I don’t know,” Roenicke said. “I think there’s so many other things that I’m thinking about and just trying to think about getting the season started again. And also obviously concerned about what’s going on in the country with the jobs and with people losing their lives and the people that are sick. These things go on. Sometimes they’re easy for some people and sometimes they last for 4-6 weeks. So, hopefully we can get this controlled.”

That’s the same sort of sentiment Bloom echoed in an interview with WEEI last week, when he said, “It is obviously frustrating that we don’t have that outcome yet. But with what is going on in the last month I think it is understandable. I know the commissioner was on a timetable doing everything he could to wrap it up before the season. Sometime early to mid-March, the coronavirus took over pretty much of every ounce of everybody’s available time and energy. I think we’re still at that stage. We are hopeful at some point when everybody gets a chance to come up for air…I know the commissioner has said the investigation is complete and it’s a question of getting into the report. We’re hopeful there is time to do that so we can all see the results and move forward. I think you have to cut everyone some slack given our industry and everybody has been dealing with something we really haven’t faced before, something for which there is no road map and understandably it has dominated everyone’s attention for the last month or so.”

To watch the full interview between Caron and Roenicke, click here.

Could Alex Verdugo Be Next Two-Way Player for Red Sox?

Coming out of high school in 2014, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo was seen by clubs as both a tantalizing hitting and pitching prospect ahead of that year’s amateur draft.

While attending Sahauro High School in Tucson, Ariz., Verdugo played for the varsity baseball team all four years he was a high school student.

In his final season before graduating, Verdugo put up a gaudy .532/.593/.861 slash line in addition to posting a 2.26 ERA over 10 appearances (nine starts) and 52 2/3 innings of work as one of his team’s standout left-handed pitchers.

Those impressive numbers on both sides of the ball made the Tuscon native one of the top high school players in the state of Arizona, and they also made it difficult for team’s scouting departments to determine what the future held for the young left-hander/outfielder.

The Red Sox, under then-general manager Ben Cherington, had two opportunities to draft Verdugo in the first round of the ’14 draft but passed on him both times. Sox scouts, according to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings, “had him as a hitter on draft day, but it was a close decision and their scouts were split.”

Verdugo instead fell to the Dodgers with the 62nd overall pick. Despite how much they liked him as a pitcher, though, Los Angeles ultimately chose to label him as an outfielder, “believing he could always transition back to the mound if hitting didn’t work out.”

As it turned out, hitting did indeed work out for Verdugo, as he raked his way to becoming one of the top outfield prospects in baseball ahead of the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons.

Still, even with a solid track record as a hitter and a solid OPS of .817 in his first full-ish season in the majors last year, Verdugo remains interested in pitching and likens it to his little league days.

“I would be like a little kid again,” he said to Jennings in regards to being a two-way player. “Just playing ball again. Driving to the games or the tournaments, that was cool coming out of center field to go throw one inning … just try to freakin’ blow up the doors, and after that, I go back to center and we have another guy come in.”

As he told Jennings back in March, Verdugo, who turns 24 next month, understands that all this talk about pitching is just a fantasy for the time being. Until he can get through a full season healthy, it will stay that way. If he can stay healthy for a full season and produce at a high level though, Verdugo will then implement a plan that involves an offseason throwing program, building strength and durability in his arm, throwing a full bullpen sessions in Fort Myers during spring training, and then, if the Red Sox are getting blown out in a game, be used as a reliever in mop-up duty.

“I’d be like, ‘All right, I won’t throw hard today, I promise you guys!'” Verdugo told Jennings. “I’ll just go out there, and maybe I’m throwing 70 percent and touching 90 (MPH). And then they’re like, ‘Wait a minute!'”

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told Jennings via email that although he generally does not like “to take options off the table,” the priority right now is “helping Alex through his rehab so he can impact us at the plate and in the outfield! It just goes to show how confident he is.”

The Rays, Bloom’s former employer, drafted two-way player Brendan McKay out of Louisville in the first round of the 2017 draft, when Bloom was still there. McKay, 24, made his big-league debut for Tampa Bay last June, and posted a 5.14 ERA over 13 outings (11 starts) while going 2-for-10 with one home run at the plate.

Like McKay, Verdugo is both a left-handed hitter and pitcher. It does not seem like the easiest transition to make as a baseball player.”

“It still takes a special player to do both and a lot of work on the part of the staff to help manage workload on both sides of the ball” Bloom said. This is especially important in Verdugo’s case, considering he came to Boston as the centerpiece in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade with a stress fracture in his lower back and will likely be monitored closely once baseball activities do eventually resume sometime in the near future.

For now though, it was fun to ponder on this hypothetical possibility and it will be something to pay even closer attention to in 2021 or 2022.