What the Red Sox saw in Ryan Fitzgerald before signing him out independent ball in 2018

Ryan Fitzgerald is off to a blazing hot start with the Worcester Red Sox. After homering on Opening Day, the versatile prospect went deep twice as part of 2-for-showing in Jacksonville on Thursday night.

Through his first three games of the Triple-A season, Fitzgerald is batting .636 (7-for-11)/.667/1.455 with three homers, five RBIs, four runs scored, one walk, and four strikeouts over 12 trips to the plate.

This comes on the heels of a spring training in which Fitzgerald was one of the Sox’ standouts in Fort Myers. While making a strong case to make Boston’s Opening Day roster, the left-handed hitter clubbed a team-leading four home runs and posted a 1.513 OPS across 11 Grapefruit League contests.

Although the Red Sox sent Fitzgerald down to Triple-A Worcester on March 27, there is no doubt the 27-year-old could be on the verge of a big-league call-up sooner rather than later.

A native of Illinois, Fitzgerald played four seasons at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. but went undrafted. Rather than take his talents to affiliated ball right away like other amateur prospects, Fitzgerald signed with the Gary SouthShore RailCats of the independent American Association in 2017.

It was Gary, Ind. where Fitzgerald was first seen by Red Sox pro scout David Scrivines. Scrivines, who has been with the team since 2008, initially took note of Fitzgerald’s plate discipline and ability to move around the infield.

“He seemed like someone who had real quality at-bats and knew the strike zone well,” Scrivines told BloggingtheRedSox.com. “Knowing the ballpark in Gary is a pitcher-friendly ballpark, players don’t put up power numbers in that park.  So I wasn’t sure how the power would project in the future. We saw someone with a steady glove and arm and athleticism.”

In his first season with the RailCats in 2017, Fitzgerald slashed .239/.301/.395 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs over 84 games while seeing playing time at every infield position besides first base. He was also well-liked by his teammates and coaches, including manager Greg Tagert.

“Former Gary manager Greg Tagert raved about his makeup,” said Scrivines. “So we knew he’s a top-notch person and teammate.”

The following spring, Fitzgerald signed with the Sox as an undrafted free agent and debuted with the Greenville Drive in June. He made it as far as High-A before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the minor-league season in 2020.

Last year, Fitzgerald broke camp with Double-A Portland and made it up to Worcester for a spell over the summer. The 6-foot, 185 pounder also made his pro debut as an outfielder in 2021.

So far this season, Fitzgerald — who turns 28 in June — has made starts at second base, third base, and shortstop. Combine what he has done at the plate with his versatility, and it has been an impressive start to the 2022 campaign for the utility man.

“It’s great to see him get off to such a good start this spring – both offensively and moving around the field on the defensive end – and watching his progress the past four years,” Scrivines said.

(Picture of Ryan Fitzgerald: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox, Rafael Devers remain ‘very far off’ in contract extension talks, per report

The Red Sox and star third baseman Rafael Devers apparently remain far apart in contract extension talks as Opening Day nears.

Earlier Wednesday evening, Hector Gomez of Z Deportes, a Dominican-based news outlet, tweeted that the Red Sox made Devers an extension offer but Devers rejected it” because it was lower than he is willing to consider.”

Shortly thereafter, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo confirmed Gomez’s report, writing that the Sox recently made an extension offer to Devers, but the two sides are currently “very far off in negotiations.”

This news comes two days after Devers told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier that although he and his camp have discussed a long-term deal with the Sox this spring, he did not expect an agreement to come together before Opening Day.

“We had a conversation with the team,” Devers said to Speier (through translator Carlos Villoria-Benítez). “We didn’t get to anything. But I still have one more year. I have this one and the next year. And I’m ready to play with Boston, with the Red Sox. We’re not going to talk about it [more] this spring. Let’s see how this season goes.”

Devers is set to earn $11.2 million in 2022 after agreeing to a one-year deal to avoid salary arbitration last month. The 25-year-old All-Star remains under club control for two more years and is eligible to become a free-agent at the conclusion of the 2023 season.

A client of Rep 1 Baseball, the left-handed hitting Devers just put the finishing touches on an impressive spring in which he clubbed six home runs, collected 12 RBIs, and posted a 1.512 OPS over 12 games (32 plate appearances) in the Grapefruit League.

It would seem as though Devers is on the verge of another productive year at the plate, as Gomez also reports that the Silver Slugger Award winner has shifted his focus to the 2022 season as he looks “to further increase his market value.”

Along those same lines, Cotillo writes that Devers and the Red Sox are unlikely to engage further in extension talks prior to Opening Day on Friday, noting that the former does not want to “talk about a long-term deal once the regular season begins.”

Considering that Devers is not eligible for free agency for another two seasons, there is obviously still plenty of time for the Red Sox to get a deal done. As noted by Cotillo, these recent developments may suggest that Boston is indeed serious about locking up Devers long-term.

Although the two sides may be far apart in negotiations at the moment, Sox officials — including chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom — have made it very clear that they would like players such as Devers and Xander Bogaerts (who can opt out of his deal and become a free agent this winter) to stay in Boston for the foreseeable future.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo joins the show to preview the 2022 season

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by MassLive.com’s Red Sox beat writer Chris Cotillo to preview the 2022 season.

Chris and I discuss the key moves Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox made this off-season, including the acquisitions of Trevor Story, Jake Diekman, and Matt Strahm via free agency. We also delve into how the Sox’ starting rotation is stacked up to begin the season with Chris Sale on the 60-day injured list due to a broken rib.

Other topics covered include Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts contract extension talks, the makeup of the bullpen with Matt Barnes as the likely closer, the state of Boston’s 40-man roster, injured players (like Sale, James Paxton, and Josh Taylor) who could make an impact when healthy, prospects and other players who could make their Red Sox debuts this year, the importance of Alex Cora, the toughness of the American League East, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

My thanks to Chris for once again taking some time out of his busy schedule to have a fun conversation with yours truly. You can follow Chris on Twitter (@ChrisCotillo) by clicking here and read his work for MassLive.com by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Trevor Story: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Darwinzon Hernandez strikes out 3 over 2 2/3 innings in first start of season for Triple-A Worcester

Darwinzon Hernandez made his first start of the season for Triple-A Worcester in their Opening Day bout against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Marlins affiliate) at 121 Financial Ballpark on Tuesday night.

The left-hander allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on zero hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings of work.

Both runs Hernandez gave up were scored after the 25-year-old had already left the contest. After retiring the side in order in the first and plunking J.J. Bleday in an otherwise clean second, Hernandez ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom half of the third.

Under the assumption that he was growing tired on the mound, Hernandez punched out the first two batters he faced before issuing a seven-pitch walk to Brian Miller and a five-pitch walk to Peyton Burdick to put runners at first and second base.

That sequence prompted new WooSox manager to turn to his bullpen and pull Hernandez in favor of fellow lefty Kyle Hart, who allowed both of the runners he inherited to score on a two-run double off the bat of Lewin Diaz that gave the Jumbo Shrimp an early 2-1 lead.

All told, Hernandez ended his outing having thrown 43 pitches (24 strikes) and retiring eight (4 via groundout, 3 via strikeout, and 1 via groundout) of the 11 hitters he faced. He will not factor into Tuesday’s decision.

The Red Sox surprisingly optioned Hernandez to Worcester this past Saturday, citing that they want to see more consistency and an improved delivery from the Venezuelan-born southpaw.

When speaking with reporters from JetBlue Park on Sunday, Sox manager Alex Cora acknowledged that Hernandez clearly has the stuff to be a big-leaguer, but the club needs more out of him when it comes to his mechanics and approach on the mound.

“To be the big leaguer we envision, we need to find consistency and that’s what he is missing right now,” Cora said. “We can’t go with the up and down. He dominates in Texas and he struggles for a few weeks. We don’t want that. When he’s ready, he’ll be ready. We know he’s going to contribute.”

Although Hernandez will presumably not start again until Sunday if he is on a normal schedule, the Red Sox still want the 6-foot-2, 225 pound hurler to get plenty of side work in. They believe a starter’s routine will help facilitate this.

“The goal is for him to work in between starts or in between outings,” said Cora. “He hasn’t been able to do that in years. It wasn’t a comfortable conversation because we know what he can do. But the goal is for him to work with (Worcester pitching Paul Abbott) in between starts and try to be consistent.”

Cora emphasized the importance of a repeatable delivery for Hernandez and also indicated that the Sox would like him to throw fastballs up and breaking balls down on a consistent basis. By employing these strategies with Worcester, Hernandez could be back in Boston sooner rather than later.

“it’s just a matter of him being consistent, repeat his delivery over and over and over again,” Cora said. “And we do believe he’s going to contribute at one point this season. He’s going to be a big part of this team.”

(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Billie Weis/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Michael Gettys to begin first full season as pitcher with High-A Greenville

Michael Gettys will begin his first full professional season as a pitcher with High-A Greenville, the team announced on Tuesday. Gettys is one of 19 pitchers on the Drive’s Opening Day roster.

Gettys, 26, originally came up as an outfielder in the Padres organization after being selected by San Diego in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft out of Gainesville (Ga.) High School.

Once a highly-touted prospect in the Padres’ farm system, the Georgia native became a free-agent at the conclusion of the 2020 season and signed a minor-league deal with the Red Sox that November.

After getting some run at major-league camp the following spring, Gettys opened the 2021 season with Triple-A Worcester. The right-handed hitter saw playing time at all three outfield positions and batted .201/.271/.349 with five home runs and 14 RBIs through his first 46 games (166 plate appearances) for the WooSox.

Gettys’ last game with the WooSox came on August 1. He was placed on the development list three days later and was ultimately reassigned to the Sox’ rookie-level Florida Complex League affiliate at the end of the month with the designation of pitcher conversion.

On Aug. 31, Gettys made his professional debut as a pitcher for the FCL Red Sox in their contest against the FCL Orioles Black in Fort Myers. The right-hander came on in relief in the fifth inning, walked one, and struck out another in a scoreless frame of work.

Taking home the winning decision in his pitching debut, Gettys made four more appearances for the FCL Red Sox to close out the season. He finished the year with a 3.60 ERA (7.15 FIP) to go along with five strikeouts and four walks over five innings pitched.

In early November, Gettys became a minor-league free-agent once more, though it did not take him long to land back on his feet considering the fact he officially re-signed with Boston on Nov. 17.

Following his first off-season and spring training as a full-fledged pitcher, Gettys wound up breaking camp with Greenville. The 6-foot-1, 217 pound hurler has always been known for his plus-plus arm strength, so his stuff very well could play out of the Drive bullpen.

Given the fact that he turns 27 in October and will undoubtedly be older for his level to start the season, it should be interesting to see if Gettys can work his way back up the Sox’ organizational ladder as a reliever.

This is not to say Gettys should be considered for a spot in Boston’s big-league bullpen this summer, but could he make his way back to Worcester before the 2022 season is over? That will be something worth paying attention to.

(Picture of Michael Gettys courtesy of the Worcester Red Sox)

Red Sox close out spring training with 10-6 win over Twins to take home 2022 Chairman’s Cup

The Red Sox wrapped up Grapefruit League play on Tuesday by coming from behind to defeat the Twins by a final score of 10-6 at JetBlue Park. Boston finishes the spring with a record of 11-8 and also take home the 2022 Chairman’s Cup.

J.D. Martinez got the Sox on the board first in their half of the first, ripping an RBI single off Twins starter Josh Winder to score Enrique Hernandez from third base.

Michael Wacha, making his fourth and final start of the spring for Boston, retired five of the first seven batters he faced before serving up a two-run shot to Gio Urshela with one out in the top of the second.

The home run came back to bite Wacha an inning later, as the right-hander gave up a leadoff homer to Byron Buxton and a two-run bomb to Carlos Correa moments later.

Wacha failed to record an out in the third and was ultimately pulled for Ryan Brasier, who allowed one of the runners he inherited to score on a sacrifice fly that gave the Twins a commanding 6-1 lead.

After Brasier ended things in the third, though, Wacha took the mound once more in the fourth and actually turned his day around for the better. The 30-year-old struck out the side in the fourth and maneuvered his way around a two-out walk to put up another zero in the fifth.

All told, Wacha surrendered six earned runs on on six hits and three walks to go along with six strikeouts over four total innings of work spanning 93 pitches.

In relief of Wacha, Hansel Robles made his second appearance out of the Boston bullpen in as many days and, after giving up a leadoff double to Alex Kirilloff, stranded Kirilloff at second base in an otherwise clean sixth inning.

The middle of the sixth is where momentum began to shift in the Sox’ favor. With Griffin Jax on the mound for the Twins, Alex Cora emptied the bench and the minor-leaguers who are still in Fort Myers took over.

Juan Chacon led off with a groundball single and advanced to third on a hard-hit double off the bat of Johanfrank Salazar. Jonathan Arauz getting plunked by a pitch to load the bases for Bryan Gonzalez, who drove in Chacon on a sacrifice fly to left field.

Ahbram Liendo then plated Salazar on an RBI single, and Jax proceeded to fill the bases again by issuing two straight walks to Darel Belen and Miguel Bleis. Following a pitching change that saw Ricardo Velez take over for Jax, Ronald Rosario greeted the new Twins reliever with a game-tying, two-run single to center field.

With things now knotted up at six runs apiece, the Red Sox re-loaded the bases and scored on a bases-loaded walk drawn by Salazar. The pinch-hitting Luis Ravelo pushed across another run by driving in Rosario to make it an 8-6 game.

After Kutter Crawford tossed a scoreless frame in the top of the seventh, the Sox tacked on two more runs in their half of the seventh on an RBI groundout from Liendo and RBI double from Belen.

From there, Austin Davis worked his way around a leadoff walk in the eighth inning, and Tyler Danish closed things out with a perfect ninth inning to secure a 10-6 victory to cap off the spring.

Next up: The real thing

With another spring training in the books, the Red Sox will now board a flight to New York ahead of Opening Day against the Yankees on Thursday, weather permitting.

Nathan Eovaldi is slated to make his third consecutive Opening Day start for Boston. He will be opposed by fellow right-hander and New York ace Gerrit Cole.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The 2022 season opener will be televised on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Top Red Sox pitching prospects Brayan Bello, Jay Groome returning to Double-A Portland for start of 2022 season

Two of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox farm system are returning to Double-A Portland for the start of the 2022 season.

As part of a flurry of roster moves made on Monday, the Sox announced that left-hander Jay Groome and right-hander Brayan Bello had been transferred from Triple-A Worcester to Double-A Portland.

Both Bello and Groome are on Boston’s 40-man roster and were invited to big-league camp at the onset of spring training. When they were reassigned to minor-league camp last month, the Sox announced the move by saying they had been optioned to Worcester. So the fact that they were transferred from Worcester to Portland on Monday should not be viewed as a demotion since they were expected to begin the season in Double-A to begin with.

Bello, 22, and Groome, 23, are currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 and No. 10 prospects in Boston’s farm system, respectively. The former ranks first among pitchers in the organization while the latter ranks fourth. They both began last season with High-A Greenville and ended the year in Portland.

Bello, a former international free agent signed out the Dominican Republic in 2017, posted a 2.27 ERA and 2.82 FIP to go along with 45 strikeouts and seven walks over six starts (31 2/3 innings pitched) with Greenville before earning a promotion to Portland on June 8.

With the Sea Dogs, the righty produced a 4.66 ERA — but much more respectable 3.12 FIP — with 87 strikeouts to 24 walks over 15 starts spanning 63 2/3 innings of work. He also represented the Red Sox in the All-Star Futures Game and was named the organization’s Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year.

Groome, a former first-round draft pick out of Barnegat High School (N.J.) in 2016, posted a 5.29 ERA and 4.35 FIP with 108 strikeouts to 32 walks across 18 starts (81 2/3 innings) with the Drive before being promoted to Portland in early September.

Although it came in a smaller sample size, Groome’s stint with the Sea Dogs last year went more swimmingly than Bello’s. In three starts to close out his season, the lefty pitched to the tune of a 2.30 ERA and 1.15 FIP to go along with 26 strikeouts and just four walks over 15 2/3 innings of work.

Bello, who turns 23 in May, has three pitches in his arsenal: a fastball, changeup, and slider. Groome, who turns 24 in August, operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a fastball, curveball, changeup, and slider.

The two hurlers made just one appearance each in Grapefruit League play this spring, but still showed why they are as highly-touted as they are. It would not be unreasonable if one of the two, or maybe even both, made it up to Worcester by the end of the year.

In the meantime, though, Bello and Groome figure to lead a talented Portland pitching staff that will feature the likes of Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, Victor Santos, Franklin German, Chase Shugart, and Jacob Wallace, among others.

The Sea Dogs open their season against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays affiliate) at Hadlock Field this coming Friday, April 8. One would have to figure Bello or Groome will get the starting nod on Opening Day.

(Picture of Brayan Bello and Jay Groome: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox add Tyler Danish to major-league roster, place Chris Sale on 60-day injured list in series of moves

Following Monday’s 2-0 loss to the Twins at Hammond Stadium, the Red Sox announced that they had made a series of roster moves.

First off, right-hander Tyler Danish was selected to the major-league roster. In order to make room for Danish on the 40-man roster, left-hander Chris Sale was placed on the 60-day injured list with a right rib stress fracture.

Danish, 27, originally signed a minor-league deal with Boston that included an invite to major-league spring training back in February. The righty has posted a 1.50 ERA to go along with five strikeouts and two walks over five appearances (6 innings pitched) so far this spring.

A former second-round pick of the White Sox out of Durant High School in 2013, Danish debuted for Chicago in 2016 and spent three seasons with the club. The Florida native produced a 4.85 ERA (6.70 FIP) across 11 outings (one start) during that stretch, but has not pitched at the big-league level since 2018.

After being released by the Mariners in 2019, Danish spent the next two seasons pitching in independent ball before latching on with the Angels organization last year. He produced a 3.84 ERA across 32 appearances (three starts) between Double-A Rocket City and Triple-A Salt lake.

Listed at 6-feet and 200 pounds, Danish operates with a five-pitch mix that consists of a curveball, a sinker, a changeup, a four-seam fastball, and a slider, per Baseball Savant.

With Danish making the Opening Day roster, the Red Sox created an open spot for the non-roster invitee by placing Sale on the 60-day injured list.

Sale, who turned 33 last week, has been sidelined since late February, when he suffered a stress fracture in his right rib cage while throwing a live batting practice session at his alma mater, Florida Gulf Coast University, during the MLB lockout.

As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Sale has yet to start a throwing program since sustaining the injury, meaning he will not be ready for game action for quite some time. The Red Sox, in turn, have ruled their ace out until June 6 at the earliest since the 60-day injured list clock starts on Opening Day.

While Danish may have made Boston’s Opening Day roster, three other non-roster invitees in right-hander John Schreiber and outfielders Franchy Cordero and Rob Refsnyder were all reassigned to the minor-leagues.

Cordero and Schreiber have been with the Red Sox organization since last February, when the former was acquired from the Royals in the trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City and the latter was claimed off waivers from the Tigers.

Refsnyder, on the other hand, inked a minors pact with Boston back in November and appeared to have a real chance to break camp with the big-league camp this spring as a right-handed hitting bench bat who can handle left-handed pitching.

Alas, neither Cordero, Refsnyder, or Schreiber made the team, though they are all expected to accept their assignments to Triple-A Worcester, according to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Elsewhere, the Red Sox transferred two of their top pitching prospects in Brayan Bello and Jay Groome from Triple-A Worcester to Double-A Portland. Both Bello and Groome are on Boston’s 40-man roster and were initially optioned to Worcester earlier this spring.

Rather than begin the 2022 season with the WooSox, though, the pair of young hurlers will return to the Sea Dogs’ starting rotation to kick off the minor-league campaign.

With Monday’s transactions made, the Red Sox now have 30 players at major-league spring training with only three days to go until Opening Day. Of those 30 players, only two non-roster invitees remain in veteran reliever Hansel Robles and corner infielder Travis Shaw.

Regardless of who and does not make the team from here, Boston still needs to trim down the size of their big-league roster to 28 players before taking on the Yankees in the Bronx on Thursday.

(Picture of Tyler Danish: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Tanner Houck fans 7 in final start of spring as Red Sox are shut out by Twins in 2-0 defeat

The Red Sox fell to 10-8 in Grapefruit League play on Monday afternoon following a 2-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Twins at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

Tanner Houck made his fourth and final start of the spring for the Sox and was solid, allowing only two earned runs on five hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with seven strikeouts over six innings of work.

Both runs Houck surrendered on Monday came by way of the home run ball. The right-hander served up a solo shot to Miguel Sano with one out in the fourth before doing the very same to Max Kepler to lead off the sixth.

After Kepler went deep, Houck was able to retire three of the final four batters he faced. The 25-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 82 (55 strikes), induced nine total swings-and-misses, and hovered around 94.7 mph with his four-seam fastball.

In relief of Houck, Hansel Robles received the first call out of the Boston bullpen to begin things in the seventh inning. Making his 2022 debut after signing a minor-league deal with the Sox last month, Robles maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk and one-out single by recording back-to-back strikeouts to retire the side. He threw 23 pitches (14 strikes) and averaged 95.3 mph with his heater.

From there, Jake Diekman recorded the first two outs of the eighth before Hirokazu Sawamura came on to end the inning.

On the other side of things, a Red Sox lineup that featured the likes of Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Enrique Hernandez, J.D. Martinez, Trevor Story, Bobby Dalbec, Jackie Bradley Jr., Christian Arroyo, and Kevin Plawecki was held in check by four different Twins pitchers.

It took until the fourth inning for Boston to record their first hit on a leadoff double off the bat of Bogaerts, but he was stranded at third after Minnesota starter Bailey Ober got Martinez to ground into an inning-ending double play.

The only other two hits the Sox had were singles from Bobby Dalbec and Yolmer Sanchez, though nothing came of either as Boston went 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left just two runners on base as a team on Monday.

Next up: Chairman’s Cup finale

The Red Sox wrap up their Grapefruit League schedule by taking on the Twins once again back at JetBlue park on Tuesday afternoon. With the head-to-head series now tied at three games apiece, Tuesday’s contest will determine the winner of the 2022 Chairman’s Cup.

Michael Wacha is slated to start for Boston and fellow right-hander Josh Winder is in line to do the same for Minnesota. First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Rich Hill to begin 2022 season in Red Sox’ starting rotation; Garrett Whitlock will remain in bullpen

Rich Hill will open the 2022 season as the Red Sox’ No. 5 starter, manager Alex Cora announced earlier Monday morning. The veteran left-hander will make his first start of the year against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park next Tuesday.

Hill, 42, signed a one-year, $5 million deal to return to the Sox last December. The Milton, Mass. native has posted a 9.35 ERA in three appearances (two starts) spanning 8 2/3 innings of work this spring and is expected to throw a six-inning, 90-pitch simulated game at JetBlue Park on Wednesday.

With Hill being named Boston’s fifth starter, Garrett Whitlock will move to the bullpen to start the season. The two hurlers had been competing for a spot in the Sox’ rotation throughout the spring. And while Hill may have prevailed, the Red Sox will keep Whitlock stretched out in the event they need another starter.

“We’re going to stretch him out. He’ll be ready for Thursday,” Cora said of Whitlock. “We’ll try to stretch him out and go from there. We have to do this. We have to keep six guys stretched out because of the nature of the schedule. I think we can be creative in a sense. Both of them are going to be a big part of what we try to accomplish.”

In terms of being creative, Cora alluded to the fact that the club has entertained the idea of having Whitlock piggyback Hill on days the latter starts.

“That’s something we’ve been talking about since we signed Rich,” said Cora. “We can pair them together.”

Having a hard-throwing righty such as Whitlock come in for a finesse lefty such as Hill could make for an intriguing strategy to win ballgames. Opposing teams who stack their lineup with right-handed bats to face Hill would then be put in a tough spot when Whitlock, who held right-handed hitters to a .522 OPS against last year, makes his way out of the Boston bullpen.

“People are going to mix and match with them,” Cora said. “They’re the total opposite numbers-wise. … It makes sense. Put them together and use them the right way.”

(Picture of Rich Hill: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)