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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Red Sox Reliever Phillips Valdez Pitching Himself ‘Into Bigger Role,’ Ron Roenicke Says

One week into the 2020 season, Red Sox relievers own the 15th-best ERA (4.54), the 15th-best FIP (4.21), and the 20th-best fWAR (0.0) in baseball. Put simply, the Boston bullpen has been rather mediocre to begin things this year, which is understandable given the current state the starting rotation is in.

Despite that ‘mediocire’ notion, there have been a handful of Sox relievers who have stuck out in a positive way thus far, and one of them worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees on Friday night. His name? Phillips Valdez.

Yes, the right-hander scattered three hits and struck out three batters in relief of Ryan Weber in Friday’s series-opening loss to New York. With that outing in mind, Valdez has yet to give up a run through his first three appearances and 5 2/3 innings pitched as a member of the Red Sox.

Originally claimed off waivers by Boston from the Seattle Mariners back in February, the 29-year-old hurler has struck out more than 27% of the 22 hitters he has faced so far this season while holding them to a .200 clip.

Because of his strong first impression, Valdez could find himself in more high-leverage spots out of the Red Sox bullpen in the near future. His manager, Ron Roenicke, said as much when speaking with reporters Friday night.

“He’s pitching himself maybe into a bigger role,” Roenicke explained. “That’s why we stuck with him today because he’s been throwing the ball well when he starts going through some of these really good hitters and getting them out.”

Some of those “really good hitters” Valdez has gotten out thus far include Aaron Judge and Luke Voit, who both fell victim to 84 mph changeups from the Dominican Republic national on Friday.

Signed by the Indians as a 17-year-old out of the DR back in 2008, Valdez made his major-league debut with the Texas Rangers last June and is under team control with Boston through the end of the 2025 season.

Per Statcast, the slender 6-foot-2, 160 lb. righty primarily works with a changeup and sinker, while his slider and four-seam fastball lean more towards secondary pitches.

At the time he joined the Sox during the first version of spring training earlier this year, Valdez seemed like a long shot to make Boston’s Opening Day roster. But, coming out of the pandemic-induced layoff, the club obviously liked what they saw during Summer Camp and he was in there pitching against the Orioles last Friday.

Now, after getting off to a hot start with his new team, Valdez could become a legitimate weapon out of the Red Sox bullpen if he continues to prove that he can handle tougher situations as a reliever.

Red Sox to Add Chris Mazza, Remove Jonathan Lucroy From Roster Ahead of Wednesday’s Series Opener Against Mets

UPDATE: Jonathan Lucroy has been designated for assignment.

Before taking on the Mets in Queens on Wednesday, the Red Sox will be recalling right-hander Chris Mazza from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, according to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings and Ken Rosenthal. In order to make this happen, veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy will be removed from the Sox’ 30-man roster.

A somewhat surprising move considering the player taken off the roster, but on a team that needs plenty of pitching help at the moment, removing another catcher in Lucroy for a fresh arm in Mazza makes plenty of sense for the Red Sox.

Starting with Mazza, the 30-year-old right-hander was left off Boston’s Opening Day squad earlier this month, nearly seven months after he was claimed off waivers from the Mets back in December.

Throughout Summer Camp workouts at Fenway Park, Mazza looked like a potential candidate to open games for the Sox, but instead of including him on the Opening Day roster, the club opted for more unproven pitchers like Dylan Covey or Phillips Valdez instead.

Now, after joining the Sox in New York for this upcoming road trip, Mazza will get the chance to prove he belongs with his new team. He only has nine career major-league relief appearances under his belt, all of which came with the Mets last season.

As for Lucroy, the 34-year-old backstop made the Sox’ Opening Day roster as the club’s third catcher but only got into one game as a defensive replacement against Baltimore last Friday, and as Jennings mentions in the tweet above, never got an at-bat.

At the time he signed a minor-league deal with Boston back in February, it appeared as though Lucroy could legitimately contend with Kevin Plawecki for the Red Sox’ backup catcher spot behind Christian Vazquez.

Both Lucroy and Plawecki were impressive during the spring, and because of the 30-man rosters for the first two weeks of the season that were implemented as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Red Sox were able to carry all three backstops on their Opening Day squad.

But, as SoxProspects’ Ian Cundall notes, “It didn’t make much sense to carry three catchers when you can have one on the taxi squad, who doesn’t take up a roster spot. With the Red Sox pitching struggles, another arm is much more useful at this point.”

Former Brewers and Angels catcher Jett Bandy will now be the third catcher on the Sox’ taxi squad and will not take up a roster spot in doing so.

Following Wednesday’s moves, the Red Sox could have an open spot on their 40-man roster depending on what happens with Lucroy. Perhaps they could use that opening on someone like Tanner Houck?

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.

 

 

Red Sox’ Jonathan Lucroy Continues to Impress at Summer Camp

Veteran backstop Jonathan Lucroy has been with the Red Sox for less than five months. He signed a minor-league deal with the club back in February, put up solid numbers in 12 Grapefruit League games, and then the COVID-induced shutdown happened.

During that layoff, the 34-year-old stayed busy and got acquainted with a few of his new Red Sox teammates – Ryan Brasier, Colten Brewer, and Brandon Workman – at a facility in Dallas. There, Lucroy, a native of Florida, caught bullpens for the trio of Texans frequently, thus potentially forging a stronger relationship with those Red Sox relievers.

When the Sox announced their initial 47-man player pool for the start of Summer Camp, Lucroy was not included on said roster, which raised some eyebrows considering how well he looked earlier in the year.

It turns out that the reason Lucroy was not originally included in Boston’s Summer Camp pool was due to contract-related issues. That dilemma did not last too long, obviously, as the two-time All-Star was added to the Sox’ Summer Camp player pool as a non-roster invitee on July 2.

Since then, Lucroy has picked up from where he left off in Fort Myers and continues to prove that when healthy, he can contribute.

You see, one of the reasons Lucroy had to take a minor-league deal this year was because of how poorly he had played the previous three seasons.

Over that span, in 315 games between the Rangers, Rockies, Athletics, Angels and Cubs, the former third-round draft pick has posted a wRC+ of 76 and an fWAR of 0.2, ranking 17th and 19th among 19 qualified big-league catchers.

One of the main reasons for those struggles were injuries. Between a herniated disc in his neck that has been a bother the last three years and a concussion-broken nose combo suffered in a home plate collision with Jake Marisnick last summer, Lucroy, as he puts it, has “played in pain.”

Now, following an offseason procedure to replace the aforementioned herniated disc in his neck with a metal facsimile, Lucroy is feeling much better health-wise. He showed that during the initial version of spring training, and he’s showing it again at Summer Camp.

Through the Sox’ first two intrasquad games at Fenway Park, Lucroy has racked up four hits while also catching a handful of innings behind the plate. If all goes according to plan, he’ll likely be the third catcher on Boston’s Opening Day, 30-man roster alongside Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki.

“I do feel really, really good,” Lucroy said Friday. “I do feel like I can compete at a very high level and be consistent. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here and have a chance to do that.”

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 Add Jonathan Lucroy to Summer Camp Player Pool

The Red Sox have added veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy to their player pool for the resumption of MLB spring training, or Summer Camp, as a non-roster invitee. The club announced the transaction earlier Thursday.

With the addition of Lucroy, the Red Sox now have 48 out of a possible 60 players in their Summer Camp Pool. 11 of those players, which now includes Lucroy, are non-roster invitees.

Lucroy, who turned 34 last month, originally inked a minor-league deal with Boston back in February and looked to compete with Kevin Plawecki for the backup catcher spot before the COVID-19 pandemic shut spring training down in March.

Since that time, the Florida native was not added to the Sox’ initial 47-player roster pool this past Sunday, but that was only for procedural reasons. More specifically, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, there were “issues related to [an] opt-out to work through” before the Red Sox could add him to the pool.

Those issues have since been worked out, however, and now Lucroy represents the sixth catcher to be added to the Sox’ Summer Camp roster pool. Other backstops who will participate include Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, Jett Bandy, Juan Centeno, and Connor Wong.

With all MLB clubs allowed to have 30 players on their active roster to begin the 2020 season later this month, teams will likely take advantage of that and carry three catchers to start things out. That being said, Vazquez, Plawecki, and Lucroy are all likely locks to make Boston’s Opening Day roster.

Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke on Nathan Eovaldi: ‘He Probably Would Be Ready for a Season in a Week’

Before MLB spring training was suspended in mid-March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was putting together an impressive string of exhibition outings leading into what would have been his second full season in Boston.

Over three starts spanning 12 innings of work, the 30-year-old hurler had yet to surrender a run while scattering just four hits and one walk to go along with 12 strikeouts against 29 total batters faced.

It was just Grapefruit League play, sure, but in the midst of Chris Sale undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery and David Price being dealt to the Dodgers, a resurgent Eovaldi would have been a welcome sight for a Red Sox pitching staff with plenty of holes.

Five days after his start against the Blue Jays in Fort Myers, spring training sites across Florida and Arizona were shut down due to the aforementioned pandemic, and players were allowed to go back home, where they would have to stay prepared for the 2020 season on their own outside of phone/video conference calls with their respective coaching staffs.

Flash forward from March to where things stand right now, and Red Sox pitchers and catchers, along with the rest of the team, are ready to report to Fenway Park on Wednesday for ‘Summer Camp,’ as it has been dubbed by MLB.

When speaking with reporters via Zoom on Wednesday, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke provided some updates on his pitching staff, which included the fact that guys like Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Martin Perez have already begun to ramp up their workloads while at home these past few weeks.

“You look at guys like Nate Eovaldi and what he’s done so far, “Roenicke said. “He probably would be ready for a season in a week.”

It’s unclear whether Roenicke meant a 60-game or 162-game season, but it still an encouraging update pertaining to an important member of the Red Sox’ starting rotation nonetheless.

After signing a four-year, $68 million deal to stay in Boston two Decembers ago, Eovaldi struggled to stay on the field at times in 2019.

Last April, after just four starts, the Houston native required surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow, a procedure that cost him just about four months of the season.

Upon his return to the Red Sox as a reliever in late July, Eovaldi proved mostly ineffective out of the bullpen, as he posted an ERA above five over 11 appearances before closing out the season as a starter once more from August 18th on.

Due to his contract and lackluster 2019 campaign, Eovaldi has drawn the ire of many a Red Sox fan.

The 2020 season may be a truncated one, but if healthy, the flame throwing Eovaldi could prove his doubters wrong and emerge as a key cog on an overlooked Red Sox pitching staff.

Red Sox Add 47 Players to Initial Training Camp Roster Pool

The Red Sox have added 47 players to their initial player pool for summer training camp, the club announced Sunday.

Teams had until 4 PM eastern time Sunday to submit their initial training camp pools to Major League Baseball and could include up to 60 players.

Seemingly taking the conservative route here, the Red Sox have left 13 open slots in their initial club pool, although they have the ability to add more players later on.

Prior to Sunday, many assumed that Boston would include a bevy of top prospects in their pool, as has been the case thus far with other clubs, but that was not part of the Sox’ course of action, apparently.

Instead, corner infielder Bobby Dalbec was the only premier Red Sox prospect to make the cut. Other touted youngsters in Boston’s minor-league pipleine, such as Jeter Downs, Triston Casas, Jarren Duran, Tanner Houck, or Bryan Mata, did not. At least for the time being, that is.

It’s also worth mentioning that 10 non-roster invitees — Brian Johnson, Yairo Munoz, Domingo Tapia, Cesar Puello, Marco Hernandez Juan Centeno, Jett Bandy, Robinson Leyer, John Andreoli, and catching prospect Connor Wong — made the initial pool.

Veteran backstop Jonathan Lucroy, who signed a minor-league deal with Boston in February, did not make the initial pool, but according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the reason for that is a procedural one.

Among the players who make up the Sox’ 40-man roster, left-hander Yoan Aybar and outfielder Marcus Wilson were the only ones not to receive an initial invite to training camp.

As previously mentioned though, there is still plenty of time for other players and prospects to be added at a later date. We’ll have to see what chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have in store once players begin reporting to training camp this week.

 

 

Red Sox to Hold Second Version of Spring Training in Boston, per Report

The Red Sox, along with the 29 other Major League Baseball clubs, will hold their second version of spring training in their home cities rather than in Arizona or Florida, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

This news comes one day after MLB ordered all regular spring training facilities be shut down in order to undergo a deep clean. That coming on the heels of several players and staff in the Blue Jays and Phillies organizations testing positive for COVID-19.

The Red Sox’ spring training facility, Fenway South in Fort Myers, Fla., had been open to players since late May. Alex Verdugo, Chris Sale, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Tzu-Wei Lin were among the players who returned to JetBlue Park after the complex underwent a deep cleanse of its own back in late March after a minor-league tested positive for the virus.

If Nightengale’s report is indeed true, it seems unlikely that the Sox would limit themselves to just using Fenway Park in this second version of spring training, especially considering the volume of players that would need to be on hand in this scenario.

When speaking with WCVB’s Duke Castiglione last week on this subject, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said that if spring training were to be held in Boston, “Some colleges have reached out with their facilities if we are in Boston and have offered their fields and the use of their equipment.”

Boston College, Northeastern University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are among the colleges with baseball teams in the area.

At this point in time, there is no start date for a 2020 MLB season, if there even is one. With that, there is no start date for the beginning of spring training, either. So there are still plenty of obstacles, both in terms of COVID-19 and finances, to hurdle before a concrete plan is set in motion.