Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez All for Universal Designated Hitter Moving Forward

When J.D. Martinez inked a five-year, $110 million contract with the Red Sox back in February 2018, he did so knowing that he would have the chance to opt out of that deal on three separate occasions.

The first of those occasions arose at the end of this past season. Martinez decided to opt in.

The second of those occasions will come at the conclusion of the 2020 season. This time around, Martinez may decide to test the free agency waters.

Why would Martinez, who turns 33 next month, do that, you ask? Well, the answer is simple. The National League is adopting the designated hitter for the 2020 campaign and will likely keep it that way moving forward.

With the addition of the DH in the senior circuit, several more jobs in baseball just opened up, as Martinez put it.

When asked by reporters via Zoom on Sunday about the new rule change, Martinez said, ““I’m all for it, obviously. I’m a DH. I think you could speak to a lot of pitchers who are for it, too. A lot of pitchers like it and a lot of pitchers in the AL like it because they feel like the pitchers in the NL have an advantage. That’s one less hitter they have to face and one less elite hitter they have to face. I like it. I like to even the playing field across the board. I understand the history of it, so I see the other side of it too, but I’m in favor of it.”

Added the three-time Silver Slugger Award winner: “It’s 15 more jobs around the league. I think it’ll make things really interesting. There wouldn’t be that whole AL (versus) NL argument. It would be what team is the best and how does every team measure up against each other now. Not how every team measures up in each league.”

Because of the shortened season, Martinez will earn approximately 37% of the $23.75 million he was supposed to make this year, or about $8.78 million to be more exact.

This winter, the Florida native will have to decide between returning to Boston for $19.35 million in 2021 or opt out of his deal and become a free agent.

For now though, Martinez is more focused on preparing for a truncated 2020 season in a shorter amount of time than he is used to.

“It’s going to be really, really tough to get everything back, get your body underneath you,” Martinez said when asked about the unique Summer Camp experience with under three weeks to go until Opening Day. “It’s a sprint. You don’t have that month, month and a half to get ready for a season.”

The Red Sox will open the 2020 season against an American or National League East opponent on July 24th. If I were to guess, I would say Martinez starts that game at DH and hits out of the cleanup spot.

 

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 Sign Reliever Caleb Simpson, Add Him to Summer Camp Player Pool as Non-Roster Invitee

The Red Sox have signed right-handed reliever Caleb Simpson to a minor-league deal and have added him to their Summer Camp player pool as a non-roster invitee. The club made the signing official earlier Saturday.

Simpson, 28, was released by the Cubs back in May at that time when teams across baseball were parting ways with dozens of their minor-league players.

The former Giants farmhand was a 21st-round draft selection out of Seminole State Junior Colege (Okla.) by San Francisco back in 2013.

Across four minor-league levels spanning five seasons, Simpson owns a career 3.41 ERA and .180 batting average against over 121 relief appearances and 145 1/3 innings of work.

Most recently, the 6’4″, 231 lb. righty posted a 3.00 ERA over 34 outings and 42 innings pitched between High-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond last season.

Throughout his minor-league career, Simpson has dealt with his fair share of injury troubles. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2015, which resulted in him missing the 2015 season and a portion of the 2016 season.

By adding Simpson to their player pool, the Red Sox now have 49 players at Summer Camp, meaning they still have 11 open slots to work with.

Red Sox Left-Handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor Test Positive for COVID-19

Left-handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor have tested positive for COVID-19, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke announced earlier Saturday.

Per Roenicke, Taylor tested positive during intake screening at Fenway Park earlier this week and is currently isolated from the team at a hotel in Boston. Hernandez, meanwhile, tested positive while at home in Venezuela and has yet to report to Fenway for the start of Summer Camp.

Also worth noting, Roenicke declined to comment on whether either pitcher was exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, but he did say that Taylor “is a little bit further ahead in terms of when he contracted the virus.

Because of their positive tests, both Hernandez and Taylor may have to miss the start of the 2020 season, which would be a significant blow to Roenicke and the Red Sox bullpen considering how effective the pair of left-handed hurlers were for Boston in their rookie campaigns last year.

There could be even more Red Sox players who have tested positive for COVID-19. As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes, the only reason Roencike was able to name Hernandez and Taylor on Saturday was because both pitchers gave him permission to. The team is also awaiting the results of Eduardo Rodriguez’s test.

Red Sox’ Collin McHugh Using Social Media to Document Unique Summer Camp Experience

Red Sox right-hander Collin McHugh is using his platform on social media to document the day-to-day experience of Summer Camp at Fenway Park.

Beginning on Friday, the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers, the 33-year-old took to Instagram to chronicle what it was like to be a professional athlete in the midst of a nationwide coronavirus pandemic.

From daily intake COVID-19 testing at Gate D, to the luxury suites that have been converted to locker rooms to practice social distancing, to the Sam Adams deck in right field that has been converted into a training room, to the infield concourse that has been converted into a weight room/batting cage area, to non-contact food pick up, to shower trailers outside the grandstand, Fenway Park has undergone quite the transformation to accommodate players and staff during these unprecedented times.

Based off a video posted to Instagram and Twitter by McHugh earlier Saturday morning, it would appear that players are required to spit into a vial approximately 15 times every other day while not being allowed to eat or drink anything 30 minutes before said test.

When asked about how optimistic he feels in regards to the uncertainties surrounding the 2020 MLB season, McHugh said the following:

“I’m up here in Boston without my family for three months trying to play baseball, trying to put a game on for three hours a night for people to hopefully give them some rest, give them a break, give them some entertainment. But then go right back to the real world. Obviously our hope is that we can do this safely and we can pull it off, but we’ve seen in different areas in the country and different areas of the world that this virus can be unpredictable and if we aren’t extremely vigilant on our part it doesn’t take a lot for the walls to start closing in on. I think for players, we understand that and we understand both our safety, our health and all the health and safety of the people around us give us a chance to play this game. It rides on that fact, that we are extremely, extremely careful and vigilant about following these protocols. I think if we can do that as players and staff and organizations across the league can commit to doing that I think we can do this and pull this off.”

McHugh signed a one-year deal with Boston back in early March. He is currently working his way back from a non-surgical procedure underwent in the offseason to repair a flexor strain and may or may not be ready for Opening Day later this month.

To follow McHugh on Instagram, click here. To follow him on Twitter, click here.

Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez May Have Been Exposed to Coronavirus While at Home in Florida

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may have been exposed to COVID-19 while at home in Miami, according to manager Ron Roenicke.

The 27-year-old hurler has yet to report to Red Sox Summer Camp at Fenway Park for this very reason, and as things stand right now, him and the team are awaiting the results of his coronavirus test.

Per Roenicke, the Sox have already had “some positive tests” for COVID-19, although he could not specify the specif number of positive tests due to protocols put in place by Major League Baseball.

Regarding Rodriguez, the Boston skipper said via Zoom Friday that , “Eduardo didn’t come in today, and the reason being is that he was at home and was around somebody that was sick. He wanted to just make sure he was fine. We have tested him. We don’t have the results back yet. When we get those results, obviously, you’ll know.”

As the Red Sox embarked on the first official day of Summer Camp workouts to kick off the weekend, it has become abundantly clear that the team is doing everything in their power to promote proper social distancing procedures at Fenway.

A good number of players across MLB have already tested positive for COVID-19 and more positive tests are likely on the way, too.

For Rodriguez, a positive test coming back presumably means that the Venezuela native would not be able to report to Summer Camp at Fenway for at least another two-plus weeks.

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.

First Wave of Red Sox Players Report to Fenway Park for Start of Summer Camp

The first wave of Red Sox players and staff reported to Fenway Park earlier Wednesday afternoon for the start of Summer Camp.

Based off photos taken by team photographer Billie Weiss, it appears that Mitch Moreland, Jackie Bradley Jr., Alex Verdugo, Michael Chavis, Christian Vazquez, Chris Mazza, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, Tzu-Wei Lin, Brian Johnson, Marcus Walden, Colten Brewer, Ryan Brasier, Martin Perez, Jonathan Arauz, Kevin Plawecki, and Kevin Pillar were among this initial group of players.

Other players, such as Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez, are likely traveling to Boston as we speak and will presumably check in at Fenway Park on Thursday.

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As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, players and staff who check in over the next two days will be subject to individual COVID-19 screening sessions that have been organized by an independent collection service.

Per Cotillo, “Once players arrive, they will be subjected to a three-part collection process that includes:

  • A temperature check with contactless thermometer
  • A body fluid sample (saliva or oral/nasal swab) for diagnostic/PCR testing (this is the normal nose-swab COVID-19 test)
  • A venous blood collection or dried blood spot sample for serology/antibody testing”

Once completed and processed, test samples will be sent to the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the mean time, players and staff will have to self-quarantine from anywhere between 24-48 hours while the Red Sox and Major League Baseball await the results.

If an individual’s test results come back negative, they can report to Fenway for workouts later this week, but if someone tests positive for COVID-19, they will have to self-isolate for up to two weeks and test negative twice before being able to rejoin the team again.

That being said, there won’t be much going on in terms of baseball activities at Fenway Park until Friday, when pitchers and catchers are set to report and begin their workouts for the 2020 season.

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said Monday that despite players having some concerns about the coronavirus, he expects “everybody to come in.”

The 2020 season, which will consist of just 60 games for teams, is scheduled to begin on July 23rd. It’s not known at this point who exactly the Red Sox will be playing on Opening Day.

Although They Were Not Named to Initial Training Camp Pool, Expect Top Red Sox Prospects to Join Team in Boston

When the Red Sox announced their initial roster pool for the resumption of major-league spring training, or ‘Summer Camp,’ on Sunday, many were surprised that no top prospects outside of Bobby Dalbec made the cut.

Instead, 47 players were added to Boston’s initial pool, meaning there are still up to 13 open slots that can be filled.

Out of the 47 players already on the list, 37 are on the Sox’ 40-man roster, while 10 are non-roster invitees.

Veteran backstop Jonathan Lucroy was not included in the initial pool of players, but he is expected to report to training camp at Fenway Park this week once some procedural things with his contract are finalized.

So, if you account for Lucroy, the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co., still have 12 available spots to play with if they so choose.

Many clubs across baseball have already invited their most touted prospects to their respective training camps, with some even including their first-round picks from this year’s draft.

According to Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for the Sox to go down this avenue of roster construction in the coming weeks. That all depends how many players in the initial pool test positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

“We had a lot of conversations about this and the right way to do it,” Roenicke told reporters via a Zoom call earlier Monday. “Do you bring in some of your top prospects that you really don’t want to miss a season? And then you talk about, ‘Well, what happens if we get five or six guys that all of a sudden come in and test positive for the virus? So how do we best fill these 60 spots with what will help us not only this year but next year also?”

Added the former Brewers manager: “We think the testing part is critical to this. If we all get through this testing part clean, and we don’t have some cases or at least not many (positive tests), then they feel like they can proceed with how we’re going to go with the next spots that are open on that 60 list. And I thought it was a really smart way to do this. And I know there’s a couple guys that I talked about, that I got to see in spring training that I thought, these are great looking players. They’re not ready for our team yet but those are guys that I really would like to play and get experience this year so they’re not set back for next year and we don’t lose them for really a year.”

With those potential 12 spots to play with, the Red Sox could add touted prospects such as Jeter Downs, Triston Casas, Bryan Mata, Jarren Duran, Marcus Wilson, Tanner Houck, Durbin Feltman and Thad Ward to their training camp pool.

Personally, after what he did in the spring, I believe Duran more than likely deserves one of those spots.

Going back to that part about clubs adding their 2020 first-round draft choices, could it be possible that the Sox include Nick Yorke, or maybe even third-rounder Blaze Jordan in their training camp pool if the two are able to sign with the team relatively soon? That would be quite the experience for two kids fresh out of high school, I would have to think.

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.