Christian Arroyo approached Red Sox about playing left field, Alex Cora says

Over the course of his professional career, Red Sox infielder Christian Arroyo has only known three defensive positions: second base, third base, and shortstop.

Since making his major-league debut with the Giants in 2017, the 25-year-old has played decent enough defense at all three positions, especially at second.

Last year alone, Arroyo was worth positive-2 defensive runs saved and posted an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 0.9 over 108 2/3 innings while patrolling second base for the Sox. That ultimate zone rating of 0.9 translates to 5.7 over 150 defensive games.

Despite being a surehanded second baseman, and infielder for that matter, the Florida native has surely seen what Boston has done over the course of the offseason in adding a number of versatile position players — like Marwin Gonzalez and Enrique Hernandez — and decided that he needs to add another dimension to his game as well.

That being the case because according to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, Arroyo approached the team at some point this spring to talk about playing some left field.

“We’re very comfortable with what he can do,” Cora said of Arroyo earlier Friday morning. “He can play second, he can play short, he can play third. The other day he went to [first base coach and outfield instructor Tom Goodwin] and he wanted to start working in left field, which is great.

“It’s something that he thought about,” added the Sox skipper. “I guess he looks around and sees Marwin and sees Enrique, and he’s like, ‘You know what? Maybe learning the outfield position can help me throughout my career.'”

On the other side of the ball, Cora, who has known Arroyo since he unsuccessfully recruited him to play for Team Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, has been thoroughly impressed with what he’s seen from the former first-round pick at the plate thus far in Grapefruit League play.

Following Friday’s 11-7 victory over the Rays in which he went 0-for-2 in a pinch-hitting capacity, the right-handed hitter is now slashing .273/.314/.485 with a pair of home runs and four RBI over 35 plate appearances this spring.

“He’s a good at-bat,” Cora said. “So let’s see where it takes us. But so far, what I saw on TV, what I’ve seen in video, this is a much better version of Christian. He’s in better shape, he can move better now, and he can do some things that I thought he wasn’t able to do the last few years.”

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom echoed this same sort of sentiment regarding Arroyo, who used to play for the Rays, when speaking with WEEI’s Will Flemming and Rob Bradford earlier this week.

“He looks, to me, better than at any point that we had him when I was with the Rays,” Bloom said of the young infielder on Wednesday. “Body-wise, he came in looking good. And I’ve seen him — whether it was last year or this spring — drive pitches that I didn’t see him drive in the past and just hit them harder.”

Because he is out of minor-league options, Arroyo will have to make the Sox’ Opening Day roster or he will otherwise have to be exposed to waivers if the club wants to send him to Triple-A.

With that in mind, Arroyo and fellow right-handed hitting infielder Michael Chavis are projected to occupy the final two spots on Boston’s bench to kick off the 2021 campaign.

The pair of 25-year-olds have been enjoyable to watch on the field and in the clubhouse at the Fenway South complex, per Cora.

“We’re very pleased with the way [Christian’s] swinging the bat. We’re very pleased with the way Michael is swinging the bat,” Cora said. “Being able to catch up with some pitches in the zone — being disciplined enough. So it’s fun to see them playing this way. It’s fun to see them in the clubhouse, in the drills, helping each other out, and that’s what it’s all about.”

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Will Venable hiring official, announce other coaching staff changes for 2021

Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s coaching staff for the upcoming 2021 season is now set.

While pitching coach Dave Bush, hitting coach Tim Hyers, assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse, first base coach Tom Goodwin, and third base coach Carlos Febles will retain the same roles they held this past season, changes have been made in other areas.

For starters, Will Venable has officially been named Red Sox bench coach after it was reported on Tuesday that he was going to get the job.

The former big-league outfielder had spent the previous three seasons as a first and third base coach with the Cubs, and he was one of several candidates who interviewed for Boston’s managerial opening last month.

That vacancy was ultimately filled by Cora, but the 38-year-old Venable now has the chance to strengthen his resume as a bench coach for the first time in his coaching career.

“Will is a bright, young mind that will add a lot to what is already a strong collection of coaches,” Cora said of Venable in a statement released by the team earlier Friday.

With Venable succeeding Jerry Narron, who succeeded Ron Roenicke, as bench coach, the Red Sox also named Jason Varitek as the club’s new game-planning coordinator.

For the past eight years, Varitek had been working for the Red Sox in a special assistant/catching coach capacity. He, like new quality control coach/interpreter Ramon Vazquez, will now step into more significant roles within the organization moving forward.

“I am also pleased that both Jason and Ramón will step forward and play larger roles for us,” Cora added.

Finally, Kevin Walker, who was named assistant pitching coach under Bush last October, has been named the Sox’ new bullpen coach. That position opened up when Craig Bjornson was let go by the club last month.

With his promotion, it would appear that the Red Sox could be in need of a new assistant pitching coach to take over for Walker unless they otherwise choose not to carry one next year.

That being said, Cora seems pleased with his new-look coaching staff as he prepares to embark on his second stint as Red Sox skipper.

“I am thrilled to have so many great baseball minds on our staff,” he said, “and I look forward to their contributions as we set out to achieve our goals.”

Red Sox Held Emotional Team Meeting Before Postponing Game Against Blue Jays on Thursday To Protest Jacob Blake Shooting

In following Jackie Bradley Jr.’s lead to not play their game against the Blue Jays on Thursday, the Red Sox collectively made a statement of utmost significance. That being, ‘Things need to change in the United States.’

Despite how many positive qualities this country has, it has its fair share of negative ones as well. That much has been on full display in the days following the August 23 shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Blake, a 29-year-old Black male, was shot by police in the back seven times, which according to his father has left him paralyzed from the waist down.

That incident has spurred outrage throughout several professional sports leagues in the United States and has resulted in NBA and NHL playoff games and WNBA, MLS, and Major League Baseball regular season games being postponed as a sign of protest from players.

In the Red Sox’ case, as previously mentioned, Bradley Jr. made the choice to not play on Thursday. As the lone Black player on Boston’s active roster, Bradley Jr., as well as first base coach Tom Goodwin, was fine if the rest of the team played. That did not happen, however, as the contest was eventually called off.

Prior to making that important decision as a group, Red Sox players and staff held a meeting at around 4 p.m. eastern time in the visitor’s clubhouse at Sahlen Field to talk things over. Among the topics that were discussed, Bradley Jr., Goodwin, and assistant athletic trainer Brandon Henry went into detail about what they have had to endure as Black men in the U.S.

“It was emotional,” a choked up Ron Roenicke said of the meeting during a Zoom call with reporters. “I’m listening to Jackie, I got tears in my eyes. I’m listening to Goody, I got tears in my eyes. This is really an important time in our country… These guys have a platform to be able to discuss some things that are serious issues in our country that we need to straighten out.

“We know how important baseball is…but we know the issues in life are more important,” the Sox manager added. “Listening to Goody and Jackie talk, it makes a big difference in our lives and it should make a difference in everybody’s lives. If you’re a kid and you turn on the TV tonight and you don’t see that we’re playing and you ask your parents ‘Why aren’t the Red Sox playing?’ I hope the parents have a serious discussion with their kids and tell them what’s going on. Explain what’s going on, because we need to discuss these things more and we need to listen more. That’s the only way that we’re going to change.”