Red Sox

Depth also a significant need for the Red Sox


Depth also a significant need for the Red Sox

It's been obvious for some time that the Red Sox need help in the starting rotation and the bullpen.

The rotation, despite the consistent work of late from David Price, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello, still ranks just 10th in the American League. And while the bullpen's back end has been generally dependable, Koji Uehara's age and Junichi Tazawa's habit of second-half burnouts emphasizes the need to bolster the team's set-up options.

But in the last two weeks, a third weakness has revealed itself on the Red Sox roster: the bench.

Thanks to injuries to Blake Swihart (ankle), Brock Holt (concussion) and Josh Rutledge (knee), the team's depth has been severely compromised.

On Monday night, in a 3-1 loss to Chicago, John Farrell had four players available to him in reserve: Dustin Pedroia (given a night's rest from the starting lineup), catcher Sandy Leon, outfield Ryan LaMarre and infielder Deven Marrero.

Pedroia is an All-Star. The rest are all, essentially, unproven at the major league level. And had Pedroia been in the lineup, that group would have been joined by infielder Marco Hernandez.

On most nights, then, the Red Sox bench consists of four players -- Leon, Marrero, LaMarre and Hernandez -- who, combined, have a total of 322 at-bats in the big leagues. And the vast majority of those belong to Leon, was forced-fed 41 games of playing time when the Red Sox had three other catchers go down with injuries.

Take away Leon, and the average reserve on the Red Sox' 25-man roster has an average of just over 33 at-bats in the big leagues.

Is that any way to compete at the big league level?

Pitching, naturally, remains the biggest priority for the Red Sox at the trade deadline, now just over five weeks away. If the Red Sox don't find a suitable starter or help in the bullpen, it's difficult to imagine them qualifying for the post-season, much less advancing far in October.

But the thin bench is only slightly less alarming. Twice in the last 10 days, Farrell's hands have been tied in late-inning situations. After Farrell used Pedroia to pinch-hit for Travis Shaw in the bottom of the ninth, he was out of effective weapons.

Marrero and Leon have struggled to hit at the minor league level, much less the big leagues, though, to Leon's credit, he's contributed some with the bat for Boston this season.

Hernandez has the makings of a decent utility man, with the ability to play multiple infield spots and provide a decent lefty bat. But he's not experienced or accomplished yet. As for LaMarre, he looked positively overmatched against lefty Zach Duke Monday night, with two feeble swings in an at-bat than ended the bases-loaded threat.

Rutledge and Holt could be back active relatively soon, so that will improve things. But Swihart is lost until late July at least.

There are some available pieces who could help. The San Diego Padres are willing to move outfielder Jon Jay, a left-handed bat who could help out at all three outfield spots and make up for the loss of both Holt and Swihart.

Surely there are others out there, too, who could bolster the depth, and be available at a modest cost.

Pitching is -- and should remain -- the priority. But the Sox can improve the bench without depleting their inventory of tradable chips.

Two games -- at minimum -- have been lost because of the bench. Dave Dombrowski should act now to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

Red Sox trade Marrero to Diambondbacks

Red Sox trade Marrero to Diambondbacks

The Red Sox traded infielder Deven Marrero to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named or cash. 

Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made the announcement on Saturday.

Marrero, 27, was fighting for one of the final roster spots as a bench player, along with utility man Brock Holt.  The first-round pick in 2012 out of Arizona State had spent his entire pro career with the Red Sox organization. He appeared in 109 major league games from 2015-17, making 50 starts at third base, nine at second base, and five at shortstop.

In 2017, the right-handed hitter played in a career-high 71 major league games, batting .211 with four home runs and 27 RBI. 

Early exit for Sale after liner off leg, but he's expected to be OK

Early exit for Sale after liner off leg, but he's expected to be OK

Red Sox ace Chris Sale is expected to be able to make his Opening Day start after he was struck in the left leg by a line drive off the bat of the Houston Astros' J.D. Davis in the first inning on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla., and had to leave his final spring training start. 

After being examined by team medical personnel on the field, Sale walked back to the dugout. He was taken for precautionary X-rays which showed no structural damage.

The Red Sox said Sale sustained a contusion on his left leg.  "I don't see anything lingering from this. It looked a lot worse than it was," Sale told reporters. "It scared the hell out of me,”

Sale is scheduled to be the Red Sox Thursday in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Manager Alex Cora and Sale said he'd be OK to make the start.