Red Sox

Drellich: Commend Eduardo Nunez for how he stood up to CC Sabathia


Drellich: Commend Eduardo Nunez for how he stood up to CC Sabathia

NEW YORK — In a year where the Red Sox have had a few public kerfuffles, Eduardo Nunez handled the latest with as much backbone and aplomb as anyone. 

Not bad for a guy who’s been on the team for a month.

Nunez attempted to bunt in the first inning against Sabathia on Thursday night, when the Sox dropped the opener of a four-game series against the Yankees, 6-2. 

CC Sabathia, who has a bum knee, didn’t take kindly to dropping one down and ripped the Sox in his postgame comments at Yankee Stadium.

“I'm an old man,” Sabathia told reporters, including's Bryan Hoch. “They should want to go out and kick my butt. I just feel like they took the weak road."

Baseball purists who dislike the game’s hazy codes can spend all the time they want on this subject. But for the Red Sox, Sabathia’s comments are not about unwritten rules.

A pitcher who has dominated the Sox this year suggested his prey is weak. Sabathia, whether intending to or not, engaged on a psychological level, and publicly. He's also 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA against the Sox this season.

But Nunez held his ground.

“If I have to do it twice, I have to do it,” Nunez said. “And if I have to bunt four times in a row, I’ll do it. I don’t care if he’s mad.”

Nunez said he did apologize to Sabathia, but that wasn’t exactly an admission of guilt. The apology seemed more of a clarification: he’s not trying to get Sabathia hurt. He’s trying to win a baseball game.

“I cannot change my game,” Nunez said. “We know he has a bad knee. That’s not my problem.”

He's right.

The best volley the Sox have now would be to hold first place. But there’s something to be said for not letting other people push you around in the public arena. 

David Price seems to have some appreciation for that general concept, making it his task to be a media enforcer this year — even if his approach has been misguided.

But between Price and the Baltimore beanballs, the Sox haven't come away looking great in these moments this year. Dustin Pedroia said he loved Manny Machado. It didn’t take long for Machado to curse out every member of the Red Sox and say he has no respect for the team.

Sabathia, once told of Nunez’s respond on Thursday night, doubled down. 

“I’m out there early every day,” Sabathia said, via Newsday’s Erik Boland. “If they have something to say, we can meet in center field.”

Nunez already had something to say. There isn’t much more he should need to say. The Yankees already got into a huge fight with the Tigers recently. No one needs that. 

What the Red Sox needed was a firm, reasonable message. For once, in a public exchange of words, they got that.

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

MORE - Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.


Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
A true utility guy, that is.


The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.


Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."