Red Sox

Drellich: Sandoval looks destined to be a platoon player

Drellich: Sandoval looks destined to be a platoon player

BOSTON - The clock should be ticking fast on the Pablo Sandoval-as-right-handed-hitter experiment. There’s reason to think it is, too.

To some degree, manager John Farrell has to be respectful of Sandoval’s desire to bat right-handed.

But that leash should be short. Ultimately, Sandoval also owes this clubhouse and this team more than anyone owes him anything, considering how the past two years went.


Sandoval sat on Thursday afternoon in a day game after a night game, with Marco Hernandez taking over at third base. The Pirates’ Chad Kuhl, a right-hander, was on the mound. 

“Marco has been swinging the bat very well in the limited duty he’s been on the field,” Farrell said before the game. “I think for Panda, just a little bit of a breather. I think he’s shown a tendency to be a even more aggressive than he normally is where he’s expanded the strike zone a little bit maybe too regularly, and then just the rotation of guys to give a little breather along the way.”

Sandoval homered on Wednesday night, giving him two on the season. But he has four hits overall in 30 at-bats, a .133 average. That’s against righties and lefties.

Sandoval should be capable of some modicum of productivity against righty pitching. But facing lefties as a right-handed hitter sounds like an experiment that will eventually die because, well, it should. 

Sandoval is 0-for-9 with one walk and one strikeout vs. lefties this year. He hit .197 against them in 2015.

“Ideally, there’s a compliment that we could go to, if the need be for a start against a left-hander or in a pinch-hit situation,” Farrell said. “But I also think through eight games, you’ve got to give a chance to grow a little bit. There’s contact, but it’s not been with much authority. I think in Pablo’s case not just from the right-handed side, there’ s more relaxation that’s got to come in overall, and I think that’s for him to be the hitter he’s capable of.”

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter, but he’s shown in the minors he could hit lefty pitching, and Farrell’s liked what he’s seen from Hernandez against southpaws in the major leagues, too.

“He took good swings against left-handers in Detroit,” Farrell said. “Last night, Hart’s a tough left-hander with that angle and I don’t think any of our lefties had good swings against him. But as far as him being a sole platoon guy, he’s shown signs to be that type of player, like an everyday type of player.

“The plate coverage is there, particularly if it’s not a low-angled lefty who’s creating a lot of [uneasiness] for a left-handed hitter.”

Lefty hitting Brock Holt also started in left field Thursday, replacing Chris Young and giving the Sox a traditional platoon advantage to begin the game. Young, however, has done better against righties to start the year, 7-for-22 (.318).

Rutledge still has test to pass before rehab assignment: Josh Rutledge was supposed to be an option at third base as a righty batter, but he began the season on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain.

“Rutledge took some ground balls today,” Farrell said. “We’re hopeful that by the end of the weekend, he’s going to go through a base running progression. That would be the last thing we need to see on a rehab standpoint internally before we send him out on a rehab assignment.”

Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

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Kimbrel returns to Red Sox after daughter's heart surgery

All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel returned to Fort Myers on Sunday after his 4-month-old daughter underwent successful heart surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Red Sox are confident he'll be ready for Opening Day.

“Oh, yeah. Plenty,” manager Alex Cora replied when asked if Kimbrel had time to get ready for the March 29 opener against the Rays in St. Petersburg. “With him it’s a different schedule, anyway. He’ll be ready.”

Kimbrel's daughter, Lydia Joy, was born with a heart defect. He left the team Feb. 28 to be with her and his family in Boston, but pitching coach Dana Levangie said Kimbrel was on a pitching program during that time.

“The most important thing is that the family is okay with [Kimbrel returning to the Sox],” Cora said. “If they’re okay with it, we’re okay with it.”

The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

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The Baseball Show Podcast: Should we be confident in the Red Sox rotation?

0:21 - With less than two week before the beginning of the 2018 season, the Red Sox don’t have all of the answers for their rotation. Lou Merloni and Evan Drellich project their Opening Day rotation and discuss the lack of depth in it.

4:39 - Will Boston’s version of the ‘Killer B’s’ return in full force this season? Lou and Evan analyze the performances of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi.

10:07 - Buy or sell? John Farrell will find another managerial position this season; J.D. Martinez will have a better season than Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton; Dave Dombrowski has put the best possible team out there for 2018.