Red Sox

Drellich: Rodriguez's trip to the DL looks bad for Sox

Drellich: Rodriguez's trip to the DL looks bad for Sox

BALTIMORE — A trip to the disabled list for Eduardo Rodriguez, a pitcher with a history of partially dislocated kneecaps who was allowed to pitch after falling over in the bullpen while warming up Thursday, is a bad look. 

Let's not forget this is a Red Sox team that still hasn’t said what’s wrong with reliever Tyler Thornburg, assuming they have some idea at this point.

The most cautious decision Thursday night would have been to yank Rodriguez. Don’t let the lefty throw a pitch in a 7-5 loss to the Orioles.

Instead, he threw 94 pitches in 5 2/3 innings, tying a career-high with four home runs allowed. Now, he’s out at least 10 days and has a second opinion with Dr. James Andrews scheduled for Monday.

There were no public regrets Friday about the decision to have Rodriguez pitch. Not from Rodriguez, not from Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and not from manager John Farrell.

“Based on the conversations in the game last night, no,” Farrell said when asked if he would do it differently. “No. And he was extremely involved in every one of those as best you can. So, no I wouldn’t have done it any differently, because I didn’t feel like, based on feedback he was given, based on the fluidity in his delivery, I don’t think he was putting any added stress on the shoulder or the elbow.”

Clearly, Rodriguez was able to throw, even if he wasn’t himself — and none of Farrell, Dombrowski or Rodriguez pinned the bad performance on how the knee felt. It’s going too far to say the Red Sox endangered Rodriguez, because there’s nothing Farrell takes more seriously.

Nonetheless, there is reason to wonder if missing one start Thursday would have been the wisest choice, and might have minimized the time away. 

Would Rodriguez be on the DL no matter what? Would the discomfort be the same? Would he be on his way to Andrews?

Pitching after the fall certainly could not have helped.

“I think when he felt it, I guess that’s what eventually took place. I think in the moment, he didn’t realize or think it was to the same extent that he previously had [a subluxation],” Farrell said. "In spring training [2016] when he went down, that was much more severe than we saw last night."

Whether the knee simply gave out, causing Rodriguez to fall, or the knee was hurt because of the fall isn’t known.

“I don’t think his knee caused him to fall at that particular time,” Dombrowski said. “I think his spike caught or his foot slipped, but it wasn’t the knee giving out that caused him to slip at that particular time. Unfortunately the knee then got hurt when he slipped, so I don’t think that the knee was the cause of it.”

The video NESN captured shows Rodriguez basically crumpling. You would think that if Rodriguez had his spike caught, he would have acknowledged that. He didn’t. NESN’s Jerry Remy noted how long it took Rodriguez to get back up.

“I don't know, I just fell down, know what I mean?” Rodriguez said.

Not really, actually.

But what the Red Sox and Rodriguez do know is that his knees are prone to subluxations. Farrell has talked about that in the past, and Dombrowski confirmed as much Friday.

A year and a day before Rodriguez’s start Thursday, he made his first start of 2016 — in Baltimore coincidentally. Rodriguez missed the first two months of the season because of a right knee subluxation. 

No matter how exactly Rodriguez suffered the most recent subluxation, they saw him fall Thursday. They knew what was possible.

“They called me in the second inning to let me know what had happened,” Dombrowski said. “It was taped and they braced it and the things that they did, so they were able to get him through it. I was a little bit concerned when I saw him move after that ball down the third-base line. Really, didn’t see any difference in his delivery per se, which is the biggest concern, because we don’t want him to hurt his arm, but that’s when I was enlightened. 

“But I didn’t really know how severe it would be until today, because they wanted to see once he came in today and the type of swelling, type of soreness. There’s some swelling, there’s some soreness, which is anticipated, but we want to make sure we deal with it.”

Soreness was anticipated, but the possibility of a trip to the DL was deemed too low? 

Rodriguez said he felt fine. He might well have. 

“That wasn't bothering me last night, I just woke up this morning and felt that,” Rodriguez said.

Should that have mattered?

What took place wasn’t something out of the blue. At the risk of being overcautious, the Sox could have put Rodriguez's history — and that strange fall, whatever caused it — above all else.

Rodriguez said he felt fine Thursday. He might well have. 

“That wasn't bothering me last night, I just woke up this morning and felt that,” Rodriguez said.

Should the fact Rodriguez wasn't bothered Thursday have mattered greatly?

What took place wasn’t something out of the blue. At the risk of being overcautious, the Sox could have put Rodriguez's history — and that strange fall, whatever caused it — above all else.

If Rodriguez comes back quickly and misses just one start, it’s probably water under the bridge. The second-guessing will grow if Rodriguez is out for a while.

“Give Eddy a lot of credit. It’s the second-to-last pitch while he’s warming up,” Farrell said. “He did get up and throw another 10 in the bullpen after he kind of regrouped out there. When he came in, he was very forthright in what took place.”

What took place was a slip. The severity is still to be determined.

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."