Red Sox

First impressions of the Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Orioles


First impressions of the Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Orioles

First impressions of the Boston Red Sox’ 5-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles:

Not enough can be said about Mookie Betts.

After just missing a down-and-out fastball with the bases loaded, Betts destroyed a hanging slider from Yovani Gallardo -- a no-doubter off the bat. Then he launched a mid-90s fastball from the Orioles’ All-Star set-up man, Brad Brach, after the Red Sox bullpen coughed up the lead that he’d gotten them.

Clutch performances in two pivotal at-bats, against a top-tier team.

Truly an MVP performance.

Eduardo Rodriguez was pitching like he was completely healthy making it all the more odd that he got hurt.

It’s undeniable that Rodriguez was at his best. Maybe ever while wearing a Red Sox uniform. He didn’t lean heavily on his change-up, and incorporated his slider well. Rodriguez was set to have a deep outing not only because of his efficient pitch count, but also because he almost solely relied on his fastball.

Fifty of Rodriguez’s 62 pitches were fastballs.

He hadn’t shown Orioles hitters anything, and he was still carving through them in their second time around the order. And he was in position to continue that the next time through, too.

The bullpen almost coughed up another one.

To put Matt Barnes in that group, given he threw two strong innings -- and the Orioles’ one hit off him was an infield single -- isn’t justifiable. But Fernando Abad has been nothing but a major headache for the Red Sox. Another strong reliever from a small market who can’t handle the spotlight.

And then Brad Ziegler was disappointing, too.

The Red Sox were lucky he only allowed the one walk with the bases loaded because he didn’t have a great demeanor on the mound.

Good thing for Boston that Robbie Ross Jr. came to play and Craig Kimbrel attacked opposing hitters.

Even though it was a hamstring issue, not a quad/knee issue, John Farrell was smart to not chance anything with Rodriguez.

First off, hamstrings can be tricky. They don’t always heal quickly, so it’s best to not chance anything.

Second, he needs his hamstrings for rotational power -- like any pitcher -- so had Rodriguez continued to pitch he runs the risk of putting more strain on his hamstring (naturally) or re-aggravating his knee by compensating in some manner.

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."