Red Sox

Good medical news for Betts, Pedroia; Nunez outlook murkier

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Good medical news for Betts, Pedroia; Nunez outlook murkier

BOSTON — The Red Sox and Mookie Betts received good news Tuesday after the right fielder’s visit to a hand specialist. A CT scan revealed Betts has inflammation in the left hand and wrist area, but there’s no structural damage, per manager John Farrell. 

Betts was out of the Red Sox lineup and is day to day. He still has a bone bruise on his right hand, so both of his hands are banged up.

“Would hope that he’s back to us in a short period of time,” Farrell said. “I think what he also showed [in Cincinnati] was the ability to get back in the lineup quick and would think that that could be a similar situation with this.”

Farrell said the most recent injury is at the juncture of the wrist and the hand.

“It's in the back of the left hand, closer to the wrist,” Farrell said. “I can't say that it's solely in the wrist. … There’s a ton of bones in there.”

Assuming Betts is indeed healthy enough to return before the regular season ends, the Sox will have a difficult choice to make, with him as well as the rest of their injured players.

After the division is presumably wrapped up, what’s more valuable heading into the playoffs for those who are significantly banged up: timing at the plate in the final few games, or simply rest?

“That’s going to be individual. That’s going to be in conjunction with the medical staff, it’s going to be in conjunction with the player himself,” Farrell said. “We got to do what’s right by the individual guy, and it starts with health. You know, I can’t run a guy out there that’s walking around on one leg. We got to take care of that first. But there’s a balance there that you try to strive for.”

With Dustin Pedroia, Farrell seems to already have an answer. The second baseman was out of the lineup for a second straight game Tuesday because of his aching left knee.

“Pedey’s still dealing with a little bit of swelling, and our approach with Pedey has been, just to get him as best as possible we can,” Farrell said. “To have him… most fresh and capable once we get to the next stage.

“I’m confident that he will [be ready for the playoffs], because he's going to do whatever is needed or certainly whatever it takes.”

But the situation is hazier elsewhere. Farrell said there’s no timetable for Eduardo Nunez’s return after the infielder aggravated his right knee injury on Monday. Nunez said Monday night he was hopeful he’d try again in the Houston series, the four-gamer that starts Thursday and ends the regular season.

“He’s got a day of no baseball activity [Tuesday],” Farrell said. “Just strictly rehab, continuing strengthening of the quad area to support that. No real timeline yet for his return.”

Nunez felt the knee Monday when his spike was caught at the plate. The Sox may alter his shoes to better prevent that going forward. But both how much Nunez plays before the regular season ends and where — would you use him or Pedroia at designated hitter? — are up in the air.

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Red Sox open spring training with wins over Northeastern and Boston College

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via Twitter (@RedSox)

Red Sox open spring training with wins over Northeastern and Boston College

The Red Sox started off spring training with a doubleheader on Thursday, beating both Northeastern and Boston College.

Boston beat Northeastern 15-2 in the opener, scoring seven runs in the first inning. Highlights included a grand slam from minor league outfielder Kyri Washington, an RBI triple from Blake Swihart, and RBI doubles from Brock Holt and minor league catcher Austin Rei.

In game two, the Red Sox beat Boston College by a score of 4-2. Sam Travis contributed with an RBI double.

Boston takes on the Minnesota Twins on Friday at JetBlue Park.

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Blake Swihart would benefit from a trade, and his trade value may never be higher

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Blake Swihart would benefit from a trade, and his trade value may never be higher

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Blake Swihart would be better off in another organization. The best time to trade him could be now, as well.

He might have a lowered chance of a World Series ring in the immediate future if he's sent away. But for Swihart's personal development, the Red Sox are not his ideal base. 

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Naturally, the Sox have to prioritize their needs. To do that with Swihart, they need to examine the future.

A switch-hitter staring at a bench role with the Sox, Swihart's value remains high because other teams see his potential as a catcher. He turns 26 years old on April 3. A year in a utility role in the majors would not kill him, but it would not help him blossom as a catcher — and therefore, would not help his trade value in the future. He's not old, but he's getting older.

If Christian Vazquez is the Sox’ catcher of the present and the future, Swihart today might well be more valuable to another team than he is to the Sox. It would be up to a potential trade partner to prove as much.

Swihart has said he wants to catch, and has also said he’ll do whatever the team wants. He’s doing catching drills every day in Florida. He also does one of either outfield work or infield work daily, on top of the backstop drills. So far, he hasn't ventured beyond first base on the infield.

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Alex Cora and several members of the coaching staff coordinate on Swihart’s plan. 

“They’re in touch [about] what they have planned for me, so they don’t kill me out there catching a ton of bullpens,” Swihart said Thursday. “I think everyone is kind of involved.”

But the Sox must realize they run the risk of creating a jack of all trades and a master of none. Maybe in the short term, that's what they want. But if so, there is a potential cost in the future: slowed development. Super utility players are nice, but catchers with Swihart's skillset are probably nicer.

Someone, somewhere, is going to carry Swihart on a major league roster this year.

If the Sox have one position-player injury in spring, they can carry all three of Swihart, Brock Holt and Deven Marrero on their opening day roster. Without an injury, the Sox would appear to have three players for just two spots. Swihart and Marrero are both out of minor league options.

“Yeah. I’m not really thinking about that, but yeah,” Swihart said when asked if being out of options is a good thing. “I’ve got to prove myself, still. I’ve got a job to do.”

Swihart’s upside is tantalizing and hard to part with. He tripled and walked twice Thursday in a 15-2, seven-inning win over Northeastern, the Sox’ first game of the spring

Whether it was intentional or not, Holt batted behind Swihart and Marrero directly followed Holt. Swihart’s triple was immediately followed by one of Swihart’s two hits, a double. Marrero, whose value lies in an extraordinary glove, went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts.

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Results are virtually meaningless now, but after injuries held Swihart back the last two years, he seems rejuvenated. 

"Especially when I’m healthy, I love playing," Swihart said Thursday. "If I can go out there and get as many reps as I can, it’s almost like a tryout for me. I want to go out there and treat it like that, just go out there and do everything I know I can do.”

Other teams know what he can do, too — behind the plate particularly.

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