Red Sox

Hernandez making strong bid for long-shot utility job with Sox

Hernandez making strong bid for long-shot utility job with Sox

Pablo Sandoval’s not the only Red Sox infielder who changed his diet this winter.

Marco Hernandez, a star of spring training, was on the postseason roster for the Red Sox last year as a rookie because of his base running ability.

Since October, the 24-year-old has added more muscle while appearing to retain that speed.

Visibly, Hernandez looks stronger. He was 215 pounds last year, and is now 205 or 208, he said. 

“A little bit bigger this year," Hernandez said. "I was working hard on my body and trying to lose weight. ... At the same time, I gained muscle weight.”

Hernandez indicated a switch in diet was a bigger factor than a change in exercise routine, saying he worked out as he had in the past.

“A couple times a week, and try to run and prepare and try to get my body in shape for the whole year,” Hernandez said. “I started to eat differently. Started to eat more healthy.

For what it’s worth: the 2017 Sox media guide lists Hernandez at 210, while last year’s guide had him at 200.

A left-handed batter, Hernandez entered Tuesday hitting .415 with a .489 on-base percentage and .756 slugging percentage in 15 games and 41 at-bats in the Grapefruit League.

"I got more strength and more range defensively and I feel better at the plate too," Hernandez said.

But, he’s unlikely to make the team because he bats left-handed. The Sox could use a right-handed bat to complement Pablo Sandoval.

That’s where Josh Rutledge comes in. Rutledge was released by the Sox last November but they reacquired him a month later when they chose him off Colorado's roster in the Rule 5 draft. However, as a Rule 5 pick the Sox have to keep him on the 25-man roster or risk losing him back to the Rockies.

Plus, Hernandez can be optioned to the minors. 

“Roster is going to be taken into account, a number of factors, whether it’s Kyle, other guys that are vying for positions,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida. “I will say this: In [pitcher Kyle Kendrick’s] case and Marco Hernandez’s case, Josh Rutledge’s case, guys are doing everything in their abilities with the opportunities provided to perform and they’re doing just that.”

One thing to consider is that Hernandez has showed some capability against lefties in recent times.

He hit .328 vs. them at Triple-A Pawtucket last season in 67 at-bats. His clip at Pawtucket in 2015 was .315 in 54 at-bats, with a .318 average against them that season in 88 at-bats for Double-A Portland.

“I’ve been good against lefties my whole career,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez hit .294 in 40 big league games last season overall, going 4-for-8 against lefties. 

Farrell recently said that Hernandez looks like an everyday player. The Sox picked him up in December 2014 from the Cubs in exchange for lefty Felix Doubront.

“He’s grown in a number of ways. Physically he’s maturing,” Farrell said recently. “He’s getting bigger, he’s getting stronger. He did a great job in the offseason of getting himself in shape with morning workouts and playing at night in the Dominican Winter League. He’s an explosive player. 

“He can run, he’s got tremendous bat speed. We have him in this competition for a utility job...This is an everyday player if you really start to break him down and look at what he’s capable of doing.”

Hernandez said he’s not worrying about the competition.

“I don’t come to the ballpark and think, ‘I got to make the team, I got to make the team,’” he said.

Hernandez had five separate stints in the major leagues last year. He acknowledged riding that shuttle was “a little bit tough.” He made just 10 starts.

So what can be expected of him this year, with his added strength?

“Same, same,” Hernandez said. “Line-drive hitter, gap hitter and occasional power.”

As expected, it's Sale, Price and Porcello to start Sox season

As expected, it's Sale, Price and Porcello to start Sox season

New Red Sox manager Alex Cora has announced that, as expected, left-hander Chris Sale will be the Opening Day starter when the Red Sox begin their season nine days from now against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. David Price will pitch the second game and Rick Porcello the third. 

Cora told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. that Eduardo Rodriguez would be in the fourth starter's spot if he's ready as he continues to recover from off-season knee surgery and left-hander Brian Johnson is preparing to be the fifth starter for now.

In Price's second Grapefruit League start on Tuesday, he pitched five innings and allowed two runs on three hits, walked one and struck out four in the Red Sox' 12-6 victory over the Pirates. Third baseman Rafael Devers, hitting .349 this spring, hit his third home run of the spring. Andrew Benintendi (.405) had a double and two RBI and first baseman Sam Travis drove in three. 

Sale had a much rougher outing Monday, giving up four runs on five hits, with three walks and six strikeouts in five innings against the Phillies. 



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.

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“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.