Red Sox

Ramirez won't play outfield for the rest of the season

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Ramirez won't play outfield for the rest of the season

BOSTON - Only a few days ago, when the Red Sox were playing the New York Mets, interim manager Torey Lovullo suggested that Hanley Ramirez would, in a matter of days, return to the lineup as the team's left fielder.

But Tuesday, that narrative took a dramatic turn.

Asked if he expected to see Ramirez play the outfield again in 2015, Lovullo answered: "I do not.''

Questioned about the change, Lovullo said there were a number of factors that went into the decision.

"I think we've just walked through a couple of scenarios,'' said Lovullo, "and I think that with how the young kids have been doing in the outfield, we want to give them the time there that they deserve. And I think the timing of Hanley's injury is pushing him back a little bit. It's just condensing that ability to go and play left field until he transitions to first base.

"Had it been day-to-day, there probably would have been a few moments in left field still. But I think we're looking a little bit forward of today, knowing that, maybe in a week he might come back and be ready to play first base. Maybe two weeks, he could come back, health-wise, and be ready to play first base.

"So, I think a lot of this is contingent on his health and the timing of it is built off his health.''

Ramirez continues to work out at first base in anticipation of moving there. He took ground balls and throws at first Tuesday afternoon, working with third base coach/infield instructor Brian Butterfield. and worked on his footwork.

To date, because of the shoulder soreness, he hasn't been able to make throws from the position.

"In his pre-workout time, he's getting himself ready, doing what he has to do to get ready to go,'' said Lovullo. "But obviously, he can't throw the ball yet. He's not able to execute the play completely and that's going to take a little bit of time. But he's doing his footwork, taking ground balls...doing anything but throwing. The final piece is to have him start throwing the ball. That's going to happen when his shoulder is ready to take that workload.''

Ramirez revealed Monday that he's been hampered right shoulder soreness for some time, and that, in conjunction with a sore hand, has been the reason why he has slumped so dramatically in the last three months.

His play in left field, of course, has been disastrous, with some defensive analytics revealing him to be the worst defender at any positition in Major League Baseball.

Additionally, the Sox have been pleased by the play of the trio of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo and want them to get a head start for 2016.

In the meantime, there won't be much of an opening for Ramirez until he adapts to first.

"I wish I could say what the transition time was going to be,'' said Lovullo. "But his health and how he is feeling is going to determine when that happens...I'm hopeful that he will. I feel like from what I've seen him do defensively, there's a chance he can play first base before the year's over. Now, is that a lock? His health will determine that.''

10 things I hate about the Red Sox through 10 games

10 things I hate about the Red Sox through 10 games

The Red Sox wanted to restore a bit of joy to our lives, but it looks like we'll have to settle for being mad about something other than the state of the world, which is its own form of escapism, I suppose.

Better than nothing.

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Anyway, 10 games into the season, they haven't given us much to cheer, but they've provided plenty of reason to grimace.

From a mix of bad starting pitching to being forced to use openers, from seeing the team's vaunted offense not deliver out of the starting gates to the continuing slog of marathon games, there's no shortage of issues that the Sox are dealing with a sixth of the way through their schedule.

Here are 10 of the worst aspects of the Red Sox season through 10 games.

How two missing setup men have created a cascade of woe for Red Sox

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USA TODAY Sports photos

How two missing setup men have created a cascade of woe for Red Sox

For two rookies who weren't on anyone's radar until about this time last year, Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor have turned out to be massive losses for the Red Sox.

The two young power left-handers stabilized the bullpen over the final two months of 2019, with Hernandez striking out batters at a record rate and Taylor emerging as an every-other-day workhorse.

Hernandez struck out a staggering 57 in just 30.1 innings (16.9 K/9), with a 4.45 ERA. In 23 appearances from July 16 through Sept. 6, he posted a 2.31 ERA. Taylor, meanwhile, was even more consistent. He delivered a 3.04 ERA in 57 appearances, and from July 2 through the finale, allowed only eight runs in 40 innings.

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Both feature 95-mph fastballs and both figured to play expanded roles in this truncated season, but when spring training 2.0 began in July, both were missing because of failed COVID tests. Taylor quarantined in his hotel near Fenway Park while battling fatigue. Hernandez remained in his native Venezuela for the first three weeks of July.

They're both now in Pawtucket, facing hitters for the first time in months. Each threw live BP over the weekend, and Taylor could be activated this week, manager Ron Roenicke said on Friday in New York.

The trickle-down effect has been significant. Roenicke has had little answer for innings two through five, relying on lesser arms like Austin Brice, Zack Godley, Matt Hall, and Jeffrey Springs either to serve as openers or bridge the gap to more established relievers like Marcus Walden, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, and closer Brandon Workman.

As a result, on the days Nathan Eovaldi doesn't start, the Red Sox have finished the fifth inning trailing by an average score of 5-2.

A healthy Hernandez and Taylor could alter that dynamic in two ways. First, one of them could start and contribute as an opener. Roenicke said the Red Sox are stretching out Hernandez to throw two or three innings, which would make him a more dynamic candidate for the role than some of the flotsam the Red Sox have been forced to feature in his absence.

But even if both remained relievers, they'd either be available to throw in the early innings instead of Springs (33.75 ERA) or Hall (15.43 ERA), or they could bump someone like Walden or Hembree down there. Ten games into the season, too many games have already been lost before Roenicke could even warm his better relievers.

With the lack of legitimate starting pitchers forcing Roenicke to finesse his way through four out of every five games, the Red Sox can ill afford to enter battle without their full complement of weapons. Who knew that two guys we had barely heard of early last season would end up being such pivotal missing pieces?