Red Sox

Collin McHugh gives update on injury, when he might return to Red Sox

Collin McHugh gives update on injury, when he might return to Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox have some major concerns with their pitching staff this year. At the moment, they only know who three of their starters will be: Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Martin Perez. Elsewhere, Chris Sale is dealing with an injury that may eventually require Tommy John surgery.

And while the coaching staff seems to like Ryan Weber, the journeyman is far from a sure thing as a starter.

That's part of the reason that the Sox went out and signed Collin McHugh. The veteran, formerly of the Houston Astros, should provide depth to the rotation and will have a chance to make an impact as a starter or a reliever.

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But the question at the moment is, when exactly will that be?

McHugh, 32, hasn't pitched in about six months after he dealt with an elbow injury last season. He was diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain and had a procedure in December to try to help the injury improve.

And when asked about a potential timetable to return, he was non-committal and said the team would figure things out in the near future.

“They’re getting to know me,” McHugh said, per Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe. “I think we’ll have a better idea moving forward in a couple of weeks in figuring exactly what the road ahead looks like for me.”

So, it may be some time before McHugh gets on the mound for the team. Either way, he could be a valuable addition and came on a cheap one-year deal after going 15-9 with a 3.42 ERA and 238 strikeouts in 210 1/3 innings (20 starts) the past three seasons in Houston.

It also doesn't hurt that McHugh seems excited to get a chance to play for the Red Sox.

“It’s the Red Sox, one of the most storied franchises in all of sports. I’m a huge baseball fan,” McHugh said per Abraham. “So for me, that’s kind of a pinch-me moment to look up and realize you’re playing for a team that’s been around for so long and had so many players come through here.”

McHugh will need to be closely watched in the early stages of the season. But if he can return early enough, he could carve out a role and address some of the pitching staff's depth issues and even if the season doesn't go well, the Red Sox may have a chance to trade him for a prospect at the deadline.

Lou Merloni destroys MLB, players for bickering over 2020 return plan

Lou Merloni destroys MLB, players for bickering over 2020 return plan

As the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLS prepare to resume play in the near future, Major League Baseball still can't get out of its own way.

MLB reportedly rejected the Players Association's proposal Wednesday for a 114-game season in 2020 and apparently doesn't plan to make a counter-offer.

The league and the players have refused to budge on the issues dividing them: Players don't want to take an additional pay cut after agreeing to prorated salaries in March, while the owners are wary of extending the season too long due to the coronavirus pandemic and want players to agree to further reduced salaries to mitigate lost revenue.

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That stalemate has cost MLB valuable time, however, as the league doesn't appear close to beginning its 2020 regular season as the calendar turns to June.

So, who's to blame here? Lou Merloni believes it's everyone involved.

The former Boston Red Sox infielder ripped into both the league and the union Wednesday night during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston.

"Both sides suck, OK? That's the bottom line," Merloni said. "The Players Association comes back and says, 'Not 82 (games), we want 114' when they know that's the non-starter. The owners don't want to sit there and play until November. They're worried about the pandemic; they've got to get the playoffs in. And then the owners come back and say we're not even going to counter?

"Jesus, we're like a month into this thing. Can you string this thing out (any longer)? How about go in one room together and try to figure this out in a day or two?"

Compounding MLB's issue is that the NBA is expected to announce a return-to-play plan Thursday that would resume the 2019-20 season in late July. The MLS and NHL also have made headwinds toward resuming their seasons this summer -- which means baseball is wasting a much-needed opportunity to showcase itself as the only active pro sports league.

"I mean, you're running out of time and you're only screwing yourself. Even if baseball does come back, people have already said, 'I've had enough of you.' It's been like a month, a year, and you guys talk and bitch about this thing publicly. I don't give a crap anymore. I've got hockey, basketball, football is around the corner, hell, soccer is around the corner. I'm good.

"They don't even realize it! It's like they're in this bubble and they don't even realize what's going on around them right now. Figure this thing out: 70 games, 65, prorated (salaries), start playing some baseball, because your ass better be first coming back. If not, people are going to be done."

There's reportedly some optimism that the players and the union will resolve their differences and put a return plan in place. But with nearly one-third of the season already lost, the clock is ticking.

Check out Merloni's full comments in the video player above.

Who are the best designated hitters in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

Who are the best designated hitters in Red Sox history? Ranking the Top 5

There's only one choice for best designated hitter in Red Sox history, but just in case there's any doubt, we'll quote broadcaster Dave O'Brien with the signature call from his WEEI days: "DAVID ORTIZ! DAVID ORTIZ! DAVID ORTIZ!"

No sense in even pretending there's any suspense on this one.

What's fascinating about ranking the Red Sox DHs, however, is just how few of them have actually held down the position for any length of time over the years.

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Only nine players have made at least 200 appearances there with the Red Sox since the DH was introduced in 1973, and four of them — Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans, and Manny Ramirez — have already appeared elsewhere in our outfield rankings.

That leaves five men to fill out the list, and about the only difficult omission is slugger Jose Canseco, who made 184 appearances between 1995 and 1996.

Click here for the Top 5 DHs in Red Sox history.