Red Sox

Drellich: Nunez has more to lose than Red Sox if knee is further damaged

Drellich: Nunez has more to lose than Red Sox if knee is further damaged

HOUSTON — Carried off the field Thursday at Minute Maid Park, Eduardo Nunez has more to lose than the Red Sox do in these rushed attempts to come back from a knee injury and help in the playoff run. 

Nunez is a free agent to be. The infielder’s right knee once again gave way Thursday, making it two straight games he’s tried to come back from a ligament injury and has not been able to make it through the entire game. The other was on Sept. 25.

The question now is whether Nunez is dealing with more than just the injury that’s been described by him and the team, to the posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL. Potential damage to the meniscus, for example, could lead to an operation.

Sox manager John Farrell said on Sept. 25, before Nunez’s first return attempt from an injury he originally suffered Sept. 9, that Nunez is “not putting himself at further risk.”

Farrell takes his players’ health very seriously, as does the training staff. But for the credibility of everyone involved, and for the sake of Nunez’s future and success in free agency, it’s important that Farrell’s statement prove true — that there has been no further risk to the knee by playing Nunez.

“I’m going to have another MRI in a few days and go back to Boston, and but we don’t see another damage so far,” Nunez said after an 8-2 Red Sox loss to the Astros to open the Division Series. “There’s no swelling, it’s just the same pain it was before. A little more painful this time. And we’ll see how the MRI say in a few days.”

Farrell said Thursday he had no regrets bringing back Nunez during the regular season.

“No,” Farrell said. “Because everything that we had, everything we had available to us, we accomplished those steps, the way he felt, trying to get another bat back in our lineup that I think we needed, no, no regrets with the way things have unfolded here.”

Losing Nunez is a blow to the Red Sox’ playoff chances, which weren’t in their favor to begin with against the stacked 'Stros. The Sox made nothing official on Thursday night about Nunez’s status, but the likelihood is that Nunez is off the roster come Game 2 on Friday and Chris Young is activated, on the bench, and maybe in the lineup against lefty Dallas Keuchel. Farrell confirmed Young would be the choice if someone is needed.

But Nunez himself described the rehab process as a rush. 

“We tried to rush twice, because we don’t have a lot of time,” Nunez said. “We were in September and now in the playoff time.”

In a sense, why not rush? Why not try? The Sox are better with Nunez. If there’s really no further damage and no risk for it, then the efforts seem noble and warranted — although, trying to come back in the regular season 16 days after the initial injury remains a bit head-scratching.

But if Nunez has been exposed now to greater risk and has indeed been further injured, it’s a bad look for the Sox, and most unfortunate for a player trying to do his best by a team he’s already done a ton for in his walk year.

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Pomeranz says issue is 'clear-cut,' but mystery is unsolved

Pomeranz says issue is 'clear-cut,' but mystery is unsolved

PHILADELPHIA — Drew Pomeranz’s story at this point is less about the Red Sox and more about the individual, and it’s a minor mystery.

Theoretically, the free-agent-to-be can still find a way to help the Sox down the stretch. Eat some innings, look a little better. But barring a dramatic turnaround or a strange situation elsewhere on the pitching staff, he’s not sniffing the postseason roster.

The lefty's ERA rose to 6.34 on Wednesday night in a 7-4 Red Sox loss to the Phils, after he allowed three earned runs in an inning of work. He faced eight batters, allowed three hits and one walk with one strikeout.

Pomeranz has been so much better than this in past seasons. And he's too young, 29, for his stuff to just disappear. 

Alex Cora left Pomeranz in the game as trouble grew, the manager said, because he wanted to see how Pomeranz would fare in a late-inning relief role. The other part: Matt Barnes and Tyler Thornburg were both unavailable because of workload, per the manager. (Neither has pitched since the weekend, but Barnes did throw three straight days in Baltimore, while Thornburg — who briefly warmed up on Thursday, before Cora went a different direction — is coming back from surgery. The Sox have the division padding to be cautious.)

The most difficult thing to accept is that Pomeranz is healthy. His velocity this year is the lowest of his career, 89.59 mph entering Thursday night, per BrooksBaseball.net.

He was at 91.78 mph in 2017, at 91.93 in 2016 and had a career-high 93.08 in 2015. His stuff isn’t playing up in any notable way out of the ‘pen now, either.

“I feel fine, like I said it’s something that I started doing at the end of last year, started drifting this way,” Pomeranz reiterated to NBC Sports Boston. “I’ve just been kind of stuck in that. I’ve done a thousand things to try and get out of it. I don’t know what it is, but, you know it’s something I’m definitely focusing on every single day, catch. I don’t know, something’s going to click eventually. That’s what I’m waiting for. Other than that I feel healthy. Health-wise, I feel fine."

There wouldn’t be much logic in Pomeranz maintaining he is healthy if he is not. Any team interested in him this winter will get a chance to review his medicals. Were he to hypothetically hide something, there wouldn’t be much potential gain — not at this point in the year, when salvaging his season to the point of a major payday is unlikely.

Pomeranz said his impending free agency hasn’t weighed on him.

“I don’t think so,” Pomeranz said. "I’ve pretty much narrowed it down, that it’s the main reason. It’s pretty clear-cut. You talk to [Brian] Bannister and look at my data, my release point’s short of what it’s been the last two years. And that just goes along with me blocking myself off. Open up, then you can reach out and get better extension and that’s pretty much what’s happening so."

Perhaps Pomeranz really can’t get his mechanics right for a reason that has nothing to do with health. But to lose a couple miles per hour on his fastball the whole season just for mechanics is an uncommon situation. Whether and when and how he proves that to be the case will be interesting to watch, even if it’s not with the Sox. 

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Red Sox win streak ends at five with loss to Phillies, 7-4

Red Sox win streak ends at five with loss to Phillies, 7-4

PHILADELPHIA - Wilson Ramos had three extra-base hits and three RBIs, helping the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Boston Red Sox 7-4 on Wednesday night in his first game with his new team.

The Phillies, who remained two games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East, split a two-game interleague series with the major league-leading Red Sox for the second time in three weeks.

Seven relievers combined to allow one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings for Philadelphia. Tommy Hunter (4-2) earned the win by getting one out in the sixth. Seranthony Dominguez got the last four outs for his 13th save in 16 chances.

Ramos, the two-time All-Star catcher acquired from Tampa Bay on July 31, made a big impact after missing a month because of a strained hamstring. He hit his second career triple and first in seven years leading off the bottom of the sixth, chugging around the bases after his liner off Joe Kelly (4-1) to right-center took an odd bounce off the wall.

Ramos scored on pinch-hitter Scott Kingery's sacrifice fly to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead. He hammered a two-run double with two outs in the seventh off Drew Pomeranz to extend the lead to 6-3 and scored on Maikel Franco's single.

Down 3-0, the Phillies rallied in the fourth against Nathan Eovaldi. Ramos hit an RBI double off the top of the fence in right and Nick Williams scored on Odubel Herrera's RBI groundout. With two outs, pinch-hitter Carlos Santana ripped an RBI single past second baseman Brock Holt positioned in shallow right to tie it at 3.

Eovaldi allowed three runs - one earned - and seven hits in five innings during his fourth start for the Red Sox.

Phillies starter Vince Velasquez lasted only 2 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, four hits and four walks. Velasquez ran into trouble in the third when he walked Eovaldi with one out and hit Andrew Benintendi with a pitch. Holt reached on an infield single to load the bases and Mitch Moreland lined a three-run double to left-center that skipped past Herrera and cleared the bases.

Velasquez was pulled after he walked J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts to load the bases again. Hector Neris entered and escaped the jam by retiring Jackie Bradley Jr. on a shallow fly to right and striking out Rafael Devers.

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