Red Sox

Ex-Red Sox Jonny Gomes earns interesting promotion on Diamondbacks' staff

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USA TODAY Sports

Ex-Red Sox Jonny Gomes earns interesting promotion on Diamondbacks' staff

Jonny Gomes always has been a bit of a square peg in a round hole. It appears that trend is continuing.

The former journeyman outfielder, who spent two seasons in Boston and won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013, has been promoted to the Arizona Diamondbacks' outfield and baserunning coordinator, USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale reported Tuesday. (He had previously served as the D-backs' Rookie League team hitting coach.)

We know what you're thinking: That Jonny Gomes? The guy who stole exactly one base in Boston and was an average outfielder at best? He's in charge of a professional baseball team's outfield and baserunning?

Upon closer review, though, Gomes doesn't necessarily deserve to get laughed off the stage.

That's because the 38-year-old actually was a decent baserunner earlier in his career. His 30 steals in six seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays are more than some would expect, and he finished is career with a 14.2 baserunning runs above average, which is FanGraphs' rough baserunning equivalent of Wins Above Replacement.

Even we can't defend Gomes' fielding credentials, however: He sported a career Ultimate Zone Rating of -39.5, which you don't need to be an expert to realize is pretty bad.

Then again, we can see why Arizona's staff would have a soft spot for Gomes: Both general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo were on the Red Sox's staff during that 2013 title run.

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WATCH: Nathan Eovaldi strikes out side in eventful PawSox debut

WATCH: Nathan Eovaldi strikes out side in eventful PawSox debut

Nathan Eovaldi returned to game action for the first time since undergoing elbow surgery in mid-April, and his stat line suggests it went very well.

The veteran right-hander, expected to be the Boston Red Sox's closer upon his MLB return, pitched a scoreless second inning for Triple-A Pawtucket against the Louisville Bats on Thursday while striking out three.

Eovaldi showed signs of rust, walking the second batter he faced an allowing the runner to advance to third base on a passed ball and subsequent balk.

But the 29-year-old also brought sharp stuff, hitting 98 mph on his fastball and striking out two batters looking with a solid curveball.

Eovaldi wasn't available to reporters after his brief outing, but Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Wednesday his pitcher could be activated as soon as this weekend after throwing against Boston hitters in two recent simulated games.

Judging by how things went Thursday, it appears Eovaldi is still on the right track.

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Forget David Price, Red Sox fans should focus on Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Forget David Price, Red Sox fans should focus on Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts

BOSTON -- They are the twin pillars of hope in an otherwise upside-down Red Sox season, and on the day that David Price reminded us how his definition of "good teammate" might not jibe with yours or mine, let us salute Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers.

The homegrown stars bring a missing vibe to the lineup on a nightly basis. When either steps into the box, you can feel the confidence pouring off them like steam. Bogaerts has never looked more comfortable, especially with runners on base, his at-bats a study in composure and patience. When he gets his pitch, he's no longer looking to dunk it to right field. He's trying to shatter a windshield, as his 21 homers and 74 RBIs attest.

Devers, meanwhile, doesn't even know how good he is, because he raises that ceiling with virtually every swing. Overnight he has become one of the toughest outs in baseball, a line drive machine who covers every inch of the plate — and a few beyond it — while barreling rockets to all corners of the park.

On Wednesday night, both played key roles in a bounce-back victory over the Blue Jays. Bogaerts set the tone by doubling on a grounder through the shortstop hole, his breathtaking acceleration around first shocking Blue Jays center fielder Teoscar Hernandez, along with everyone else in the park.

Devers, meanwhile, maintained his relentless assault on the American League leaderboards with an opposite-field homer that saw him blazing around first before it found the seats as part of a 3-for-5, four-RBI night. After not driving in a run for the first 12 games of the season or hitting a homer for the first 32, Devers suddenly finds himself hitting .326 with 18 homers and 70 RBIs.

In a season where nothing has come easily — including Wednesday's 5-4 victory — Devers and Bogaerts represent an oasis. If we could watch them alternate at-bats all season, baseball might not have to worry about losing the next generation of fans.

It was hard to miss the juxtaposition of their joyful play vs. the pregame scene of Price once again blasting broadcaster Dennis Eckersley over the latter's relatively benign quotes in a Boston Globe profile.

Price wondered why we were still talking about their 2017 confrontation on a team charter, and why Eckersley couldn't let it go. He also egregiously suggested that the Hall of Famer had no friends during his playing days, based on what sounded like the partial viewing of an MLB Network documentary. Price said the doc quoted no players except Eckersley; that was factually inaccurate. Former teammates from Bruce Hurst to Mark McGwire to Fred Lynn, among others, were featured.

Watching Price demand a chance to apologize, as if he had somehow become the victim — instead of the man he ambushed — was flat-out distasteful. It also made you wonder what he enjoys about playing in Boston to be carrying around that kind of seething resentment.

But we're not here to dwell on Price. This is about the opposite end of that spectrum inhabited by Bogaerts and Devers, two young players with bright futures who approach each game with an infectious delight. It's almost like they're the only two players who haven't received the memo that repeating as champions is a hopeless, joyless slog towards doom.

With the toughest portion of the schedule looming — 14 straight games against the Yankees and Rays — the Red Sox will need Bogaerts and Devers to be better than ever.

Something tells me they'll deliver. But will there be anyone with them?

Why Bogaerts is a legit MVP candidate>>>>>

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