Red Sox

Nathan Eovaldi bullpen experiment can work for Red Sox -- just ask All-Star Mike Minor

Nathan Eovaldi bullpen experiment can work for Red Sox -- just ask All-Star Mike Minor

Mike Minor knows what it's like to make a move to the bullpen out of necessity, and the Texas Rangers' All-Star left-hander has some advice for how the Boston Red Sox should handle Nathan Eovaldi:

With care.

"If he listens to his body and they respect what he says," Minor said, "then I think he'll be all right."

A promising young starter with the Atlanta Braves at the start of the decade, Minor underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2015, missing the next two seasons. He made 10 rehab starts in 2016, but couldn't recover after throwing three or four innings.

When the Kansas City Royals signed him in 2017, Minor knew he'd need to move to relief. The results were tremendous. He went 6-6 with a 2.55 ERA and six saves in 65 appearances, striking out a career high 10.2 batters per nine innings. That performance earned him a three-year deal with the Rangers, who returned him to the rotation, and Minor repaid their gamble by making the 2019 All-Star team after going 8-4 with a 2.54 ERA and league-leading two complete games.

But focusing on his season as a reliever, the 31-year-old former college teammate of David Price relayed some lessons the Red Sox can apply as Eovaldi transitions to closing following April elbow surgery.

"It was a constant conversation of how do you feel each day and how do you feel multiple innings, multiple up and downs, multiple days, whatever it was," Minor said at the All-Star Game in Cleveland. "But that was essential for my success and where I am now, because at the time I just couldn't handle it."

Reaching the point where he felt comfortable telling his manager and coaches he wasn't available wasn't easy for Minor, and Eovaldi won't have a lot of time to feel out the process down the stretch.

"At the beginning, I kind of wanted to be a regular dude and I found myself still fatigued a little bit and telling them yes anyway, and once I did that a couple of times, I knew how my body was reacting," Minor said.

He realized that he could tell pregame or even when he woke up in the morning whether he'd be available that day, but it took some trial and error.

"There's a couple of times where you're sore, but you're like, 'I'll just pitch through it. I'm going to be a normal dude and throw through it,'" Minor said. "And then I get in the game and they're depending on you to be one of the guys coming out of the bullpen in situations with guys on base or whatever, and then if I didn't feel good, it's like, 'Man, what am I doing? I'm hurting the team.'"

Minor soon found his sweet spot, and then built from there.

"If they threw me one inning and it was one time up, get warm, go in the game, pitch, and then I'm done, then I could go multiple days," he said. "But if it was get warm in the bullpen, go out there get one out, sit down, get back up, go back out, pitch an inning, sit down, go back and out and get a lefty, that kind of the thing, then the up-and-down kind of got me."

The Red Sox have eschewed the use of a traditional closer all season, but Minor considers it a must if they want to get the most out of Eovaldi. And the more traditional, the better.

"They shouldn't give him the long relief role. That just negates everything," Minor said. "So if he's a late-inning guy and he's only going one inning and only getting three outs and they're only warming him up if they're winning, then he should be in a lot better situation than a guy that might have to warm up a couple of times, get hot, sit down, get hot again. That kills you out there. Fans and even coaches don't realize it. If you've never pitched before, you don't realize how much you're abusing yourself and exerting energy and getting sore the next day.

"If he's in that situation, that's going to be the best one, even though he's going to be high leverage. It's going to be him probably throwing 100 out there or whatever."

While the Red Sox are concerned about the here and now, there's also the longer-term question of Eovaldi's return to the rotation, which is what earned him a four-year, $68 million contract in the first place. Minor has insight into that process, too.

As the 2017 season wore on, he realized he didn't need to close the door on starting, because he was feeling stronger.

"I sensed it because they put me out there in a tie game and we didn't really have anyone left, and there were a lot of times I went two innings, a couple of times I went three," he said. "And then I woke up the next couple of days and felt fine, and that's what made me think, OK, maybe I can do this now. Maybe my body has acclimated itself and I know what kind of soft tissue work I need, what kind of shoulder workouts I need, maybe I'm ready for that.'

"When I signed with Texas, they gave me the six-man rotation thing last year, so they kind of told me about that. We might skip you, ease you in this, so I said this is the best situation for me. We did that last year and this year it's just hey, go out there and do your thing and it's been great so far."

So if the Red Sox navigate the situation delicately, Minor sees no reason why Eovaldi can't succeed in the bullpen and then rejoin the rotation in 2020.

"If he's healthy and feels good, it could be a good thing for him," he said. "Even though he signed that contract and wants to start, get that full value out of him, if it's half a season or a third of a season in the bullpen, he's still going to provide a lot of value, just like he did in the playoffs."

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Lou Merloni: Red Sox 'believe they will [get off scot-free]'

Lou Merloni: Red Sox 'believe they will [get off scot-free]'

The Boston Red Sox are facing a lot of unexpected uncertainty at this stage in the offseason. The team fired their manager Alex Cora amid a sign-stealing scandal from his time with the Houston Astros. And now, they're searching for a replacement.

At this point in the offseason, there aren't a lot of options available. And most of the best candidates may come internally.

That said, the Red Sox will want to make sure that none of those internal candidates, namely Ron Roenicke, were involved in any sort of sign stealing during Cora's Red Sox tenure.

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And just how would they do that? Lou Merloni offered up a potential solution on NBC Sports Boston's Early Edition on Thursday night.

"What you do is you don't even name the manager," Merloni said. "You go into spring training if you have to, whenever this investigation is over. Roenicke runs the team. [Jason] Varitek has more responsibility in camp.

"And when the report comes out -- and if it's what they believe it is, that they're clean -- then Roenicke's the manager, 'Tek's the bench coach and you go from there with no promises of the future and you just say this is the way we go. I think that's the easiest transition for everyone in that locker room."

This definitely would be a sensible route for the team to take. Essentially, they can have Roenicke continue to serve as the manager without officially naming him the manager until they know the results of the investigation.

And according to Merloni, the team does believe that Roenicke and other members of their staff are clean and as a result, the team won't be punished.

"I'm hearing that they believe they are [going to get off scot-free]," Merloni said. "They believe that what they're told is true and that they didn't do anything. And if they didn't do anything, there's no reason for punishment."

It's unclear exactly when the MLB's investigation will be complete, but this will certainly be something to watch moving forward. For the time being though, the Red Sox seem content to stick with what they have provided that everything comes back clean.

MLB Rumors: Red Sox, Padres have discussed Mookie Betts trade

MLB Rumors: Red Sox, Padres have discussed Mookie Betts trade

A Mookie Betts trade this offseason still appears to be in the realm of possibility for the Boston Red Sox.

According to Dennis Lin of The Athletic, the Red Sox and San Diego Padres have discussed a potential deal involving the superstar outfielder.

Lin writes:

Recent talks between the teams have focused on sending a significant amount of prospect talent and outfielder Wil Myers to Boston, according to sources. Multiple people familiar with the discussions characterized an agreement as unlikely, and the industry consensus is that Betts will be in a Red Sox uniform on Opening Day. Yet both sides appear to have legitimate interest.

As our own John Tomase has noted, the Padres are a prospect-rich organization with all of the pieces necessary to acquire Betts if they want him. Throwing in Wil Myers would relieve San Diego of the $61 million owed to him over the next three seasons.

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On Monday, ESPN's Buster Olney wrote the Red Sox are looking to package David Price in any deal involving Betts to part ways with the $96 million remaining on the left-hander's contract.

Betts is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2020 season if he and the Red Sox do not agree to a contract extension.

Tomase: Top Sox prospect quickly growing on the franchise