Red Sox

Red Sox lineup: Brian Johnson returns to the mound vs. Orioles

Red Sox lineup: Brian Johnson returns to the mound vs. Orioles

The Boston Red Sox will look to make it a clean sweep against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday afternoon. They took the first two games of their three-game series by a combined score of 20-4 and will turn to their third straight lefty starter on Sunday in Brian Johnson.

Johnson has been sidelined since early April with an elbow injury, so his return to the rotation could provide a spark for the Sox. Last season as a spot starter, Johnson had a 4-3 record and a 4.15 ERA in 13 games as a starter. He was a solid fill-in at the back of the rotation, and that's something that the Red Sox have lacked in the absence of Nathan Eovaldi

Johnson's ERA this season isn't pretty (12.71), but that largely stems from a disastrous 1 1/3 inning outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks where he gave up seven earned runs. That was just before he was put on the IL, so he may have been dealing with the injury in that outing.

The Red Sox lineup looks pretty normal for Johnson's start. The only major notes are that J.D. Martinez will play left field while Andrew Benintendi sits. Eduardo Nunez will get the nod at DH while Marco Hernandez gets the nod at second base over the hot-hitting Brock Holt.

Here are the lineups for today's game at Camden Yards with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Mookie Betts, RF
Christian Vazquez, C
J.D. Martinez, LF
Rafael Devers, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Michael Chavis, 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
Eduardo Nunez, DH
Marco Hernandez, 2B
Brian Johnson, LHP (1-0, 12.71 ERA)

Hanser Alberto, 3B
Trey Mancini, RF
Pedro Severino, C
Renato Nunez, DH
Anthony Santander, LF
Jonathan Villar, 2B
Chris Davis, 1B
Keon Broxton, CF
Richie Martin, SS
John Means, LHP (6-4, 2.60 ERA) 

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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.