Red Sox

Red Sox put Eovaldi on injured list with elbow issue, call up Poyner

Red Sox put Eovaldi on injured list with elbow issue, call up Poyner

Like most of the Red Sox starting rotation early this season, it's been a struggle for Nathan Eovaldi (6.00 ERA, 1.524 WHIP) through his first four starts.

Now we likely know why.

The Red Sox placed Eovaldi on the 10-day injured list with a loose body in the right elbow, retroactive to April 18. It's the same injury that caused Eovaldi to miss the first two months of the season last year before the Red Sox acquired him at the trade deadline from the Tampa Bay Rays. He didn't make his first start until May 30 after he had surgery at the end of March to remove loose bodies from the elbow. 

However, Eovaldi does not seem worried about the idea of another surgery.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters, including Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, in St. Petersburg that Eovaldi will see a specialist in New York on Monday. to determine if surgery is needed. He was unable to stretch his arm out because of where the loose bodies are in his elbow. The 29-year-old has also twice undergone Tommy John surgery. 

To take his roster spot, the Red Sox have called up left-handed reliever Bobby Poyner from Triple-A Pawtucket. Eovaldi pitched well in his last start, going six innings and allowing one run against the Yankees on Wednesday night. The Yanks rallied to win 5-3 on Brett Gardner's grand slam off Ryan Brasier.

The Sox have used Hector Velasquez as a spot starter in the rotation already this season, so he'd be a good candidate to take Eovaldi's turn Monday against the Detroit Tigers when the team returns home from this trip. 

Eovaldi, of course, was a postseason hero for the Red Sox last year, famously throwing 97 pitches in a six-plus inning relief effort before allowing Max Muncy's walk-off home run in the 18th inning to end the longest Series game ever in a 3-2 Sox loss in Game 3. He had a 1.61 ERA in six postseason appearances, including two starts, last fall.  He parlayed that into a four-year, $68 million contract he signed in the offseason to remain in Boston. 

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Xander Bogaerts honors Koji Uehara on Instagram after retirement

Xander Bogaerts honors Koji Uehara on Instagram after retirement

Former Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has called it a career. Uehara last pitched in the MLB for the Chicago Cubs in 2017, and he announced his retirement from baseball in Japan.

Uehara, 44, had most recently played for the Yomiuri Giants, the franchise he began his career with back in 1999.

After Uehara's retirement, Xander Bogaerts took a moment to honor Uehara with a touching Instagram post.

Bogaerts had been effusive in his praise of his former teammate over the years. Recently, Bogaerts said that the Red Sox wouldn't have won the 2013 World Series without Uehara's performance.

"The ’13 team was a big success because of him," said Bogaerts, per Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe.

In his four-year career with the Red Sox, Uehara posted a 14-13 record with a 2.16 ERA, 291 strikeouts, and 79 saves. During the 2013 postseason, he recorded 7 saves and struck out 17 batters en route to winning the ALCS MVP award.

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Benching Jackie Bradley was never an option, but first homer of season reminds us what he can be

Benching Jackie Bradley was never an option, but first homer of season reminds us what he can be

It took nearly two months, but on Monday Jackie Bradley's drought finally ended.

The Gold Glove center fielder, mired in a historically brutal slump even by his standards, launched his first home run of the year in a 12-2 pounding of the Blue Jays. His opposite-field shot in the sixth played no role in the outcome -- the Red Sox were already cruising to victory -- but the badly needed blast came with more of us questioning his place in the everyday lineup.

Bradley entered the game hitting .144 with no homers and only four extra-base hits. For someone coming off a strong second half and excellent postseason that included the American League Championship Series MVP award, Bradley's season-long funk felt particularly demoralizing.

While we've always accepted streakiness as part of the package, it really did feel like he had turned a corner last year. He began consulting with J.D. Martinez's personal hitting coach around the All-Star break and in the second half delivered some of the most consistent offense of his career, batting .269 with an .827 OPS. He followed by posting a .943 OPS between the ALCS and World Series, driving in 10 runs in 10 games with three homers and a double.

He arrived at spring training confident in a new swing that would end his streakiness once and for all, and in a sense he was right, because there have been no streaks to speak of, just struggle upon struggle.

But Bradley's path forward is actually deceptively simple. It's easy to forget that he only hit .200 last postseason, because virtually all of his production was pivotal, but it showed the way he could validate his existence from an offensive standpoint: hit for power and his place in the lineup would be secure.

When he opened this season by failing to homer in his first 38 games, however, concerns over his viability began gaining urgency. How long could the Red Sox carry an everyday player who wasn't even hitting .150, let alone .200, no matter how game-changing his glove?

Replacing him isn't as easy as it sounds, though, which is why he's not going anywhere. One option would be to make Martinez a more frequent outfielder and move Andrew Benintendi to center, but the DH has battled back issues and is an average defender at best. The Red Sox need his bat in the lineup, not his glove.

The other would require toppling dominoes that would leave the Red Sox worse than where they started: bench Bradley, move Benintendi to center, try power-hitting youngster Michael Chavis in left, and then fill second base with Eduardo Nunez, Tzu-Wei Lin, Dustin Pedroia, or Brock Holt, depending on who's healthy.

Their averages range from .063 (Holt) to .200 (Lin), so you'd be leaving yourself in the same position offensively, but weakened defensively at two positions. The same logic applies to putting Steve Pearce (.131) in left.

In that context, there's little incentive to bench Bradley, which is why he has appeared in all but eight games. It helps that every regular except Benintendi now owns an OPS of greater than .800, so there's enough offense to go around. The emergence of Chavis and Christian Vazquez lower in the order has saved Bradley from answering some seriously tough questions.

So forget about benching him. A far more palatable option is that Bradley rediscovers his power stroke, maintains a solid eye (16 walks), and keeps making web gems.

Maybe Monday represented a tentative first step in that direction.

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