FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s a new week with pretty much the same storylines down here at Fenway South.
Full-squad workouts began on Monday, so it was our first look this year at veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia taking ground balls and pop-ups alongside his fellow Red Sox infielders. But does he look healthy?
How about the team’s plan to enter the 2019 season with two of their three catchers? Who would be the odd one out?
We get to that, and more, in this week’s spring training mailbag. . .
Do you think that Eovaldi will be the closer for the @RedSox this year?— Steve Lamb (@Real_sjl19) February 19, 2019
JL: Barring a sudden turn of events, Nathan Eovaldi will not be closing any games during the regular season for the Red Sox. Alex Cora told reporters last week Eovaldi is firmly in the starting rotation. Cora did mention that, as we saw last October, anything goes in the postseason.
Who is the odd man out at catcher?— MD (@mikemod19) February 19, 2019
JL: I said in last week’s mailbag that if I had to place a bet on it, I’d pick Blake Swihart as the odd man out. Swihart deserves to be a starting catcher elsewhere, and his agent requested a trade for him last year in an effort to give his client more playing time. The Red Sox signed Christian Vazquez to a three-year extension in 2018, so it’d be quite the surprise if he was moved. It’s between Swihart and Sandy Leon, but I’m still rolling with Swihart mostly because of everything that transpired last season and how much the pitching staff loves having Leon behind the plate.
⚾️ SPRING TRAINING 2019
How is Pedroia looking? And will he play a significant role?— Chris Mandel (@ChrisMandel5) February 19, 2019
JL: It’s far too early to describe how Pedroia is looking considering full-squad workouts have just begun, and the team is being extremely careful with him. I will say this, he still has the same Laser Show attitude as he works his way back from the knee injury that kept him out of all but three games last year.
As for whether Pedroia will play a significant role, it would be foolish to say he won’t as long as he stays healthy. Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said he expects Pedroia to play in roughly 125 games this season. That seems like a significant enough role to me.
As Chris Sale said last week, “I dare you to rule him out.”
How bad do they overpay for kimbrel when they could have ottavino rather than my yanks getting him for 3/27?— Stephen Healy (@steveheals) February 19, 2019
JL: Well, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said Monday that it’s “extremely unlikely” the team will bring back Kimbrel, so there won’t be any overpaying for him. Adam Ottavino is a phenomenal pickup for “your yanks,” and I expected Boston to make more of an effort to sign him as Kimbrel’s replacement. It’s baffling how much confidence the organization has in its internal bullpen options. Time will tell whether that confidence backfires.
⚾️ SPRING TRAINING 2019
How have some of the Red Sox prospects looked at the beginning of camp? Do you think any of these players will be in the big leagues this year?
JL: The standout prospects so far this spring have been right-handed pitcher Travis Lakins and left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez. Alex Cora said we can expect both to make an impact on the big-league squad at some point during the season. For a team with obvious bullpen concerns, Lakins and Hernandez could provide much-needed depth.
On the offensive side of things, infielder Michael Chavis is under the spotlight a year after being suspended for PEDs. The easiest place for the slugger to earn a role on the big-league club this season would be second base if Dustin Pedroia has another setback, but I expect him to crack the roster at some point one way or another.
Another bat making his presence felt so far this spring is third baseman Bobby Dalbec. The 23-year-old had 32 home runs in 2018 between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland. Obviously, Rafael Devers has a firm grip on the starting third baseman job, but Dalbec is someone you’ll want to keep an eye on in the minors this year. If he continues to produce at the same level as last year, he could find himself a spot on the major league roster sooner rather than later.
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