Good news out of Fort Myers Sunday, as the Red Sox have set Christian Vazquez to start behind the plate on Tuesday against the Orioles, marking his first game back after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring.
We'd heard that Vazquez was getting close to making a return, but it was all conditional on a simulated game this weekend. If everything went well, Vazquez would get the all clear. If there were issues--like the elbow soreness that cropped up on him a week before--it could be time to shut down the young catcher and make sure they weren't about to make anything worse.
But everything has gone well, it seems, and it's time for Vazquez to play again. With Blake Swihart entrenched as the starter, it's doubtful that Vazquez will really be competing for a spot on the 25-man roster come April. He still has an option to burn, and it just makes so much more sense for the Red Sox to keep Ryan Hanigan with the team and have Vazquez as an excellent first line of defense
But if that's a rough setback for a player who would likely have had his chance to start in Fenway had he been healthy last year, it's also nothing Vazquez can't overcome. Catchers also tend to have trouble staying healthy for the full year, particularly those that like to hold their non-catching hand out in the open, making it pretty likely we'll see Vazquez in Boston at some point this year for one reason or another.
For now, though, it's one start--probably not more than four or five innings--in one spring game. Meaningless for the team, if not for the man in this case. The focus isn't on making it back to Fenway just yet, but making it to Pawtucket in good shape to give the Red Sox a reason to want him up with the big league team.