We got some televised Red Sox action on Sunday against the Phillies, but unfortunately it was called by Steve Lyons and the Red Sox didn’t send their best lineup to the field. We did, however, get to see Eduardo Rodriguez pitch and Daniel Nava was in Philadelphia’s lineup. So it wasn’t all bad.
It’s getting tough to not be encouraged by Pablo Sandoval
Despite knowing not to take spring training numbers too seriously, sometimes it is just too hard to pass up that urge. It’s the only* baseball happening right now, and we need something to think about. Enter: Pablo Sandoval. He is clearly the biggest question mark amongst projected regulars, and for all the commentary (and proof) about the great shape he’s gotten into, it’s hard to buy into anything until you see him play. Well, he’s been playing pretty damn well. On Sunday, he hit a monstrous home run to straightaway center field off Aaron Nola in his first at bat. After that, he hit a solid single, went first-to-third on another single and later scored. That’s not something I could envision 2015 or 2016 Sandoval doing, and it’s hard not to overreact to that. Oh, and he also sprinkled in some more nice defense at the hot corner. I still won’t believe he’s ready to bounce back until I see it in real action, but it’s getting harder and harder to not let my imagination run wild.
*I know the WBC is happening, but there are barely any Red Sox players in it so it doesn’t apply here.
Blake Swihart highlights the rest of the offense
We all know the biggest thing holding Swihart back from becoming Boston’s regular catcher — aside from having a minor-league option — is his defense. Still, it’s fun to watch him hit. The catcher had two hits in this one including one triple that he smashed to center field. It was just a reminder that Swihart is much more athletic than your typical backstop. I’m weirdly optimistic about Sandy Leon this year, but it obviously wouldn’t shock me to see Swihart starting the majority of the games behind the plate by June. Steve Selsky also had two hits on the day, both of which were singles and one of which knocked in a couple runs.
Solid day for Eduardo Rodriguez
Eduardo Rodriguez wasn’t exactly facing off against a murderer’s row of hitters on Sunday — even Philadelphia’s regular season lineup isn’t all that impressive these days — but it’s always nice to see him pitching well, particularly after his injury scares this winter. The southpaw went four innings in this one and allowed one run on three hits, one walk and three strikeouts. The one run came on a home run off the bat of Roman Quinn on a fastball left right over the heart of the plate. He also allowed a triple to Daniel Nava, who had four hits in the game. I will never be mad at Nava for getting hits, even against the Red Sox.
Rough day for Craig Kimbrel highlights (lowlights?) bullpen’s day
Immediately following Rodriguez in this one was Craig Kimbrel, who was making his second appearance of the spring. After retiring all three batters he faced in that first outing, things went south on Sunday. He walked the first batter that came to the plate, and then promptly allowed three runs. On the one hand, the runs were both scored on ground outs. On the other hand, he also allowed two hard-hit singles and a smashed fly out to center field. There’s no reason to panic, but it was not a good day for Kimbrel. Also pitching were Luis Ysla, Robbie Ross, Heath Hembree and Kyle Martin. Ysla and Martin each allowed unearned runs, with the former’s coming as the result of an error by Rafael Devers, the latter’s on an error by Deiner Lopez. The run Martin allowed was a walkoff. Ross and Hembree figure to be more important in 2017, though, and both pitched scoreless frames.