Monday’s loss against the White Sox was certainly frustrating — any time you blow a lead due to a tough bullpen performance and a tough defensive play it’s a bummer — but at the end of the day it was just one loss. Even if the Red Sox win 90 games this year they’re going to lose 70 times. It’s part of baseball. The bigger potential loss in this game was Dustin Pedroia who had an awkward collision at first base with Jose Abreu and left the game with a sprained wrist. The good news is postgame X-Rays were negative. The bad news is that he’s back in Boston for more tests on the wrist. If the injury ends up being serious, what do the Red Sox do?
There are three ways for the Red Sox to handle this potential situation, one of which is extremely intriguing but far-fetched, while the other two are more realistic but by no means exciting. Let’s start with the boring ones. Both involve Pablo Sandoval ending his rehab a bit prematurely. The third baseman has already played in back-to-back games, and while his performance in Pawtucket hasn’t been anything special David Price’s encouraging season debut helps prove that rehab performance isn’t as important as simply getting the work in.
So, Sandoval would come back to take over third base on an everyday basis. If Pedroia is healthy, that likely means that Deven Marrero gets optioned down to Triple-A. However, if Pedroia needs to miss some time, Marrero would stay up, and there’s an argument to be made for him starting at second base. It would be the same argument that’s been used for him starting at third: His defense is good enough to make up for his awful bat. Whether or not that’s true is up to you, but it’s an option.
The other option also has Sandoval at third base, but puts Josh Rutledge in the starting lineup at the keystone position. Last winter’s Rule 5 draft pick has mostly been a bench piece this year, not showing strong enough defense at the hot corner to stick to that spot on an everyday basis. However, his defense is better at second base than it is at third, meaning the gap with the glove between him and Marrero is theoretically smaller. The gap with the bat between the two remains the same, and it’s a large one to Rutledge’s advantage.
Then, there’s the most exciting option that you can expect plenty of people to suggest if Pedroia is out for a long time. If he’s only going to miss a couple weeks to a month, this one won’t make sense. If he’s, for whatever reason, done for the season, though, expect to hear it. Mookie Betts, if you recall, came up as a second baseman and only moved to the outfield due to Pedroia’s presence. That wasn’t all that long ago, so there’s an argument that he should move to back to the infield and give the team much more upside than Rutledge or Marrero could provide.
This sounds great in theory, but there are a few problems. For one, John Farrell has said before that he doesn’t like the idea of putting Betts back into double play situations due to injury concerns. There’s also the fact that he’s a few years removed from the position, so some rust would definitely be expected. It would also open a hole in right field. Andrew Benintendi could certainly replace most of Betts’ range (although definitely not all of it), but he doesn’t really have the arm strength to play right field in an ideal world. It would also move Chris Young into a starting spot and force him to play against right-handed pitching on a regular basis. I would certainly be excited if they ever decided to take this route, but I’d be surprised and also a little hesitant.
No, I think the smart play for the situation in which Pedroia has to miss some time with his wrist injury is to simply get Sandoval back at third base and put Rutledge at second base. It’s a huge downgrade both defensively and offensively, but it’s the most logical solution for a bad situation. Hopefully, the Red Sox won’t have to worry about this.