The Red Sox played two games on Wednesday, with some of the team staying home to play the Orioles at JetBlue Park and the rest heading out on the road to take on the Rays. Prior to first pitches, Blake Swihart was scratched following the loss of his younger brother. In the games, Boston lost both contests. Alex Cora says the team was understandably not fully into the game after the somber morning.
Blake Swihart scratched after brother’s death
Obviously, more important than any game result was the tragic loss suffered by Blake Swihart. Originally pencilled in to be the road team’s DH, the catcher was scratched following the news. Romell Jordan was 23 years old and had been taken in by the Swihart family as a teenager. Swihart says he will be in camp on Thursday and is willing to play. Cora addressed the media about the somber feeling around the clubhouse following the tragic loss. Our deepest condolences go out to the entire Swihart family.
Alex Cora addressed the media about Blake Swihart's family emergency on Wednesday afternoon. pic.twitter.com/9ZmJ8drW8y— NESN (@NESN) February 27, 2019
Four home runs for the Red Sox
There’s no easy way to transition from that topic to game action. The Red Sox did play games on Wednesday, though, and while they lost both games there were a few positives to take away. Jackie Bradley Jr. got his second start of the spring, and the center fielder hit his second home run of Grapefruit League action. He had a single in the game as well. Bradley has talked a lot about how he’s changed his swing over the winter and is looking for more consistency, particularly in launching the ball. You can’t tell much from spring training results, but the early signs are positive. In that same game, Michael Chavis also went deep for his third homer of the spring. The organization’s top prospect has gotten off to a hot start in 2019, with a 1.944 OPS very early on. We all know the defense is the big question for Chavis — he played third base on Wednesday, but the game was not broadcast so it’s hard to get a read on how well he played there — but the bat certainly plays.
Moving over to the Tampa game, the Red Sox had a pair of homers in that one as well. The first was from Rafael Devers, his first of the spring. The third baseman took a ball down and in and ripped it out over the wall right down the right field line. He finished the day 3-3 as well. Devers’ 2018 was extremely uneven, but we all know what kind of talent he possesses. He could be one of, if not the, biggest breakout of the 2019 season. The final home run was off the bat of Tony Renda. The infielder serves as minor-league depth for the Red Sox and will likely need a couple of injuries ahead of him on the depth chart to get real major-league time in 2019.
The pitchers struggle
It was a rough day for the pitchers, many of whom are expected to play a role on the major-league team once the real games start. Boston’s headliner for the day was Eduardo Rodriguez, making his first start of the spring. The lefty tossed two innings against the Orioles, allowing a home run to catcher Chance Sisco along with two singles and a walk. He was charged with two runs on the day, though he did strike out three batters as well. Again, this game was not televised so we couldn’t get a real feel for how his stuff looked. Later in that game, a couple of middle relievers for the major-league team struggled as well. Tyler Thornburg came in for a one-inning stint but allowed a home run of his own to Sisco. He also allowed a single while striking out one. Colten Brewer came on next and allowed three runs in his one inning of work. Brewer gave up a double, two singles and a walk with two strikeouts. Both Thornburg and Brewer are in that mid-tier group of righties from which the Red Sox really need someone to step up for the bullpen to work out.
On the prospect side, Boston got outings from Darwinzon Hernandez, Travis Lakins and Mike Shawaryn. Hernandez pitched in the home game against Baltimore, and while he didn’t allow a run in two innings the southpaw did allow a double, a single and a walk. He did mix in three strikeouts, though. Against the Rays, Lakins allowed a single and a walk with a strikeout in two scoreless innings while Shawaryn allowed two runs (one earned) on a double, a single and a walk with two strikeouts. All three figure to play a role in the majors later in the year.
- It wasn’t all bad for the pitching. Brandon Workman is another part of the aforementioned of mid-tier righties and he had a strong afternoon. He struck out two while allowing just a single in a scoreless inning. Josh Taylor is kind of a low-key lefty on the 40-man roster, but there’s a good chance he gets a shot in the majors at some point this year. He tossed a scoreless inning with a walk against the Rays.
- Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts both got starts against the Orioles, but they struggled. Combined they went 0-5 with one strikeout each.
- On a more positive note, Tzu-Wei Lin continued what has been a hot start for him, going 1-2 with a double and a walk. Meanwhile, Bobby Dalbec started at first base, and while he didn’t go deep he did get a pair of singles in three plate appearances.
BOX (vs. BAL)
BOX (vs. TB)