Dustin Pedroia to debut on Thursday
One of the biggest stories of the spring and the early parts of the regular season is and will be Dustin Pedroia. The franchise icon essentially missed all of 2018 after missing significant time in 2017, and no one really knows what to expect in 2019. Based on an unscientific feel of the fanbase, the expectations don’t seem very high. Of course, we really have no way of having a feel for what he can provide in 2019 given how long it’s been since we’ve seen him for more than a few games. That should start to change on Thursday, as the Red Sox are aiming to have him back in the lineup that day. It’s unclear whether he’ll be in the field or simply slot in as the DH, but either way it will be great to see him back out there. We won’t be able to tell too much by his performance in spring, of course. That said, this will be a test to see that A) he can physically still play and stay healthy and B) he can still move around like he could before. The Red Sox could really use something close to pre-injury Pedroia, particularly in the field.
Ryan Brasier progressing
We all know about the potential issues in the Red Sox bullpen. It’s been the main topic of discussion since the end of last year’s World Series run. For all of the very real issues, though, they do have two strong arms in the back of the bullpen in Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier. The latter has been battling an infected pinkie toe, though, and there has been some concern about whether or not he’d be ready for Opening Day. Over the weekend, however, Alex Cora still indicated the goal is still for Brasier to be on the active roster when the regular season kicks off in Seattle. He started throwing up to 90 feet on Sunday, and the team believes normal progression from there should have him ready to go. Even if he is ready, though, there is some question of how he’ll be without a full camp. And, looking at the bigger picture, this is an example of why they could have used another established arm for this unit. Injuries are going to happen, and while there is potential for some of the other arms on the 40-man roster (and some off of it) to take a big step forward this year it’s tough to feel comfortable relying on that rather than someone more proven.
Rotation to get rolling this weekend
Basically right after the Red Sox finished off their World Series run last fall, Alex Cora was already planning on how he would approach the 2019 season. People who succeed at the highest level of any sport are absurd. The manager knew he was going to have to take it easy with his starting pitchers after they worked themselves to the bone throughout the month of October. As such, we haven’t seen any of the four starters from the postseason in a spring training game yet, with Eduardo Rodriguez the only one from the main five-man rotation having appeared. That is going to change this weekend. A plan has been rolled out with the rotation working out as follows:
Saturday: Eduardo Rodriguez
Sunday: Rick Porcello
Monday: Chris Sale (On the back fields)
Tuesday: David Price
Wednesday: Nathan Eovaldi
For all of the (valid) concern around the bullpen, I am more excited to see this rotation in action this season than I am worried about the relief corps. Famous last words and all that.
Durbin Feltman should get his chance soon
With the aforementioned questions about the bullpen, the eyes of the fans have started to turn towards some of the younger relievers who have a chance to step into the majors at some point this summer and potentially catapult themselves into an important role. Travis Lakins and Darwinzon Hernandez are a couple of those guys, and both of them are already on the 40-man roster. Perhaps the most discussed name, though, is Durbin Feltman, who was selected in last summer’s amateur draft. The former TCU standout certainly doesn’t have professional experience, but his stuff is major-league ready and some evaluators believe with his violent delivery the Red Sox should get him to the majors as soon as possible. It doesn’t seem like the team necessarily agrees, as he was assigned to minor-league camp and hasn’t had a chance to pitch in a big-league game this spring. That should change this coming weekend. I’m excited about this, largely because it will be nice to see him in action rather than just reading what others who have seen him have to say.