Wednesday’s game was so frustrating and so soul-crushing that, when I was writing the recap, I totally forgot to include the part where Dustin Pedroia left after just an inning and a half of baseball. The second baseman came up to the plate in the top of the second, hit a routine fly ball to right field and jogged off the field. Nothing really looked out of the ordinary, but apparently the veteran felt something strange in the knee that’s been bothering him for a few years now. He was removed from the game with Eduardo Núñez taking his place at the keystone position, and it was later described as knee discomfort. Neither the player nor the team really knows what’s going on here, and Pedroia is going to see a doctor on Thursday to get more information.
This is all just a huge bummer, even before considering what it means for the team on the field. Pedroia clearly desperately wants to get back out on that field or else he wouldn’t go through two straight years of long rehab without playing more than a handful of games. We’ve been following him for a long time and know that he is legitimately into this sport to an almost scary extent. After the game, Cora admitted that Pedroia was down and that the manager had never seen his former teammate like this. It just sucks, mostly.
And then, of course, there’s the matter of the team on the field and this isn’t going to help matters. Núñez came into the game for him, and he just isn’t an everyday second baseman. He had an error in this game that was certainly not an easy play but it was one that has to be made. He also swung at a first-pitch ball with the bases loaded and his team down two for a routine fly out. The team is almost certainly going to call someone up to help at the position for Friday’s series opener in Tampa Bay, and they have a couple of different options. One of them will not be Brock Holt, though, whose eye is still bothering him. He didn’t play in Pawtucket on Wednesday.
The most likely scenario is that they call up Tzu-Wei Lin to get some time at second base. Lin is a very solid player who has never really had a chance to play on a consistent basis, but ever since he broke out in 2017 he’s done nothing but look like a solid major-league bench piece. The offense certainly isn’t going to wow anybody, but it’s not as though the team has gotten much offensively from this position anyway. Lin will bring a solid approach and contact ability to the plate, and perhaps more importantly he’ll at least bring some stability with the glove.
Another option is to bring up Michael Chavis. I will admit it’s hard not to be intrigued by this one, even if it’s far less likely and practical. Still, Chavis is the top prospect in the organization and could potentially bring some offense that the team desperately needs right now. I think the most intriguing argument here is for the potential that Chavis brings a spark with him, which everyone can see the Red Sox clearly need right now. Think of it like in 2017 when Núñez first came over from San Francisco and Rafael Devers was called up. That offense needed some life and new blood brought it. The issue is that I just don’t buy Chavis as a second baseman. People are extremely frustrated by Núñez in the field, and rightfully so, but I don’t think Chavis is going to be a major improvement. I haven’t really seen him there so maybe I’m wrong, but from what I have with him at third base (and I like him more than most there) I don’t see him really playing well in the middle infield. Clearly, the team feels differently, but I don’t know that they’ll want to throw him into this fire like that.
There is a third option as well, which would be to bring up both. Remember, the Red Sox are still carrying an extra pitcher. The rotation still isn’t performing so well that you can be confident they’ll go deep in almost every start. Even so, you can only go with a short bench for so long and right now it’s hurting the Red Sox. There’s a good case to be made that, assuming Pedroia has to go back to the IL, they could open another roster spot by optioning a pitcher and bring up Lin for his stability in the field and Chavis for his potential for a spark. At this point I’m assuming they’re going to IL Pedroia, call up Lin and wait until Holt is ready to option the extra pitcher, but I’d seriously consider option three if I were them.