The Red Sox really have no right to complain about injuries considering they play in the same division of the Yankees, whose IL would certainly be in the conversation for best team in baseball. Still, the Red Sox have suffered from some big injuries this year as well, with most of those coming at second base. This was a position that was a black hole for most of 2018, and they brought back their two main second basemen from last year while also looking to the return of a franchise legend. Now, all three of those guys are hurt and time at the keystone position is being split between a glove-first minor leaguer and a top prospect who is nominally a third baseman. That doesn’t sound ideal, but it’s actually worked out okay for the short-term. Still, the Red Sox would like to have their guys back and to roll with a full-strength squad. With that in mind, let’s search for the latest on the three second basemen currently on the injured list.
- We’ll start with Brock Holt, whose news is certainly the worst of all these three. It’s been a tough year for the utility man, who originally hit the IL after some playtime with his son ended with a scratched cornea. He went on a rehab assignment two weeks ago, but his eye still wasn’t fully recovered and his rehab ended after just one game. They went back to the drawing board, figured out a new way to get him back on the field and he re-started his rehab over the weekend. All was good! Except, well, this one would also last only one day. This time, he suffered a shoulder injury and he is now returning to Boston to visit with a doctor. He will have to be shut down for at least another week before restarting that rehab clock. This is a brutal stretch of bad luck for Holt. The Red Sox can survive without him in the short-term as Tzu-Wei Lin plays a similar role, but Holt at his best is clearly an upgrade for the Red Sox, they just have yet to see that version of Holt in 2019.
- The news is better for Dustin Pedroia, though with the veteran second baseman we are at a point where we wait with bated breath for every new bit of news, hoping it is good. When Pedroia went back to the IL after hearing a pop in his knee, the assumption was that it couldn’t be good. That’s not really going out on a limb since, ya know, pops aren’t supposed to come from your knee. Pedroia insisted he’d be back soon, however, and he’s going to be back playing baseball this week. The plan is for the veteran to head up to Portland to play in some Double-A action on Thursday to begin his rehab. There isn’t a timetable set on his rehab right now, but presumably they are hoping he can be back for the Baltimore series next week, though that may be pushing it.
- Finally, there is Eduardo Núñez. He is certainly not the favorite among fans of this group, but it’s clear the team loves him and is looking to create playing time for him. He is actually the furthest along of the three, too, having started his rehab with Pawtucket on Monday and surviving to tell the tale. Things did not go super well out of the DH spot as he went hitless in four at bats. Alex Cora said he’d like Núñez to get 20 plate appearances before getting back to the majors, which means it’s fair to expect him to return for the Orioles series at the latest as long as he plays consistently and doesn’t suffer any setbacks.
So, with all of these players on the verge of returning, the Red Sox have some roster questions to answer. The one that people are understandably most concerned with is what happens to Michael Chavis. With the way the rookie has played, I cannot foresee a scenario in which he is sent back down to Pawtucket to make room for any of these guys. I know Chavis has played in a small sample size, but he’s shown zero signs of being overmatched by the majors.
For the first two to return — presumably Núñez and Pedroia at this point — there are easy decisions to be made. Tzu-Wei Lin will be optioned for one and whoever is the last pitcher on the roster at the time a decision is needed will be optioned for the other. It’s the third where things get complicated. These things have a way of working themselves out, of course, but if there are no injuries to pop up between now and then, the Red Sox either need to option Chavis, which is a non-option to me at this point, or get creative. I don’t think they’ll designate anyone, but a phantom DL stint to give someone like Steve Pearce a breather seems like a logical choice. Whatever the case, there is time to figure it out. For now, the Red Sox are getting healthy at second base again, and they’ll have some decisions to make coming up.