The Red Sox continue what is essentially the dog days of spring, just waiting for this to all be over. One more week of games! The good news is they won this one on Monday by a score of 10-4 over the Rays on the back of three homers, which overshadowed a short and somewhat rough outing from their starter. Here are the notes of the day:
A trio of homers from the offense
The Red Sox realized this spring that they were going to need to find a way to replace the Grapefruit League offense of Sam Travis, but that no one could reasonably be expected to do that on their own. The solution: Find three guys to combine for that production. Those three guys have been Christian Arroyo, Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec, and all three hit a dinger on Monday. It started with Arroyo, who launched a hanging breaking ball into left field for his third homer of the spring. Arroyo also had a single in this game.
Immediately after that, as in on the very next at bat, Chavis went the other way on a pitch down in the zone, blasting his team-high sixth homer out to right-center.
And finally, a couple innings later, Dalbec made sure Chavis wasn’t along with the team-high, smashing his sixth homer of the spring the other way out to right field. Dalbec also drew a pair of walks on Monday.
As far as their roles for the season, for Dalbec his spring is almost inconsequential. That feels wrong to say because he’s been a blast to watch and the extent to which his mammoth power seems effortless is just a marvel to behold. But I say that it’s inconsequential because he was going to be the starting first baseman basically no matter what. All he’s done is reinforce that. It should also be noted that he’s been a bit better with the strikeouts of late, going without a K in three of his last four games. Does that mean much? No, probably not. But it’s cool and good to see.
Chavis and Arroyo are more interesting. Granted, their springs probably weren’t going to change much either. Arroyo no longer has minor-league options while Chavis does, to the former was a lock to make the roster even on a three-man bench. Chavis was a lock to be optioned unless a spot opened up. It looks like that may have happened as Franchy Cordero (who we’ll get to in a bit) may be out for a short time to start the year. That should mean both Arroyo and Chavis will start the year in the majors.
But Chavis could have possibly used this spring to keep that roster spot upon Cordero’s return if Arroyo had gone in the other direction, but that hasn’t happened. Chavis and his 1.129 OPS have certainly stolen the show, but Arroyo has been good enough that he hasn’t let his competitor gain much ground, if any.
A short day for Eduardo Rodriguez
The story of the spring to this point has certainly been the dominance of Eduardo Rodriguez, who had not walked a batter leading up to his start on Monday. That changed today unfortunately, and he didn’t look quite as sharp as he had previously this spring. He had to labor a bit in the first inning, giving up a walk, a single and a double with one run in the process, and then gave up one more run and two more baserunners in the second on a walk and a single. And then that was the end of his day. The good news here is that there was no injury that led to him being lifted after just two innings, and in fact he threw some in the bullpen after being pulled.
It’s certainly not the performance we had grown accustomed to from him this spring, and it’s part of a larger trend of the Red Sox starters taking a step back of late. That’s not great to see, especially for a group with as many questions as this one has, but it should also be mentioned that things like dead arm and just general backtracking with performance is fairly common in spring this time of year. I would not be surprised if it’s more apt to happen in a year coming off a limited workload (and no workload in Rodriguez’s case), too, but that’s just me speculating. Anyway, long story short I’m not worried about Rodriguez because of this start.
- I mentioned we’d get to Cordero here, and that’s because he was able to get in the field for the first time today as he tries to get ready for Opening Day. I’d still be surprised because it’s rare for Opening Day to be a question and then have the player actually be ready, but that he’s in the field suggests even if he does miss time to start the year it shouldn’t be much. He started in left field here, and at the plate he went 1-2 with a single, a walk and a run.
- After Rodriguez left, we got a look at a pair of relievers who should be in the Opening Day bullpen. First up was Hirokazu Sawamura, who has obviously struggled a bit this spring, particularly with his control. Things weren’t perfect in this one, but they were better. He tossed a scoreless inning on a double, a walk and a strikeout. After him was Darwinzon Hernandez, and the lefty did give up a run in his inning of work on a double, a walk and two strikeouts. Neither of these two have been consistently sharp this spring, but they represent the best currently healthy options to take the third spot in this year’s bullpen.
- Also getting hits in today’s game who have not been mentioned were: Xander Bogaerts, who got the start at DH today and went 1-3 with a double, a run, an RBI and a strikeout; Michael Gettys, who has had a nice spring and came off the bench today, and he went 1-2 with a single, a run and an RBI; and Jonathan Araúz, who also has had a quietly good spring and got the start at shortstop today, and he went 1-4 with a single, two RBI and a strikeout.
- Also pitching in this game who have not been mentioned were: Kaleb Ort, who was a minor-league Rule 5 selection and he tossed two scoreless innings on a walk and three strikeouts; Josh Winckowski, who has had a nice spring after coming over in the Andrew Benintendi deal, and he allowed one run over two innings on a hit (a solo homer), a walk and a strikeout; and Matt Hall, who allowed a single but struck out three in his scoreless inning of work.