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Hernandez a potential fit for multiple roles in '20

Bogaerts goes 0-for-2 in spring debut; Red Sox make first cuts
@IanMBrowne
March 4, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With so much uncertainty at the back end of the Red Sox’s starting rotation, the electric left arm of Darwinzon Hernandez has to be a tempting possibility for interim manager Ron Roenicke. However, if the 23-year-old Hernandez is to move back to a starting role, it

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With so much uncertainty at the back end of the Red Sox’s starting rotation, the electric left arm of Darwinzon Hernandez has to be a tempting possibility for interim manager Ron Roenicke.

However, if the 23-year-old Hernandez is to move back to a starting role, it sounds as if it won’t be until the season is already in progress.

The reason is that the Sox already transitioned Hernandez from starter to reliever last July, and had him spend the offseason preparing to pitch out of the bullpen.

Another option is that Hernandez could be a big part of Boston’s opener plan if the club deploys one or two of them in the rotation. Hernandez wouldn’t necessarily be the opener, but he could be pivotal in the scenario, pitching bulk innings in the middle of the game.

“We talked about it again a couple days ago and I think that talk is probably going to continue on with him,” said Roenicke. “Especially the better he does at more innings, we’ll probably keep talking about it. ‘OK, maybe he’s at two innings and then goes to three.’ Then we’re like, ‘OK, do we try this guy and see how he does starting?’ Those conversations I imagine will probably happen through the years.”

Bogaerts eases back in
Xander Bogaerts, who showed up at Spring Training with a sore left ankle, at last made his debut on Wednesday, batting third as the DH in Boston's 13-9 loss to Detroit. He went 0-for-2, striking out looking in both at-bats.

“I don’t think it can get any worse than that, to be honest. Just going upwards from here,” said Bogaerts. “I haven't really seen any live pitching. I was happy I came out of the game pretty healthy. That’s what my focus is on. Timing stuff will come along with the work that I put in. It’ll probably be a rough first couple days, then I’ll get used to the timing.”

Given that he didn’t need to run the bases, Bogaerts will start again on Thursday, most likely at DH.

JBJ off to hot start
It is a big year for Jackie Bradley Jr. Not only do the Red Sox need an all-hands-on-deck approach to replace Mookie Betts, but Bradley is entering his “walk year,” meaning he can be a free agent in November.

The center fielder, who has always had a streaky bat, is swinging well this spring.

Bradley lofted a solo shot to the opposite field in left as part of a 3-for-3 afternoon on Wednesday.

He is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with two homers in Grapefruit League action.

First batch of cuts
The Red Sox subtracted from their roster for the first time this spring, re-assigning five players to Minor League camp.

The most noteworthy name in the group is the team’s No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- righty Bryan Mata.

Mata was strong in two appearances, striking out three over three scoreless innings. The 19-year-old is projected to be about a year away from contributing in the Major Leagues.

First baseman Tommy Joseph, righty Denyi Reyes and lefties Daniel McGrath and Bobby Poyner were the other players re-assigned.

Boston’s Spring Training roster is now at 62, which includes all 40 players from the 40-man roster and 22 non-roster players.

Up next
Lefty Kyle Hart, one of the many candidates for the back of Boston's rotation, will get the start for Thursday's home game against the Astros. Third baseman Rafael Devers, who has gone deep in his last two starts, should be in the starting lineup. First pitch at JetBlue Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.