In what has been mostly a lost season for Darwinzon Hernandez, who was sidelined with COVID-19 and then made just three appearances before going back on the injured list with a sprained SC joint, the electric lefty will get a chance to pitch over the Red Sox’s final nine games.
The 23-year-old Hernandez was activated for Friday’s opener of a three-game series against the Yankees. To make room for him on the roster, the Red Sox optioned righty Robinson Leyer to the alternate training site.
If things had gone differently for Hernandez this season, the Red Sox might have given him another look as a starter -- the role in which he performed through most of his Minor League career.
But the current thought is to keep him in the bullpen, where he was impressive at times in the second half of 2019.
“He may be able to go two innings here before we’re done,” said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. “And hopefully the strength is there, the command is there, and then I think it’s just important to get him back out and see that he’s healthy and going back into the offseason where he can build up and get strong again and get ready for next year.”
Hernandez’s role for 2021 and beyond could be impacted by roster construction and also how the big lefty develops.
“I don’t think that we’ve got to that point where we know,” Roenicke said. “I think we like him in the bullpen right now, and unfortunately with what happened to him, we weren’t able to get him into see what he looked like as a starter. But I do know that there’s a lot of people here that really like him in the bullpen, I think there’s some people also that think he has a chance to start. But we know he can be that piece in the bullpen, and as of now, that’s where he’ll be.”
Dalbec gets a day
After a four-strikeout game Thursday that left him with 10 strikeouts in his last four games and 30 through 59 career plate appearances, rookie Bobby Dalbec was out of the lineup for Friday’s game against the Yankees.
“I’ve done it quite a bit in my career,” said Dalbec, the Red Sox's No. 3 prospect. “It used to bother me a lot more. Obviously right now it’s pretty frustrating the last few games, but it’s still been a fun, productive last week or so. Just trying to build off the good parts of it and just reset a little bit.”
Look for Dalbec to return to the lineup Saturday.
“Yeah, he’s going to be in the cage with [hitting coaches] Tim [Hyers] and Pete [Fatse], try to get back some things he was doing really well a couple weeks ago, not that we expect him to have to go on that kind of run again,” Roenicke said. “But it was really good for a while. It was really fun watching him. But making sure that we’re thinking about what’s best for him and his career and moving him forward. It’s a mental break day for him and to work on things.”
And what might some of those things be?
“A lot of it is pitches I’m swinging at. I’m letting some good pitches go and I’m swinging at pitches outside of the zone,” Dalbec said. “Once I kind of get back to myself and find my zone up here and stay committed to that and get on a roll and get some experience with doing all those things, I think I’ll be more consistent. But right now, it’s either really hot or really cold, and that’s the middle ground I’ve got to work on. Staying positive throughout the struggles is a big thing and just continuing to get better.”
From Sept. 5-10, Dalbec became the first Red Sox rookie to hit a homer in five straight games.
“It was awesome,” Dalbec said. “It feels really cool to be able to kind of leave my footprint on something like that so early in my career. So I just want to continue to get better and hopefully continue to produce.”
Sox get local kid for Pillar
The Red Sox announced the completion of the Kevin Pillar trade with the Rockies from Aug. 31, and the compensation coming back has local ties.
Minor League righty Jacob Wallace, the pride of Methuen, Mass., is the player to be named. The 22-year-old had been ranked the Rockies’ No. 20 prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Wallace was a third-round pick by the Rockies in the 2019 Draft after a strong collegiate career for the University of Connecticut.
In his professional debut last season, Wallace made 22 relief appearances for Class A Short-Season Boise, notching a 1.29 ERA in 21 innings.
Papi recently had COVID-19
Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz joined the NESN broadcast for an inning during Friday night’s game against the Yankees and revealed that he recently had COVID-19.
“Yeah, man, I just got it,” said Ortiz. “I just had my last test yesterday. Thanks to God, I tested negative. I had it asymptomatic, [so] mine wasn’t that bad. My brother had it really bad. He was in the hospital for a week, and he ended up losing, like, 25 pounds. This is no joke. You don’t realize how crazy this is until it hits home.
“I learned so much about this COVID-19 thing while I was going through the process. It’s something. It’s an experience, to be honest with you.”
As for the Red Sox, who entered Friday 19-32 this season, Ortiz has confidence his former team will rebound swiftly.
“Next year is going to be a building year, and I’m 100 percent sure we’re going to have a better team,” Ortiz said.