Schwarber scores twice in debut

August 14th, 2021

BOSTON -- With 44 games left in the season, the Red Sox are about to see what their team looks like at full strength.

Slugger , the left-handed-hitting veteran acquired on July 29 from the Nationals, was activated from the 10-day injured list on Friday. He went 0-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored while serving as Boston's designated hitter in an 8-1 win over the Orioles.

“It’s a different at-bat with Kyle,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after the game. “It’s a more patient approach. Obviously he’s looking to do damage, and hopefully that’s the start of something good. We still don’t know how it’s going to look when everybody is playing, but whether he’s hitting second or fourth or sixth, it’s a quality at-bat, and he protects a lot of guys in the lineup.”

Schwarber's debut came one day ahead of lefty ace Chris Sale making his first start for the Red Sox since Aug. 13, 2019.

Reeling of late, with 11 losses in their last 14 games before Friday's win, the Red Sox hope to get a jolt from these two significant reinforcements.

"That's our trading Deadline, right? These might be our trades," said Cora. "We've been talking about this for a while, and now it's right here right in front of us. But at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter. We have to perform. There's a lot of guys in that clubhouse that have struggled the last few weeks, either offensively or defensively, pitching-wise. For us to be a good team, we have to play clean baseball. We have to be better."

To make room for Schwarber on the roster, veteran utilityman Marwin Gonzalez was designated for assignment.

Schwarber was supposed to start a brief Minor League rehab assignment for Triple-A Worcester on Thursday, but that game was postponed due to rain.

The decision was made Friday for Schwarber to forgo any Minor League action and come straight to the Red Sox.

How risky is that, considering Schwarber hadn't played in a game since July 2, when he strained his right hamstring while with the Nationals?

"We're about to see," said Cora. "We've seen this guy do other stuff, kind of a similar thing a few years ago, so we trust his judgment. We've seen him taking batting practice. We've done a lot of stuff behind closed doors to get him up to speed with the game, and the goal for him is to get complete at-bats.

"This guy, he controls the strike zone. It's not like he's a wild swinger. Hopefully he can control it, get a few walks, put a few good swings and help us win a ballgame."

When the Red Sox made the trade for Schwarber, there was talk about him learning how to play first base, a position the Red Sox have received limited production at this season.

That still might happen at some point. But the plan for the next week is for Schwarber to DH with J.D. Martinez -- who had the night off on Friday -- playing left field.

Schwarber could play left and first once he starts playing defense.

"We're talking about next week most likely against Texas," said Cora. "The plan is obviously to take care of him. It's one of those that we're going to be smart, and obviously we have to take care of him throughout the process. And not [just] physically, but protect them against lefties and righties, [so] we can play the matchup game. The goal is for him to DH throughout the week and let's see where we're at physically when we get home for the Texas series."

Though the Red Sox might seem to be heavy with options in the corner outfield and DH but light at first base, Cora thinks it will sort itself out.

"As long as we rake, we'll be fine. We'll find a way," said Cora.

While the Fenway faithful embraced Schwarber's debut on Friday, they'll have even more to cheer about on Saturday when Sale is back on the bump for the first time in two years.

"This is not only for the present," Cora said of Sale. "He's a huge part of the future. It's two different situations … and we feel they will contribute this year to help us win the division and get to October."