Notes: Barnes' role; Schwarber at first

August 25th, 2021

BOSTON -- The one thing Red Sox manager Alex Cora knew for certain about Wednesday was that struggling closer wasn’t going to pitch. The righty needed a down day, both mentally and physically, after pitching the previous two days and not being able to get out of the ninth inning.

It sounds like once Barnes does get back out there, it will at least temporarily not be for save situations.

“We’ll see how the games go, right? We’ll use him accordingly,” said Cora. “I don’t want to say, ‘He’s not the closer,’ or, ‘He is the closer,’ ‘He’s a setup guy.’ We’ve got to get him right. That’s the most important thing.”

Cora hoped to use Wednesday’s down day as an opportunity to reassess the situation and figure out the best way to get Barnes performing up to his capabilities.

It bears watching how Barnes is used when he next pitches.

“There’s different ways of doing that. Lower-leverage situations, kind of like a big lead late in the game. I think that’s the goal now,” said Cora. “We’ve got to figure some stuff today as far as his mechanics or whatever we find today, and then we go from there.

“He’s down today, so it really doesn’t matter about we’re going to use him late in games or as a closer. Like I said, we’ve got to dig in first, get him right and then we’ll make decisions.”

In the meantime, Cora has other options he can go to in the ninth. and replaced Barnes in relief on Monday and Tuesday, and the Red Sox won both games.

“We’ve got some capable guys there. We saw what Hansel did yesterday. Obviously Whit can get outs late in games,” said Cora. “There are other guys who are intriguing -- Garrett [Richards]. We’ll attack today and then make decisions after that.”

Who’s on first?

The Red Sox might at last get his first Major League start at first base on Thursday.

Schwarber has been working out at the position in recent weeks, and he might be just about ready.

“I’ve got to talk to [trainer] Brad [Pearson] about it,” said Cora. “Kyle, he’s eager, so most likely, that’s the goal right now. We’ll talk about it, see where we are physically and make a decision. I would love for him to play first base tomorrow.”

Increasing the importance for Schwarber to play first base is that rookie hasn’t been consistent on offense or defense this season.

“It's been a struggle,” Cora said. “He's been inconsistent. ... Even from his days in college, he was a good defensive player at third base. I thought the transition was going to be a lot better than we have seen.

“We've been working hard with him. Sometimes the angle, obviously, is different. You go from one side to the other, but he's had plenty of repetitions. He's been in that position for a while. He keeps working on it, but honestly, it's something we've got to keep working, we've got to try to get him better, because it's been up and down throughout the season.”

Move-in day

Thousands of freshmen are moving into colleges in the Boston area this week, and one of them is Camilla Cora, who moved into Boston College on Wednesday.

Cora was thrilled to take part in his daughter’s huge day, and even adjusted his pregame schedule so he wouldn’t miss it.

“Moving day for my daughter in college,” Cora said, beaming as he started his pregame Zoom with the media. “Go, Eagles!”