BOSTON -- When Red Sox manager Alex Cora planned on sitting first baseman Mitch Moreland for just one game on Thursday, he played it off as just a night of rest.But when Moreland was again out of the lineup on Friday against a righty starter, Cora had no choice but
BOSTON -- When Red Sox manager Alex Cora planned on sitting first baseman Mitch Moreland for just one game on Thursday, he played it off as just a night of rest.
But when Moreland was again out of the lineup on Friday against a righty starter, Cora had no choice but to acknowledge the obvious: The first baseman is banged up.
"A little banged up. The thing about that, and I want to make sure we're clear, I can't, like, let everyone know what's going on with my 25-man roster when I have a manager over there trying to manage against me," said Cora. "That was the reason we didn't mention anything. Obviously he's not in the lineup, so you guys know a little bit now, but he's available."
The issue for Moreland, it turns out, is left knee soreness. Moreland hopes to return on Saturday or Sunday, and he didn't rule out the possibility of pinch-hitting on Friday.
"Just a little banged up," said Moreland. "Knee was a little sore there in Baltimore. Give it a couple of days. Trying to get it back under me a little bit more and be ready to go."
Last offseason, Moreland had surgery on his left knee to repair his meniscus.
"I think this is maybe a little bit [because] of the weather conditions, it being a little slick out there and kind of bouncing around a little bit," said Moreland.
Last year, Moreland gained great respect from his teammates from playing much of the season with a broken toe in his left foot. Though Cora appreciates Moreland's play-at-all-costs mentality, he also thinks it is his job to protect players from themselves.
"Like I said, and this is from early in the season, this is a guy we have to take care of," Cora said. "I'm not saying workload has to do with it. Just, he's a big guy moving around, but, obviously, we've got Steve [Pearce] now and there's certain guys, even with a righty on the mound, we're going to stay away from him. He's so important.
"I saw what happened last year and this whole grinder, 'I'll play through injury.' It's good to hear, it's cool to see, but sometimes we have to be smart about it, because we need these guys healthy, that's the most important thing."
Moreland appreciates the way Cora handles not just his situation, but other players also.
"I think Alex has done a great job with us all this year, kind of with the scheduled off-days," Moreland said. "It wasn't quite like that five, seven years ago. I think it kind of keeps everybody from getting too banged up and having to fight through things as much. He's done a great job with it. We've got such a deep team that we're able to do that. Guys can step up and help us win night in and night out. You look around the room and everybody has stepped up and done it."
E-Rod itching to get back
It has been nearly two weeks since lefty Eduardo Rodriguez suffered a right ankle sprain. What is the latest on his recovery?
"Yeah, so he's going to see a specialist this weekend," said Cora. "We're not sure when he's coming, but he'll be here before Monday. He still has to wear the walking boot around. He can do that to keep his arm in shape, but overall, he has to wear it and then we'll see where we are over the weekend. But with that, it looks pretty good to see him walking around, but it doesn't mean that he'll be ready in two weeks or whatever. We have to wait until the specialist comes in and we take the next step."
One thing that has impressed Cora is Rodriguez's eagerness to get back. In past years, Rodriguez would be more tentative when coming back from his multiple right knee injuries.
"Yeah, it's something that a lot of people in the clubhouse are talking about it compared to last year with the new issue. He was, last year, very hesitant to do stuff, and now, it's the other way around," Cora said. "He's kind of like pushing everybody and we have to [be like], 'Hey, man, slow it down.' His mind is in the right frame. He feels that this is going to happen and he's going to be part of this and I love that, but we still have to wait. It's good to see him in good spirits walking around and doing baseball activities."
Swihart catching on
Before Friday's game, former Red Sox captain/catcher Jason Varitek was giving Blake Swihart some technique suggestions in the clubhouse. Swihart seems to have taken well to his work with Varitek and has shown some promise when given the chance to catch during Christian Vazquez's stint on the DL.
"He's been good," Cora said. "He prepares. He has the wristband [for pitch calling]. There's a lot of communication between him and [pitching coach] Dana [LeVangie] in between innings, and Sandy [Leon], too. He's relaxed now, you can tell. Even the at-bats, I think he got to the point, we had talked about him trying to get four hits in one at-bat. He's past that, he's calling a good game, blocking pitches, throwing the ball well. He's been doing an outstanding job for us."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.