BOSTON -- No Red Sox hitter improvised better than Mitch Moreland following the shutdown of Spring Training.
He built a batting cage in a barn that is part of his property in Alabama.
Yes, Moreland helped install it himself, rather than just hiring out the work. On Day 4 of Summer Camp, Moreland elaborated on his cage in the barn.
“Actually me and a couple of the guys put the cage up ourselves in like three hours, so I was fired up about it,” said Moreland. “Something I’ve always wanted. I think my boys are getting just as much use out of it as I am. It’s fun to have and it just kind of worked out well during this time to have it.”
How did the whole thing come about?
“So we bought this property and we’re building on it anyways, and we kind of made like a party barn type of thing first so we could go out there and hang out as we’re watching the house being built,” Moreland said. “It just happened to come at just the right time obviously, though it was an unfortunate time with everybody having to go back home and kind of stay isolated as much as possible.
“But having the barn there, being able to get the cage up in it, those were always the plans. It just came about at the right time really. It worked out great. It was a blast being able to kind of be there and watch the finishing touches.”
When the coronavirus pandemic clears, it’s not hard to imagine an offseason in which several teammates congregate at Moreland’s home for some hitting sessions.
“Actually guys have talked about it here [at Summer Camp],” Moreland said. “They’ve already brought it up and they said they’re all coming to stay with me. I was like, ‘I’ll wait until all this stuff is cleared up and then you all can come up any time you want.”’
One of the veteran leaders on the Red Sox, Moreland is excited to be back for his fourth season in Boston after signing a new one-year contract (with a club option for 2021) back in January. Moreland also became the latest player to tout how well the Red Sox are doing in their efforts to keep everyone safe.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of uncertainty right now with kind of the way the last few months have gone. I’m hoping we get to finish the season, for sure,” said Moreland. “It seems like the Red Sox's staff has gone out of their way to make this safe and do everything they can to put us in a good situation. We’ve got hand sanitizer and masks, gloves everywhere. I think we’re in a good spot here. We’ve just got to be smart about it and try to go about it the right way.”
Moreland is happy to have his leadership extend to setting a good example in these times where perfect hygiene is needed.
“Constantly washing your hands, sanitizing. You’ve got to do all that stuff, and I think we’ll give ourselves the best opportunity to finish this season or get this season in if we can stick to that,” said Moreland.
Some results are pending
There was still no Eduardo Rodriguez as the Red Sox took part in their workout on Monday. Manager Ron Roenicke said Friday that Rodriguez didn’t fly to Boston last week like the rest of his teammates because he had been exposed to someone who was sick. There’s no word yet on whether Rodriguez has received results from the COVID-19 test he took in Florida.
Another player who hasn’t been spotted in any workouts? Slugging prospect Bobby Dalbec, who is part of Boston’s 49-man player pool.
“He’s not working out right now,” Roenicke said. “There are still some intake things we have to do with him. That’s all I can say about that.”
Lefty relievers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor are the two Red Sox players who are known to have tested positive last week.
While some teams have experienced delays with test results, Roenicke is pleased with the way the protocol has gone for the Red Sox.
“We haven't had those issues,” Roenicke said. “I don't know exactly what's going on with the other teams. I haven't talked to the managers about it. I did hear about it today. But right now, for us, things are going well. We're expecting to have issues and we haven't had them so far. They're happy campers so far and that's how we want to keep them.”
Weber continues to build momentum
Right-hander Ryan Weber was a standout performer before Spring Training got shut down and had vaulted himself into the favorite to be Boston’s No. 4 starter. The layoff has done nothing to diminish that prospect.
Weber threw live batting practice to several Red Sox regulars on Monday, and many left the batter’s box shaking their head. Weber is never going to light up a radar gun, but he changes speeds and commands the strike zone.
“Ryan is so consistent, so pinpoint, his stuff is so consistent,” said Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. “Inside, outside, cutting it, two-seaming it, sliding it, curving it, he's looking good right now. I'm glad he's on our side.”
JBJ not sweating free agency
Obviously, it’s not ideal for Bradley to have his final season before free agency shortened to just 60 games. But the center fielder is just going to roll with it rather than stress.
“It’s unique. But it’s something that’s out of my control,” Bradley said. “It’s out of a lot of guys’ control. You have to make the best of what you have, and play the cards you’re dealt.”
Bradley isn’t sure if more players will opt for a short-term deal this offseason so they can rebuild their value in a full season.
“Everything right now is kind of speculation,” Bradley said. “I'm going to try to focus on things I can control. That's one thing that's going to be out of my control. There could be a lot of different alternatives, a lot of different routes people could go. It's different, but I'm sure we'll get through it the best way we can and go from there.”
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.