Eovaldi to start, Kiké to debut Sun. vs. Twins

Camp arrivals; Cora's plans for Gonzalez; Dugie's report on Hernández

February 25th, 2021

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While Eduardo Rodriguez will likely get the nod for the Red Sox on Opening Day, righty Nathan Eovaldi will be first out of the gate when the club plays its first Grapefruit League game on Sunday on the road against the Twins at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Manager Alex Cora had mentioned earlier this week that Eovaldi is a little ahead of the other pitchers in his progression.

The plan is for Rafael Devers to get the nod at third base, with Enrique Hernández making his Red Sox debut at short. Christian Arroyo will play second and slugger Bobby Dalbec is projected to get the start at first base. Christian Vázquez will catch.

“We’re still working on the outfield,” said Cora.

The Red Sox will play 29 Grapefruit League games, and Monday’s home opener against the Braves will be the first televised by NESN.

In all, NESN will air 11 Spring Training games, nine at home and two on the road.

Here are the other games NESN will carry:

March 6 against the Twins
March 7 at the Braves
March 13 against the Braves
March 14 at the Twins
March 19 against the Rays
March 21 against the Pirates
March 24 against the Orioles
March 25 against the Twins
March 28 against the Twins
March 30 against the Braves

Dave O’Brien will do play-by-play for most games, with Tom Caron subbing in for others. Dennis Eckersley, Jerry Remy and Lenny DiNardo will be the rotating group of analysts.

Update on arrivals
The Red Sox are getting closer to having their full roster in camp. Catcher Kevin Plawecki, who was placed on the COVID-19 injured list last week, reported to camp. He will be able to take the field with his teammates once he clears the intake protocols.

Left fielder Franchy Cordero, also on the COVID-19 injured list, could arrive in Fort Myers by early next week.

The hope is for Japanese righty reliever Hirokazu Sawamura to arrive at some point next week, as soon as he resolves his visa issues.

Plan for Marwin?
Now that Marwin Gonzalez has been signed, Cora can talk about how he plans to use the versatile veteran.

“Good defender, switch-hitter, so he can protect Bobby at first, he can protect people at second hitting lefty, he can play third against a tough lefty whenever Raffy gets a day off. [He] can play short and he's a left-handed hitter to help Xander [Bogaerts],” said Cora. “He can play left, he can play right, very versatile. Last year wasn't a great year for him, but you look at '19, he hit the ball hard with the Twins. We have a really good relationship. This is a guy that I trust. I know he can do a lot of stuff on the field, in the clubhouse and I'm happy that he's with us.”

Scouting report on Hernández
Verdugo, who played with Hernández for three seasons with the Dodgers, offered a scouting report on his friend.

“I think you’re getting a very versatile player. Defensively, he’s one of the top ... definitely one of the top in the game defensively, especially in the infield,” said Verdugo. “Some of the plays he made when I was with the Dodgers and watching him, how his hands work and how his arm works, it’s very fast-twitched and a lot of ground that gets covered in the infield. Even in the outfield as well, he’s good out there, too.

“You’re getting a good bat also. He’s got good pop. Obviously runs into some ups and downs, but everybody does. Having the dimensions of the park, with right-center so big and left field so close, I think that will play Kiké to his strengths. I think a lot of balls that were maybe flyouts or to the warning track to left [will become] doubles, homers. And when he does go oppo, he’ll have a lot of room in that right-center area to run and take some extra bases. I’m looking forward to seeing him and how he plays. He looks strong and ready to go.”