'It's full blast': Eovaldi hits 100 mph 10 times

March 14th, 2021

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- If didn’t exactly light it up with his linescore (4 innings, 7 hits, 4 ER) on Sunday afternoon against the Twins, his velocity readings were certainly eye-opening.

The flame-thrower, who is expected to open the season as the No. 2 starter for the Red Sox, threw 10 of his 64 pitches at a speed of 100 mph or higher.

For perspective, Eovaldi has hit triple digits at least 10 times in just four of his 194 career appearances (regular season and postseason combined).

By now, Red Sox manager Alex Cora knows there is little point to telling Eovaldi to dial it back.

“It’s hard for us to slow him down,” said Cora after a 5-5 tie against the Twins. “That’s who he is. When he gets to the ballpark, everything is full speed and we understand that and we have to live with it. He’s in a great spot physically, he’s made some adjustments in the offseason and you see it. It’s full blast from the get go. It’s something -- that’s who he is and we’re not going to change it.”

With the temperature at Hammond Stadium in the mid 80s, Eovaldi came out smoking, hitting 100 or higher six times in a scoreless first inning.

“I felt really good. I’ve been doing a lot of work on my mechanics,” Eovaldi said. “They feel like they’re falling into place really well. I don’t feel like I’m fighting myself as much anymore. I threw some decent splitters today. My curveball felt really good. I threw some good sliders today as well. Cutters. I felt like I was locating the ball really well and attacking the zone. That’s what I came out there to do today, work fast, get first-pitch strikes and keep the pressure on them.”

The plan worked well the first three innings, with a solo homer by Byron Buxton the only damage from the Twins.

But in the fourth, Eovaldi gave up three runs on five hits.

“That fourth inning, I don't know,” Eovaldi said. “I was asking [catcher Kevin] Plawecki about the pitches. He’s like, ‘Those are great pitches, they’re just putting together good at-bats.’ I think I had two broken bats that inning that made it through. They just put the ball in play and the balls kept falling in."

On the day, Eovaldi walked none and struck out three. All but 13 of his pitches were for strikes.

“He was good, pounding the strike zone,” said Cora. “Home run, [Buxton] hit the ball hard, [Miguel] Sanó on the breaking ball, but besides that, obviously we don’t like the hits, but it’s weak contact and the more he pounds the strike zone with his stuff, he’s going to be successful and we like that.”

Brasier unlikely for Opening Day
It appears increasingly unlikely that Red Sox reliever will be ready for Opening Day. The righty reported to camp late due to a personal matter, and Cora revealed Sunday that Brasier fractured his right pinkie finger during offseason workouts in Texas.

There are no plans yet for Brasier to pitch in a Grapefruit League game.

“He suffered a small fracture below his pinkie, his throwing hand,” said Cora. “It wasn’t something that needed surgery but obviously needed time. He was on track as far as his rehab, his progression and everything. He was actually here early in January to take care of that stuff but for personal reasons he had to go home and it slowed him down. It put him behind.

“His progression, he feels good about it. But I think the time he missed early in camp, it put him behind with his schedule. We have to be smart about it. He’s very important for us and we don’t want to push him. I know he wants to do it. We appreciate that, but at the same time, we have to be very smart with him because as you guys know, he’s a very important part of our bullpen.”

The Red Sox have plenty of righty relievers to cover while Brasier is out, including Matt Barnes, Adam Ottavino and Hirokazu Sawamura.

Bogaerts lobbies for big field
The original plan on Sunday was for to get his at-bats during a simulation game, rather than DH-ing for the third straight day.

But shortly before gametime, the Red Sox switched up the lineup and Bogaerts was in the No. 3 spot in the batting order. He went 0-for-1 with a walk in two plate appearances.

After missing the first couple of weeks of game action, Bogaerts is trying to get as many at-bats as possible so he is caught up by Opening Day.

Cora estimates that Bogaerts will make his first start at shortstop on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Downs shaken up, Casas debuts
Boston’s top two prospects, as rated by MLB Pipeline, both got some action on Sunday.

For Triston Casas, who was slowed in camp by a non-medical baseball issue that led to him flying back to Boston, this was his Grapefruit League debut. Boston’s No. 1 prospect grounded out twice and played both corner infield spots.

“Right away, we put him at third base because we know he can do that too,” Cora said. “He played first, he played third, two at-bats, got a big smile. For everything he went through the last few weeks, it was refreshing to see him out there.”

Things didn’t go as well for No. 2 prospect Jeter Downs, who entered the game at shortstop in the sixth but had to exit in the seventh after tweaking his left side on a dive.

“They checked him and it seems like he’s OK. They’re going to obviously wait for him tomorrow and see how he reacts and how he feels at night and we’ll have more tomorrow,” said Cora. “It was his left side. We can’t say [if] it’s an oblique injury or just a bruise so we’ll wait for tomorrow.”

Up next
The Red Sox send righty Nick Pivetta to the mound for Monday’s road game against the Rays. Pivetta’s last start was also in Port Charlotte, Fla., against the Rays, and he held them to a run over three innings. This time, he is expected to go four innings. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.