BOSTON -- Friday night’s unique seven-inning doubleheader at Fenway Park -- the one in which the Red Sox were the home team for the first game and the Blue Jays hit in the bottom of the inning for the nightcap -- will be remembered as the day when Yairo Muñoz
BOSTON -- Friday night’s unique seven-inning doubleheader at Fenway Park -- the one in which the Red Sox were the home team for the first game and the Blue Jays hit in the bottom of the inning for the nightcap -- will be remembered as the day when Yairo Muñoz splashed lasers all over the field.
Many Red Sox fans were properly unfamiliar with Muñoz when the day started. By the time it ended, he made a statement with six hits over the two games, including two doubles and a homer.
After going 3-for-3 in the 8-7 loss in Game 1, Muñoz came back with a 3-for-4 performance while helping the Red Sox to a 3-2 win in the nightcap.
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Six hits in a span of a little more than six hours. Not a bad day of work, right?
“Yeah, it’s my first time with six [in one day], it’s a big number,” Muñoz said. “I felt great. I was able to show all the work I’ve been doing and some of the things I’ve been working on lately. It was good to have some results to go with my work.”
So how did the Red Sox get Muñoz and why is it possible you don’t remember it happening? He was signed on March 24 as a free agent -- 17 days after the Cardinals released him and 12 days after MLB paused due to the pandemic.
Muñoz's release from St. Louis came under controversial circumstances. After suffering a hamstring injury in Spring Training, Muñoz flew home to the Dominican Republic rather than undergoing an MRI. There were reports that he was unhappy about his playing-time situation with the Cardinals, and that was an impetus for him leaving the team.
Rather than elaborating on what was going through his mind in March, Muñoz chose to stay in the present and look with hope to the future.
“I know I have a bright future ahead of me,” Muñoz said. “What happened, that’s in the past. I don’t look back on it. It was what it was. But I’m here, I’m present, I’m here to help the team and I’m looking forward to my future. I know that I’m young, I know I have a bright future if I continue to work hard. I’m excited where I am right now.”
The Red Sox were sure excited to have him in the lineup for both games of the twin bill. For whatever reason, their offense just hasn’t lived up to its considerable potential this season. On Friday afternoon and evening, Muñoz provided a spark.
“Fun seeing somebody that’s really hot,” said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. “If he swings the bat like this, it’s going to be fun watching him pretty much every day. So, we’ll see what happens. But like I said, to have somebody just on fire is pretty cool to see.”
The Cardinals cutting ties with the 25-year-old provided an opening for the Red Sox, who added him to the player pool and brought him to Summer Camp.
After starting the season at the alternate site in Pawtucket, R.I., Muñoz at last got the callup to the Red Sox on Monday.
To Muñoz, that call to go to Boston gave him the same type of excitement as when the Cardinals first brought him to the Major Leagues in 2018.
“Yeah, I mean, it was extremely exciting, Muñoz said. “When I went down there, I never put my head down and I kept working. I worked hard every day while I was there. I continued to improve and get better. But, yeah, when that phone call came, the first thing I did was call my mom. I told my mom, ‘Mom, I’m going back. Going back to the big leagues, they called me.’ Yeah, it was extremely exciting.”
Roenicke is seeing firsthand that the reports he had from the alternate training site were spot on.
“He swings the bat and that’s what they had told us in the alternate site, that he was swinging the bat better than anybody and that’s what we’re seeing,” Roenicke said. “That’s what I read all the time about him, about the good at-bats, so it would be a big boost if we can get somebody swinging it really hot and then get the other guys going.”
Now that he’s here, Muñoz also adds the versatility of being able to play second, short, third and the outfield.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.