Notes: Bloom on Boston's position; protocols

September 1st, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG -- The last time Red Sox chief baseball officer held a press conference before the one that took place Wednesday was about a month ago, just after the Trade Deadline had passed.

At the time, the Red Sox were at the same place as they are currently -- Tropicana Field.

But so much has changed. When Bloom last spoke to a big media group on July 30, his team led the American League by 1 1/2 games. One month and two days later, the Red Sox entered Wednesday’s game trailing Tampa Bay by 10 games in the American League East and pinning their realistic playoff hopes to the AL Wild Card.

With hindsight being 20/20 as always, Bloom was asked if his lack of impactful action at the Trade Deadline caused a letdown in the clubhouse.

“I can’t pretend to know what’s in everybody’s head. Again, I think a lot of this stuff takes place in narratives that mostly exist outside of our walls,” said Bloom. “But from our standpoint, we believe in the group, and we went out and tried to make good baseball moves to help the group. That’s how we looked at it, and that’s still how we look at it.”

The biggest thing Bloom did was add Kyle Schwarber’s big bat, and that has paid dividends since the veteran was activated from the injured list on Aug. 13.

But the bottom line is that the Red Sox are 19-27 since July 5 and 12-19 since July 29.

“I know [manager] Alex [Cora] noticed some things that were starting to slip in our performance even going back to July 4 weekend,” said Bloom. “There's a reason this is a six-month season. There’s a reason we play 162 games. You easily find out a lot more in 162 than you find out in 100 or 81 or 40.

“And, you know, we're seeing that with some of the teams that are pulling ahead in this marathon as it goes on. We're seeing that the schedule is not rewarding, you know, when you're inconsistent with your play. There's obviously a lot of different things you've seen.

“There were a lot of things that were going right in the first half haven't gone right, and some of them have been really poorly timed. There's a lot of different things that have gone wrong at the same time that's made it harder for us to win a lot of games we were winning in the first half.”

Bloom hopes the Red Sox can flip the narrative again with 28 games left.

“This is baseball. A lot of different things happen over the course of the season. Anybody can beat anybody at any given night and you want to put yourself in as good a position as you can to win every game, while understanding that things are going to play out a little bit differently every night,” said Bloom. “It's important to try to separate the signal from the noise. What is real in terms of something that you should be concerned [about], that you should try to fix and what is just kind of going through peaks and valleys over the course of a six-month season?”

COVID situation ‘gut-wrenching’
Before Bloom fielded any questions about baseball, there were many questions about the recent COVID-19 outbreak that has engulfed the Red Sox on their current road trip.

Eight players are on the COVID-19 injured list and seven have tested positive.

Infielder Yairo Muñoz was the latest to test positive on Wednesday.

“It's gut-wrenching,” said Bloom. “How else can you react? Every single one has been. We try to go to great lengths to keep these sorts of things from happening, and then to see what's happening now, it's really hard. This goes beyond baseball. We feel, and I certainly feel in the chair I sit in, a lot of responsibility to every single person in our traveling party and our organization. When our powers to prevent something like this from happening and continuing to happen only go so far, that's a bad feeling.”

While Bloom wishes that all of his players and staff were vaccinated, he thinks it is unfair to blame their current crisis on the fact the Red Sox are one of six MLB teams that hasn’t reached the 85-percent vaccination threshold.

“Every person in this organization that isn't vaccinated pains me,” Bloom said. “We know that the delta variant is a different animal. And even against the delta variant, the data does suggest that vaccination still helps. That's why we are strong proponents of it.

“At the same time, even though that's true in the aggregate, in terms of this specific situation, we have a lot of breakthrough infections. There's no real way to know if it would've been different if we had a higher vaccination rate or not. In this case, I don't know if that's knowable, and it doesn't seem that helpful to play the what-if game.”

Tightening up protocols
In their ongoing effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Red Sox have made alterations to their routine, which is similar to how most teams handled the 2020 season.

Team buses are being staggered. The Red Sox are encouraging players to come in later so that they don’t spend as much time together in the clubhouse. And meetings are being held outdoors.