Who will fill Rodríguez's spot in Boston's 'pen?
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- With an expectation building that lefty Joely Rodríguez will start the season on the 15-day injured list after suffering an injury to his right side on Saturday, the Red Sox are starting to contemplate who will replace him in the bullpen.
Rodríguez was projected to join Richard Bleier as the two lefties in manager Alex Cora’s relief crew.
If the Sox decide to fill the position internally, they have a couple of options who were in camp earlier in Ryan Sherriff and Oddanier Mosqueda.
While the 32-year-old Sherriff has 44 games of MLB experience over parts of four seasons, posting a 3.65 ERA, Mosqueda, an international free agent signed by Boston in 2015, carries a bit more intrigue.
“He throws strikes and has deception,” Cora said of the 23-year-old. “Analytics-wise, his stuff is really good. He can go multiple innings, too.”
Boston could also choose to stick with Bleier as its only lefty until Rodríguez returns and stack up on the right side in the meantime.
One more option is that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom could add a lefty via trade or the waiver wire before the end of Spring Training.
The Red Sox will have a better handle on how long Rodríguez will be out in the next day or so.
“Sore this morning,” said Cora prior to Sunday’s game against the Phillies at BayCare Ballpark. “We feel it’s the oblique area, but he’s going to get imaging tomorrow so we’ll know more. It looks like it’s going to be an IL kind of thing. How long? We’ll know more tomorrow.”
Kiké back in camp, will play Monday
While the Red Sox were on the road on Sunday, Kiké Hernández returned to camp, a couple of days after Puerto Rico was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic. Though Hernández is playing shortstop for Boston this season, he was used exclusively in center field during the Classic.
“He’s doing well,” Cora said. “Just a 'regen' day today. He had the off-day yesterday. He knows he needs to get repetition at shortstop. So he'll play tomorrow, then Tuesday off, back at it Wednesday, then probably the next day off, and then over the weekend, he’ll play more.”
Justin Turner, who was hit in the face by a pitch on March 6 against the Tigers, will also make his return for Monday’s home game against the Pirates.
Leadoff by committee
One of the big questions for the Red Sox heading into this season revolves around the leadoff spot. The way Cora was talking on Sunday, it sounds like it could be a committee of players hitting first.
Christian Arroyo has been hitting in that spot quite a bit of late. Cora mentioned last week that rookie Triston Casas, an on-base machine with power, could see time in that spot. Alex Verdugo and Hernández are others you could see there. Rob Refsnyder could lead off against lefties at times.
“I just had a long conversation with [bench coach] Ramón Vázquez about leading off, and there's a lot of guys that can do it,” said Cora. “It’s just a matter of how we're going to do it. I don't think we're going to have a set leadoff guy to be honest with you, especially early in the season. We can go different ways. We’ll look for matchups and all that.
“Yeah, we’ve got a lot of left-handed hitters, but they're really good at what they do. So the way I see it, if one day we bunch them up and we score five before they bring in the lefty [reliever], well, good for us. We just have to see what's better for the team, knowing that probably [Rafael Devers] is going to hit second most of the time, followed by Turner, and I think [Masataka] Yoshida is going to be in that [cleanup] spot early on in the season. So we'll decide what we do come Opening Day."