Schwarber starts in LF; 1B on deck?

August 23rd, 2021

BOSTON -- Monday afternoon's makeup game against the Rangers marked the first time played defense for the Red Sox, as manager Alex Cora gave him the start in left field.

However, a bigger step could be imminent, as Schwarber appears close to starting at first base.

The significance of that is that the Red Sox have struggled mightily to generate production at that position all season.

Schwarber has been learning the position on the fly since Boston acquired him in a trade with the Nationals at the July 30 Trade Deadline.

The Red Sox had been waiting to put Schwarber in the field so he could fully recover from the right hamstring injury he suffered on July 2 while with Washington.

“It’s good,” Cora said of Schwarber playing left field on Monday. “It will be better when he can play first. I think that’s the ultimate goal. That was the thought process about this whole thing. He’s getting close. He’s going to go through a workout today at first base.

“Saturday was a positive one. He did a lot of stuff out there, outfielders and second basemen and different situations, something that [coaches] Carlos [Febles] and Ramón [Vazquez] put together. He moved well. He’s up to the challenge. I think he’ll be a lot better when he can play first.”

When might Schwarber’s debut at first happen?

“Maybe this week. We’ve been very patient with it,” Cora said. “I do believe it’s more about him than anything else, whenever he feels comfortable. Just me watching him, moving around, as far as ground balls and all that, he’s OK with it. He moves his feet. He has good hands.

“I do believe it’s the other stuff -- how far are we going to play him off the bag when we’re shifting? Where does he go in certain situations with relays? I think that’s the most challenging part of it, but it’s trending in the right direction. I can tell you today, sooner rather than later. I hate putting timelines and all that, but maybe we’ll see him playing one game before we go on the road.”

Cora’s message was direct
When Cora told the media after Saturday’s 10-1 loss to the Rangers that the Red Sox's performance was “embarrassing” and “unacceptable,” he wasn’t trying to send a message.

Cora indicated his players heard it directly from him first.

“I try to keep our business here in house,” said Cora. “But I won’t go to the media just to go to the media sending messages. They know how I felt after the game the other day -- not through you guys.”

Cora didn’t dispute that Sunday’s postponement to a Monday makeup game was well-timed.

“I think that after what happened Saturday, the way we played, from my end, I feel a lot better this morning than how it felt yesterday morning,” Cora said on Monday morning. “I bet the players feel the same way.”

Houck on deck
Whenever Cora says that the starter for a certain game is “TBD,” it almost always means that starter will be righty , the team's former No. 6 prospect who recently graduated from MLB Pipeline's list.

That will again be the case on Tuesday, when Houck is recalled from Triple-A Worcester to start the opener of a three-game series against the Twins.

Houck has made seven starts for the Red Sox this season, going 0-3 with a 3.52 ERA.

Nick Pivetta will pitch on Wednesday, and ace Chris Sale will get the finale of the homestand on Thursday.