Eovaldi: 'I feel like I’m ready to go' 

Righty fans side in rehab outing, set to rejoin Red Sox this weekend

July 18th, 2019

BOSTON -- Nathan Eovaldi breezed into McCoy Stadium and struck out the side in the second inning on Thursday morning at Triple-A Pawtucket, putting an emphatic stamp on his one-stint rehab assignment.

The flame-throwing righty headed to Fenway Park shortly thereafter to join the Red Sox for their 5-0 win over the Blue Jays, and he accompanied the team to Baltimore for a three-game series that starts Friday night.

Eovaldi won’t be activated until Saturday at the earliest because he’s not yet ready to pitch on back-to-back days.

“I felt good,” Eovaldi said. “Cutter felt better. I didn’t throw any splits today, but threw some curveballs and felt really good. I feel like I’ve gone through all the tests I possibly can. I feel like I’m ready to go. We’ll just use tomorrow as a recovery day and go from there.”

A member of the starting rotation when the season started, Eovaldi is moving to the bullpen for two reasons: The first is that it makes a swifter return possible without the buildup a starter needs to come back from an injury. The second is that Boston’s bullpen needs an impact arm like the one Eovaldi has.

Eovaldi threw 19 pitches against Louisville, 11 of them for strikes. He had one walk.

Manager Alex Cora hasn’t defined a specific role for Eovaldi yet, but it stands to reason he could move into the closer’s position before long.

The Red Sox haven’t gone with a set closer this season, though has been used in that role of late, and he converted a five-out save on Wednesday.

The addition of Eovaldi gives the Red Sox a lot more depth in the late innings, and it should stop Cora from having to over-use Workman and . Lefty has also emerged into more of a high-leverage role of late, and , the team’s top pitching prospect per MLB Pipeline, was added to the ‘pen earlier this week. is also an important weapon for Boston, especially if he can regain the velocity he had before his stint on the injured list.

“It’s very significant,” Cora said of Eovaldi’s return. “That’s one more arm, and there’s a few more guys that have thrown the ball well, too. You’ve got J.T. and you’ve got Work and you’ve got Barnesy throwing the ball better. You’ve got Nate. It’s kind of like the domino effect, like, one more guy is going to help us get the previous inning and the previous inning and the previous inning but everything starts from the first inning.

“We can talk about the bullpen and the back end, but we need our starters to go deep in the game. If we do that -- and we’re not talking about eight innings, or seven or whatever -- six innings for us work. Where we’re at offensively right now, it’s just a matter for them to do what they always do and we’ll get rolling.”

Worth noting

• It continues to be slow going for first baseman Steve Pearce, who was initially placed on the injured list with a low back strain and is now sidelined indefinitely with a left knee injury. He is working out at the team’s Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., but isn’t close to returning to action.

• On May 27, Dustin Pedroia announced that he was taking a break from baseball to gauge whether his problematic left knee would ever allow him to play again. Is there anything new?

“The last time I talked to him was with Tito [Terry Francona] in the All-Star Game,” said Cora. “Yeah, he’s doing OK. Just relaxing and thinking about stuff. Spending time with the family.”