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Bloom on opener; Devers unloads; Eovaldi sharp

@IanMBrowne
March 1, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With it looking increasingly likely the Red Sox will start the season with an opener or two in their rotation, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom lent his expertise on the subject in a Sunday morning meeting with interim manager Ron Roenicke and some members of the

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With it looking increasingly likely the Red Sox will start the season with an opener or two in their rotation, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom lent his expertise on the subject in a Sunday morning meeting with interim manager Ron Roenicke and some members of the coaching staff.

With the Rays in 2018, Bloom was on the ground floor as manager Kevin Cash utilized the system on a regular basis.

Bloom’s experience with the unconventional setup figures to be highly beneficial as the Red Sox enter uncharted waters with their pitching staff.

“Like [Bloom] said, he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it,” said Roenicke. “He didn’t want to be like a professor and he’s teaching us all. I’ve talked to him quite a bit about this and I still learned things today that I needed to know. So, the more information I get and we hear about it, it helps us to decide when we get near the end of camp how we’re going to do things.”

With Chris Sale starting the season on the 15-day injured list, the Red Sox currently have two spots in the rotation unclaimed.

Given Boston’s personnel -- with no obvious candidates for those spots -- an opener could be the way to go.

“Again, I think it’s the personnel,” said Roenicke. “If your personnel really fits this opener-type thing, it makes sense. It makes a lot of sense. But if you have a stud fourth or fifth starter, you do it the other way.”

Devers unloads; Papi, Roenicke impressed
Playing for just the second time this spring, third baseman Rafael Devers looked in midseason form when he unloaded for a two-run homer that soared over the wall in center against Braves righty Mike Foltynewicz in Sunday's 4-2 win.

Devers golfed the low offering and looked as if he was lunging into the ball, but still managed to crush it.

“Devers, you think you’re safe throwing a changeup down and in and he hits a homer,” said Roenicke. “He’s fun to watch. When you think of all the people in this game that are great players, and there’s just some of them that are just fun to watch. And he’s a character.”

Red Sox legend David Ortiz was in the dugout for the blast and took video of it from his cellphone. A few minutes later, Ortiz could be seen showing the footage to Devers and shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

Ortiz went on record earlier in camp proclaiming himself a huge fan of Devers.

Eovaldi off to quick start
Righty Nathan Eovaldi is a prime candidate to bounce back this season, and the Red Sox need him to.

For the second straight start, Eovaldi looked pinpoint. Facing the Braves, he fired three shutout innings while allowing one hit and no walks while striking out four.

“I feel really good,” said Eovaldi. “Today I wanted to work on my slider a little bit more because they had more righties in the lineup, and [I] felt like I had consistent break with that. I tinkered around with the grip a little bit, but the command on my off-speed pitches has been really good and my mechanics are really good right now.”

Bumps and bruises
• First baseman Mitch Moreland left Sunday’s game after just half an inning due to tightness in his right hamstring. It turns out it was no big deal.

“Obviously we’re early in camp,” said Moreland. “I just kind of went after it, first step on that foul ball against I think it was [Ozzie] Albies, and it just kind of stayed tight a little bit through the inning. I just didn’t want to push it right now. Early in camp, just trying to be smart with it.”

• Left fielder Andrew Benintendi was out of the lineup for a third straight day with soreness in his left quad. The hope is that he can start on Tuesday against the Yankees.

• There is still no timetable for shortstop Xander Bogaerts (left ankle) to play in his first game of Spring Training. However, Roenicke remains confident Bogaerts will be able to play on Opening Day.

• Outfielder Alex Verdugo, recovering from a stress fracture in his back, could progress to swinging a bat within the week.

“We’re hoping sometime this week that the rotation things can get [implemented],” Roenicke said. “He’s doing really well in everything else, so we’re hoping that that rotation comes pretty soon. He’s chomping at the bit. I just talked to him a few minutes ago. He wants to get out there. We’ll see where he’s at.”

Up next
Righty Ryan Weber, who is one of several candidates vying for a spot in the back end of the rotation, takes the ball for Monday's game in Lakeland against the Tigers. Key setup man Matt Barnes will make his first appearance of the spring. Michael Chavis and Jackie Bradley Jr. are expected to be in the starting lineup. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.