Boston Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes was hurling a concerning 92-93 MPH four-seam fastball at the start of Spring Training.
“We kind of found something mechanically that hopefully, it’s what gets him going,” said manager Alex Cora Sunday.
The 31-year-old threw Sunday on the back fields, and it’s his last throwing session before Opening Day. The righty pitched four outings of Grapefuit League action.
Barnes usually averages around the 95-96 range on the fastball, though it’s been down this spring, and Cora used a figure skating analogy to explain what Boston’s right-hander found in his leg kick.
“I think it’s something about his leg kick,” Cora said. “Last year he was a lot tighter. Now he’s like, loose. If you want to use a reference, it’s like a figure skater. When you open, it slows down. When you close, you’re actually faster, quicker. So hopefully that’s what gets him going. Kind of engaged in his delivery. And then he doesn’t have to create. Right now, mechanically he’s so off and then he tries to create velocity and it’s not there.”
Christian Arroyo fitting into the outfield well
Christian Arroyo has never played a single inning of outfield in his life — including little league. But after the recent acquisition of Trevor Story forced him to move to the outfield, Arroyo has been fitting in well with his new role — he’s played in two games this spring in right field.
“It’s good. There’s really nothing that’s been hard about it,” Arroyo said. ‘It’s just kind of getting reps out there. Just catching fly balls and stuff. I feel like when you overthink it, that’s when it gets quote-unquote hard. But for me, nah. I just try to go out there and make the plays.”
Boston might need an outfield bat after the team swapped Hunter Renfroe for the much more defensive-friendly Jackie Bradley Jr., as while Bradley might be a much better defensive utility, he hit just .165 with a 35 wRC+ across 134 games last year with the Brewers.
Arroyo is used to learning new positions at this point. After the callup of Jarren Duran that forced Kiké Hernandez to move to second base, Arroyo learned first base but stretched a bit too far reaching for a ball and suffered an injury in his first game at the position. Now, as you’ll find if you scroll down in the notebook, Arroyo stepped up to the challenge of learning outfield.
The 26-year-old is even ready to play in the outfield as soon as Opening Day, on April 7 vs. the Yankees.
“I don’t see why not,” Arroyo said. “I mean, I feel pretty comfortable out there now. It’s nothing crazy. Just (learning) some different types of plays, throwing to bags and stuff. I don’t see it being that much of an issue.”
Darwinzon Hernandez will start season with WooSox
Darwinzon Hernandez will start the season in Triple-A Worcester, and he’ll get the Opening Day start for the WooSox Tuesday in Jacksonville agains the Jumbo Shrimp.
“I think the plan for him is actually he’s going to start probably Opening Day in Jacksonville, but he’ll go 2 or 3 innings,” explained Cora. “The goal is for him to work in between starts or in between outings. He hasn’t been able to do that in years. It wasn’t a comfortable conversation because we know what he can do. But the goal is for him to work with (Worcester pitching Paul Abbott) in between starts and try to be consistent.”
Cora went on to say the Red Sox told him that he has big-league talent, and he’s one of Boston’s best hurlers stuff-wise. The Sox know he has big-league talent, though command issues (career 7.44 BB/9) have plagued the 25-year-old throughout his career (84 outings, 1 start)
Derek Holland stays with Sox
Derek Holland was informed by the team that he wasn’t going to make the Opening Day roster, though he will stay with the team. Part of his contract allowed him to opt-out if he wanted to, but he’ll stay and play for the WooSox.
“Just talked to Derek Holland. He loves the Red Sox organization and wants to be a part of it. He’s accepting his assignment to AAA Worcester. He thinks this group in Boston is going to be really special this year,” Will Middlebrooks said on Twitter.
Holland replied to someone’s reply of Middlebrooks.
“Took the assignment because I’ve only been able to showcase 2 innings all my other games been backfield and it’s a great organization to be apart of so i want to stay and see where this road takes me. Going to be a lot of fun with these guys.”
Monday’s Boston Red Sox lineup is a good preview of what the lineup is going to look like on an everyday basis against right-handed starting pitchers. Trevor Story made his Sox debut in their 10-7 win over the Braves Wednesday afternoon.
The lineup features a usual look from last year’s lineup, with Story hitting sixth behind the usual combination of Kiké Hernandez, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Alex Verdugo — while Jackie Bradley Jr. is hitting eighth, and Christian Vazquez rounds it out at the No. 9 spot.
Against lefties, Devers — a left-handed hitter himself — will drop lower in the order, while Story could bat in the two-hole against southpaws.
Christian Arroyo and Bradley Jr. will likely both see some measure of time in right field, though Arroyo will shuffle around the field — or at least has the ability to — compared to Bradley who will stick in right or center. Arroyo began playing in right due to Story taking his second base role. Arroyo stepped up to the role as soon as the rumors flew around about Story.
“I think he is athletic enough to move around in right field,” manager Alex Cora said regarding Arroyo. “We’ll try to put him in spots that we know the ball is going to be hit there.”
Cora also went on to later note that a lower spot in the order rounds out the offense more than anything, and gives him the ability to run the bases freely compared to earlier in the lineup where he’d be forced to not run at times.
Cora begins to finalize his roster as the season is just eight days away.
Travis Shaw and Rob Refsnyder aren’t having the greatest springs, among relievers. Shaw and Refsnyder are both in the running for a bench-bat major-league roster spot. The struggles should be taken with a grain of salt though due to the short buildup.
Shaw is hitless through 17 at-bats and Refsnyder is just 4-for-23 with a homer. Jonathan Arauz — who homered today, Yolmer Sanchez, and Franchy Cordero are all in the race with the two for an Opening Day spot.
On the hurling side of things, Hirokazu Sawamura (5 ER, 2.1 IP), Jake Diekman (7 ER, 2.2 IP), and Ryan Brasier (5 ER, 2.2 IP) have all seen some preseason struggles. But, again, take it with a grain of salt due to the short buildup.
Hansel Robles could be with the Sox soon
After some issues with his Visa, Hansel Robles should be in Fort Myers. He’d have a much greater chance of making the major-league 28-man roster if he had more time to prepare for his season with the team, as the buildup for relievers is already short enough. He can only hope he just makes the cut for the Opening Day squad.
Cora remarked that Robles was a “workaholic,” and there is a chance he could be ready for Opening Day.
Other tidbits of notes:
- Kyle Tyler was claimed by the Padres after just one game of catch; reliever was DFA’d after waiver claim of Kyle Garza Jr.
- Cora won’t name a closer: “You’ll see on April 7th”
The Boston Red Sox are beginning the last week of spring training, as Opening Day is just 10 days away. Here’s another notebook addition, filled with info on Trevor Story, J.D. Martinez, Darwinzon Hernandez, Marcelo Mayer, and more.
Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts helped recruit Trevor Story
Dustin Pedroia played a major role in Trevor Story coming to Boston.
“He’s one of the guys I modeled my game after,” Story said. “Just the toughness and the grittiness. It was cool to hear from him and have that be a part of it.”
Story, who has played shortstop for the entirety of his career, will play second base across from current shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who isn’t willing to move despite Story being a much better defender according to advanced metrics. Bogaerts also has an opt-out after this season that he reportedly plans on using.
Despite that, Bogaerts also played a role in the recruitment of the newest power bat in boston.
“He didn’t have to do that,” Story said. “I think it just shows his character and speaks to the kind of guy he is. He wants to win and he wanted me to come here. That made me feel comfortable off the jump.”
Story will play second base in the footsteps of Pedroia, who retired last year following a series of setbacks and failed comeback attempts.
“It’s huge. It’s an honor,” Story said when asked about playing at Pedroia’s former position. “To play second after a guy like that, it’s awesome. I’m going to be picking his brain and hitting him up and seeing what he’s got for me. I’m looking forward to that.”
Story returned after leaving over the weekend for the birth of his child, and got plenty of at-bats in Monday’s intersquad scrimmage — including a triple off Nathan Eovaldi.
Afternoon game slot switched
The Red Sox will have 1 p.m. ET games at home be at 1:35 p.m. ET, and no longer the usual 1:10 slot, at least for this season. The team will continue to schedule games at 7:10 instead of the failed 7:30 experiment in 2020 though.
J.D. Martinez to see plenty of time in right field
With Hunter Renfroe gone and Jackie Bradley Jr. not being a reliable option at the plate, J.D. Martinez may have to see a number of innings at outfield with a powerful bat — despite a lacking glove.
Martinez saw his outfield time drastically increase last year after the acquisition of Kyle Schwarber.
“Last year, we ran him into the ground but it was because of where we were roster-wise,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “We didn’t have too many players at that time so he played doubleheaders and day games and all that. He knows it already, that most likely, against lefties, he’s going to play a lot of outfield. There’s not too many lefties in our division.”
Cuts made from big-league camp
Second set of cuts (Sunday):
- OF Jarren Duran, C Connor Wong, C Ronaldo Hernandez optioned to Triple-A Worcester
- C Kole Cottam, C Ronaldi Baldwin, UTIL Ryan Fitzgerald, 1B Roberto Ramos, P Silvino Brancho, P Taylor Cole, P Michael Feliz, P Darin Gillies, P Geoff Hartlieb, P Zack Kelly reassigned to minor league camp
First set of cuts (Thursday):
- SS Jeter Downs, P Bryan Mata, P Connor Seabold, P Josh Winckowski, P Jay Groome optioned to Triple-A Worcester
- 1B Triston Casas, SS David Hamilton, SS Christian Koss, P Durbin Feltman, P Brian Keller, P Chris Murphy reassigned to minor league camp
Sox to get ‘creative’ with Darwinzon Hernandez
Darwinzon Hernandez, a left-hander who has never really established a true identity in Boston’s bullpen, will not have a clear role in the bullpen. Cora says the Sox will “stretch him out.”
“The way the industry is going, there’s different types of relievers,” Cora said. “There’s not specialists now. There are guys who are going to get you three outs, there are guys who are going to get you six. I think the long, three-inning guy, that’s out of the equation in the industry, but we can be creative in that sense. We’ll stretch him out and see how he feels about it.”
The 25-year-old southpaw, as just a two-pitch hurler (fastball/slider) with career-long command issues (career 7.4 BB/9), Cora recognizes the youth in him and that he’s still developing.
“For how great he is and what he means to this team, we skipped a few development steps through his career,” Cora said. “He’s still learning. He’s still growing up. The fact he can get big league hitters out is the plus. He hasn’t pitched much the last three or four years and that’s the reason we’re stretching him out, so he can get the reps.”
Marcelo Mayer homers off Nathan Eovaldi
Story may have tripled off of Boston’s ace, but 19-year-old Marcelo Mayer took a fastball from Eovaldi deep in Monday’s intersquad scrimmage.
“It’s an uncomfortbale at-bat,” Mayer said. “Eovaldi is one of the best starters in the league so I was kind of shocked when I hit it. He has so many good pitches that you’ve just got to really simplify. So I just ended up sitting fastball and I was able to get it.”
The Boston Red Sox are in the running for free agent shortstop Trevor Story, and Christian Arroyo and Xander Bogaerts would both welcome the bat — even if that means a position change for Arroyo.
“I’m a professional baseball player,” Arroyo told MassLive.com. “The way I look at it is I’m here to win. I’m here to win baseball games. … Having talented players is without a doubt one of the best parts about being part of the Red Sox. We have a bunch of talented guys here. But if you add a guy like Trevor Story, you’re adding another superstar caliber player.
“So for me, I’m here to play baseball. I’m here to win baseball games. Whatever I need to do, I’ll do it. Because for me, getting to experience the postseason last year was the greatest thing ever. And that’s where we want to get back to.”
Arroyo, who Boston picked up mid-2020 as — at the time — just another scrub off waivers, ended up being Boston’s season-long second baseman, although four injured list stints heavily plagued his campaign. The 26-year-old also attempted a role at first base, but stretching too far for a ball had him end up on the IL in just his first game at the position.
“I’ve never tried it before,” Arroyo said about the outfield. “When I was with the Giants they had mentioned it to me at one point when I was in Double A. I know last year I even talked to Goody about it when I was still just trying to make the team. Again, I’m here to win baseball games. Personal interests aside. I’m here to help the team win. And however the front office sees it fit to make this team a contender and however they think we can add players of that caliber here, I’m totally down for it.”
With Bogaerts being unwilling to move away from shortstop and Boston being unwilling to move on from him, despite defensive metrics suggesting Story is a much better option with the glove, that forces Story to play second if he comes to Boston.
“He’s a big bat. We know what he does defensively already. I think that bat would play really well at Fenway just with that short porch over there,” said Bogaerts. “He has a nice swing that’s kind of built for that. It would be nice if we could get an addition like that after some of the big names that we lost to free agency or traded away. That’s a big boy. That’s a big bat right there. That’s an impact player.”
Bogaerts was asked about his lacking defensive metrics.
“I mean I think a lot of people know, if you hit the ball right at me, more times than not you’ll be out,” Bogaerts said. “I don’t butcher a lot of balls, I don’t make a lot of errors, I just try to take care of the ball as much as possible. Sometimes, with great plays, I’m not as good as the other shortstops. You just try to make the ones you can and once you’re in the battters box, you try to make up for it.”
Nick Pivetta slotted at No. 2 in the rotation, for now
Nick Pivetta threw a perfect trio of innings in Saturday’s start, and until Chris Sale returns from his injury, the Canadian-born righty will be Boston’s No. 2 pitcher in the rotation.
For now, the rotation will be Nate Eovaldi, followed by Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Michael Wacha, and then Rich Hill and or Garrett Whitlock.
Houck will start Sunday afternoon as well, while Wacha will start Monday and both Hill and Whitlock will throw Tuesday. Both are being stretched out as starters, manager Alex Cora said.
Hansel Robles still in Dominican
The Sox agreed to a minor league deal with Hansel Robles yesterday, Cora confirmed after numerous reports. Cora addded that they’re still working everything out.
“We’ve gotten the agreement,” Cora said. “He’s still in the Dominican. They’re going through that whole process. Hopefully we can speed it up and he can be here sooner rather than later.”
Robles will compete for a spot in the bullpen after a successful tenure with the team in 2021, following Boston’s acquisition at the deadline for him.
Boston Red Sox first baseman Bobby Dalbec will be looking to expand his versatility this year, starting in Red Sox Spring Training.
With top prospect Triston Casas incoming, Dalbec might have his role taken over as soon as this year. The Sox could still also make a free-agent scoop — such as first baseman Mitch Moreland.
“He’ll practice out there (in the outfield),” Cora said Thursday, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. “I don’t know if the timing is going to help us, but go out there, shag, move around.
“The second base thing is real. He worked hard last year. And he was our second baseman the last half inning we played defense. So yeah, we’ll move him around. I think the more versatile, the better for him and his career, although he’s a good corner infielder. But for us, it will be great if he can play multiple positions.”
Cora notes that the timing isn’t great due to a shortened spring, but the Sox could get a much more valuable asset in Dalbec if he has the ability to play more than just corner infield.
Red Sox celebrate Jerry Remy
The Red Sox celebrated Jerry Remy with flowers and a hat right where he would sit usually to call Spring Training Games down in Fort Myers. The team will likely do the same for when the team opens the season.
This is the season-long spring training notebook for the Red Sox on Boston Sports Wave.