Red Sox notebook: Xander Bogaerts out of lineup for exam on hand
It’s been nearly two weeks since Xander Bogaerts was hit by a pitch in the right hand, yet there’s enough lingering concern that Bogaerts was scratched from last night’s lineup and sent for an MRI.
He was used as a pinch runner in extra innings but did not hit or play the field.
“The MRI indicated he’s got a contusion of the muscle that’s in the pad or the fatty part of the side of the hand,” manager John Farrell said. “There’s a little bit of a small sprain in the joint that’s within there. So, he’s day to day.”
Bogaerts has hit just .154 with no extra-base hits in six games since being hit by Rays starter Jacob Faria on July 6, the Thursday before the All-Star break. Bogaerts returned to the lineup two days later, and as recently as Sunday, Farrell said the hit by pitch was a non-issue.
It’s clearly an issue now.
“That has been nagging him,” Farrell said. “I think as you look at the way he’s been swinging the bat of late -- and set aside the production or the numbers -- it is affecting how aggressively he can swing. You see his top hand release earlier than normal.”
To fill the void, Deven Marrero moved from third base to shortstop, and Brock Holt entered the lineup as the third baseman.
Scratching Bogaerts left the Red Sox with first baseman Mitch Moreland and catcher Christian Vazquez as their only healthy bench players. The Red Sox wound up using all of them to get through the 5-4 win in 15 innings.
Another role change for Swihart
Once touted as the top prospect in the Red Sox minor league system, Blake Swihart is changing roles yet again, raising fresh questions about his future with the organization.
Swihart spent the past two weeks on the Triple-A disabled list with a left ankle injury, and when he returns, Pawtucket will keep using him as an occasional catcher, but he’ll also see time at third base and first base, his first professional exposure to the infield.
“The stress of catching is not allowing him to catch as a regular everyday catcher,” Farrell said. “We’re going to begin moving him around the infield. He’s going to take groundballs at first, he’ll take some at third, he’ll still catch some, but the ankle is a limiting factor as far as how many games consecutively he can catch.”
Baseball America considered Swihart the No. 17 prospect in all of baseball heading into the 2015 season, and he made his big league debut that season. He made the Red Sox Opening Day roster last year, but wound up demoted before returning as a left fielder.
Swihart was playing left field last August when he injured his ankle slamming into the wall. The most recent injury is to the same ankle.
Moving Swihart into more of a utility raises as many questions as it answers, especially when it comes to his trade value and his ultimate future with the Red Sox. Scouts have long raved about his athleticism, but he was hitting just .213 in Pawtucket before the injury.
Red Sox address pitching needs
After playing 16 innings Saturday and a doubleheader Sunday, the Red Sox needed pitching and made two less-than-ideal moves to get it. Spot starter Brian Johnson and long reliever Hector Velazquez were called up from Triple-A while go-to lefty Robby Scott and platoon first baseman Sam Travis were sent down.
Even with the additions, Doug Fister’s scheduled start on Thursday meant the Red Sox last night had just three available relievers – Velazquez, Brandon Workman and Craig Kimbrel – who had not pitched the night before.
“We’re one reliever short currently in that bullpen,” Farrell said. “So to have length with Hector here protects us in something unforeseen here tonight. We’ll get back to a full complement in that bullpen here shortly, but 16 innings here Saturday, 18 on Sunday, just an inordinate, unique situation that we are in from a pitching standpoint.”
Farrell said the Blue Jays’ and Angels’ limited number of left-handed hitters played a part in the decision to option Scott, since the team was less likely to need him for these two series. The decision to play Hanley Ramirez at first base made it easier to play without Travis.
Another bullpen for Smith
Reliever Carson Smith continues to make progress in his return from Tommy John surgery. He threw a bullpen yesterday and will rejoin the Red Sox this week, planning to throw another bullpen in front of the big league staff in Anaheim on Friday.
Smith had Tommy John surgery last May and was on the verge of a rehab assignment when he suffered a setback a month ago. The Red Sox have said they’re still optimistic that Smith will pitch this year.