BOSTON (AP) — The realization that the Red Sox’s injury woes had put him in an untenable situation came even before manager John Farrell had to shift catcher Christian Vazquez to third base, a position he hadn’t played since he was an 18-year-old in Class-A ball.
In the infield alone, first baseman Mitch Moreland has an ailing toe, second baseman Dustin Pedroia has some bruised ribs and third baseman Pablo Sandoval has been dealing with an inner ear infection.
So, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves before their game Tuesday night in Kansas City to provide a little more flexibility — and avoid any additional emergency substitutions.
The struggling Sandoval, who missed time earlier this year with a knee injury, went on the disabled list to deal with his infection. Right-hander Austin Maddox was also optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, and the two roster spots were filled by infielder Deven Marrero and first baseman Sam Travis.
Both were in the starting lineup for the second game of the three-game series.
“There’s more depth, yes, so we have the ability to cover ourselves in the event of another in-game situation,” Farrell said. “They’ve been here recently, they’ve had contributions made and we have the ability to better equip ourselves to get through Pedroia’s situation and maybe Mitch.”
Pedroia was hit by a 92 mph fastball on Sunday night in Houston, the impact of which caused him to spit up blood. X-rays and an MRI on his ribs came back negative, but Pedroia still felt restriction caused by the swelling and soreness when he tried to take some swings in the cage Tuesday night.
Farrell hasn’t ruled him out for Wednesday’s series finale, but it appears to be a long shot.
Moreland was hit on the back foot by a sinking pitch on Monday night, and was checked by trainers before heading to first base. But the pain was enough to force him from the lineup Tuesday.
Then there’s Sandoval, who began to feel discomfort in his ear over the weekend. The pain built up along with a fever, and Farrell said the third baseman had trouble making it through the series opener.
“This is not an ideal situation,” Farrell said. “We all recognize that.”
Third base has been a problem spot for the Red Sox all season mostly because of Sandoval, who already missed 31 games with a sprained right knee. Even when he returned, the brace he was wearing caused his range to be even further diminished, turning Sandoval into a platoon player.
Not exactly what the Red Sox envisioned when they signed him to a $95 million, five-year deal.
Sandoval’s struggles have also manifested themselves at the plate, where he’s hitting just .212 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 37 games. In the three seasons since signing his big contract, the former San Francisco Giants star has batted .237 with 14 homers and 59 RBIs while appearing in just 161 games.
“When you’re in and out of the lineup that compounds it even more,” Farrell said. “For a guy that has been a longtime everyday player, we recognize it’s a tough situation. But at the same time you try to make the most of your roster and what you have currently to win today.”
Farrell wouldn’t rule out a rehab assignment for Sandoval when he’s ready to return.
“That’s something we’ll probably sit down and map out for him,” Farrell said. “Again, the importance of playing every day would be a benefit to him, and continue to see how we can bring him along.”
In a bit of positive injury news, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez took some fielding practice and did some change-of-direction work Tuesday to test out his bothersome right knee.
Rodriguez has not pitched since June 1, when he was hammered in a start at Baltimore.
“He’ll throw to some hitters live on Saturday and toward the middle of next week we’d like to get him in a regular game on a rehab assignment,” Farrell said. “It’s important for Eddie to have some added self-confidence in a game setting. He’s not been in a game for some time now.”
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