With spring training well underway in Fort Meyers, it’s the start of a new season for the Red Sox.
The team has been faced with both criticism and backlash this offseason, from devastating fans by trading Mookie Betts to being investigated by MLB for alleged sign-stealing in 2018 (which will reportedly be finished by the end of February). However, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Monday, the team is looking to rebuild and more onward.
Here’s what we have learned from spring training camp so far:
Dustin Pedroia will miss his third straight spring training
The second baseman who has been recovering from a knee injury will not report to spring training, as confirmed by interim manager Ron Roenicke on Thursday. Pedroia has appeared in only nine games over the course of two seasons after a knee injury he suffered when Baltimore’s Manny Machado slid into his leg in May of 2017.
“When a guy just ages and then he’s not as good, that part’s easy to see. But not a guy who has an injury and because of it has not been able to perform,” Roenicke said. “That part is really difficult.”
Chris Sale began camp with walking pneumonia
The left-hander missed the first workout for pitchers and catchers on Wednesday after a case of the flu turned into walking pneumonia. He is expected to return to JetBlue Park on Friday for an evaluation, and according to Roenicke, Sale is feeling better and his throwing arm is doing well.
“It sounds probably worse than what it is,’’ he said. “It’s concerning just because he’s worked so hard to get himself to this point. His arm feels great. Like he said, this is the worst time to come up with the flu.’’
Alex Verdugo could miss the start of the 2020 season
According to sources, the outfielder who was acquired in the Mookie Betts-deal is questionable due to a back injury that kept him out last season. The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reported that the team is taking a “conservative approach” to Verdugo’s injury and will have him evaluated.
“[The Red Sox believe] that a small number of games missed early in the year is better than a substantial stretch on the sideline if he is rushed into the lineup,” Speier wrote.
The Red Sox reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder Kevin Pillar:
According to MLB Network’s insider Jon Heyman, the team reached an agreement with Pillar on Friday that is reportedly worth $4.25 million. Pillar, who suited up for the Toronto Blue Jays and the San Francisco Giants last season, attended camp on Friday.
— The Camera Guys (@NBCSCameraGuys) February 14, 2020
Jackie Bradley Jr. could move to right field with Pillar playing center:
With the uncertainty of Verdugo’s health and the acquisition of Pillar, manager Ron Roenicke admitted that the team has discussed the possibility of Pillar playing center field and Bradley Jr. moving to right field.
“We haven’t talked about it a lot, but we did some,” Roenicke said Friday. “Because they’re flexible. Jack is a great right fielder, too. And he’s a great center fielder, and I think Pillar can play all of them.
“[Pillar has] always been known as a good defender. We know he doesn’t mind laying out, we know he doesn’t mind crashing into walls. Sometimes you have a worry when a guy does too much of that because you’ve got the injury factor. But he knows how to play. I’m not sure if the metrics on him are the same as five years ago when he was probably faster. I’m not really sure, I haven’t really checked on it. But he’s always been a good defender.”
The Red Sox fully expect to compete without Mookie Betts
With the departure of Mookie Betts, who was traded to the LA Dodgers on Monday, many are unsure what the future holds for the team without the beloved franchise-player. However, according to the players, they still expect to be championship contenders and compete.
“Listen,” pitcher Matt Barnes said on Tuesday. “Mookie and DP (David Price) were phenomenal players and still are phenomenal players, but you look around our team and we’ve got a bunch of All-Stars and a bunch of phenomenal players that we still feel like we’re going to compete for a championship.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. is also confident in the team and wants them to “move forward”:
“We don’t care what anybody says,” Bradley said. “We’ve gotta go out there and play the game. You don’t know who’s going to win. Go out there, perform, take care of your business because you can always guess who’s going to win, but what’s the point of playing the game?”
On that note, first baseman Mitch Moreland said that he feels like the team is now “being overlooked”:
Ok, Mitch. ? pic.twitter.com/ehxtObXRc1
— Red Sox (@RedSox) February 14, 2020
“With [David Price] and Mookie, that’s a tough loss with those guys, for sure,” Moreland said on Friday. “We’ve still got a great team. When you look around the room, there are guys who have been doing it good for a long time, all over the place. Those two guys, they’re not replaceable and they’re great ballplayers. At the same time, we’re going to be fine and we’re looking forward to getting back out there.”
“This team is going to be good,” he said. “We’re being overlooked right now. So you know, bring it on.”