BALTIMORE — The Red Sox placed Kiké Hernández on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain, the team announced Friday evening prior to their opening series matchup against the Orioles. Michael Chavis was activated. Hernández tweaked his hamstring Thursday on a double vs. the Tigers.
Both catcher Jett Bandy and Chavis made the trip to Baltimore as members of the team’s taxi squad. Manager Alex Cora said before the game that if they did decide to put Hernández on the IL, that Chavis would likely be the one to fill his role. Chavis began the season in Triple A Worcester
“He’s versatile,” Cora said. “He can play first, second, third. We can put him in left. He’s a right-handed bat.”
Hernández has provided solid defense for the Red Sox, with the majority of his time coming in center field. Nonetheless, he has struggled with the bat at the leadoff spot, hitting .239 with just a .298 on-base percentage.
Alex Verdugo ready for the spotlight
Alex Verdugo has found his place in Boston.
In reality, that might not be that much of a feat for the fiery, passionate and personality-filled outfielder. Even in a pandemic-plagued 2020 season which ended in a last place American League East finish, you heard Verdugo’s voice echo throughout a stadium of none. He had the numbers to back up his talk in the Sox’ 60-game shortened season, finishing the year slashing .308/.367/.478 with an .844 OPS and six homers. But not the fans to appreciate what he brought to the table.
Now, with the Red Sox increasing their audience up to 25 percent capacity as of May 10, more eyes will be on him, something that excites the outfielder.
“I love it,” said Verdugo, noting that the team began the season with roughly 4,500 fans. “We’ve had some times where it gets pretty noisy. Obviously just to see double that and just see some more fans filling [the stands] is going to be huge.”
Verdugo hasn’t let up with the bat this season. Heading into the Red Sox’ series against the Orioles, the outfielder slashed .315/.377/.509 with four homers and an .886 OPS from the two-hole. Verdugo, who loves to talk hitting, intimated that this is a club that feeds off each other’s information when it comes to that aspect of the game.
While J.D. Martinez has established himself as a hitting nerd, scouring video and constantly making mechanical adjustments/tweaks, Verdugo, in his own right, is one, too.
“I’m more of an approach guy,” Verdugo said. “If I’m following my approach, and following what I want to do, my game plan at the plate, then the results happen and my swing follows suit.”
Verdugo relies on feel, too. If he feels his shoulder flying open, he’ll tap his shoulder. If his hips open quickly, he’ll tap there also. If he’s lunging over the plate, he’ll push his chest back. For Verdugo, it’s a reminder of what he needs to do to be successful.
“Every swing I take, I kind of see where it is,” Verdugo said. “See how I felt against it. See, where my body landed? And then if it’s like, I didn’t like that, [I try] to fix that.”
Verdugo has slowly become a fan favorite, known for not only his unfiltered honesty, but also his high IQ on the baseball diamond, particularly when he stands in the box.
“I love to play baseball, Verdugo said. “I come every day to win. I come to compete and my emotions are sometimes raw but they’re real, and I think Boston fans appreciate it. I think they like the way I play and the passion that I bring.”
Brandon Workman’s back
The Red Sox signed reliever Brandon Workman to a minor league deal Thursday and assigned him to Triple A Worcester. Workman was one of the best closers in baseball during the 2019 season as a member of the Red Sox, owning a 1.88 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 71 ⅔ innings pitched. Yet in 2020, he fell off a cliff, registering a 4.05 ERA in 6 ⅔ innings with the club. He was traded to the Phillies along with reliever Heath Hembree in exchange for Nick Pivetta and pitching prospect Connor Seabold. Workman’s struggles continued. He registered a 6.92 ERA in 13 innings with the Phillies, and then followed that up with a 6.75 ERA in eight innings with the Cubs before he was released in late April. Workman has a devastating curveball when he’s at his best. In 2019, hitters hit just .128 on that pitch. But much of the success on his curve according to Cora, has a lot to do with his four-seam fastball velocity. Over the last two years he’s seen a slight dip in his average four-seam velo, going from 92.9 m.p.h. in 2019 to 91.5 this season. “When his velocity is a tick up, it helps everything else,” Cora said. “With him velocity is very important because the shape of the breaking ball and the spin is usually the same. It’s still a good breaking ball. But if he doesn’t have something else to separate it he becomes a one-pitch pitcher.” The Sox feel as if they can help Workman regain some of his old form and want him to contribute at some point this season. “There’s a comfort level [with the Red Sox],” Cora said. “And hopefully we can help him regain that confidence. And like I said, hopefully he can become a factor” . . . Christian Arroyo (hand contusion) is still receiving treatment and is available to pinch run and play defense. The hope is that he can start Sunday.