- Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez nearly had shoulder surgery late last year, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. He ended up taking a rehab approach, which seems to have worked out, but did undergo a similar procedure to teammate Pablo Sandoval back in 2011. “The hardest thing is not the surgery. The hardest thing is the rehab,” Ramirez explained. “My advice to Pablo is that it’s going to take a lot of work. A lot of work, a lot of education and a lot of discipline because you use your shoulder for everything. I know that he can do it.”
TODAY: Sandoval underwent the repair of a labrum tear as well as a general clean-up of his rotator cuff, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). He will miss the entire rest of the season.
YESTERDAY: Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval will undergo surgery on his left shoulder, the club announced. He’s unlikely to return to action in 2016 after undergoing a “significant,” “reconstructive” procedure, according to reports from Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) and ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Twitter link).
Boston says it will provide more information on the precise nature of the surgery once it is completed by Dr. James Andrews in the coming days. Sandoval has been on the DL since April 13th with somewhat vague shoulder issues; in the announcement, the team labels the injury a “strain.”
The hope will be that the procedure, and the time away that it will afford the 29-year-old, can help spark a turnaround. Quite apart from his shoulder difficulties, Sandoval has long been dogged by struggles to keep his weight in check, and that has increasingly seemed to be a major problem since he signed with Boston.
Sandoval lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw out of camp, just one season after joining the Red Sox on a five-year, $95MM free agent contract. He was hitless in seven plate appearances in a reserve capacity in the early going in 2016.
In 505 plate appearances last year, Sandoval slashed just .245/.292/.366 and didn’t appear to be headed for much improvement this spring. He also received terrible ratings from both UZR and DRS for his glovework at third in 2015 after previously rating as an average or better defender. Before that, Sandoval was long a quality performer for the Giants; he compiled a .294/.346/.465 batting line in just over 3,500 plate appearances over seven seasons with San Francisco.
Boston, of course, remains on the hook for Sandoval’s contract, which includes $17MM this year and $58MM more thereafter, including a buyout on the club’s 2020 option. (The team does not have an insurance policy on the deal, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com has indicated and as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.) That looks like wasted payroll space as things stand, but Sandoval is young enough and has a long enough track record of success to believe that some value can still be reaped if he can get his mind and body back into playing shape.
- The Red Sox are finally in position to call upon reliever Carson Smith, as he’s officially been activated from the DL. Smith has been expected to hold down a significant late-inning role since coming over this winter via trade, but first had to battle through a flexor strain. Boston will undoubtedly hope that Smith can avoid further elbow complications.
With the Yankees off to a woeful 8-15 start to the season, the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff opines that it’s time to make some significant changes to the lineup. Chief among them, writes Davidoff, is the benching of struggling third baseman Chase Headley in favor of Ronald Torreyes. While he notes that such a move wouldn’t be a long-term fit, Davidoff feels Torreyes would provide quality at-bats on a more consistent basis. Davidoff also calls for a demotion for right-hander Luis Severino if his struggles persist much longer, writes that aging veterans (Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira) should receive less playing time and adds that the Yankees should make it known that they’ll eat a large portion of Jacoby Ellsbury’s salary in a trade.
While the Yankees could certainly look to move Ellsbury, that’s far easier said than done, even if they’re eating a huge portion of his contract. Ellsbury has nearly $107MM remaining on his contract through the end of the 2020 season (including the $5MM buyout on his 2021 option). While the Dodgers were able to move Matt Kemp with nearly an identical amount remaining on his deal, Kemp was significantly more productive at the plate prior to his trade, and the Dodgers still had to eat $32MM of his deal. L.A.’s inability to move Carl Crawford and the longtime struggles the Braves faced in trying to shed Melvin Upton Jr. serve as reminders that it would be exceptionally difficult to move Ellsbury.
More from the AL East…
- Fangraphs’ David Laurila spoke with Headley about his struggles at Yankee Stadium. Headley explained that he’s in somewhat of a catch-22, as with the exception of the short porch in right field, Yankee Stadium plays fairly large. His swing from the left side is more geared for power to center field or to left field, which negates some of the advantages of hitting left-handed there. However, because of the increased shifting against him, he does feel the need to try to hit the ball in the air, which has resulted in a number of fl-ball outs. Headley tells Laurila that he’s working on pulling the ball in the air with more authority, though clearly he’s still enduring some troubles at the plate.
- Also within Laurila’s notes column, he speaks to Rays right-hander Danny Farquhar about the increase of data that he’s received now that he’s in the Tampa Bay organization. “They’re presenting me with more than anyone I’ve been with,” said Farquhar. The former Mariners setup man feels that the increased data is good information to have to provide context when he’s struggling.
- Orioles infielder/DH Jimmy Paredes will see his minor league rehab assignment end in two weeks, and Baltimore will face a decision on the out-of-options 27-year-old at that point, writes MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Kubatko doesn’t see how the O’s can keep Paredes on the roster unless they view him as their backup second baseman over Ryan Flaherty, who is expected to be recalled from Triple-A this week. It does indeed seem as if Baltimore has some trepidation about playing Paredes in the field with any form of regularity. Last season, he logged just 72 2/3 innings in the field despite appearing in more than 100 games. The Orioles, in fact, elected to play Steve Pearce at second base over Paredes despite a complete lack of experience for Pearce at the position. With Pedro Alvarez locked in at DH, Paredes does appear to be squeezed out of a role unless the club feels comfortable with his glove, which hasn’t been the case in the past.
- The Red Sox optioned infielder Marco Hernandez to Triple-A, which will clear a spot on the 25-man roster for right-hander Carson Smith to be activated from the disabled list tomorrow, tweets ESPN Boston’s Scott Lauber. As the Boston Herald’s Evan Drellich writes, manager John Farrell explains that he plans to be careful with Smith early in his season. “We’ve got to be mindful that Carson comes back to us with a limited rehab (stint), so we’ve got to be careful on his frequency of use,” said Farrell. “It’s not being ruled out that we would go with an extra pitcher for the short term.”
- Joe Kelly tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that his right shoulder is feeling much better after he began strengthening exercises targeting the muscles around his labrum. The Red Sox righty is hopeful that these new exercises will get him back from the DL in due course and also help solve what has been a long-term nagging injury for Kelly over his career.
Red Sox first baseman Hanley Ramirez, Padres right fielder Matt Kemp and Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun have all helped their respective trade values early this season, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Ramirez is the only one of the three whose offensive production was subpar in April, but Cafardo points to his hustle, enthusiasm and dedication to the team this year as reasons for his improved stock. The 31-year-old Kemp – signed through 2019 at $21.5MM annually – is the most available of the trio, per Cafardo, who adds that he could be a target of the Red Sox if Chris Young doesn’t start playing better. On the notion of acquiring any of them, a National League general manager told Cafardo, “Are they all $20 million-plus players? I’d say not. You’d have to be able to get them for $10 million-$15 million. There are different ways to reach that number through negotiation and the caliber of players you’d have to give up.”
Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello has been at his best during his 33 starts with Boston when he has relied on his sinker, Scott Lauber of ESPN.com details. During his first 20 starts last season, Porcello threw his sinker 28 percent of the time against lefties and 41 percent versus right-handed hitters – down from career rates of 42 and 52 percent, respectively – and he pitched to an ugly 5.81 ERA. After a stint on the disabled list, Porcello returned and finished the season strong (3.14 ERA in eight starts) while throwing sinkers 44 percent of the time to lefty batters and 58 percent against righties. He’s at 49 and 57 percent this year, respectively, and has been among the top pitchers in baseball with a 2.76 ERA, 9.92 K/9, 1.65 BB/9 and 49.4 percent ground-ball rate over 32 2/3 innings (five starts). “He had to work extremely hard to get the sink back, to get that mindset back, because he had gotten away from it a little bit,” pitching coach Carl Willis told Lauber. “But once you get to that point, I think it’s simple because it allows him to then be himself and pitch to his strengths.” In addition to throwing more sinkers, Porcello helped his cause by changing his arm slot late in Spring Training after he raised it slightly thanks to an increased use of four-seam fastballs, per Willis.
The Red Sox announced on Friday that recently designated-for-assignment left-hander Edwin Escobar has been claimed off waivers by the Diamondbacks.
The 24-year-old Escobar came to the Red Sox alongside right-hander Heath Hembree in the 2014 trade that sent right-hander Jake Peavy to the Giants. Once rated among baseball’s Top 100 prospects by both Baseball America and MLB.com, Escobar’s star has faded since being acquired by the Sox. He worked to a 5.07 ERA in 49 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level last season and, most troubling of all, walked more batters (25) than he struck out (24). Escobar was also homer-prone with Pawtucket last season, surrendering eight long balls in those 49 2/3 frames. His control problems continued this past offseason in the Venezuelan Winter League, when he issued 19 free passes against just nine strikeouts in 27 innings of work.
The D-backs will hope that they can restore Escobar’s control and, in turn, see his production return to its lofty 2013 heights. That season, in 128 2/3 innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, Escobar posted a 2.80 ERA with excellent averages of 10.2 strikeouts and 2.1 walks per nine innings pitched.
- Red Sox third baseman Travis Shaw is not only impressing on the stat sheet, he’s making believers of his teammates, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. He’s not alone in that regard, either. Per GM Mike Hazen, the team’s younger players have “done a very good job of ingratiating themselves by understanding the game, knowing that they have to play hard day-in, day-out — and that’s what the veterans respect and expect day-in, day-out — and keeping their mouth shut and going about it until they earn their stripes.” It doesn’t hurt, of course, that Boston has several quality young performers, and Shaw is the latest. He is off to a .329/.410/.548 slash in 83 plate appearances, though a .423 BABIP likely reflects not only solid contact but also some good fortune.
- Of course, Shaw improbably beat out Pablo Sandoval for the Red Sox’ starting third base job this spring, and the Panda has since gone onto the DL with a still-mysterious shoulder ailment. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com has the latest on his situation, including several notes about his original signing with Boston. Bradford notes that the Sox do not have any weight target requirement in place for Sandoval, and adds that the club has “been encouraged by his approach — and results — the last two weeks.”
- Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval will have Dr. James Andrews examine his injured shoulder on Monday, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets. Last week, a scheduled exam was canceled because Sandoval’s shoulder was too sore, with the idea that Sandoval would attempt to meet with Andrews at a later date. The Red Sox placed him on the disabled list two weeks ago.