Here’s the latest out of Boston as the club prepares for what should be a mostly predictable Spring Training:
- Christian Vazquez is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. He went under the knife last April and will have to prove he can regularly catch to make the roster. Pitchers generally take 14 to 15 months to recover from the surgery while position players can pursue an accelerated timeline. Not many catchers are available for comparison. Matt Wieters is a recent example. He went under the knife in mid-June 2014 and returned to regular action in early-June 2015. If Vazquez follows the same timeline, he could be ready just in time for the regular season.
- If Vazquez is healthy, the Red Sox have a roster crunch behind the dish, per Speier. Veteran Ryan Hanigan and touted youngster Blake Swihart are also set to compete for playing time. Both Vazquez and Swihart have club options, but they’re also viewed as the future of the franchise. If they look sharp during the spring, Hanigan could be shopped on the trade market. More likely, Vazquez will be given extra time to recover from injury or develop his bat. The club could also opt to have Swihart work on his defense.
- Speier also looks at how the team’s pitchers performed with each catcher. In small samples, Eduardo Rodriguez was best with Swihart. Rick Porcello had similar numbers with Swihart and Hanigan. Clay Buchholz was much better with Vazquez as was Joe Kelly. All in all, the analysis is interesting but thoroughly inconclusive.
- The Red Sox know the plan for the late innings, write Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Junichi Tazawa, Carson Smith, and Koji Uehara will form the bridge to Craig Kimbrel. The other three bullpen jobs are open to competition. The favorite for the long relief role is Roenis Elias. He’s had modest success as a major league starter in Seattle. Knuckleballer Steven Wright is also in the picture, and he’s out of club options. The club reportedly liked Robbie Ross’ performance late last season, but he does have options. Bradford thinks Tommy Layne (out of options), is the favorite for a LOOGY role. The club is reportedly on the lookout for other lefty specialists too. Bradford also highlights a few dark horse candidates to track.