Steve Pearce proved to be a brilliant in-season pickup by the Red Sox a year ago, when they acquired him from the division-rival Blue Jays in late June. Pearce not only put up excellent regular-season production with Boston, but the first baseman dominated during the Fall Classic to earn World Series MVP honors in a five-game victory over the Dodgers. The Red Sox and Pearce could have gone their separate ways then and ended their relationship on a high note, but a couple weeks after the team won its latest title, it re-signed the 36-year-old to a $6.25MM guarantee.
While Boston undoubtedly expected the good times to continue rolling for Pearce in 2019, he has instead trudged through a season defined by underperformance and injuries. After starting the campaign on the shelf because of a strained left calf, Pearce debuted in early April and proceeded to hit a ghastly .180/.245/.258 (29 wRC+) with one home run in 99 plate appearances through May. The Red Sox sent Pearce back to the IL on June 1 with back problems. Pearce hasn’t returned to action since then, owing largely to the posterior ligament knee injury he suffered while on a rehab stint. A month and a half later, he’s still not slated to make his way back to the majors anytime soon, Christopher Smith of MassLive.com reports.
Manager Alex Cora issued an update Thursday on Pearce, saying he’s “just rehabbing” at the team’s complex in Fort Myers, Fla., and not “even close to (being) back.” As of now, Pearce isn’t “participating in many baseball activities” and is only hitting off a tee, Smith writes.
The absences of Pearce and Mitch Moreland (who has taken two at-bats since late May) have thrown a wrench into the plans Boston had at first base entering the season. The righty-swinging Pearce and the left-handed Moreland were supposed to be the Red Sox’s solution at the position. Rookie Michael Chavis, who had been at second base, has instead emerged as the team’s starter at first with Pearce and Moreland unavailable. Meanwhile, Brock Holt and Marco Hernandez have taken the reins at second, which played a part in the Red Sox’s decision to to designate struggling veteran Eduardo Nunez for assignment this week. Moreland’s due back soon, Smith notes, though it’s not yet clear how the Red Sox will dole out playing time at first and second when he returns.