Injured Red Sox first baseman Steve Pearce and knuckleballer Steven Wright have barely been factors this season, which now looks likely to go down as a lost year for both players. It’s “doubtful” either will take the field again in 2019, according to Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com.
It’s hard to believe 2019 has been so dreadful for Pearce, one of the main heroes of the Red Sox’s championship run a year ago. The midseason trade acquisition was an offensive force with two teams (Boston and Toronto) during the regular season and continued his torrid pace in the playoffs, earning World Series MVP honors for the Red Sox’s five-game triumph against the Dodgers.
As great as Pearce was in 2018, he only appeared in 76 games then. This season, thanks largely to a lower back strain that has shelved him since May 31, Pearce has played in a mere 29 contests. When he has entered the batters box, the once-potent Pearce has slashed a miserable .180/.245/.258 with one home run and a microscopic .079 ISO in 99 plate appearances. That obviously isn’t what the Red Sox had in mind when they re-signed Pearce to a $6.25MM guarantee last November. Considering his meager production since inking that deal, free agency certainly won’t be as kind to the 36-year-old Pearce during the upcoming offseason.
The Red Sox can still control Wright next year, his last season of arbitration eligibility, but he has joined Pearce in enduring a nightmarish campaign. Wright began the year serving an 80-game suspension after a failed PED test, thus keeping him from debuting until late June, and then went on the IL in mid-July with a right foot contusion. The 34-year-old right-hander – a former All-Star – has thrown 6 1/3 innings this season and allowed six earned runs on 11 hits (including three home runs) and four walks.
In better news for Boston, there’s a “good chance” righty reliever Heath Hembree will pitch again this season, manager Alex Cora told Cotillo. Hembree went down with an elbow strain Aug. 2 – the second time the joint forced him to the IL in 2019. The elbow problems have helped lead to middling results for Hembree, he of the 4.06 ERA/4.91 FIP with 10.75 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a paltry 21.8 percent groundball rate in 37 2/3 innings.