Shoulder setback sends Flores to Dr. Andrews

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When the Nationals signed Ivan Rodriguez to a two-year, $6 million deal I wondered, among other things, why they were paying so much for another catcher when they already had 25-year-old Jesus Flores atop the depth chart.
At the time Flores was recovering from shoulder surgery, but most reports had him being ready as soon as Opening Day. Fast forward three months and his status for all of 2010 appears to be in jeopardy. Flores became frustrated with his recovery after being unable to throw from 120 feet Monday and is headed to Alabama for a visit with Dr. James Andrews.
Rather than a typical examination, Flores is expected to spend 10 days with Andrews for “treatment and evaluation.” Jim Riggleman said this morning that Flores will begin the season on the disabled list regardless of what Andrews recommends, and as is the case any time a player sees baseball’s most famous doctor another surgery could be right around the corner.
Either way Rodriguez is now the Nationals’ unquestioned starting catcher and Wil Nieves is now his backup. I’m still not sure why they needed to give a two-year, $6 million deal to a 38-year-old catcher who hit .249/.280/.384 last season, but if the Nationals had serious doubts about Flores’ recovery all along their motivation for pursuing Rodriguez is certainly easier to understand.

The Red Sox start is ridiculous

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The red-hot Red Sox completed a sweep of the previously red-hot Angels last night, outscoring them 27-3 in their three-game series. Last night’s game was, relatively speaking, a close one, with the Sox winning “only” by six runs. They did manage to strike out Shohei Ohtani three times, though, so some style points help make up for the “squeaker.” Also worth noting that they held Mike Trout of all people to a 3-for-11 line in their three-game series. He did not score a single time and drove in no runs.

That series win puts the Sox at 16-2 on the year. They dropped their Opening Day game to the Rays, but then won their next six games against Tampa Bay, which I’d say makes up for it. In between those two series they swept a two-game series from the Marlins and afterwards they took two of three from the Yankees and three in a row from the Orioles. The only thing that even threatened to slow this juggernaut down is the weather, resulting in a postponement of Monday morning’s Patriot’s Day game. Somewhere in here we should notice that they’re doing this with their starting shortstop and starting second baseman on the disabled list.

As we’ve noted many times, their 16-2 record is the best start in the Red Sox’ 118-year history. It’s also the best start for any team since the 1987 Milwaukee Brewers began 17-1 (let us just forget, for the time being, that those Brewers lost 18 of 20 in May of that year). They are the fourth team since 1961 to win 16 of its first 18 games.

The Sox aren’t simply getting lucky here. They’ve scored 116 runs and have allowed only 50, which is a Pythagorean record of 15-3. They lead all of baseball in offense, scoring 6.44 runs a game, leading individually in average, on-base percentage and slugging. They are only three one hundredths of a run behind the Astros from leading all of baseball in pitching, allowing only 2.78 runs a game. They’re winning all of these games because, in the early going, they’ve simply been that dang much better than everyone they’ve played.

No, the Sox are not going to go 144-18, as they are currently on pace to do. Yes, they are going to find a lot more trouble in their schedule once they play the Orioles, Rays and Marlins less, play a healthier Yankees team more and face off against the Astros, the Blue Jays, the Indians, the Twins and some tougher interleague opponents. This is baseball, obviously, and no one makes it through a season without rough patches, long, short and numerous.

Still: this has been one whale of a start for Boston. Those wins are in the bank. It’s been quite the thing to see.