Despite re-signing with the Red Sox for $1.75 million this offseason Hideki Okajima lost the left-handed specialist competition to Dennys Reyes during spring training and began the season as a 35-year-old at Triple-A.
Reyes lost his job after just one week and now the Red Sox have also sent the man who replaced him, Felix Doubront, back to the minors, calling up Okajima from Pawtucket after he threw 5.2 scoreless innings there with a 5/0 K/BB ratio.
Okajima struggled enough last season that he’s unlikely to reclaim his old lefty setup man gig, instead starting off in more of a true left-handed specialist role and perhaps working his way up the bullpen ladder from there.
Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that Okajima has a minor-league option remaining, so the Red Sox are free to send him back and forth to Triple-A.
The Reds picked up outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera on minor league deals, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Both Williams and Herrera will receive invites to spring training and could compete for backup outfield roles behind Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler.
Williams, 26, completed a three-year track with the Yankees in 2017. He has yet to see a full season of playing time, however, and went 4-for-17 with two stolen bases during a five-game span with the club in 2017. While not a power hitter, his speed and steady contact rate produced a .263/.309/.318 batting line over 437 plate appearances in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including two home runs, three triples and 19 stolen bases.
Herrera, 25, has yet to make his big league debut. After seven years in the Rockies’ system, he finally reached Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 and slashed .278/.351/.394 with three home runs and 20 stolen bases in 363 PA. He looks most comfortable in the left field corner, but has some experience at shortstop and third base and should give the Reds a nice utility option come spring.