Expectations were that either the AL’s third-best or fourth-best hitter would have to be held out of the lineup when the Red Sox start a nine-game road trip in National League parks on Friday. There is an alternative, though.
Adrian Gonzalez said he’s willing to move to right field to make room for David Ortiz in the lineup with the DH unavailable starting Friday. It something the Red Sox are considering trying, though probably for just a couple of games, not for the entire slate.
Gonzalez has started all 71 of Boston’s games at first base. He’s only played right field once in his career, that coming back in 2005 with Texas. The Rangers weighed moving him out there on a more regular basis since they had Mark Teixeira installed at first, but even back then, they realized he was too slow to make it as an outfielder.
And Gonzalez is certainly no faster now. While he’s certainly less round than Ortiz, he’d probably lose a footrace to Boston’s DH. Putting him in right field, while also taking a defensive downgrade at first base, would seem to be more trouble than it’s worth. There’s also the risk of injury for both Gonzalez and Ortiz.
On the other hand, while the Red Sox may be worse off on any given day with Gonzalez in right, they don’t want to see Ortiz lose his timing at the plate either. He’s currently hitting .320/.399/.602 this season. His 1.000 OPS puts him behind only Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera and Gonzalez in the American League.
So it’s no easy call. The Red Sox may wait and see how Gonzalez handled shagging some balls in the outfield before deciding whether to try it.
The Nationals lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday night, as the Indians overcame a two-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Nationals 7-6. Closer Jonathan Papelbon faced five batters but was unable to record an out, yielding a leadoff walk, a double, a bunt that ended up very successful due to a Ryan Zimmerman throwing error, an intentional walk, and a single. Oliver Perez came in and eventually allowed one of his inherited runners to score, saddling Papelbon with the loss.
Papelbon also served up four runs in the outing before Tuesday’s, on Saturday against the Padres. The two clubs entered the top of the ninth tied 6-6, but a walk followed by three two-out singles and a bases-clearing double off of Papelbon allowed the Padres to take a 10-6 lead.
On the season, Papelbon is 19-for-22 in save chances with a 4.18 ERA and a 30/12 K/BB ratio in 32 1/3 innings. If the season were to end today, the right-hander’s 21.4 percent strikeout rate would be the lowest mark of his career and his 8.6 percent walk rate would be his highest mark since 2010.
Manager Dusty Baker didn’t indicate that he’s going to make a change at closer, but he sounded dissatisfied with Papelbon’s performance thus far. Via Mark Zuckerberg of MASN, Baker said, “He doesn’t have his command, which is evident when you walk the leadoff hitter. But it’s like, what do you say? How does he look? Right now he doesn’t look like Pap. He doesn’t look very good. Usually he doesn’t walk people like that.”
The non-waiver trade deadline is on Monday, August 1. The Nationals, at 58-42, still have a four-game lead over the Marlins and a 4.5-game lead over the Mets. Tuesday’s loss has motivated the club to attempt to upgrade the bullpen, Jon Morosi reports. The Nationals were in the mix for Aroldis Chapman before the Yankees sent him to the Cubs. Perhaps Andrew Miller could be next on the Nats’ wish list.
The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday night that the club traded reliever Drew Storen and some cash to the Mariners in exchange for reliever Joaquin Benoit.
Storen, 28, was designated for assignment by the Jays on Sunday after posting a 6.21 ERA with a 32/10 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings. The Jays acquired him during the offseason from the Nationals in exchange for Ben Revere and a player to be named later.
Benoit, 38, struggled as well, putting up a 5.18 ERA with a 28/15 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings with the Mariners.