Franklin Morales was used primarily out of the bullpen this past season, but new Red Sox manager John Farrell told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe today that the current plan is for him to come into spring training as starting pitcher.
Morales had a 3.77 ERA and 76/30 K/BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings with the Red Sox this year before coming down with shoulder fatigue in late August. The 26-year-old southpaw enjoyed some success during a small sample in the starting rotation, posting a 4.14 ERA and 47/19 K/BB ratio in 45 2/3 innings over nine starts. Once considered one of the top pitching prospects in the game, it was his first stint as a starting pitcher since 2009 as a member of the Rockies.
As of now, the Red Sox have three locks for their rotation next season with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront. John Lackey is coming off Tommy John surgery, but he should be in there too if he can avoid setbacks. The Red Sox would probably prefer to keep Morales in the bullpen, especially considering that he wore down toward the end of the season, so plans could change if they add a starting pitcher this offseason.
The Rockies placed Carlos Gonzalez on the 10-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain, per an announcement on Sunday. The move is retroactive to April 19, the day after Gonzalez sustained the injury on a phenomenal diving catch during the Rockies’ 10-2 loss to the Pirates. In corresponding moves, outfielder Mike Tauchman was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque, while corner outfielders David Dahl and Noel Cuevas were recalled from the minors.
Gonzalez, 32, got off to an underwhelming start this spring. The veteran outfielder exited Wednesday’s game batting a modest .235/.264/.426 with three home runs and two stolen bases in his first 72 plate appearances of the 2018 season. Despite sustaining a plethora of minor injuries over the last few years, this looks to be his first serious setback since undergoing knee surgery back in 2014.
It’s still unclear how long he’ll be sidelined, though club manager Bud Black said Gonzalez appeared to be recovering well prior to the decision on Sunday. “I think probably the thing that put us over the top was with [Gerardo] Parra’s suspension starting today and CarGo not 100 percent,” he told reporters, adding that while Gonzalez seemed capable of pinch-hitting, he would not have been able to run the bases.
In the meantime, Cuevas figures to make his major-league debut sometime over the next week. The 26-year-old outfielder is in his ninth minor league season, and left Albuquerque with a .333/.419/.571 batting line and eight extra-base hits though his first 74 PA. Dahl, 24, could also see his first major-league assignment since 2016, when he slashed .315/.359/.500 with seven home runs and five stolen bases in 63 games with the Rockies.