Red Sox outfield prospect Ryan Westmoreland is getting back on the field a year and a half after surgery to remove a cavernous malformation from his brain stem.
The 21-year-old Westmoreland will serve as a designated hitter in Dominican instructional league games this week. The current plan is for him to get one at-bat Thursday and two on Friday.
Westmoreland appeared well on his way to establishing himself as one of the game’s top outfield prospects after hitting .296/.401/.484 in 223 at-bats as a 19-year-old in the New York-Penn League in 2009. Baseball America rated him Boston’s No. 1 prospect following that season.
If all goes well in the Dominican Republic, then Westmoreland should be able to resume playing in the minors next season. Even after two years off, he’s still young enough to potentially make an impact in the majors someday.
For more on Westmoreland, check out Charles Pierce’s story on his recovery from back in March.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.