Scott Rolen changed his mind and agreed to go on a minor-league rehab assignment to show the Reds his perpetually injured shoulder was strong enough for a return from the disabled list and apparently homering at Triple-A over the weekend convinced them he’s ready.
Rolen is back from the DL after missing the past five weeks, although how much he’ll play remains unclear. Not only was he hitting just .174 before being shut down, rookie Todd Frazier has thrived filling in at third base with a .278 batting average, seven homers, 10 doubles, and a .914 OPS in 43 games.
It’s possible that manager Dusty Baker could make room in the lineup for both players by using Frazier in the outfield, but at this point in his career it hardly seems worthwhile to alter any plans in the name of getting Rolen into the lineup more often. Since the beginning of last season the 37-year-old has hit just .224 with a .640 OPS in 94 games.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.