Boston made a pair of key roster moves, placing shortstop Stephen Drew on the seven-day disabled list for concussions and optioning right-hander Daniel Bard to Double-A.
Drew hasn’t played since being hit on the helmet by a pitch on March 7, struggling with dizziness and other post-concussion symptoms. Jose Iglesias will step in as the Opening Day shortstop.
Bard’s nightmare 2012 season has continued this spring with seven runs allowed in eight innings, although he has managed 10 strikeouts compared to four walks. He actually looked good early in camp, but has really struggled recently. Clayton Mortensen is expected to take the final spot in the Red Sox’s bullpen as they wait for Bard to show signs of being the dominant setup man from 2009-2011. Bard hasn’t pitched at Double-A since 2008, when he threw 50 innings with a 1.99 ERA and 64 strikeouts.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.