It’s been an unfortunate few weeks for Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland, who is headed back to the 10-day injured list after suffering a right quad strain during Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Rays. While the extent of his injury has not yet been determined, it’s an alarming development for the infielder, who is newly-returned from the IL after rehabbing a lower back strain last month. A clear timetable for his return to the lineup has not yet been announced.
The 33-year-old Moreland made it through just six innings on Friday, and what appeared to be a precautionary move by the team turned out to have more serious implications. Prior to his removal, he went hitless in two at-bats against Yonny Chirinos, slumping to a .225/.316/.543 batting line on the year. He was replaced by rookie second baseman Michael Chavis, who handled the bulk of the starts at first base during Moreland’s initial stint on the IL and figures to see increased playing time there over the next several weeks as well.
In a corresponding move, infielder Marco Hernández was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. Hernández, 26, is poised to make his season debut after a lengthy recovery from shoulder surgery. All told, he’s lost 446 days to the injured list over the last two years and has yet to see more than 40 games in any single major-league season. So far in 2019, however, he’s batting an impressive .299/.356/.442 with 18 extra-base hits, 18 RBI, and a .798 OPS through 174 plate appearances at High-A Salem and Triple-A Pawtucket.
On Sunday, we learned that while the Nationals would continue to pay their minor leaguers throughout the month of June, their weekly stipend would be lowered by 25 percent, from $400 to $300. In an incredible act of solidarity, Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle and his teammates put out a statement, saying they would be covering the missing $100 from the stipends.
After receiving some criticism, the Nationals reversed course, agreeing to pay their minor leaguers their full $400 weekly stipend.
Doolittle and co. have not withdrawn their generosity. On Wednesday, Doolittle released another statement, saying that he and his major league teammates would continue to offer financial assistance to Nationals minor leaguers through the non-profit organization More Than Baseball.
The full statement:
Washington Nationals players were excited to learn that our minor leaguers will continue receiving their full stipends. We are grateful that efforts have been made to restore their pay during these challenging times.
We remain committed to supporting them. Nationals players are partnering with More Than Baseball to contribute funds that will offer further assistance and financial support to any minor leaguers who were in the Nationals organization as of March 1.
We’ll continue to stand with them as we look forward to resuming our 2020 MLB season.
Kudos to Doolittle and the other Nationals continuing to offer a helping hand in a trying time. The players shouldn’t have to subsidize their employers’ labor expenses, but that is the world we live in today.