Nathan Eovaldi
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Red Sox activate Nathan Eovaldi from 60-day injured list

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The Red Sox activated right-hander Nathan Eovaldi from the 60-day injured list, per an official announcement on Saturday. It’s been a long road back to the mound for Eovaldi, who has been sidelined since mid-April after undergoing elbow surgery and rehabbing a bout of biceps soreness.

Prior to the setback, the 29-year-old righty pitched just 21 innings for the club in 2019. He carried a 6.00 ERA, 4.7 BB/9, and 6.9 SO/9 through his first four starts of the year, hardly indicative of the sub-4.00 ERA and 2.0+ fWAR he produced with the Rays and Red Sox in 2018.

Whether or not he can return to those totals remains to be seen, but it doesn’t look like the club intends to place any significant expectations on the veteran starter so soon after his recovery. According to comments made by manager Alex Cora, Eovaldi won’t slot into a starting or closing role with the team, as they’re currently set at both ends with a rotation of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodríguez, and Andrew Cashner, and a closer in the form of Brandon Workman. Instead, he’ll likely pivot to a relief role for the time being, for use in “high-leverage situations.”

In a corresponding move, right-hander Ryan Weber was bumped off the 25-man roster and optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Weber, 28, had a tough time during his most recent stint with the team, closing out two losses and allowing four runs, a walk, and three strikeouts over just 4 2/3 innings of relief.

Astros block Detroit Free Press from clubhouse at Justin Verlander’s request

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Last night a BBWAA-credentialed reporter from the Detroit Free Press was barred from the Houston Astros’ clubhouse by team security following the Tigers win over the Astros. The reporter — who was almost certainly Anthony Fenech, who covers the Tigers — was kept out at the request of Astros starter Justin Verlander. Here’s the scene as described by the Free Press. The article contains a photo, taken by Fenech, of the three Astros officials who blocked the door to prevent him access:

At 9:35 p.m., the Astros opened their clubhouse to credentialed media in coordination with MLB rules. As other media members entered the clubhouse, the Free Press reporter with a valid BBWAA-issued credential was blocked from entering by three Astros security officials . . . The reporter contacted Mike Teevan, MLB vice president of communications, who said he would immediately reach out to Dias regarding the issue. Dias eventually gave the reporter access to the clubhouse at 9:41 p.m., after Verlander’s media session had ended . . . Once inside, the reporter approached Verlander, who said: “I’m not answering your questions.” When asked to comment on Wednesday’s loss, Verlander walked away.

That after-the-fact access for the reporter came only after he called Major League Baseball who, in turn, called Astros officials, presumably, to tell them that they cannot bar credentialed media.

It’s unclear at the moment what the beef is between Verlander and either the Free Press or the reporter. For what it’s worth, I follow Fenech and, while he’s a bit more witty and, occasionally, cutting than your average beat reporter, he’s self-effacing and doesn’t do cheap shots. Though he talks often about former Tigers and has made a point to highlight Verlander’s post-Tigers career whenever relevant, to my knowledge he hasn’t said or done anything specific to tweak Verlander in the past.

I will note, though, that last night, about eight minutes before Fenech was barred access, the Free Press Twitter account sent this tongue-in-cheek tweet out. It’s unclear if he or someone else at the paper wrote it:

Maybe that pissed off Verlander, who is known to be active on social media and is usually pretty aware of what’s being said about him. Hard to say.

What’s easy to say, though, is that no matter what has hurt Verlander’s fragile ego, the Astros barring the reporter from the clubhouse is in blatant violation of the agreement between Major League Baseball and the Baseball Writers Association of America, which ensures access for credentialed reporters. Verlander doesn’t have to talk to the guy — he doesn’t have to talk to anyone he doesn’t want to talk to — but the team honoring Verlander’s wishes to bar access is totally unacceptable and, frankly, about as low-rent as it gets from a media relations perspective.

We’ll probably hear more about this later today.