Justin Verlander
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Justin Verlander pulled from spring training start

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UPDATE [3:58]: Manager Dusty Baker told reporters that Verlander has soreness in his right tricep. His removal was precautionary. Obviously, this is something to monitor going forward.

[2:41 EST]: Astros ace Justin Verlander left today’s spring training game after just two innings. Brian McTaggart reports that Verlander was scheduled to pitch four innings.

Verlander had been dealing with some groin issues this spring, but it’s unclear if that’s what forced him out of the game. The Astros said that Verlander is being sent for tests and that manager Dusty Baker will give an update at the conclusion of the game.

Any extended absence for Verlander would be a serious blow to Houston. Although Zack Greinke remains with the team after being acquired at last year’s trade deadline, Verlander has been an incredible weapon atop the Astros’ rotation and has been a formidable weapon. We’ll update this post when more information becomes available.

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Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.