Updated: It’s not yet time – ‘At this moment,’ Sox don’t plan roster change (or callup of Mookie Betts)
|06.27.14 at 8:51 pm ET|
NEW YORK — The Red Sox have 13 pitchers and 12 position players. That could change as soon as Saturday. And if it does, there’s a chance that the next Red Sox phenom could make his way to the Bronx for his major league debut. It might be time for Mookie Betts.
(UPDATE/SPOILER: Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Friday’s game that the Red Sox did not plan “at this moment” to add a 13th position player. “Our intent is to get to that 13 position players, but not at the moment,” he said.)
Here are the realities confronting the Sox:
1) They have one more pitcher than they’d like to carry right now. The team has been keeping Rubby De La Rosa on the big league pitching staff while trying to make sure that everyone is healthy enough to take his next turn in the rotation. The team has had positive indications that injuries won’t sideline anyone, thus permitting a move back down to 12 pitchers and 13 position players, possibly on Saturday — something that would allow the team to get all six members of its pitching staff working on a restored schedule.
“It is our goal to get back to 13 position players. Whether that happens by [Saturday] remains to be seen,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “That’s the overall goal, to get to that level. what we don’t want to do, which we’ve been in a little bit of a state of flux with the moving pieces in the rotation. We don’t want to get too far away from last starts of individual guys. we’ve got to balance that out.”
2) Shane Victorino isn’t walking through that door anytime soon. In his absence, the Sox are missing a dynamic presence who can impact the game with his right-handed bat, his defense and his baserunning. There aren’t many of those. Betts at least represents the possibility of one of them — though with the caveats that a) he remains very green as an outfielder, whether in center or right, and he’s likely to endure transitional challenges if/when he’s promoted.
Nonetheless, the fact that Betts has started in right field in each of the last two games — at a time when Victorino’s anticipated return during the now-completed West Coast road trip has been revised to “date unknown” — is more than a coincidence.
“There’s been some correlation to that,” said Farrell. “Tonight will be the second time he’s been in right field. We’re just trying to get him exposure to both center and right field in the event that some further discussion and ultimate decision is made to bring him here. That has not happened yet.”
3) Betts is raking. He entered Friday hitting .330 with a .422 OBP and .445 slugging mark while reaching base in all 21 games following a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket.
4) Keeping all that in mind, there’s no guarantee that Betts will get the call on Saturday. First, it remains to be seen if the Sox make a roster move on Saturday. Secondly, even if they do, the team could still opt for a veteran who is an experienced role player and who could play a complementary role. The team has such a player in the form of Ryan Roberts, who entered Friday hitting .299/.347/.484 since May 1. If the team doesn’t have a clear everyday role for Betts, then it could elect to promote a versatile player who is accustomed to producing off the bench such as Roberts, and to let Betts continue the finishing stages of his minor league development in Pawtucket.
Still, the fact that there is now active conversation in the Red Sox organization about whether Betts might arrive in the big leagues this weekend is a testament to a player with extraordinary talent — even if the player himself does not suggest as much.
UPDATE: It is not time. Farrell said after the Red Sox’ 6-0 loss on Friday that “at the moment,” the Sox did not plan to make a roster move to get a 13th position player onto the roster.
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