Boston Red Sox Third Base Issues Continues To Kill Team
The Boston Red Sox once again showed why their third base position has been an absolute mess. They suffered a 5-4 loss to the Rays on Friday night with their third base position disappointing once again. With Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list and Brock Holt still fighting vertigo, the Red Sox turned to Josh Rutledge at third base.
Rutledge mad a throwing error that led to two unearned runs in the fourth and was late on other throws as well. He then grounded out with the tying run on third to end the eighth.
“Tough position to play,” Rutledge said. “That’s it. I mean, it’s not like we’re not trying.”
The Red Sox entered Spring Training with no real competition for Sandoval at third base and at this point blaming Rutledge is unfair given the fact that he should be a primary bench player that maybe plays in 2-3 games a week giving rest to starters.
The bench is bottom of the barrel for the majors, in fact their bench resembles a minor league team for the most part. Rutledge has been thrust into the starting third base starting role, the other options at third are Chase D’Arnaud and Deven Marrero who happen to be big offensive liabilities.
The Red Sox made the decision to trade Travis Shaw for Tyler Thornburg this past offseason, and that trade continues to bite them in the ass.
Rutledge’s error was their league-leading 13th at the position. Sandoval only started taking grounders on Friday and his timetable is nowhere near a return at the moment. Holt on the other hand is rehabbing in Triple-A Pawtucket but with vertigo you can never truly solidify a return date.
“It’s been a tough position for us, make no mistake about it,” manager John Farrell said of third. “I think we’ve had five different players there. We’ve made far too many errors there as a group. Tonight I thought there were some long transfers on Rut’s part that led to some tardy throws, a throw that falls short to Mitch [Moreland] at first base, so we’ve tried a number of people. Opportunity is there, opportunity is there for someone to step up and grab the job. So while we’re in position where we come into the season thinking we might be in a platoon situation, we haven’t had the combination there all year to try to take advantage of the splits offensively, but defensively, that’s got to improve.”
The Red Sox had another option at third in Marco Hernandez, who had been hitting .286 with a .661 OPS. But after leaving a May 3rd game with a left shoulder injury there is no a real chance that he undergoes season ending surgery.
“He’s still feeling some symptoms here. It’s likely this may have to require some additional work to rectify and that would mean some procedure,” Farrell said of Hernandez, whose injury doesn’t involve the rotator cuff. “He’s going to get re-examined. There’s likely another MRI scheduled here in the coming days to comparer against the one done previous, but he has a history of this. Nothing to the extent it was the other day against Baltimore. Things are moving in that direction. Without anything scheduled or defined, that’s kind of the way things are looking right now.”
With Boston having the worst OPS of every team in baseball with .587 OPS at the third base position, Hernandez going down was the last thing they needed. While at best he is a utility player, he was showing production at a position where the Red Sox have struggled.
For now Rutledge will continue to be the primary guy at third until a determination is made on Holt, and a return of Pablo Sandoval. But even with a Holt return he isn’t anything more than the occasional utility player, more permanent than Rutledge but he had a down year last season with a .255 avg and so far this season in 15 at-bats posted a .133/.316/.133 slash line. Even if Holt is able to return early next week you still have the issue of vertigo returning so the team will have to take it easy on the veteran utility player.
Sandoval on the other hand is farther from a return and when healthy this season in 61-at-bats had an abysmal slash line of .213/.269/.377 and hasn’t had a productive season since 2014 season.
Options for Dave Dombrowki at third are running out as his decision to trade Shaw looks worse and worse every day.