Yoshida playing his way into All-Star consideration
Rookie off to torrid start
When Masataka Yoshida first signed with the Red Sox, the reaction from across baseball was far from glowing. The 29-yearold could hit in Japan, sure, but what exactly were the Red Sox getting with their five-year, $90 million investment?
The answer, it turns out, is a possible MLB All-Star.
Since working through his rough start Yoshida has emerged as one of the most productive outfielders in the American League. Entering Sunday Yoshida ranked second in the AL in batting average (.314) with seven home runs, 32 RBI and more walks (23) than strikeouts (22).
His .899 OPS also ranks fourth in the league among qualified outfielders, and over his past seven games Yoshida was 12 for 25 (.480) with five extra-base hits.
“His bat-to-ball skills always play, the discipline is always good, and it’s just part of the adjustment,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “I’ve been saying it all along, the guy hits.”
Yoshida’s start has put him in rare company. According to the Red Sox communications staff Yoshida is one of only two players this century to have reached base 85+ times and struck out 25 or fewer times in their first 50 career games, the other being fellow Japanese sensation and future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki.
Yoshida has also reached base more times (87) in his first 50 career games than any Red Sox player in the live ball era, beating out Johnny Pesky (86, 1942), Walt Dropo (86, 1949-50), Ike Boone (85, 1923-24), Tom Oliver (83, 1930) and Ted Williams (82, 1939).
“He’s just a model of consistency,” said teammate Justin Turner. “He stays in the strike zone, uses the whole field, drives the ball, drives in runs, takes his walks. He does everything very, very well.”
Could Yoshida earn a trip to the All-Star Game in Seattle? He’ll face stiff competition. New York’s Aaron Judge, Houston’s Yordan Alvarez and Los Angeles’ Mike Trout are all probably locks, and Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena, Oakland’s Brent Rooker, Chicago’s Luis Robert Jr. and Texas’ Adolis Garcia are among a number of others who could make a strong argument for inclusion as well.
Regardless, the fact Yoshida is in the conversation at all in his first season of big league baseball speaks volumes for the type of hitter he is.
“He’s going to hit for average, he’s going to hit for power, he’s going to get on base, he’s going to walk, he’s not going to strike out,” Cora said. “This is who he is and we’re glad he’s here with us.”
Rodriguez to IL, Ort called up
The Red Sox replenished their depleted bullpen ahead of Sunday’s game, placing lefty Joely Rodriguez on the injured list with left shoulder inflammation and optioning lefty Ryan Sherriff to Triple-A while calling up righty Kaleb Ort and lefty Brennan Bernardino to fill their spots.
Ort last pitched in the big leagues on April 25, when he allowed four runs in the ninth inning of what wound up being a white knuckle 8-6 win over Baltimore. Since then he has posted a 2.45 ERA in eight appearances with the WooSox.
Bernardino rejoined the Red Sox on Saturday as the 27th man for the doubleheader and pitched two innings in the night game. Sherriff also pitched a combined two innings with 42 pitches across both games of the doubleheader and likely would not have been available Sunday, and Rodriguez felt his shoulder issue while warming up for the second game.
“Hopefully something similar to Chris (Martin) early on where it’s not more than 15 days,” said Cora, who added there aren’t plans for Rodriguez to get an MRI at this time. “He felt well throughout the day and when he got on the mound to get ready he felt it.”
Crawford a rotation candidate
With Chris Sale on the injured list and Corey Kluber and Nick Pivetta both in the bullpen the Red Sox currently have only four starters stretched out and ready to go. With the club currently two days into a stretch of playing 13 games in 12 days they will need a No. 5 starter to fill in at some point, and Cora indicated that Kutter Crawford could get the nod.
“There’s a chance Kutter may start the next one,” Cora said. “He went three yesterday, he can go four, maybe five, but we have to give him enough rest in between, that’s the most important thing.”
Brayan Bello will start Monday’s series finale against Tampa Bay and James Paxton will pitch Tuesday against the Cleveland Guardians, but the rest of that series is still TBD.
Infielder Christian Arroyo (right hamstring strain) also rejoined the team on Saturday and the club is still working to determine his next steps. Fellow infielder Yu Chang (left hamate fracture) hit off the Trajekt pitching machine on Saturday and the hope is for him to restart his rehab assignment Tuesday in Worcester. Adam Duvall (fractured left wrist) is expected to play a few more rehab games before he’s eligible to be activated from the 60-day IL on Friday.
Two of Boston’s top prospects in Worcester, infielder David Hamilton (left thumb sprain) and outfielder Wilyer Abreu (right hamstring strain) were both placed on the 7-day IL on Sunday. Both players are on Boston’s 40-man roster and have enjoyed strong seasons at Triple-A, with Hamilton batting .262 with 11 home runs and 26 stolen bases and Abreu getting on base at a .379 clip with eight home runs.