The Red Sox will begin their doubleheader with Christian Vazquez as the designated hitter.
It’s his fourth career start as the DH and first since last year. The Sox’ primary catcher, hitting .208 with four homers, has also made a start at second base this season. The Red Sox are trying to avoid left-handed hitters against Tigers’ lefty Matt Boyd in Game 1 on Tuesday.
Mitch Moreland, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rafael Devers are each out of the lineup as the Sox stack right-handed hitters. Michael Chavis is starting at third base.
Moreland and Bradley will be in the lineup in the second game.
“It’s just about that guy on the mound, that guy on the mound is pretty good,” manager Alex Cora said. “Swing and miss percentage is good. He’s good against lefties, so try to maximize our lineup.”
With Sandy Leon also in the starting lineup as the catcher, the Sox have decided on second baseman Tzu-Wei Lin as the emergency third catcher.
“He’s worked with Jason Varitek before,” Cora said. “So he’ll be OK.”
FENWAY GOOD FOR BRADLEY
Bradley’s in an extended slump to begin the year, hitting just .141 with a .372 OPS, the third-lowest OPS by all qualified hitters this year.
“A lot of chases,” Cora said. “A lot of swings and misses. I think coming here and being here (at Fenway Park), what, 11 days, 12 days, whatever it is, I think it’s going to help him out. Just hit a few balls the other way, hit the wall and get them going. Even in batting practice, just get that path and start flipping balls the other way and be like, ‘OK, I can do that.’ Stay on the fastball left-center and whenever they hang a breaking ball, just pull it with power. Hopefully it start in the upcoming days.”
Though 16 of the Red Sox’ first 22 games were played on the road, 18 of their next 25 games are at Fenway Park. Over his career, Bradley has a .257 average and .762 OPS at home and .216 average and .671 OPS on the road.
Bradley dropped down a successful sacrifice bunt that led to the game-winning run on Sunday. Wuld Cora like to see him bunting for base hits?
“That’s something we talk about,” Cora said. “I see a lot of guys around the league. I saw Alex Gordon doing it last night against Tampa. First pitch he squared it was a ball. Next pitch he squared it was a ball. Then 2-0 and after that you have to rake. Mitch did it. It was kind of uncomfortable for those guys (the Rays) when Jackie squared to bunt, too. Even with Lin. It was tough, 99 mph with sink. Not easy to do.
“But it seems like pitchers aren’t used to that either. It’s not easy to groove a fastball down the middle when they’re taught to go to the edges. That’s something we’ll talk about. We’ve been talking about it for a year. First things first, I’d like to get him to get that swing back, start hitting it the other way to left-center and go from there.”
ADDING A PITCHER?
The Red Sox are expected to add a pitcher as the 26th man for the second game of the doubleheader. Lefty Darwinzon Hernandez, who impressed in spring training, is an option.
“We’ll see how it goes in the first game,” Cora said. “Triple A is right down the street. Portland is close to here. So we’ll make the decisions in between games.”
Hector Velazquez, due to start the second game, is likely to go four or five innings.
“He’s rested, too,” Cora said. “With Hector it’s more about what he’s getting. A lot of foul balls, or if he’s off with the split. If he throws the ball the way he did in Arizona I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes five.”
SURGERY FOR EOVALDI
Nathan Eovaldi will be out four to six weeks due to surgery to remove loose bodies in his throwing elbow, according to a source. It’s the same procedure he had early last year.
“The expectation is for him to recover,” Cora said. “He went through that last year. I don’t want to give a timetable but everybody knows around what it is going to take. He should be fine and ready to roll.”
Lineup for Game 1: Benintendi LF, Betts CF, Martinez RF, Bogaerts SS, Pearce 1B, Chavis 3B, Vázquez DH, Lin 2B, León C, Sale P