Pitcher Collin McHugh has opted out of the 2020 season, manager Ron Roenicke said Sunday.
The Red Sox signed McHugh to a one-year deal back in March despite him rehabbing from a flexor strain. The Red Sox knew there was a possibility he would start the season on the injured list because of it.
But as the games went down from 162 to just 60 due to COVID-19, the idea of being on the IL away from his family wasn’t ideal for McHugh.
"His arm is not coming around like he had hoped," said Roenicke. "He knew probably he was going to have to spend some time on the IL. He was going to do that. With what's going on with the pandemic, he would feel better if he was home with his family during that time."
McHugh has said that he was comfortable playing in the midst of a pandemic because of the number of protocols baseball and the Red Sox have in place. Roenicke strongly intimated that McHugh’s decision to opt out had nothing to do with COVID risks.
“What he told me, it was strictly not feeling like he could help us early on in the season,” Roenicke said. “With all that’s going on, it’s a little tough to figure out where you’re going to be during a time when you have to be stuck in a hotel room. That wasn’t very appealing to him.”
Additionally, McHugh has already been paid his entire salary through MLB’s salary advance. Any further earnings were predicated on active roster time and innings, with signs not promising on either front given his lack of progress.
Sox taxi squad
The Red Sox taxi squad held their second day of workouts Sunday at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. Triple A manager Bill McMillon is running the practices.
“Most of the guys that are here now, they were not involved in the summer camp up in Boston,” McMillon said. “The last couple of days we’ve been taking it kind of slow, easing guys into workouts. Light groundballs, batting practice and pitchers starting to get used to facing hitters again.”
There were just 14 players Sunday. Once the Sox start their big league season, the taxi squad will have enough players to play scrimmages against each other.
McMillon started the camp by preaching players need to take this camp seriously. Though there isn’t a minor league season, the taxi team is a part of a player pool that could possibly see some game action in the big leagues.
“I’ve made it a point to reiterate to the guys, ‘Look you guys are the depth.’ I’ve been trying to hammer that point, so that factors into their decision-making process on and off the field. How they go about their business.”
While being ready for the major league season is imperative, so is the continued development of younger prospects, among them Jeter Downs. McMillon said they’re doing everything they can to ensure players who aren’t big-league ready just yet don’t fall behind.
“We’re going to try to keep stats when pitchers are pitching and what hitters do when they face them and try to make it as realistic as we can so that they’re as ready as we can make them,” he said.
Some things to watch
Xander Bogaerts’s hamstring tightened up in one of his at-bats during Sunday night’s intrasquad game, so the Sox took extra precaution and took him out early. Roenicke doesn’t believe it will be an issue going forward. Also, Nate Eovaldi threw 90 pitches, 55 for strikes, in his final start before Friday’s opener . . . Downs, Josh Ockimey, and Jarren Duran will participate in Monday’s nine-inning intrasquad game . . . Roenicke said Darwinzon Hernandez (COVID-19) played catch Saturday. The team hopes to have him at camp in the next couple of days. Same with Josh Taylor, who also contracted the virus . . . Ryan Weber will start the team’s first exhibition game against the Blue Jays. The Sox are still trying to figure out who will start the second. Zack Godley may; Roenicke said they want him to pitch at least 2-3 innings.