NEW YORK — Michael Chavis is taking this season in stride as much as he can.
Despite all the changes, the scares, the positive COVID-19 testing of some players like those on the Miami Marlins and now the St. Louis Cardinals, Chavis is trying to keep his mind on baseball as much as possible. But that doesn’t stop the thoughts from seeping in. Will the season even be completed?
“It’s definitely something that you have to pay attention to,” Chavis said before the Sox’ 5-1 loss to the Yankees. Chavis provided the only offense for the Sox with his solo shot off Jordan Montgomery in the third. “Simply for safety. It’s relevant. There are so many unknowns in all of this. We don’t know if we’re going to finish the season. We don’t know what’s happening with whatever team has COVID-19. There is a lot of uncertainty. Paying attention is something I have been doing for my safety and my family’s safety.”
Right after Chavis’ presser, ESPN reported that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association stressed to players the importance of following protocols in the wake of the Marlins outbreak or else the season could be shut down. The Sox haven’t had any new outbreaks since players reported to camp. Manager Ron Roenicke recently said he thought the Marlins outbreak would serve as a wake-up call to players, but the Red Sox players said they have remained diligent.
“We didn’t really make any drastic changes,” Chavis said. “I can’t say enough about how things were prepared and done at Fenway just for us alone. The whole time I was at Fenway I felt it was the safest spot in Boston. Things are going good there, honestly.”
Godley next up
Zack Godley will take the ball for the Red Sox in Saturday evening’s game against the Yankees. It will be his first start of the season. He previously pitched in relief in the Sox’ July 27 matchup against the Mets and dominated. Godley worked four innings and struck out seven without walking a batter or allowing a run on just 53 pitches. Godley mainly used his knuckle-curve and cutter mix, registering 15 combined swinging strikes.
Godley, however, knows this Yankees lineup is a different beast, particularly in a hitter-friendly park like Yankee Stadium.
“That lineup speaks for itself,” he said. “They do what they do night in and night out. The biggest thing is trying to get ground balls, let the defense work. That’s about all you can do. Just try to limit the damage as much as possible and let our guys go to work on the other side.”
Godley was acquired by the Sox at the end of camp, so it’s uncertain how many innings he can pitch, since, in some ways, he’s still progressing. Godley acknowledged that the inning total won’t matter as much as the pitch count.
Still, the Sox are looking for him to eat some innings as he did against the Mets. Godley said he plans on being aggressive in the zone.
“When you start thinking about mistakes you start making mistakes,” Godley said. “The biggest thing is staying positive and trying to attack the zone and attack the hitters. A lot of guys try to shy away from these guys simply because they are who they are. Best thing I can do is to attack them and try to get ahead, force contact and try to get them out early.”
Taylor, Hernandez close
Relievers Josh Taylor and Darwinzon Hernandez continue to progress. Taylor threw his second live batting practice Friday and Hernandez will throw a live BP Saturday. The next time the pair will throw will be in a simulated game at the team’s alternate site.
“After that we’ll make a decision,” Roenicke said. “If we think Josh is ready for a one-inning stint, he could be active shortly after that. Darwinzon, it just depends on whether we think we need to stretch him out a little bit more. If we do, he could be just behind [Taylor].”
Andrew Benintendi entered summer camp looking as if he would regain his old form. He was consistently squaring up pitches at the plate to all parts of the field. Now, he looks lost again.
Benintendi has just two hits in 21 at-bats (though he has drawn seven walks) and went 0 for 2 with two walks in Thursday’s game against the Mets. Benintendi got the day off Friday with lefthander Jordan Montgomery on the mound for the Yankees.
“I’m going to try to, I don’t want to say rotate, but I’m going to try to mix it up a little bit with that one lefthander who sits when we face a lefty,” Roenicke said. “I imagine Benny would be back in there on Sunday against the next lefty. But I’ll keep switching it up.”
Alex Verdugo, who went 0 for 4, got the start in left field Friday, and Roenicke explained that since Verdugo hits lefties well, he’ll play him more frequently.
Part of Benintendi’s struggles might be a result of his stride/leg kick. It’s something he’s been trying to hone since September 2018, and he came into the spring still trying to figure it out. At times, his stride (right) foot dangles in the air, as if he’s searching for the right time to plant it down. In a sense, thinking while striding.
“He changes that leg lift,” Roenicke said. “Sometimes it’s a timing mechanism that helps him really start to generate some more bat speed, but it’s also to the point that, if you’re a little late with it, you’re always trying to catch up.
“Any time you have a leg kick, the biggest thing is trying to have that same rhythm and timing that when you’re going good, it seems to always be there. When you’re going bad, you’re always struggling with it. You’re trying to catch up. Worst thing you can try to do is try to catch up. If you’re a little bit early, it’s better than being a little bit late.”
No Rodriguez news
The team has yet to come to any decisions with Eduardo Rodriguez, who underwent his second round of testing after being diagnosed with myocarditis as a result of his bout with COVID-19. Roenicke said Rodriguez is still in the discussion process with the Sox medical staff.