Kiké Hernández was activated from the injured list ahead of the Red Sox series opener against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla.
Hernández batted leadoff and went 1-for-4 in the 8-0 loss as the center fielder, giving them a boost at that spot despite his hitting .239/.298/.425 with four homers in 124 plate appearances prior to going on the IL with a right hamstring strain. Despite the underwhelming numbers, Hernández said his only goal was to get through his rehab stint healthy.
“Mission accomplished,” he said.
The Red Sox went 6-4 in the 10 games Hernández missed, and still sit atop the American League East, a half-game ahead of the Blue Jays.
“I think we’re in a good spot right now. We’re in first place,” Hernández said. “There’s a lot of ways we can get better. [But] that’s what you want, finding ways to win games, even when you’re not playing great. And we’ve managed to do that so far.”
The Blue Jays carry one of the more lethal offenses in baseball, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. having a breakout year, slashing .329/.445/.615 with a whopping 1.060 OPS and 11 homers following his 3-for-5 Tuesday.
“He always controls the strikes zone,” manager Alex Cora said. “That’s something that he did in the minor leagues, and he’s doing that at the big league level. And he’s able to drive the ball to right-center. That’s a mark of a good hitter. But at the end of the day it’s about controlling the strike zone. And throughout his career, he’s done that.”
The Blue Jays’ 56 home runs led the American League entering Tuesday, with Marcus Semien and Bo Bichette each adding nine. Randal Grichuk’s blast in the eighth Tuesday was Toronto’s 27th in its 15 regular-season games this season in Dunedin, where they’ll play through Monday before returning to Buffalo, last season’s temporary home, beginning June 1.
Danny Santana continuing to ramp up
INF/OF Danny Santana continues to get his reps with Triple-A Worcester, cracking three more hits (including a double and a home run) as the first baseman in a 9-4 WooSox win over Buffalo.
Even though Franchy Cordero put together two doubles for the Red Sox on Sunday against the Angels, he’s still hitting just .167 and is yet to homer in 91 plate appearances. He could benefit from some minor league at-bats, which would clear space for Santana, who’s 11-for-26 (.423) with three homers between High-A Greenville and the WooSox.
“He feels good,” Cora said. “Swinging the bat well. They have been using him all over the place. So you know where he’s at right now physically and baseball wise, he’s in a good spot.”
Also Tuesday in Worcester, Red Sox pitching prospect Eduard Bazardo left with an apparent arm injury. Bazardo grabbed for his elbow in the top of the ninth inning after just five pitches, and asked to be taken out of the game.
Christian Arroyo takes BP
Christian Arroyo (hand contusion) took batting practice with the WooSox at Polar Park on Tuesday. Arroyo stayed back for the first leg of the Sox’ road trip, and the team will make a decision based on how he comes out of BP. Michael Chavis made the trip with the Red Sox, while Jonathan Araúz was optioned to make room for Hernández. There’s a strong likelihood that Chavis will be optioned once Arroyo is ready . . . The Blue Jays activated righthanded reliever Rafael Dolis off the injured list before the game. He pitched the ninth Tuesday, his first action since May 7 because of a right calf strain. Dolis replaced lefthanded reliever Nick Allgeyer, who was optioned on Monday.
Julian McWilliams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.