Danny Santana made his debut with the Red Sox in their series opener against the Phillies Friday evening. Santana played first and led off, grounding out in his first at-bat. He finished the game 1 for 5, launching a solo homer in the fifth inning off Aaron Nola to get his Sox career off to a good start.
Santana inked a minor league deal with the Red Sox back in March with an invite to spring training. He suffered a foot infection shortly thereafter. The veteran INF/OF recently went on a rehab assignment which began in High A Greenville followed by Triple A Worcester. In eight games Santana hit a combined .433 with three homers.
Last season, Santana tore a ligament in his right elbow which required surgery in September. He played in just 15 games, hitting .145 in 63 plate appearances. During the 2019 season, however, Santana emerged as one of the Rangers’ best players. In 130 games, he slashed .283/.324/.534 with 28 homers and an .857 OPS, stealing 21 bags. Manager Alex Cora and the Sox hope they are getting that version of Santana.
“He’s a switch-hitter who can hit the ball out of the ballpark,” Cora said prior to the game. “I think the thing that he brings that we don’t have is speed. We run the bases well, we pick and choose when we want to go and we’ve been pretty effective. But he can and I think that’s a dimension that will add something to the equation.”
Santana said he’s 100 percent and just happy to be back with a big league club.
“I feel really good right now,” Santana said. “I know I can run a little bit. I can do a lot of things when healthy. I’m ready for everything. I played a couple of positions back in Worcester last week, so I’m ready.”
Austin Brice DFA’d
For now, both Michael Chavis and Franchy Cordero are safe. To make room for Santana on the 40-man, the Red Sox designated reliever Austin Brice for assignment. Brice had a 6.94 ERA in 11 ⅔ innings this year. In his May 4 outing vs. the Tigers, Brice allowed four earned runs in just one-third of an inning. He followed that up with two earned runs during his May 8 appearance vs. the Orioles. Despite delivering back-to-back scoreless outings against both the A’s and Angels, it was evident Brice wasn’t a long-term option for the Sox out of the bullpen.
The Sox now have 13 position players on their roster. In the meantime, Chavis and Cordero get a bit more time on the big league roster. Yet with Christian Arroyo lurking in the background, the Sox will have to decide whom they send to Worcester between Chavis and Cordero.
Arroyo (left hand contusion) began his rehab assignment with the WooSox Friday, in the lineup as the team’s DH and batting second. The plan for Arroyo is to play with the WooSox at least through the weekend before the Red Sox make any type of decision on the infielder.
Eovaldi looking to get back on track
Nate Eovaldi gets the start against the Phillies Saturday, carrying a 4.50 ERA in nine starts. In his most recent outing against the Angels, Eovaldi allowed four earned runs. He’s yielded 11 earned runs in his last three starts. “With Nate, just keep doing what he’s doing, don’t change too much,” Cora said. “Obviously, sometimes we feel like he should elevate a little more. But at the end, you see the real numbers and you’re like, you know, what else can we ask from him? So we’ll keep it simple. We’ll make subtle adjustments, and hopefully they can have better results.” ... Alex Verdugo left Friday’s game in the top of the seventh inning with left hamstring tightness. Kiké Hernández took over in center field... Major League Baseball announced Friday that 14 teams have reached the threshold of 85 percent or more of their Tier I individuals being considered fully vaccinated. The Red Sox haven’t reached that mark yet. “We are getting closer,” Cora said. “We are closer than 15 days ago. We’re almost there, but we’re not there.”