The Red Sox featured a new look in both their lineup and defensive alignment on Monday afternoon. For the first time since joining the Red Sox, Kyle Schwarber batted second and played left field.
Schwarber, who spent six weeks on the injured list from early July (when he was still with the Nationals) due to a hamstring strain, served solely as a designated hitter in his first six games with the Sox. But based on how he’d responded physically to his return to the lineup, manager Alex Cora felt comfortable writing him into the lineup for Monday’s 8-4 victory.
The team hopes to have him play first base — a position where he has spent exactly one play in his big-league career — during the upcoming series against the Twins.
“It’s good [to have Schwarber in left field]. It will be better when he can play first. I think that’s the ultimate goal,” said Cora. “That was the thought process about this whole thing. He’s getting close.”
Offensively, Schwarber has impressed. He went 1-for-3 with a single and walk hitting second for the first time, and is hitting .368/.538/.526 with more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) with the Sox. He’s shown impressive plate discipline on a team that otherwise draws few walks and tends to chase pitches out of the strike zone.
Based on those traits, and the recent struggles of Rafael Devers, the Sox put Schwarber in the two-hole against Rangers lefty Kolby Allard while dropping Devers to fifth.
“Trying to let Raffy breathe a little bit will be good for him,” said Cora. “He’s scuffling right now, we know that. But we know he’s going to hit.”
Devers, who entered the game in an 0-for-17 rut, went 2-for-5 with a game-tying double to the triangle with two outs in the 10th.
Christian Arroyo returns
Christian Arroyo, who landed on the injured list with a hamstring strain in mid-July, was activated from the injured list. The Red Sox optioned Jonathan Araúz to Triple-A Worcester to open a roster spot for Arroyo.
Arroyo was a valuable contributor through the first half, hitting .271/.327/.465 overall and .328/.357/.537 against lefties, plus playing strong defense at second base. But the 26-year-old has been on the injured list for more games (60 over three stints for hand, knee, and hamstring injuries) than he’s played (51) .
With the Sox 2-9 in their last 11 games against southpaw starters entering Monday, the Sox are hopeful that Arroyo can help the team improve.
“He’s a big part of what we were doing early on against lefties and he wasn’t there,” said Cora. “Lineup-wise, I think it’s going to benefit us [to have Arroyo back].”
Arroyo was part of a late-inning defensive reconfiguration that the Sox may employ moving forward. The team brought in Arroyo at second, Travis Shaw at first in place of Bobby Dalbec, and shifted Kiké Hernández from second to center, with Alex Verdugo moving from center to left. Christian Vázquez replaced Kevin Plawecki behind the plate.
“We went all out with the best infield possible and best outfield alignment,” said Cora. “That’s how important defense is and we’ll keep doing that.”
Amidst one of the hottest stretches by a Red Sox prospect in recent memory, Nick Yorke is getting promoted. Yorke, their first-round pick in 2020, will move to High-A Greenville after hitting .323/.413/.500 with 10 homers and 11 steals in Low-A Salem, according to multiple major league sources. The 19-year-old started the year (and his professional career) slowly, batting .195/.264/.220 in 21 games in May, but has hit .373/.467/.608 since the start of June. Those marks have bumped up to ridiculous levels in August, with the second baseman hitting .419/.513/.839 with seven homers, 11 walks, and just five strikeouts in 16 games. Baseball America placed him as the No. 8 Red Sox prospect in its midyear rankings . . . Reliever Ryan Brasier and utilityman Danny Santana are scheduled to continue their rehab assignments by accompanying the WooSox on their trip to Buffalo on Tuesday . . . Lefthander Chris Murphy was named Double-A Northeast League Pitcher of the Week after throwing seven scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in a start last week. Murphy, 23, is 7-3 with a 3.80 ERA in 17 starts this year, including 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three starts since a promotion to Double-A Portland . . . The 19th WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday. Since 2002, the event has raised more than $58 million for cancer treatment and research . . . Former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt was one of four Rangers placed on the COVID-19-related injured list prior to Monday’s game, along with infielder Charlie Culberson, and pitchers Drew Anderson and Mike Foltynewicz.