ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — No COVID-19 news is good news for the Red Sox. For the first time since Saturday, the Red Sox didn’t have a positive case ahead of Thursday’s series finale against the Rays.
“Yeah, it was a good day today,” manager Alex Cora said before a 4-0 victory over the Rays. ”Nothing to report. Guys are feeling OK. Feeling better. Especially Enrique [Hernández]. He feels like he’s close to 100 percent so we’ll see what happens in the upcoming days.”
The Red Sox have dealt with nine positive COVID-19 cases, including Hernández, and two close contacts that put their total at 11. Cora said Wednesday there was a strong possibility Hernández could join the Sox either Saturday or Sunday when the team is back at Fenway. Christian Arroyo is beginning to feel better, too, but it doesn’t appear he will be ready this weekend.
Bobby Dalbec took some grounders at shortstop alongside Jonathan Araúz Wednesday. With the Red Sox middle infield decimated by COVID-19, Cora didn’t rule out playing Dalbec or Rafael Devers at shortstop.
“We have to be open-minded,” Cora said. “With Raffy nd Bobby it’s just one of those that if we hit for one of the kids [Araúz or Jack Lopez]. Raffy plays there during the shift. When Bobby plays third base he plays during the shift. So I told them to get grounders at shortstop.”
Dalbec can be rigid at first base, but when he plays atthird or shortstop, he has more of an athletic approach to the ball and is able to display his plus arm.
“He was actually good at short,” Cora said. “The way he moves is very similar to the way he moves at third base. And I like what I saw. So it’s something that we just think about when thinking ahead of the game and how we will manage it.”
Dalbec (2 for 4 with two RBIs) played first base and Devers (1 for 4) was at third Thursday night.
Dalbec won American League rookie of the month honors Thursday after hitting .339/.431/.774 with seven homers.
Praise for Whitlock
Reliever Garrett Whitlock has put together a tremendous season. Following his two pivotal innings in Wednesday’s win, Whitlock now has a 1.52 ERA in 65 innings pitched to go along with a 1.077 WHIP and 72 strikeouts.
“ The guy’s been absolutely nails for us,” Chris Sale said Wednesday. “Being able to go out there and throw one inning, two innings, two-plus, and do what he’s done, it alleviated a lot of pressure off of a lot of other guys.
Said Cora of Whitlock: “He’s great. He cares about winning. We took care of him early, but now it is a full go with him. Obviously, going multiple innings, you have to be smart about it. He’s never taken anything for granted.” … Nate Eovaldi takes the ball Friday for the Red Sox in their series opener against the Indians at Fenway. He’ll be up against Cal Quantrill … Kutter Crawford was scratched from his start in Worcester Thursday.