The Red Sox activated Christian Arroyo off the COVID-related injured list this week. Although he’s still working his way back into top form, he said he’s getting close to feeling like himself.
“You do whatever you can to get your timing back,” Arroyo said ahead of Friday’s 8-3 loss, the start of a pivotal weekend series with the visiting New York Yankees. “Hitting off the machine has definitely helped a lo. Getting the velo going. Kind of slowing everything down again.”
Arroyo intimated that he felt something click during batting practice Friday.
“I felt something today,” he continued. “That it was like, ‘OK, yeah, this is what I felt like when I was going good. Back spinning the baseball staying on pitches, like, not trying to do too much.”
COVID aside, Arroyo has dealt with a plethora of injuries this year, which resulted in just 177 plate appearances and just 54 games. It’s why manager Alex Cora and the rest of the training staff were so cautious before activating him.
Certainly, his bout with COVID-19 was at the fulcrum of their decision-making. But it was also his timing. The Red Sox want to be certain he is able to handle big-league pitching again, particularly if the Sox make it to the postseason.
José Iglesias, who has been playing second base, won’t be available for the postseason since he wasn’t a part of the roster before Sept. 1. The Sox might be looking for ways to be creative, too. Bobby Dalbec took grounders at second Friday with both Arroyo and Iglesias instructing him.
That could be an option, but getting Arroyo back on track is certainly at the top of the Sox’ to do-list.
“For me, it’s just staying within myself and just knowing I got eight other guys or 25 other teammates that are here and we’re all trying to accomplish the same goal,” Arroyo said.
Barnes still struggling
Cora said they need to keep working with Matt Barnes. After posting a 2.61 ERA in the first half of the season as the team’s closer, Barnes had a 7.62 second-half ERA before working a scoreless sixth in the Sox’ 8-3 loss.
Even during other low-pressure outings, Barnes hasn’t seemed to be able to figure it out.
Barnes followed Chris Sale in the sixth inning Wednesday against the Mets, holding an 11-2 lead. However, he lasted just one-third of an inning, yielding a run behind two walks and a hit.
“Obviously, there’s a few things that he needs to get better at,” Cora said. “Starting with pounding strike zone. That’s something he did early in the season.”
Coming into the season, the Red Sox saw that Barnes’s stuff plays in the zone 92 percent of the time, according to the team’s data, and that there was no need for him to nibble. As Cora noted, though, Barnes has gotten away from attacking the hitters..
Asked if it was more mental than physical, Cora said, “That’s a good question. I don’t know, I think velocity has to do with it. And then I know we saw a few 92-93 [mile-per-hour pitches] in the last one.
“The gap between the fastball and his offspeed pitches is not as big as it was early in the season. But we’ll keep working with him. He has a few things that he feels mechanically, he’s not there yet.”j
Waiting on Whitlock
Garrett Whitlock (right pectoral strain) is feeling better, but still isn’t participating in any baseball activity The team is still confident that the 25-year-old rookie righthander will return prior to the end of the season . . . Bruins players Craig Smith and Nick Foligno threw out the ceremonial first pitches.