For the second straight season, the Red Sox are looking for more offensive production from their first basemen.
Before Saturday’s 6-5 win against the Mariners, the Sox ranked last in batting average at the position (.152), slugging percentage (.242), and on-base plus slugging (.482). They have produced just one homer, which also ranks last in the league.
Bobby Dalbec’s struggles at the plate have continued. He went 1 for 2 with an RBI single Saturday, but he’s hitting just .167 and has struck out 32 times in 116 plate appearances.
Franchy Cordero, meanwhile, came into the day hitting .273 and ripped a crucial triple off the wall in the eighth inning. He wound up scoring the go-ahead run on Christian Vázquez’s RBI single.
Cordero is making better swing decisions as of late and has shortened his swing. “I try to swing at good pitches and try to reach base,” Cordero said.
Worcester Red Sox Sox infielder Ryan Fitzgerald has been getting some reps at first base this year and made his first start at the position with top prospect Triston Casas (swollen ankle) out of the lineup.
Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom made it clear he wants to give Casas more time in Triple A, considering he hasn’t had a full season at the level. Fitzgerald, meanwhile, came into the day hitting .303/.365/.621 with nine homers in 149 plate appearances. He could very well be an option for the Red Sox, providing another lefthanded bat.
For now, though, the Red Sox are still trying to do everything they can to get Dalbec going.
“He can pull the ball with power and that’s what he did in August last year and you saw the difference with him,” manager Alex Cora said this past week. “He’s been a little bit late on the fastball, obviously out in front on the breaking ball. [Hitting the ball out of the ballpark] is part of his game, we know that. For a lineup that is in need of power, it will be good for him to start hitting the ball in the air and out of the ballpark.”
Dalbec entered Saturday’s game when Alex Verdugo departed in the second inning with flu-like symptoms. He will go through COVID-19 protocols. Cordero moved to left. Dalbec recorded the 100th RBI of his career during a four-run outburst in the fifth inning that tied it, driving in J.D. Martinez with a single to right that pulled the Sox within 5-4.
Xander Bogaerts returned to the lineup after colliding with Verdugo on a fly ball in the eighth inning of the Red Sox’ 7-3 win over the Mariners. Bogaerts left the game in the bottom half of that frame.
Cora said Bogaerts texted him Saturday morning and said he was good to go. Bogaerts was moving around well enough for the team to put him in the lineup.
With the upcoming day off Monday, there’s a possibility Bogaerts will sit on Sunday.
“One thing about Xander is that he doesn’t like offdays [at Fenway],” Cora said before the game. “But obviously we’ll be smart about it and if he needs an offday we’ll give it to him.”
Chris Sale threw a bullpen this past week. James Paxton (Tommy John surgery) has yet to throw after being shut down with elbow inflammation. Sale was shut down, too, for what was described as a nonmedical issue unrelated to his rib cage fracture. Cora said he will have an update on WooSox starter Connor Seabold (right pectoral strain) in the coming days.