Christian Vazquez hits road looking for at-bats
BOCA RATON, Fla. — It has been a difficult year for Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez and recent events have only complicated matters.
Vazquez, who is recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery in April, was lined up to get at-bats as a designated hitter in the Puerto Rico Winter League while working on a throwing program before games.
He was on the roster of the San Juan Senadores, his hometown team. But that team folded and Vazquez was added to the roster at Mayaguez, a team two hours away.
Vazquez was released Tuesday at his request because of the travel and the lack of at-bats.
Now Vazquez, 25, is left preparing for spring training on his own, unless he signs with another team.
"The doctors feel he'll be healthy come spring training. But I'm not sure how many at-bats he's going to need to be ready," Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said.
"That's probably one of the more difficult calls for me just because we don't want to push him. We want to make sure he's ready. I don't know if he's going to be a guy who's going to be ready to start at the big league level to contribute with what we need at that point, or not. We're not sure. I figure we would make that decision in spring training."
The Red Sox have Blake Swihart and Ryan Hanigan available to catch if Vazquez starts the season in the minors.
Interest in Hill
Lefthander Rich Hill had a career renewal last summer, becoming a starter again after five years as a relief pitcher.
Hill pitched brilliantly in four games for the Red Sox, allowing five earned runs on 14 hits over 29 innings and striking out 36 with five walks. In six minor league starts, the results were similar: 40 innings and a 1.13 ERA.
Hill will be 36 in March and has a history of arm trouble. But his fastball averaged 90 miles per hour and he showed command of a sharp curveball.
Hill said at the end of the season he would seek a rotation spot in free agency and expected to receive a guaranteed contract. The Red Sox cannot necessarily promise a spot but they remain in touch with the Milton native.
"We had conversations with him and he knows we have interest in him," Dombrowski said.
Dombrowski said the Red Sox would consider Hill for a bullpen role if no spot in the rotation came open.
Fenway Group inks Edes
Fenway Sports Group hired long-time sportswriter Gordon Edes as a strategic communications adviser and Red Sox historian. Edes will report directly to ownership. Edes covered the Sox for the Globe from 1996-2008 before moving to ESPN Boston . . . Dombrowski said the athletic training staff is closely monitoring the condition of Pablo Sandoval, a routine that includes in-person visits . . . Righthander Steven Wright, who ended the season on the disabled list with a concussion, no longer has any symptoms.
Minor league changes
George Lombard, the team's minor league outfield and base-running coordinator, left the organization for a position with the Braves. Double A Portland manager Billy McMillon will replace Lombard. High Single A Salem manager Carlos Febles will move up to Portland. Joe Oliver, the manager at Single A Lowell, was promoted to Salem . . . The Red Sox extended their player development contract with Lowell through 2018. The Spinners have been a Red Sox affiliate for 19 years . . . Twenty-one Red Sox minor leaguers became free agents, having played at least six years in the minors. Notable among them are righthander Dayan Diaz, who had a 2.23 ERA in 37 relief appearances for Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket last season. Former big leaguers on the list include catcher Humberto Quintero, infielder Carlos Rivero, and outfielder Carlos Peguero.