TORONTO — While righthander Nate Eovaldi moves closer to returning to the Red Sox, first baseman Steve Pearce endured a significant setback.
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that Pearce, who re-signed with the team after being named the World Series MVP, “had fallen about a week ago in a game” while rehabbing with Triple-A Pawtucket. The injury at first seemed minor, but on Saturday Dombrowski was informed that the issue was bothering the first baseman.
A subsequent exam revealed that Pearce “is going to be out for a while now. He’s got something wrong with his knee. He’s not going to need surgery. He’s going to need rehab. But it’s going to keep him out for an extended period. I would say probably around a month.”
Pearce has had a nightmarish sequel to his 2018 magic carpet ride. In 29 games for the Red Sox, he’s hitting .180/.245/.258. In seven games with the PawSox on his most recent rehab assignment, he hit .167/.310/.208 with 10 strikeouts in 29 plate appearances. Pearce has been slowed this season by calf and lower back injuries.
Last month, Dombrowski said he wanted to see how Pearce played in his rehab assignment leading up to the deadline. Despite Tuesday’s news that Pearce may be sidelined beyond the July 31 trade deadline, Dombrowski said that adding a righthanded bat is not a priority.
He cited two reasons. First, Dombrowski said rookie infielder Michael Chavis can play the role of the righthanded platoon partner with first baseman Mitch Moreland when the latter returns from his quadriceps strain. And second, he said the team probably will need to carry 13 pitchers given the lack of reliable innings from the No. 5 starter spot.
“We don’t have a fifth starter that’s going to go out and get seven innings on a consistent basis. You can do the math,” Dombrowski said. “With Chavis being there, he can play first and second, we’ve got [Eduardo] Nunez who can play different spots. I don’t think we’ll go out and get a righthanded hitter — although I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next month. You keep your open mind, but I don’t see a driving need for that at this point.”