Red Sox Spring Training: Alex Cora is trying to keep Nathan Eovaldi at bay
The Boston Red Sox are making the most of their time while in Fort Myers for spring training. Mixing their veteran players with the youthful prospects that were invited to camp. One guy that’s been silent so far this spring is Nathan Eovaldi and with good reason.
We are just a few short weeks away from regular season baseball and the Red Sox are gearing up to defend their World Series title. Alex Cora has been very strategic so far in spring training as he begins to form his gameplan for 2019. One thing he hasn’t wavered from so far was the use of his ace starting rotation.
Other than clips from practice sessions, Red Sox Nation has yet to see any of the core four of the starting rotation do anything this spring. That was all part of the plan for Alex Cora as he is trying to get the team to look at the big picture instead of what’s directly in front of them. One guy that Cora has made sure to hold back a notch is Nathan Eovaldi.
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We all know what Nasty Nate is capable of and we also know that he just doesn’t give a damn. And I mean that in a good way. He will do whatever is asked of him and will often go above and beyond the call of duty for the sake of the team.
Look no further than game 3 of the World Series this past October. He was set to start game 4 but offered his services and wound up pitching 6 innings and giving up the walk-off homer to the Dodgers. Rick Porcello would go on to say that Eovaldi’s performance that night was one of the greatest things he’s ever seen.
That’s what Nate would do throughout the playoffs. If he wasn’t starting he would hunker down in the bullpen and wait for the phone to ring. This is something that would be mimicked by fellow starters David Price, Rick Porcello, and even Chris Sale. It was that behavior and those performances that earned Eovaldi a new 4-year $68 million contract.
Cora knows his guys want to get out there and compete but he also knows that he needs them to be as healthy as possible if the Red Sox want to repeat as World Champions. Chris Cotillo of Masslive.com captured Cora’s position and thoughts on resting his starting rotation in spring.
"“When he goes after it, he goes after it,” Cora said Thursday. “We get it. We know. We have to make sure he understands he understands we’re preparing them for the long run. Not a month or two months, three months. We have to make sure he understands. He does. The effort level… we can measure that. It’s a little bit down now.”"
This is also the first spring training that Eovaldi has spent with the Red Sox as he joined the team during the trade window in 2018. So this may not just be an effort by Cora to keep Nate healthy but a chance to get to learn his processes during the preseason.
"“He’s throwing very hard,” Cora said. “Physically, he’s probably athletic-wise, and strong, probably top three of the whole group.”"
President of Baseball Operations didn’t waste any time at all in bringing Nathan back to the Red Sox. After bouncing around the league and seemingly never quite hitting his potential, it seemed like Boston was the right fit after all those years. With a new deal behind him and his confidence at an all-time high, 2019 is looking like it’ll be a major year for Nathan Eovaldi.
As we saw in 2018, Alex Cora seems to know many of the answers before the question is even asked and his handling of the pitching staff this spring could be just another glimpse of that. The Red Sox have more than enough talent and grit to once again raise the Commissioner’s trophy in 2019 and a healthy Nathan Eovaldi is a key component in that. With Opening Day right around the corner, we’ll know soon enough if this plan will pay off.