Red Sox first baseman Steve Pearce will open season on injured list
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox first baseman and World Series MVP Steve Pearce will open the 2019 season on the injured list with a calf injury.
When the Boston Red Sox open the season in Seattle on Thursday they will do so without the reigning World Series MVP.
Manager Alex Cora revealed Monday night that Steve Pearce will be placed on the injured list due to discomfort in his left calf. He exited after only one plate appearance in the March 17 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates and hasn’t been seen on the field since.
The injury isn’t considered serious but the Red Sox aren’t taking any chances with the 35-year old. It’s a similar approach to how they are treating the return of Dustin Pedroia. He wants to play on Opening Day and probably could but why rush? It’s a long season. Pearce will join Pedroia in Fort Myers while the rest of the teams kicks off an 11-game road trip.
Sam Travis will take Pearce’s spot on the active roster. The 25-year old has slashed .250/.306/.357 in 52 career games at the big league level. He had an underwhelming spring training, hitting .205 with a .526 OPS in 24 games.
When he returns healthy, Pearce will resume his role as the right-handed half of a first base platoon with Mitch Moreland. Pearce has a reputation as a lefty masher, slashing .304/.400/.559 in 102 at-bats against southpaws last season. The Red Sox could have used his bat to open the season against a Mariners team that will send lefties Marco Gonzales, Yusei Kikuchi, and Wade LeBlanc to the mound during the four-game series.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Pearce would have seen plenty of work against the Mariners but it remains to be seen if Travis will be plugged into those same spots. Travis has hit a respectable .298/.385/.404 against lefties in his limited time in the majors yet they may place more trust in the veteran Moreland. Gonzales, the Mariners’ starter to open the series, hasn’t shown notable right-handed/left-handed splits in his career so it’s safe to start Moreland against him despite his tendency to struggle against lefties.
Pearce was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays last June to boost a lineup that had been struggling against left-handed pitching at the time. He produced a solid .279 average and .901 OPS with seven homers and 26 RBI in 50 games with the Red Sox. He stepped up his production in the postseason, earning World Series MVP honors by hitting .333 with three home runs and 8 RBI in five games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The veteran established himself as a fan favorite in his short time in Boston and was rewarded with a one-year, $6.25 million contract in November that he quickly agreed to without shopping his services to other suitors as a free agent.
Even in a platoon role, Pearce will serve an important role on this team. After what should be a brief delay to the start of his season, Pearce should be back in the lineup to deliver some late lightning.