The Boston Red Sox have placed Dustin Pedroia back on the injured list. Why is Marcus Walden replacing him instead of an infielder?
Dustin Pedroia has hit another bump in the long road back from a knee injury that wiped out nearly his entire 2018 season. The veteran second baseman was briefly activated following a delayed start to this season but lasted only six games before the Boston Red Sox placed him back on the injured list with irritation in his surgically repaired knee.
The latest setback isn’t believed to be serious but the Red Sox will be without Pedroia for at least 10 days and perhaps longer, considering the team will understandably be cautious with the 35-year old.
While many expected the Red Sox to add another infielder to replace Pedroia, it was actually right-handed reliever Marcus Walden who got the call to take the vacated roster spot.
The Red Sox could certainly use reinforcements in a bullpen with few trustworthy options and Walden was solid in his last stint. He allowed three earned runs in eight innings for an acceptable 3.38 ERA. Walden had been lights out until his last appearance against the Baltimore Orioles when he surrendered all three of those runs in a two-inning relief effort. The 41 pitches he threw in that outing had more to do with his demotion than the poor performance with Boston in need of a fresh arm.
Boston’s bullpen has been battered around in recent games and Walden can help. But is bringing him back worth leaving the infield depth dangerously thin?
This move leaves Eduardo Nunez as the only healthy second baseman on the roster, with “healthy” being used lightly given that he’s dealt with a recent bout of back tightness. Unless you count Christian Vazquez, although we can only hope the Red Sox don’t view testing him at second base again as anything more than a break glass in case of emergency scenario.
Relying so heavily on Nunez, a poor defensive second baseman who has struggled at the plate, seems too risky. Which is why we should count on another roster move coming.
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Fans are clamoring to see top prospect Michael Chavis, who has started seeing time at second base down in Triple-A. It would be unfair to throw him into the fire by having him make his major league debut at a position he’s still learning. We may see Chavis later this year but not yet.
Tzu-Wei Lin makes the most sense as a short-term infielder. Lin isn’t eligible to be added back to the roster until Friday since he was optioned on April 9. There’s a strong possibility that the Red Sox make another roster move, perhaps designating Erasmo Ramirez for assignment, to clear a path for Lin to join the team.
So, essentially, Lin would be replacing Pedroia on the roster while Walden takes the spot of Ramirez or another one of Boston’s underwhelming relievers. They simply can’t announce the moves in that order due to MLB rules on the time frame between when a player can be recalled after he was optioned. If the Red Sox planned on calling up a different infielder then we would have heard about it tonight.
Expect Lin to be on the roster by the time the Red Sox open their series in Tampa Bay against the Rays. He may be viewed as a depth option but don’t be surprised to see him get some playing time with Nunez slumping.