Clearing up some confusion over the reason behind the Boston Red Sox moving right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the 60-day injured list.
The Boston Red Sox announced a series of roster moves on Tuesday that included shifting right-handed pitcher Nathan Eovaldi to the 60-day injured list. The news ignited a bit of panic throughout a portion of the fan base that worried it meant Eovaldi had suffered a setback. That simply isn’t the case.
Eovaldi was moved from the 10-day IL to the 60-day in order to free up a spot on the 40-man roster for Steven Wright, who was serving an 80-game PED suspension. Injured players on the 60-day IL don’t count toward the 40-man roster and neither do players on the restricted list. The move essentially swapped out Eovaldi for Wright without forcing the Red Sox to designate a player for assignment in order to clear a path.
In a corresponding move, the Red Sox optioned right-hander Josh Smith to Triple-A Pawtucket in order to open a spot for Wright to join the 25-man active roster.
Eovaldi has already spent more than 60 days on the shelf so this roster move does nothing to alter his timeline. He could technically be activated at any time, so long as the Red Sox open another spot on the 40-man roster for him first.
That being said, Eovaldi isn’t quite ready to return. We’re well beyond the initial six-week timetable that was projected when he underwent a procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow. His return has been delayed by biceps soreness but we already knew that. This setback isn’t the reason why he was placed on the 60-day IL.
According to Masslive.com’s Christopher Smith, Eovaldi played catch in Minnesota last week and is scheduled to throw again on Sunday while the team is away in London.
"“Just play catch again,” said manager Alex Cora. “Ninety feet I think it is. Feeling better. But nothing as far as bullpens and stuff like that.”"
Eovaldi is making progress but the Red Sox aren’t going to push him. Keep in mind that this is a pitcher with a lengthy injury history, including multiple Tommy John surgeries. You can understand why they are being cautious (more so than you can understand taking the risk of giving an injury-prone pitcher a four-year deal but that’s another story).
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The 29-year old posted a brutal 6.00 ERA in four starts before he was placed on the IL. Most of the Red Sox pitchers stumbled out of the gate after a shorter offseason led to a limited workload in spring training. They simply weren’t prepared for the regular season. That probably explains the discouraging results from Eovaldi more than the injury. He allowed only one unearned run over six innings against the New York Yankees in his most recent start so the injury doesn’t appear to have been a factor.
Eovaldi was a key part in the Red Sox pitching staff after he was acquired in the middle of last season from the Tampa Bay Rays. His eventual return should solidify the back end of the rotation or he could end up being the high-leverage bullpen piece this team desperately needs.
The 60-day IL move doesn’t mean he has to miss 60 more days so the news is ultimately meaningless, as it tells us nothing about when he’ll return. The Red Sox should get Eovaldi back in some capacity in the second half of the season to give their pitching staff a much-needed boost.