Masataka Yoshida’s role unfairly affected by Red roster construction, new injury

Chicago Cubs v Boston Red Sox
Chicago Cubs v Boston Red Sox / Brian Fluharty/GettyImages

Boston Red Sox fans spent days wondering where Masataka Yoshida was and why he wasn't being played. He didn't start in five straight games prior to Saturday's game vs the Cubs.

Skipper Alex Cora faced many questions about Yoshida's disappearance from the lineup. He defended his choice to sideline Yoshida in favor of the recovering Tyler O'Neill and Rafael Devers, both of whom he wanted to get some reps at the plate, but try and keep off their feet.

Devers and O'Neill have been swinging hotter bats than Yoshida in the early games of the season, but the Nippon Professional Baseball veteran showed Cora and the Red Sox what they were missing in his return to the lineup.

Yoshida has eight hits since April 19 and his sparse playing time goes back to April 17. The designated hitter posted four hits, including a double, two runs and an RBI against the Cubs on April 27.

Yoshida didn't get a chance to continue his tear in the last game of Boston's series with Chicago, though. After he collected a hit against the Cubs on April 28, he was pulled from the game. It was later revealed that he jammed his left hand during an at-bat. After the incident, Rob Refsnyder subbed in for him, and Cora stated that Yoshida was "suffering" after the at-bat.

Red Sox may need to sit Masataka Yoshida again after his bat began to heat up

The manager said there's some concern for Yoshida's hand during the postgame presser. Comments from Yoshida suggested he does not immediately plan to seek imaging for his injury, and that he'll wait to determine the severity of his pain before he pursues medical intervention.

The Red Sox's lineup is still riddled with injuries, but some players are getting close to their returns. It would be a shame for Yoshida to need to miss more time as the Sox's batting order nears full strength — minus Triston Casas and Trevor Story, of course.

Boston's everyday DH is slashing .318/.375/.477 in his last 13 games, so hopefully, his injury won't keep him out of the lineup long-term. His bat is starting to pick up, and he's been sidelined enough already, thanks to how this team constructed its roster. There are too many outfielders, and too many players who profile as DHs. It needs to be fixed, because Yoshi can't be losing reps for that reason.

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