Whether it’s a big budget team or a small budget team, it’s the hope of every club to make it through spring training with a fully healthy roster to start the season. The Red Sox, however, were unable to even make it to April before suffering the biggest blow of the season thus far. Young catcher and budding defensive superstar Christian Vazquez was placed on the 60-day disabled list with an elbow strain.
While the severity of the injury is still unknown, the loss of Vazquez prompted Boston to work quickly to acquire a serviceable replacement behind the dish. In turn, the Red Sox struck a deal with the Washington Nationals on Monday for 26-year old Sandy Leon in exchange for cash considerations.
Leon, a Venezuela native, has spent the bulk of his 9 year professional baseball career in the Nationals minor leagues. In over 2,000 minor league at-bats, Leon holds an unimpressive .236/.324/.329 slash, with just 21 home runs and 202 RBI. Likewise, Leon’s bat has not found much success at the major league level either, as he’s batted .189 in 107 trips to the plate.
While his bat is not to be feared, his prowess behind the plate gives Boston reason to believe that he can held the 2015 team. Just last season, Leon gunned down 5-of-8 would be base stealers during 17 starts with Washington.
Boston will need to keep Leon on the 40-man roster since he’s out of minor league options. Therefore, it appears as though a tandem of Ryan Hanigan and Sandy Leon will assume the two catchers spots to open the season. Top prospect Blake Swihart will start the year in triple-A.
- Christian Vazquez wasn’t the only Red Sox to go down before Opening Day; Boston’s closer, Koji Uehara, has also been ruled out to start the year. A bum hamstring has limited the soon-to-be 40-year to just three games this spring. With Uehara on the shelf for an unknown amount of time, Boston will use Edward Mujica in the 9th inning to start the season. (Koji Uehara admits “I don’t know when I’ll be back”)
- It didn’t take long for former-NFL linebacker Brandon Magee to figure out what he was going to do with his life following his release from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just one day after being cut, the 24-year old reported to Fort Myers to partake in Red Sox spring training. (NFL linebacker joins Boston Red Sox one day after he’s cut by Buccaneers)
- Red Sox manager John Farrell officially gave right-hander Clay Buchholz the nod to take the hill on Opening Day. This comes as possibly the least shocking news of the spring, considering the current make-up of Boston’s rotation. After the departures of Jon Lester and John Lackey, seniority gave Buchholz the right of passage among his newcomer rotation-mates. (Red Sox SP Clay Buchholz named opening day starter)
- Entering camp, it seemed unlikely that right-hander Matt Barnes would be in the running to start the season with the Red Sox. However, Barnes, a starter by trade, has impressed Red Sox coaches this spring with a high-90’s fastball, darting curve ball that has resulted in 16 strikeouts in 12 innings. The 24-year old’s future as a starter could hinge upon how he takes to the relief role. (Matt Barnes poised to win unlikely roster spot as reliever)
- Tweet of the day: Hear those footsteps, Shane?