NEW YORK — Once again, the Red Sox got a big boost from second baseman Christian Arroyo on Friday night.
Leading 1-0, Boston had a runner on second when Arroyo stepped to the plate against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery in the second inning. On a 2-1 count, Arroyo drove a Montgomery fastball to the opposite field for his sixth homer of the season to put the Sox up, 3-0.
Arroyo continued his streak of clutch homers in recent months.
“When he’s using the big part of the field, he becomes very dangerous,” said manager Alex Cora. “He got a changeup up in the zone, stayed on it and hit it out of the ballpark. Hit the double down the line. The last at-bat was a good one. When he’s not trying to do too much, he is that good.”
Arroyo performed well in the first half (.270 average, .794 OPS in 48 games) but is at risk of losing playing time now that top outfield prospect Jarren Duran has been promoted to the majors. When Duran starts in center, Kike Hernandez will get the bulk of time at second base. That could push Arroyo out of the lineup, especially against righties.
The 26-year-old isn’t concerned about the possibility. In fact, he has been working out at first base in order to make himself more versatile.
“Jarren is a heck of a player,” Arroyo said. “I got to watch him first-hand in spring training and even more when I was rehabbing a couple times. He brings a dynamic to our team and I’m never going to complain about guys who are going to come up here and contribute to our success. I’m here to win baseball games and that’s all I’m concerned with.”
Arroyo has impressed Cora thus far.
“This kid, he was a first-round pick and those guys are special,” Cora said. There’s a reason you guys get selected in the first round. Some of them perform earlier in their career. Others, it takes a while. We’ve been patient with him. He’s doing a great job. He’s a guy who has been amazing in the first part of the season and today was a great start.”
Thursday’s postponed game means the Red Sox will reshuffle their rotation this weekend in New York.
Martin Perez, who was originally supposed to start Friday night, will be pushed back to Sunday’s series finale so Nathan Eovaldi can keep his scheduled start Saturday, Cora said. Originally, Eduardo Rodriguez, Perez, Eovaldi and Pivetta were supposed to start — in that order — in New York. Rodriguez was pushed back to Friday once Thursday’s game was postponed.
Now, Pivetta will start Monday’s series opener against the Blue Jays in Buffalo with Garrett Richards going Tuesday and Tanner Houck pitching the finale Wednesday night. The Red Sox will use six starters through the first turn of the second half.
Richards will be dealing with a particularly long layoff, as he last pitched July 9 against the Phillies. For the righty, it will be 11 days between starts. Cora doesn’t think that will be an issue.
“He feels like with his side work and all that, he’s going to be fine,” Cora said.
Sale ready for Tuesday in Maine
Lefty Chris Sale felt good Friday after throwing three innings in a rehab start for the Florida Complex League Red Sox on Fort Myers on Thursday, Cora said. Sale is on tap for his next rehab outing Tuesday night at Double-A Portland.
“I texted with him this morning,” Cora said. “He felt great physically, he played toss today. Everything went well. He’s really excited, like I said yesterday. The way he has been able to bounce back on a daily basis, it’s not that he’s surprised but he has made some adjustments as far as his nutrition and his workouts and stuff like that. He’s a lot stronger now than he was a few years ago.”
Cora reiterated that he would like to see Sale go at least five innings in a rehab outing before being activated. He did not say how many starts the lefty will make before returning to the majors.
COVID issues still in play
Thursday’s postponement was a reminder to Cora and the Red Sox that despite improvements, the COVID-19 pandemic is still a challenge every club faces on a daily basis.
Before Friday’s game, the Yankees placed three more players — catcher Kyle Higashioka, outfielder Aaron Judge and third baseman Gio Urshela — on the COVID-19 injured list after putting two pitchers (Nestor Cortes and Wandy Peralta) there the day before. New York is shorthanded for the weekend series against the Red Sox, leaving manager Aaron Boone in a stressful situation.
“It’s tough,” Cora said. “I talked to him yesterday and with this situation, I don’t want to be in his shoes.”
Cora is proud of how the Red Sox — who have had zero positive COVID-19 tests since spring training — have handled MLB protocols.
“I’ve been concerned since Day 1,” Cora said. “As long as we keep doing the things we’re supposed to do… our medical department has been outstanding, I think the players have cooperated and done an amazing job. That’s what we can control. So far, so good.”
Other injury updates
Reliever Ryan Brasier (concussion) still hasn’t progressed past playing catch since being cleared in late June, Cora said. His timetable for a return is still uncertain.
“That’s the only thing he has been doing baseball-wise,” Cora said. “Besides that, he has been doing okay.”
Utility man Marwin Gonzalez (right hamstring strain) may need longer than the minimum 10 days on the injured list, Cora said. Gonzalez hurt his hamstring twice — first on July 6 in Anaheim and again Sunday against the Phillies.
“It was actually worse than the first one,” Cora said. “It was bad compared to when we slowed him down a little bit. We’re not going to rush him. Let’s put it that way.”
Infielder/outfielder Danny Santana (left quad strain) is eligible to rejoin the Red Sox on Saturday because his IL stint was backdated to July 7, but it’s unclear if he will. Santana
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