Yoan Moncada’s long-awaited Boston Red Sox debut is off to a slow start.
The third baseman entered the second half of the Major League Baseball season as the league’s top prospect, so the expectations understandably were high when he made his first appearance on Sept. 2. Moncada was hot, too, going 4-for-10 with a double, an RBI and three runs in his first three games.
Then the 21-year-old showed his biggest weakness: strikeouts.
Moncada made the jump from Double-A to the bigs despite striking out in 30.9 percent of his at-bats in Portland. And after posting a golden sombrero in Tuesday’s 5-1 win over the San Diego Padres, Moncada now has struck out in his last seven at-bats and 10 of his last 17.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Tuesday’s game that Moncada would sit Wednesday to “rebuild and regroup.”
“He’s getting pitched to,” Farrell told reporters, per the Boston Herald. “He’s seeing some things here for the first time. (Full-count) breaking balls for strikes, backdoor breaking balls from left-handers that I’m sure in Portland and in the Eastern League, he’s not going to see all that often. Not uncommon that some of these firsts are going to be challenges for him. These are growing opportunities for him.
“(Wednesday is) probably a day to kind of take some things in. Give him a little bit of a breather and begin to rebuild and regroup a little bit.”
As Farrell mentioned, major league pitchers already have exploited his inability to hit breaking balls, so he still has plenty of adjustments to make. Five of his last seven strikeouts ended with breaking pitches and all of them were swinging.
For now, Moncada likely will split time with the scuffling Travis Shaw, whose job he initially stole. Shaw isn’t very hot right now, either, with a .190 average and .277 on-base percentage in his last 30 games, but the Red Sox need major leaguers in their lineup with the division still on the line.
Moncada isn’t a bust by any means. He’s 21 years old and five games into his major league career. But at this point, the Red Sox have to be careful sending out a raw talent in the middle of a playoff race.
Here are some more notes from Tuesday’s win.
— Starter Clay Buchholz, who gave up only one run with no walks and six strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings Tuesday, walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the West Coast Red Sox fans at Petco Park.
— Steven Wright’s examinations with Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles were the same as they were in Boston: right shoulder bursitis with no structural damage. Per ESPN’s Scott Lauber, Wright isn’t being shut down for the season, so it seems like it’ll be a waiting game for whether the knuckleballer pitches again in 2016.
“It’s definitely peace of mind more than anything, because having two doctors explain to you the same exact thing from looking at the same MRI, it’s definitely encouraging,” Wright said. “Now it’s just a matter of tolerating the pain and taking it day by day and not getting too far ahead of ourselves.”
— The Blue Jays lost to the New York Yankees 7-6 on Tuesday, which means the Red Sox now share first place in the American League East with Toronto. However, the Baltimore Orioles also won Tuesday, which puts them only a game out of first place. The Yankees are creeping at 4 1/2 games out.
Thumbnail photo via Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports Images