The Boston Red Sox will take another step toward a return Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park as they start to introduce a little bit of competition among themselves.
Boston will begin a little schedule of intrasquad games with its first scrimmage since returning for summer camp ahead of MLB’s abbreviated season.
Weather permitting, the Sox will split up into two teams for an intrasquad scrimmage around 2 p.m. ET, manager Ron Roenicke revealed Wednesday. Nathan Eovaldi will start for one of the teams opposite Chris Mazza. According to Roenicke, the game is expected to last 5 1/2 innings, with Eovaldi getting four or five innings of work on the mound. Mazza, meanwhile, is expected to work a pair of innings.
Unsurprisingly, the goal is to replicate real game situations as much as possible, and while there won’t be an actual umpiring crew at Fenway, the man likely to be calling balls and strikes is no stranger to being behind the plate.
“We’ll try to keep it as game-like as we can. Don’t be surprised if you see (Jason) Varitek behind the plate umpiring. That’s a possibility,” Roenicke said. “Any time we can get the closest to game condition, we’ll do.”
As for third baseman Rafael Devers, Roenicke said he expects the slugger to get an at-bat or two Thursday and is hopeful Devers will be back in the field for another scrimmage Friday. The club is easing Devers along after Roenicke revealed the club was taking a cautious approach due to concerns Devers was exposed to coronavirus. However, Devers has tested negative on multiple occasions and letting him play in a scrimmage certainly would seem to indicate optimism regarding his situation.
Roenicke said the plan is for mid-afternoon scrimmages in the next few days. Those plans obviously are subject to change, especially with inclement weather expected in Boston through the weekend. Eventually, the 2 p.m. first pitch is expected to be moved back to 3 p.m. and the club eventually will move the start time into the evening in an attempt to replicate regular-season game conditions.
The Red Sox, Roenicke also said, are hopeful they’ll be able to coordinate exhibition games with another club prior to the regular season beginning on July 24.