Nathan Eovaldi's debut in new role a rocky one

Rob Bradford
July 23, 2019 - 8:16 am

If this whole plan is going to work, the Red Sox better hope that what they saw in the eighth inning was just a bump in the road.

The reality of Nathan Eovaldi's time off and adjustment to a new role was put on display in his return to the mound Monday night, with the righty making his first appearance since April 20. The ninth regular-season relief outing of his career didn't go as planned, giving up three runs on five hits before having to rely on Matt Barnes to retire the last out of the eighth.

Considering the time away while recovering from surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow, along with just one minor-league rehab outing, Red Sox manager Alex Cora was willing to quickly put this one in the rearview mirror.

"Just got his feet wet as a reliever," Cora said. "Just one. That happens a lot. The bouncing breaking ball and the splits, if you ask Christian (Vazquez) he should’ve blocked those pitches. He got his feet wet and we’ll use him the next time."

Eovaldi's command was clearly lacking, while his stuff seemed to pick up where he left off when giving up just one run over six innings at Yankee Stadium in his previous outing back on April 17. The 11 fastballs he threw averaged just better than 97 mph, with the spin-rate on all of his pitches grading out equal if not better than what he had been offering before the injury.

The results, however, were not what Eovaldi was looking for.

Single. Wild pitch. Double. Wild pitch. Strikeout. Double. Single. Strikeout. Single.

"It felt really good to be back out there, just back out there competing with all the guys," Eovaldi said. "I felt fine out there. I just have to do a better job locating my secondary pitches. Everything was mostly middle, they were trying to get hits and were able to do so."

"I think so," said Cora when asked if he chalked up the outing to Eovaldi being rusty. "He pitched three days ago. He’ll be fine. The stuff, you saw it. Made some good pitches. Didn’t get a call on the cutter to (Austin) Meadows. That was a swing. Then he got hit on the fastball. Besides that, you saw his stuff. We’re fine with it."