Why isn't Mitch Moreland starting all the time? Ron Roenicke has his reasons.

Rob Bradford
July 30, 2020 - 9:19 pm

There have been plenty of questions regarding Ron Roenicke's approach to the first week of the Red Sox' season. But the one which is gaining the most steam involves Mitch Moreland.

For the third time in seven games, Moreland started a game on the bench after serving as one of the previous game's offensive stars. Thursday the first baseman didn't get the start despite coning through with a key RBI double and late-inning run-scoring single in the Red Sox' second win of the year.

There were also the two games Moreland homered, which were followed by a spot on the bench.

The topic only gains steam when looking at Moreland's production heading into Thursday night, with the 34-year-old hitting .357 with a 1.214 OPS. He also is second in the majors in barrels per plate appearances.

Conversely, the other option at first base, Michael Chavis, has struggled mightily. He did manage a pair of singles, but also struck out two more times, including when Roenicke let him in to face righty reliever Drew Smith in the sixth inning.

Update: After the Red Sox' win Thursday night Roenicke explained why he didn't bring Moreland even as a defensive replacement. "I talked to him before the game. Actually I talked to him last night. Told him he was going to have the day off. His legs are just barking from being on them a lot. I told him I wasn’t going to get him in that game tonight."

So, why is this approach being taken? The Red Sox manager offered his explanation prior to Thursday night's game.

"Mitch, when he's swinging the bat well, you always want him in the lineup, no question about it," Roenicke said. "I know last night I had a decision, do I let him face the lefty or not and I know what we got a little bit of luck there. But I like him up there all the time. He battles well. But it's also, Mitch, he's not 22 years old anymore. I know I can't put him out there all the time. So when we do face lefties, I think the advantage is he's always going to be strong whenever we get him in there, whether it's pinch-hitting, or starting that in-between game. I know tomorrow it makes a difference because tonight we have a lefty, then we've got another lefty, and then right-left, and I know we don't want him out of the lineup that long. But it's a nice piece to have off the bench in a big situation. So whenever you have one or two guys on the bench you know can come in with people on base in key roles, it's nice to also have him there."

Roenicke added, "He runs a lot because he’s on base a lot, and any time that happens, I want to make sure he’s OK. So, going into games when I think that he could be a little banged up, I always think that way with him. I know the last two years, because he does well, we want him out there. Whenever we got a stretch where we’re thinking, should we give him a day off, it ends up where he nicks himself somewhere and all of a sudden you lose him for a few games. So I would rather almost make sure that he’s going to be OK, so that’s why I think backing off him is better."


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