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5 non-roster invitees added to 2023 spring training roster, David Ortiz is worried about the lineup


Truck Day is next Friday, pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 15, and the full squad shows up on Feb. 20, including five new non-roster invitees: Catcher Jorge Alfaro, outfielders Greg Allen and Raimel Tapia, and left-handed pitchers Matt Dermody and Ryan Sherriff.

Alfaro will be competing with Reese McGuire and Connor Wong, as the Red Sox open camp without Christian Vázquez for the first time in over half a decade. The former Padres catcher will ride into camp with some momentum; he was named Dominican Winter League Finals MVP earlier this month. His minor-league deal will pay $2 million if he makes the majors, otherwise, he has opt-outs on June 1 and July 1.

Allen and Tapia are depth options with big-league experience. Allen has played 282 big-league games over six seasons with the Guardians, Padres, Yankees, and Pirates, but has only played 77 games over the last three years. What the almost 30-year-old lacks in offense, he makes up for with speed; he’s 45-for-53 in stolen-base attempts.

Tapia’s name should be painfully familiar; on the night the Red Sox set a new franchise record by allowing 28 runs to the Blue Jays, he hit the inside-the-park grand slam. Over seven seasons in the majors – all with the Rockies until 2022 – he’s a career .277/.318/.392 hitter who averages 26 doubles, four triples, and seven home runs per 162 games. Out of the blue, he stole 20 bases in 2021, but otherwise, ranges from 0-9 successful swipes each year.

Dermody has been all over: the minors, majors, Atlantic League, Japan’s Nippon league, Korea’s KBO, and now Fort Myers. The 32-year-old pitched well for the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate last season, but only has two innings of major-league work between 2020-22.

The Red Sox got a look at Sherriff when he was with the Rays from 2020-21 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018. He was excellent in 2020, not allowing a single run across regular-season 10 appearances, and making two no-hit appearances against the Dodgers in the World Series.

Sherriff spent the 2022 season in the Phillies system, but wasn’t able to pitch between late March and early June. Over 14 games between Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A, he posted a 2.51 ERA with 12 strikeouts and six walks in 14 1/3 innings.

Ortiz concerned about lineup

Catching up with WEEI at Winter Weekend, David Ortiz worried out loud about how the Sox will surround and protect Rafael Devers in the lineup:

“If I’m facing him I’m pitching around him, regardless. No doubt about it. You’re talking about one of the most feared hitters in baseball right now. I have been there before, and if I had no one behind me they won’t pitch to me. You know that. Now you have to find a way who can consistently protect him so he can continue to keep seeing pitches.”

The Sox gave up Xander Bogaerts and JD Martinez this winter, and will be without Trevor Story for at least several months, so Devers will have to rely on the protection of newcomers like Justin Turner and Adam Duvall.

Player development personnel changes

The Red Sox announced a slew of personnel announcements to their player development and minor-league affiliates on Friday. Here are a few notable names:

Shawn Haviland is now the director of Pitching Development and Matt Wheeler is Triple-A Worcester’s new bullpen coach. He made his coaching debut with Single-A Greenville in 2022.

Liam Carroll is Single-A Salem’s new manager. He comes to the organization from Great Britain’s national baseball team and will be one of their coaches for the World Baseball Classic. Luke Montz, who managed the team last season, is now the Padres’ Double-A manager.

Three former Yankees employees have switched sides in the historic rivalry. Andrew Wright, formerly the Yankees’ director of Dominican Republic Baseball Operations, is now field coordinator. Tyson Blaser, who managed the Yankees’ High-A affiliate in 2022, will serve as catching coordinator. And Chase Illig, a Yankees minor-leaguer from 2019-21, will join Low-A Salem’s coaching staff.

The Sox have also hired former Phillies hitting coordinator Jason Ochart to be director of Hitting Development & Program Design.

Smith turns down Sox offer

In 2020, Bianca Smith made history with the Red Sox as the first Black woman hired to coach in an MLB organization.

While the Sox made her a multi-year offer to continue coaching, Smith told Alex Speier that she’s looking for a different opportunity, but loved her time in the organization and would “love to come back if the position was a good fit.”

Katie Krall, Double-A’s development coach last season, won’t return, either. The Red Sox were the first organization to have two women coaches, and while both are leaving to pursue other opportunities, they’re also continuing to promoted women in the organization. Taylor Jackson, a video intern for High-A Greenville last year, will move up to the affiliate’s coaching staff.

Rafaela in Triple-A?

Ceddanne Rafaela was the undisputed breakout star of the 2022 Red Sox minor league system.

Over 116 games between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland, the 22-year-old infielder-turned-outfielder hit .299/.342/.539 with 144 hits, including 32 doubles, 10 triples and 21 home runs.

According to a source, the organization has discussed Rafaela starting the 2023 MiLB season in Triple-A, but his plate discipline is giving them pause about promoting him to the penultimate level. Spring training will be a huge opportunity for him to make his case to start the season in Worcester, especially with so many big-leaguers missing time for the World Baseball Classic.

Rafaela is currently the No. 3 prospect in the organization and 86th in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects.

Yoshida for Team Japan

Before Masataka Yoshida’s new Red Sox teammates and opponents have to face him in the Grapefruit League and regular-season, some of them will get a look at him in the World Baseball Classic.

Triston Casas had the unique experience of getting a live look at Yoshida when Team USA and Team Japan faced off in the Tokyo Olympics. At Winter Weekend, Boston’s rookie first baseman told reporters that Yoshida “was the most elite hitter in that lineup … his bat-to-ball skills are elite. His left-handed swing is really nice and it’s going to play great in our stadium.”

Yoshida will suit up for Team Japan, alongside Shohei Ohtani, Yu Darvish, and Seiya Suzuki. Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar, whose mother is Japanese, will also represent Team Japan.

O’s DFA Hernandez

Barely two weeks after acquiring him from the Sox in exchange for cash, the Orioles have designated LHP Darwinzon Hernandez for assignment after acquiring LHP Cole Irvin from the A’s.

While Hernandez has a stellar 32.3% strikeout rate over 85 1/3 career innings in the majors, his 17.7% walk rate is hard to stomach. He allowed 17 runs (16 earned) in 6.2 innings with the Sox last season.


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