BOSTON (AP) — Free agent Nathan Eovaldi was the star of the Red Sox 2018 World Series highlight video, and he didn’t even have to attend the red carpet premiere.
The erstwhile starter, who pitched six innings in relief in the team’s 18-inning, Game 3 loss, received a huge cheer whenever his name was mentioned by the dignitaries who shared the stage with the four World Series trophies the team has won since 2004. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was cheerfully heckled with shouts of “Bring him back!”
Acquired at midseason to bolster the Red Sox rotation, Eovaldi was 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA down the stretch for Boston. He made just one start in the playoffs before helping out the battered bullpen in the Game 5 clincher of the AL Division Series against Houston.
He pitched one inning of relief in each of the first two games of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. And then, entering Game 3 in the 12th inning, he went the rest of the way to take the load off the rest of the Red Sox pitching staff.
“Nobody’s going to remember who won that game. Everybody’s going to remember Nate Eovaldi,” manager Alex Cora said. “That was the moment. When I went home I was like, ‘This is it. Now we go.'”
Eovaldi is one of the few free agents from the championship team, giving the 108-win AL East champions a chance to repeat with virtually the same roster. World Series MVP Steve Pearce has already re-signed; Game 5 winner David Price opted in to the last four years of the contract he signed before the 2016 season; the team exercised its option on ace Chris Sale.
“We did it with these guys last year. Why can’t we do it this year?” utilityman Brock Holt said after walking the red carpet. “We’re going to try to win 108 games again. I don’t know if we’re going to.”
Holt said the video premiere was an opportunity to look back at the team’s successes before turning their attention to spring training and their attempt to win back-to-back.
“You don’t want to turn the page, but you have to,” he said. “Now it’s like, ‘Hey, we won the World Series. Let’s do it again.’ That’s hard to do.”