TORONTO (AP) — Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will pitch out of the bullpen when he returns from injury, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said before Tuesday’s game at Toronto.
“It strengthens our bullpen, it gives us some more depth out there,” Dombrowski said.
Red Sox relievers allowed 21 runs over 12 1/3 innings in back-to-back losses to the New York Yankees in London last weekend. Boston hopes Eovaldi can return after the All-Star break.
The club entered play Tuesday at 44-40, 11 games behind New York in the AL East and two games out of a wild-card spot. Dombrowski acknowledged “urgency” behind the decision to move Eovaldi to the bullpen.
Eovaldi has no record and a 6.00 ERA in four starts this season after signing a four-year, $68 million contract to remain with the Red Sox last December. He went on the injured list in late April because of a sore elbow and has yet to begin a minor league rehab assignment. Eovaldi recently resumed throwing off the mound.
Dombrowski said Eovaldi expressed a preference for starting during contract talks last offseason, choosing Boston over other teams who wanted him to pitch in relief. He said Eovaldi now has a “different mindset” about working out of the bullpen.
“He’s changed that because he really wants to get back as quickly as he can,” Dombrowski said.
Boston intends to use Eovaldi as a reliever for the remainder of the season but views him as a starter next year, Dombrowski added.
Eovaldi has had two Tommy John surgeries, one in high school and a second in 2016. He missed the 2017 season while recovering.
Eovaldi has made eight regular season relief appearances in his eight-year career and pitched out of the bullpen four times in last year’s postseason, giving up the winning home run at the end of a six-inning stint in Boston’s 18-inning loss in Game 3. That was the only run Eovaldi allowed in 9 1/3 innings.
Also Tuesday, Dombrowski said outfielder Steve Pearce will miss at least a month after injuring his knee in a fall during a rehab game at Triple-A Pawtucket. Pearce has been out since June 1 because of a strained lower back.