Chaim Bloom, chief baseball officer for the Boston Red Sox, is moving forward with preparations for spring training and a full 162-game schedule. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

 

Spring training is supposed to begin in a matter of weeks, and Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox are expecting and planning as if the baseball schedule will start on time.

After the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to spring training last year, ultimately pushed the start of the season four months and shortened it to a 60-game sprint, there are no guarantees. But as Bloom and company get ready to go down to Fort Myers to begin spring training ahead of the scheduled 2021 opener on April 1, the chief baseball officer seems confident the season will start on time and that a full 162-game season will be played.

“Every indication we’ve gotten is yes on both of those,” Bloom said. “This continues to be a situation none of us have dealt with. It’s totally unprecedented, and there are factors beyond all of our control, everybody affiliated with baseball. Every indication we’ve gotten is we’re ready to roll mid-February and we’re going to play the full season as scheduled, so that’s what we’re getting ready for.”

On Monday, the Cactus League in Arizona informed MLB of its desire to delay spring training because of rising COVID-19 cases in Maricopa County. But the Cactus League does not have the authority to make that decision, which would obviously have a domino effect in potentially delaying the season again and creating a litany of other complicated issues.

As the Red Sox and MLB work toward playing in a safe environment this season amidst the ongoing pandemic, Bloom wasn’t sure when the Red Sox would get vaccinated. Vaccinations have started rolling out in a first phase to frontline health care workers, but it’s unclear when and how quickly everyone else across the country will be vaccinated.

“We still don’t know,” Bloom said. “We haven’t gotten any guidance on that. Our hope is that it happens as soon as possible, but only in a way that’s appropriate in the context of how these are being rolled out throughout society.”

Dustin Pedroia

The Red Sox need to trim three roster spots this week, and Dustin Pedroia could be among them. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

 

ROSTER CRUNCH: The Red Sox, after agreeing to terms with free agents Martin Perez, Kiké Hernandez and Garrett Richards – and acquiring Adam Ottavino in a trade with the Yankees – are facing a roster crunch.

With Ottavino officially in the fold as of Monday afternoon, Boston’s 40-man roster is now full, meaning the club must clear three spots for Perez, Hernandez and Richards once their deals become official later in the week.

It could mark the end to Dustin Pedroia’s long tenure on the Boston’s 40-man roster.

Pedroia is not a sure bet to be one of the cuts, as the Red Sox still have some expendable pieces on their big-league roster. But all of those players – pitchers Chris Mazza, Joel Payamps, Jeffrey Springs and Marcus Walden and outfielder Marcus Wilson – have survived a winter of significant overhaul for the Red Sox, so the club might want to keep them until the beginning of spring training.

After ending the season with 46 players in the 40-man mix (40 on the roster and six on the 60-day injured list), the Red Sox have lopped off 17 players since the end of the year. Though most of those guys were spare parts on a bad team, some of the most recent cuts (like Deivy Grullon, who was claimed by the Reds, and C.J. Chatham, who was traded to the Phillies) projected as potentially useful pieces with some upside for 2021 and beyond.

Team officials have been mum about Pedroia in recent weeks, but Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reported that the 37-year-old Pedroia is not planning a comeback and the Red Sox have had some discussions about how to remove him from the roster.

Any roster move involving Pedroia wouldn’t absolve the Red Sox of the $12 million owed to him in 2021, as that money is guaranteed. But it would accomplish two things: clearing a spot for a player who may actually help the Red Sox during the upcoming season and providing the long-awaited acknowledgment that Pedroia’s career is over.

In October, Red Sox GM Brian O’Halloran vied to take a sensitive approach when it came to Pedroia’s situation.

“I don’t think that any one particular roster spot is something I would focus on as a problem and certainly not when it’s Dustin Pedroia,” said O’Halloran. “We’re going to talk to Dustin and he’s obviously going to have the most say in where things go from here. No. 1 is making sure he’s as healthy as he can be for the rest of his life, really. And certainly we want to talk to him and see how he’s feeling and see where he wants to go from here.”


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