Opener unlikely for Christian Vazquez

ByGordon Edes ESPN logo
Saturday, March 28, 2015

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The results of the MRI administered on Christian Vazquez's throwing elbow Friday raised sufficient concerns for the Boston Red Sox catcher to seek a second opinion, manager John Farrell said Saturday morning.

Farrell was vague about the MRI's findings, but said he met with Vazquez on Saturday to discuss the results, and a decision to seek a second opinion was made.

Farrell was asked if the MRI showed ligament damage, which would raise the possibility of surgery.

"I was not told specifically what's going on there," he said. "If, in fact, it involves [the ligament] to what extent, if it is involved, we just know there have been some findings in the MRI. I think before we get too far ahead of ourselves, a second opinion will be had and information compared, but clearly the MRI suggests that there's more information that's going to be had."

The Red Sox had held off on administering an MRI, Farrell said, because Vazquez had appeared to be making progress in his throwing program. He has not played in a game since March 13, when he said he felt discomfort in his elbow. Vazquez has been getting at-bats in minor league games and thrown to bases a couple of times, including in a workout Thursday. He caught Joe Kelly in a minor league game Friday, but was instructed to throw only back to the pitcher.

"We're still in a little bit of fact-finding mode right now," Farrell said. "There's no clear-cut plan going forward. Hopefully in the coming days we'll have some more definite information and what is the follow-up plan after that."

Farrell stated the obvious, that the injury rules out Vazquez breaking camp with the club next Saturday. The Red Sox open the regular season in Philadelphia on April 6.

"At this point it is unlikely. It's hard to see him being available Opening Day," Farrell said.

Ryan Hanigan figures to slide into the No. 1 role in Vazquez's absence. The Red Sox have veteran backup Humberto Quintero in camp. They also could opt to promote top prospect Blake Swihart, although he has only played 18 games above Double-A and would benefit from more seasoning.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Hanigan said Saturday. [Vazquez is] a good kid. He worked hard. It's just too bad. Things happen. He'll be back. Just have to put in the work to get himself back.

"The positive thing is whatever happens, he hopefully won't have to deal with it the rest of his career. Take care of it now. I don't know the details. I was looking forward to working with him this year. Just too bad."

Hanigan was Tampa Bay's Opening Day catcher last season and started 31 of the team's first 52 games. But he went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring (the team went 1-12 in his absence), then made a second trip to the DL in July with a strained left oblique that cost him six weeks. The previous year, with Cincinnati, he played just 75 games because of two other DL stints, one due to an oblique strain, the other because of a sprained left wrist.

Last Dec. 19, Tampa Bay dealt him to the San Diego Padres, who hours later flipped him to the Red Sox for third baseman Will Middlebrooks. While Farrell at the time of the deal declared Vazquez as the team's primary catcher, Hanigan said he was preparing as if he would be the team's everyday catcher.

"I always trained to come in to be the starting guy," Hanigan said. "That's what I always wanted, to tell you the truth. I trained that way in the offseason, worked hard to be ready whenever my name was called."