Veteran left-handed bat adds depth; Peguero designated for assigment
By Ian Browne and Aaron Leibowitz
BOSTON -- Outfielder Alejandro De Aza, whom the Red Sox acquired from Baltimore on Wednesday in exchange for Minor League right-hander Joe Gunkel, joined the team at Fenway Park on Thursday for the finale of a four-game set against the Twins.
The 31-year-old is expected to provide outfield depth and a left-handed bat off the bench with Daniel Nava (left thumb strain) and Shane Victorino (left calf strain) on the disabled list. To make room on the 40-man roster for De Aza, right-hander Brandon Workman was transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Outfielder Carlos Peguero was designated for assignment to open a spot on the Major League roster for De Aza.
"He's got versatility to play all three [outfield positions]," manager John Farrell said of De Aza. "With three right-handed-hitting outfielders, we've got a chance to get him in the mix. He'll come off the bench initially."
"Has not swung a bat yet," Farrell said of Nava. "The MRI confirmed that there's a contusion in the muscle in the left hand that's up from the thumb, toward the palm area. I don't know what the exact muscle it is, but there's inflammation that's going on there that they're still trying to calm down and heal, so he's going through treatments and strengthening. I don't have a date to put a bat back in his hand yet.
"Our goal is to get every player healthy, and that's just not singling out Daniel in this case. We've got to get 'Vic' healthy, we've got to get him back. The sooner we can do that, maybe we have a chance for more decisions or options available to us. But we didn't find anything out in the exam that would say, 'This is going to be longer than first thought and that's why we need another outfielder.'"
Farrell suggested that De Aza's presence would also allow him to give Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo more regular rest. Betts was batting seventh for a second straight game Thursday, and Castillo continues to struggle out of the No. 9 spot.
"Alejandro gives us the ability to rotate through all three outfield positions," Farrell said.
De Aza was designated for assignment by the Orioles on May 27 after he hit .214 with a .636 on-base plus slugging percentage in 30 games this season.
After learning he had been designated, De Aza went home to the Dominican Republic to see family and work out. Now he hopes to produce like he did at the end of 2014, when he hit .293 with three home runs and an .877 OPS in 20 games with Baltimore before hitting .333 in six postseason games.
"I think I know what I have to do," De Aza said. "Try to stay more on the ball. Don't pull off. I was pulling off too much in the past month or two months."
Asked how long it will take him to get game-ready after eight days without seeing big league pitching, De Aza said he is ready.
For his career, De Aza has slashed .265/.328/.401 with 41 home runs and 81 stolen bases in 596 games. He has averaged 19 steals over the past four seasons.
"They know what I'm capable of doing," he said. "I'm just going to try to grind and play the best I can to help the team win."
De Aza also noted he has a great relationship with Hanley Ramirez, his former teammate with the Marlins, which should help ease his transition in a Red Sox uniform.
De Aza, 31, has played for the Marlins, White Sox and Orioles during his big league career. He was originally signed by the Dodgers in 2001 and selected by the Marlins in the 2004 Rule 5 Draft. De Aza was claimed off waivers in 2009 by the White Sox.
Gunkel, 23, was ranked as Boston's No. 30 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. He was 2-1 with a 3.93 ERA in four games (three starts) with Double-A Portland.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Aaron Leibowitz is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.