Vazquez won't be on Opening Day roster

Vazquez won't be on Opening Day roster

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox have been cautious with catcher Christian Vazquez as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Vazquez, who underwent the procedure in April 2015, didn't make his Grapefruit League debut until March 8 and has appeared in seven games, spanning 23 defensive innings. He has also gotten Minor League work.

The 25-year-old injured his elbow last Spring Training, throwing out the Yankees' Tyler Wade with a pinpoint-accuracy laser beam of a throw. He felt a twinge, but he didn't think much of it until it got worse.

Boston knows what his right arm can do. At 52 percent, Vazquez has the best single-season rookie (minimum 200 innings) caught-stealing rate, throwing out 15 of 29 would-be base stealers in 2014. Ivan Rodriguez is next at 48.6 percent in 1991, followed by Yadier Molina at 47.1 percent in 2004.

So it makes sense to be cautious, specially when the surgery is relatively rare for catchers. The Orioles' Matt Wieters underwent the procedure in June 2014, came back in June 2015 and has dealt with a series of one-step-up, two-steps-back health issues ever since. Wieters' availability for Opening Day is still unknown.

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Vazquez's Opening Day status is clear, though.

Manager John Farrell announced on Sunday morning that Vazquez will either go to Triple-A Pawtucket or stay in Fort Myers for extended Spring Training when camp breaks at the end of the week. Vazquez will not be going with the big league team to Cleveland for Opening Day. He will likely join the club when the Red Sox can be sure he is fully healthy and not in danger of setbacks

"He's got a knack for the intangible, and that is getting the most out of a guy on the mound, whether it's a given starter, a reliever," Farrell said.

"What we've seen is his ability to go out inside of innings and have not only direct conversation, but a feel for swings. The game-calling to a certain extent reflects that. His receiving and the way he presents pitchers to the umpire is probably as good as you'll find at the big league level. He's an exceptional defensive catcher. In addition to that, the leadership behind the plate with pitchers on the mound is very good."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.