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Ron Roenicke’s first day brings news: Chris Sale has pneumonia

Ron Roenicke, right, speaks as Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom looks on after being after being named interim of the Boston Red Sox baseball team Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla. at left. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)
Ron Roenicke, right, speaks as Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom looks on after being after being named interim of the Boston Red Sox baseball team Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, in Fort Myers, Fla. at left. (John Bazemore / Associated Press)
By Jimmy Golen Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Ron Roenicke went to his usual locker in the Red Sox clubhouse at the team’s spring training complex Wednesday morning and found that his clothes were all gone.

They had been moved to the manager’s office.

On his first day since being promoted to interim manager, Roenicke said it was taking him a bit to get used to being the boss. While wandering the fields during the workout, he had to remind himself that he couldn’t just help out hitting grounders or wherever an extra hand was needed; he needed to be with the pitchers, monitoring their bullpen sessions.

“That part I forgot,” he said. “I’m doing my thing and then I’m like, ‘Oh, I probably shouldn’t be here.’”

Roenicke was given the job Tuesday, the day pitchers and catchers reported, to replace the well-liked Alex Cora, who was shoved out the door after he was identified as the ringleader in a sign-stealing scheme from when he was in Houston. Major League Baseball is still investigating whether Cora implemented a similar program in Boston, and Roenicke will be considered interim until he is cleared in that probe.

Although the former Milwaukee Brewers manager has experience in the job and two years as Cora’s bench coach, he acknowledged he wasn’t completely up to speed. Asked about a player who wasn’t on the team’s major league roster, he apologized for not having a report.

“Remember, I just got the job yesterday,” he said. “I’m not on board with everything that’s happening so far. But quickly, I’ll have a good idea of everything.”

The biggest setback was the news that Chris Sale, who had been getting over the flu, has a mild case of pneumonia. Roenicke, who had just overcome a bout with the flu himself, said it didn’t stop the 30-year-old left-hander from throwing 60 pitches Tuesday, with plans for another 60 on Wednesday.

“He’s actually feeling really good,” Roenicke said.

With Mookie Betts and David Price traded to Los Angeles, Sale may be the most important player for the Red Sox success this season. The seven-time All-Star, who finished in the top 10 of the Cy Young voting every full season until 2019, is coming off an elbow injury for which Tommy John surgery was discussed — but avoided.

That limited him to career-worsts of a 6-11 record, 4.40 ERA and 25 starts lasting 147 1/3 innings.

“It’s concerning because he worked so hard to get himself to this point,” Roenicke said. “We’re going to go easy when he comes back.”

Also Wednesday, Roenicke said:

  • Since taking the top job he hadn’t been in contact with second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who had a setback in his knee injury rehabilitation. The 2008 AL MVP played just nine games over the past two seasons while trying to come back from the injury from May 2017. “I’ll find out what he’s thinking,” Roenicke said.
  • The closer’s job is Brandon Workman’s to lose. The 31-year-old righty was the most reliable arm in the bullpen after Craig Kimbrel was allowed to leave as a free agent following the 2018 World Series championship. Workman was 10-1 with a 1.88 ERA and 16 of the team’s 33 saves. “I think what he did last year, he deserves a shot to be the closer,” Roenicke said.

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