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Darwinzon Hernandez returns to Boston Red Sox from IL; his long-term role as reliever or starter still undecided

MassLive.com logo MassLive.com 9/18/2020 By Christopher Smith, masslive.com

BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox have activated left-handed reliever Darwinzon Hernandez and optioned Robinson Leyer back to the alternate training site in Pawtucket.

Hernandez missed 18 games with a sprained left SC joint.

“We wanted to make sure that he was built up enough that we could use him. I don’t know if we’ll go two innings the first time,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said. “So he may be able to go two innings before we’re done. And hopefully the strength is there, the command is there. And then I think it’s important just to get him back out and see that he’s healthy, going back into the offseason where he can get strong again and ready for next year.”

It has been a tough season for Hernandez who spent the first 25 games on the injured list after testing positive for coronavirus back home in Venezuela before the start of summer training camp.

The 23-year-old — who is a critical piece of Boston’s pitching staff moving forward into 2021 and beyond — has pitched 4 1/4 u2154 scoreless innings in three relief outings for Boston this year.

The Red Sox initially planned to try out Hernandez as a starter as this season progressed. But his sprained SC joint ended any chance of him starting in 2020.

His future role remains undecided. He could work as a multi-inning reliever, closer or starter. Going back to last year, more evaluators within the organization have viewed him as a longterm reliever.

“I don’t think we’ve got to that point where we know,” Roenicke said. “I think we like him in the bullpen right now. And unfortunately with what happened to him, we weren’t able to get him in to see what he looked like as a starter. But I do know there’s a lot of people here who really like him in the bullpen. I think there’s also some people who think he has a chance to start. But we know that piece in the bullpen is really good. And as of right now, that’s where he’ll be.”

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