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If you've paid any attention to the Tigers-Red Sox series that has been going on in Detroit this weekend, you've probably noticed that the Red Sox roster hasn't looked as you may have expected. The near-unanimous favorites to win the AL East are rolling out lineups that look like this, and like this.
Brock Holt is leading off and playing DH. Chris Young is playing against right-handed hitters. Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez are inexplicably absent. In what is one of the oddest things I've ever witnessed happen to a major league roster, the culprit for the absences is a flu outbreak.
Betts and Ramirez are just the most notable players currently sitting out because of this illness, of which there are apparently three strains circulating the Red Sox clubhouse. It all started back at the end of spring training when Mitch Moreland was quarantined for a few days along with a handful of coaches.
From there, it spread to Holt — who is healthy enough to play, but still feeling sick — Betts, Ramirez, and relievers Robbie Ross and Joe Kelly. The three latter players are still out, and Ross was even placed on the disabled list because of it. And the outbreak isn't even over yet!
Andrew Benintendi was apparently throwing up in the middle of Saturday's game. Hell, even the play-by-play guy for NESN, Dave O'Brien, had to leave mid-game, leaving Tom Caron to call it from a studio in Massachusetts.
The flu is the most noteworthy issue going on with the Red Sox, but their roster is in short-term shambles for other reasons, too. Along with Betts, Ramirez and Ross, the Red Sox are without shortstop Xander Bogaerts and reliever Matt Barnes, who are both on bereavement leave. That is in addition to the losses of David Price and Tyler Thornburg, both of whom began the season on the DL. The Red Sox are still the division favorites, but some weird outside factors are doing everything they can to hold Boston back.
- Jeremy Hellickson isn't the most exciting pitcher in baseball, but he's extremely effective in one clutch part of the game.
- This is what it's all about, you guys.
- Gary Sanchez left Saturday's game with a biceps strain. It is my expert opinion that this is not good for the Yankees.
- Kyle Ryan got three big outs for the Tigers on Saturday, and they came right on the heels of a wild journey to get to the park.
- The Cardinals always make sure they have enough depth. Like, to an annoying extent. Why didn't they get a good fourth outfielder?
- Blake Snell is one of the more promising young pitchers in the game, but he's got some things to work on before taking the next step.
- After not landing that big closer this offseason, the Nationals' bullpen is struggling to start the year. Dusty Baker isn't worried.
- The Angels suffered a big blow to their rotation in losing Garrett Richards to the disabled list.
- Brandon Belt will never get the credit he deserves. Case in point: He was great on Friday but was overshadowed by the pitching.
- After showing clear signs of fatigue at the end of 2016, the Orioles need to do a better job of resting their players in 2017.