Red Sox place Blake Swihart, Ryan Hanigan on DL

May 20, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Blake Swihart (23) makes the play against the Cleveland Indians in the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Blake Swihart (23) makes the play against the Cleveland Indians in the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox made a flurry of roster moves on Sunday after losing a pair of position players to injury the previous day.

The Boston Red Sox walked away with a win against the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, but it came at a price.

Both left fielder Blake Swihart and backup catcher Ryan Hanigan exited the game early due to injury, resulting in each of them being placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday morning. The Red Sox have called up Rusney Castillo and Sandy Leon from Triple-A Pawtucket to takes their places on the roster.

Swihart left the game in the 7th inning after crashing into the left field wall attempting to make a running catch. He fell to the ground in obvious pain, but still managed to hold up his glove to show the umpires that he had the ball secured. Unfortunately, the out call was reversed after reply showed the ball caromed off the wall before landing in Swihart’s glove.

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Manager John Farrell and the training staff came out to help Swihart get back to his feet, but he did manage to walk off the field under his own power, albeit with a bit of a limp. The injury was diagnosed as a sprained ankle, which sounds less severe than it initially looked.

The converted catcher has transitioned reasonably well to left field, but is still learning the position. One thing he has now learned the hard way about playing the outfield – don’t run into walls. Hanley Ramirez had a similar run-in with that same wall while attempting to adapt to the outfield last season. He struggled to bounce back from the shoulder injury sustained in that collision and wasn’t the same player the rest of the year.

Hopefully the same doesn’t happen to Swihart. The 24-year old had been starting to heat up at the plate following a slow start, collecting 7 hits in his last 21 at-bats to raise his season average to .258. He also carries a respectable .365 OBP that would put him inside the top-20 in the league if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

Hanigan started the game with knuckleball pitcher Steven Wright on the mound, but also left in the 7th inning with a strained neck, which seems to have been bothering him for weeks. Hanigan has been Wright’s primary catcher this season, but those duties will presumably be passed to Leon during his absence.

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The veteran catcher has developed a nice rapport with Wright, which may be partially responsible for the knuckleball pitcher’s breakout season that currently has him ranked 4th in the league with a 2.29 ERA. With the rest of the Red Sox rotation stumbling through bouts of inconsistency this season, the team can’t afford for Wright’s season to be derailed by having to switch battery mates on the fly.

The Red Sox also made a bullpen change, recalling right-hander Heath Hembree and optioning Noe Ramirez back to Pawtucket. Hembree has been one of the most reliable relievers for the Red Sox this season, yet was still the one that was demoted last week in order to clear a roster spot to activate Eduardo Rodriguez from the DL. Getting sent down had nothing to do with performance. Hembree was simply the only reliever in the bullpen at the time that still had minor league options on his contract.

Hembree was disappointed with the decision, but he understood it and we all knew he’d be back with the big league club soon enough. As it turns out, Hembree has made his way back even quicker than expected. Sending players to the DL has allowed the team to bring Hembree back without waiting the required 10-day period after he was optioned.

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Swihart and Hanigan will be sent for further tests before a timetable can be set for their return, but at this time there doesn’t appear to be much concern that either of them have suffered a long-term injury.