Red Sox Injury Updates: Roster is finally getting healthier
The Red Sox have several injured players on the verge of a return
The Boston Red Sox roster has been ravaged by injuries, with their pitching staff being hit the hardest, but the news is trending in a positive direction.
The biggest update pertains to Chris Sale, who has yet to make his season debut while recovering from a stress fracture in his rib cage that he suffered last spring. The lefty struggled with his command during a frustrating rehab start in Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday but that won’t necessarily dissuade the Red Sox from calling him up to the big leagues.
Manager Alex Cora tried to be coy with his response about Sale’s next appearance but his grin seemed to be a giveaway, according to MLB.com’s Ian Browne. Sale will pitch on Tuesday and there’s a good chance that it will be with the major league team rather than another rehab outing.
If Sale does indeed pitch on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Rays, it means he’ll be given an extra day of rest following his final rehab start in Worcester. That still leaves him time to potentially make a start against the New York Yankees in the final game before the All-Star break.
Sale isn’t the only one on the comeback trail.
Enrique Hernandez will begin a rehab assignment in Triple-A on Friday. Kike has already been sidelined for a month with a hip injury but he could be back before the break.
Hernandez has struggled this season, hitting .209 with a .613 OPS. He was started to pick it up at the plate prior to his injury though, riding a five-game hitting streak and collecting at least one hit in 21 of his last 23 games. He’s an excellent defensive center fielder and can also provide insurance at second base. His starting spot may have been stolen by Jarren Duran but Kike’s versatility and defensive presence can make him a valuable bench asset.
Garrett Whitlock is also expected to throw an inning or two on Friday for Worcester. The right-hander is expected to return to a bullpen role once he’s activated so his rehab assignment shouldn’t be a lengthy one.
The results from his brief time as a starter were a mixed bag but Whitlock has proven to be a dominant force as a reliever. He owned a 0.93 ERA and 10.2 K/9 in 9 2/3 innings before moving into the rotation. He was the team’s surprise breakout star last year when he posted a 1.96 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in 73 1/3 innings of relief. If Whitlock can return to that level of dominance, he can be the late-inning savior the Red Sox need in their bullpen.
Nathan Eovaldi will start for the WooSox on Sunday. The team is hoping they can get three innings out of him, which suggests he’ll need multiple rehab appearances after missing the past month with back and hip issues. We probably won’t see Nasty Nate until after the break but his return will be a significant upgrade for a rotation that is currently relying on four spot starters.
Eovaldi has struggled to keep the ball in the park, with the 16 home runs he’s allowed already topping last year’s mark. Despite the long ball issues, Eovaldi currently sports a career-best 3.16 ERA. His 7.2 K/BB ratio would be the best of his career, aside from the shortened 2020 season when he only made nine starts.
On another positive note, Rafael Devers is back in the lineup on Thursday after missing the previous two games. Raffy was a little banged up but it appears to be nothing serious so he’s ready to go for the start of this series with the Yankees.
Unfortunately, not all news is good news.
Tyler Danish has been placed on the 15-day injured list with right forearm soreness. The right-hander has allowed 6 earned runs over his last 7 1/3 innings. His absence might be addition by subtraction, although it does leave the bullpen thin until Whitlock returns, at which point Danish’s roster spot might have been in jeopardy anyway.
Michael Wacha hasn’t bounced back as well as he had hoped. He was scratched from Wednesday’s start against the Rays, which led to the major league debut of Brayan Bello. The Red Sox intended to push Wacha back a few days but it now looks like he may require a trip to the injured list, according to Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe.
Despite an underwhelming debut that saw him struggle with his command, Bello will get another opportunity to face the Rays on Monday. The top pitching prospect in the Red Sox organization flashed his upside with a blazing fastball but he had trouble locating his secondary pitches and gave up some hard contact. His upside is through the roof but he still needs more polishing at the minor league level.
The Red Sox don’t have the luxury of sending him back to Worcester given their current injury situation but that shouldn’t last much longer with the team showing improvement in the health department.