Several players returning from injury could make difference for Red Sox
There’s still some fight left in this Boston Red Sox team.
It’s pretty impressive, considering how many injuries they’ve sustained. At one point, the number of pitchers on the Injured List reached around the double digits. Can’t have that.
In 2018, an almost entirely healthy starting rotation was the crown jewel of a Sox team that won a franchise-record 108 games and the club’s fourth championship in fifteen years. The lack of healthy pitching and depth in the years since highlighted how important it is.
Michael Wacha reinforced that point on Sunday night, in his first start since June 28. Fresh off participating in a combined no-hitter with Triple-A Worcester, he pitched the first seven innings of a Sunday Night Baseball shutout of the New York Yankees. His gem of an outing (his first vs. the Yanks this year), coupled with Tommy Pham’s hot streak and a classic Rafael Devers home run, reminded the baseball world what this team can do when they’re healthy.
Yes, finally – Chris Sale aside – the team is turning a corner, injury-wise. Hopefully, it’s not too late for this team to finish the season above .500 and maybe, sneak into the postseason.
Here’s every player expected to return by the end of August:
When the Sox hit the road this week for an inter-league series in Pittsburgh, Kiké Hernández is expected to be back after a long stint on the IL. He’s been on the sidelines since June 8 with a hip flexor strain, and setbacks in his first rehab stint kept him off the field much longer than initially expected.
Hernández struggled prior to going on the Injured List, but as he proved last October, he thrives under pressure. His five postseason home runs tied David Ortiz for the most by a Sox player in one postseason.
Like Hernández, Refsnyder should be back in time to face the Pirates this week. Thanks to a right knee sprain, he hasn’t played since July 29.
But it looks like he’s ready for action, as he just belted two home runs in his Double-A rehab assignment on Sunday, helping the Portland Seadogs win their 1,000th home game in franchise history.
Strahm was one of Alex Cora’s most reliable bullpen arms before going on the IL in mid-July with a wrist injury, compiling a 3.58 ERA over 33 appearances, 25 of which were shutouts.
On Sunday, Jen McCaffrey reported that Strahm threw a Live BP to Bobby Dalbec, Yolmer Sanchez, and Jaylin Davis and “felt good.”
While Strahm is reportedly raring to go, the Sox are going to have him do a rehab assignment first.
Rookie Brayan Bello was really getting rolling before being pulled from his appearance in the Sox’ first series of the month versus the Houston Astros. Christian Vázquez, who’d been traded to the Astros ahead of the first game of the series, noticed something was wrong and alerted his former manager.
The Sox placed Bello on the 15-day IL with a groin injury, and thankfully, he’s making a fast turnound. Bello started Double-A’s Sunday contest, and went 3 2/3 innings, striking out six and allowing just one run on two hits.
Along with Hernández, Refsnyder, and Bello, Tyler Danish got some work in at Double-A on Sunday. He threw 1 2/3 innings in relief, striking out three batters but also allowing three hits and a walk.
Danish hasn’t pitched at the big-league level since July 6. Across 31 1/3 innings this season, he’s allowed 14 earned runs and struck out 25 batters. 19 of his 26 appearances have been shutouts.
Trevor Story (?)
Trevor Story is one of several big names around MLB to get injured on a hit-by-pitch this season. Though he’s been an inconsistent hitter for the Sox, they’ve really missed his power in the lineup since that fateful Rays game on July 12 that also resulted in Strahm’s IL stint.
Story has started swinging a bat and he’ll be with the Sox on the road trip, but don’t get too excited. They won’t activate him until he goes on a rehab assignment. In his own words,
"“Hopefully in the next couple weeks we’re close.”"