Key Red Sox reliever will pitch injured in 2024 after surgery timeline passed

2024 Dominican Republic Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays
2024 Dominican Republic Series - Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

Josh Winckowski was one of the four pitchers fighting for a spot in the Boston Red Sox starting rotation until he was officially taken out of the running on March 17.

Winckowski put up some good showings and some less-than-stellar performances during his time vying for a starting spot. A recent development may provide more insight as to why he fell out of competition with the rest of Boston's staff.

It has been revealed that Winckowski has a bone chip in his ankle that he's been pitching through since last season, per Alex Speier of The Boston Globe. The injury would require surgery to repair, but since the Sox are so short on pitchers this year, Winckowski plans to delay his procedure and pitch through the injury for another season.

Winckowski put up a decent spring for Boston and it wasn't outwardly clear he was pitching injured. The right-hander also performed well during the season last year which added to the shock of his injury news — he posted a 2.88 ERA over 84.1 innings pitched in 2023.

Josh Winckowski has a bone chip in his ankle and will pitch injured for the 2024 season

Despite his plans to continue to pitch, Winckowski's injury presents yet another concern for Boston's staff, which is already stretched thin. The 25-year-old is one of the Red Sox's best long relief options, and hopefully, he can stay in that role battling this injury.

Boston also has very little starting rotation depth and Winckowski is one of its only pieces that could handle the job. The recent signing of Chase Anderson could help alleviate some of the pressure on Winckowski, but his injury could affect the bullpen and the starting rotation.

Chief baseball officer Craig Breslow recently said the front office may become more active as players opt out of contracts in the lead-up to the season. The Sox could sign more pitching depth like Anderson as more Opening Day rosters become final.

But, for the time being, the Red Sox will pitch Winckowski and delay his surgery until they have more time for him to recover (or until he can no longer pitch). Boston's pitching staff has been frequently plagued by injuries in recent years and the Red Sox could use as many healthy pitchers as possible in a campaign where it has few quality arms to begin with.

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