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Vazquez, Johnson placed on disabled list

Right-handers Cuevas, Brasier summoned from Triple-A
MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Red Sox starting catcher Christian Vazquez was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday after fracturing the pinky finger on his throwing hand.

Vazquez suffered the injury during the seventh inning of Saturday's game against the Royals while sliding into second base on a steal. He didn't know right away that it was broken, however, staying in the game for another inning before feeling discomfort while throwing behind the plate.

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KANSAS CITY -- Red Sox starting catcher Christian Vazquez was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday after fracturing the pinky finger on his throwing hand.

Vazquez suffered the injury during the seventh inning of Saturday's game against the Royals while sliding into second base on a steal. He didn't know right away that it was broken, however, staying in the game for another inning before feeling discomfort while throwing behind the plate.

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Vazquez attributes the fracture to the protective mitt he was wearing at the time to protect a jammed thumb.

"That was my first time I wore it, and the last time," Vazquez said. "It stuck [in the dirt] when I slid."

Video: BOS@KC: Vazquez fractures finger on stolen base

No concrete timetable was available for Vazquez's return, but he said he hopes to be back in around two to three weeks. He will see a hand specialist Monday in Boston, and more will be known then.

Vazquez has caught 59 games for Boston this season while slashing .213/.249/.300 with three homers. He was improving on those numbers as of late, though, hitting .261 and mashing all three of his blasts since the beginning of June.

"It's unfortunate," manager Alex Cora said. "It [stinks], because he was playing better. He was playing better, catching better, swinging the bat [for] some clutch hits, and this happens. Hopefully he comes back sooner rather than later and [is] part of this special season."

Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart will assume backstop duties in Vazquez's absence. Leon started Sunday, while Swihart is in line to get the nod Monday, per Cora.

Leon entered Sunday hitting .260 with four homers while logging 38 appearances behind the plate this season. He doesn't know yet if he'll be starting in Vazquez's place regularly, but he's prepared for the opportunity regardless.

"I'm going to be ready for anything," Leon said. "Playing every day, playing every two days, I don't care. I'm going to be ready."

Video: BOS@WSH: Statcast™ tracks Leon throwing out Taylor

Cora wasn't sure either, but he's been impressed by Leon's bat and knows he has some leeway in terms of playing time with the All-Star break looming.

"Sandy's swinging the bat well," Cora said. "His last 30 games, his OPS is over .800. He's driving the ball, he's driving in runs. And, obviously, what he does behind the plate. But at the same time, we've got to be careful. The only thing is that the All-Star break is coming, so we can push him a little bit more."

Swihart caught 83 games for the Red Sox in 2015 but has largely roamed the outfield or been the designated hitter when he's been in the lineup in recent years. He's played catcher just five times this season.

While he may be a little rusty at the outset, Swihart has known all season that something like this is possible.

"You never know when I was going to be thrown in there to catch, so I was always trying to stay ready and stay in that mindset that I'm still a catcher," Swihart said. "So I'm just going to try to be ready, still."

Video: BOS@KC: Cora discusses Johnson, Martinez injuries

Vazquez isn't the only Boston player to be sidelined, as left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson was also placed on the 10-day DL Sunday, with the move retroactive to Thursday.

Johnson is suffering from left hip inflammation after waking up sore on Thursday. He doesn't think the injury is all that serious, however, and said that he threw 90 feet Sunday morning and felt fine.

"I didn't want this to happen, obviously, but yeah, I don't expect this to be long at all," Johnson said.

The two moves freed up space for a pair of pitchers to be called up from Triple-A Pawtucket: right-handers William Cuevas and Ryan Brasier.

Cuevas could possibly start Tuesday against the Rangers, as could Hector Velazquez.

Brasier will work out of the bullpen after having success there in Pawtucket (1.34 ERA in 34 appearances) and during Spring Training. Cora is excited for the opportunity to see what the longtime Minor Leaguer can do in his second trip to the Major Leagues.

"He was dominant in Triple-A," Cora said. "We feel that his stuff, it can play here. He can pitch up in the zone, he's able to expand to the edges. It's a good time to have him here, see what we can do."

Worth noting

Joe Kelly, who exited Saturday's game with lightheadedness, was available to pitch Sunday after hydrating overnight. The team is being cautious with him, however, and with the two new pitchers summoned to the bigs this morning, Cora said it's unlikely Kelly would make an appearance.

Jordan Wolf is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City.

Boston Red Sox, Christian Vazquez