HOUSTON -- After nearly a week of hoping Mookie Betts would make enough progress to return to the lineup, the Red Sox put their star right fielder on the 10-day disabled list prior to Friday's game against the Astros with a left abdominal strain.The move is retroactive to May 29,
HOUSTON -- After nearly a week of hoping Mookie Betts would make enough progress to return to the lineup, the Red Sox put their star right fielder on the 10-day disabled list prior to Friday's game against the Astros with a left abdominal strain.
The move is retroactive to May 29, meaning the soonest Betts can play again is June 8 at home against the White Sox. First baseman Sam Travis will be recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday to take the roster spot vacated by Betts.
In the hours leading up to Friday's 7-3 loss to the Astros, manager Alex Cora hoped Betts might be able to play on Saturday.
The plan was for Betts to take indoor batting practice on Friday afternoon, but it never happened.
"He went to the cage and he hit some front toss to get loose ... after the first round you could see that it was like, 'Wait a minute. How you feeling?' He was honest with us and he made some progress, but he feels that he's not there yet," Cora said. "And obviously as you guys know where we're at, it seems like it's going to take more than this weekend."
Betts realizes the importance of being patient with the injury.
"It wasn't too good, wasn't too bad. I think it's just one of those things where we've got to give it time," Betts said. "That's really all we can do."
The leadoff man has been one of the premier players in the Major Leagues this season, slashing .359/.437/.750 with 19 doubles, one triple, 17 homers and 37 RBIs. Entering Friday's action, Betts led the Majors in average, slugging percentage, OPS, runs (52), extra-base hits (37) and total bases (138).
Without Betts for at least another week, the Red Sox will continue to mix and match in the outfield. At times, this will entail primary DH J.D. Martinez playing right, as he did on Friday. There will be occasions when Brock Holt and Blake Swihart see action in the outfield.
Betts sustained the injury during pregame work on May 27 against the Braves.
When does he feel the discomfort?
"Only swinging," Betts said. "I can run, throw, do anything else. Swinging is the time where I feel like that's when I definitely feel it the most."
Pedroia out again
Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who was scratched minutes before Thursday's opener with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, was out of the lineup again on Friday.
Pedroia has started three times since being activated from the disabled list a week ago.
"A little bit sore today," Cora said. "One of those that, coming into the situation we knew that he was going to have some good days and some bad days. It just happened that yesterday was a horrible one for him. Today he's a little bit sore. Going into it, we map it out as far as taking care of him. Day game after night game. Being careful with three in a row. We'll still look at the situation and act accordingly."
Smith weighing third opinion
Reliever Carson Smith is weighing a third medical opinion on right shoulder subluxation, which he suffered throwing his glove in the dugout on May 14. Dr. Neal ElAttrache is the latest to look at Smith's MRI.
According to Cora, ElAttrache would like to see Smith in person, but it's unclear if the pitcher wants to fly to Los Angeles.
Considering how long Smith is deliberating, it seems likely that surgery has been recommended.
Leon catching on
When the season started, Christian Vazquez was clearly the No. 1 catcher with Sandy Leon serving as the backup. Of late, the roles have reversed. Leon started on Friday for the second straight night and third time in four games.
Leon has raised his average to .254. Vazquez (.188 average) has been in a near season-long funk.
"I felt that the last game against the Blue Jays [on Wednesday], Christian was frustrated offensively," Cora said. "For the up and downs, obviously, and if you ask him he's honest, and he hasn't contributed offensively. That's the first day that I felt that he was down. I talked to him yesterday.
"Kind of like with Jackie [Bradley Jr.] in New York, take a step back. Let's get back to hitting early. [Vazquez] came in today. He'll be here tomorrow. Most likely he'll play tomorrow, so he'll play one of the four games [in Houston], and then we go from there. But I think it's a combination of both, giving Christian a breather for him to relax and start working, and at the same time, Sandy is swinging the bat well and playing well."
Staying with Pomeranz
Though Thomas Pomeranz (1-3, 6.81 ERA) continues to be inconsistent and Steven Wright has been strong (2.25 ERA in six outings) out of the bullpen, Cora isn't contemplating a rotation switch.
"I do feel that regardless of the result yesterday, he threw the ball well, especially in the last part of the start," Cora said of Pomeranz. "The breaking ball was better. Sandy felt it was his best breaking ball the whole season. Then the fastball, as you saw, he used it late in the count and was able to get some swings and misses. So he was good."
Cora also likes the dynamic Wright is providing in the bullpen.
"Steven, the next step for us is honestly to bring him in with traffic on the bases," Cora said. "The part I was hesitating about it was because of the catchers but they're framing knuckleballs. They're presenting it in the right way. Yesterday, Sandy threw a runner out, he does an outstanding job holding runners. Probably that'll be the next step because the swings are very different. We know he can start at this level and be really, really good, but I do think he's becoming a weapon out of the bullpen so his role is getting bigger and bigger."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.