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Sox injury updates: Johnson, Pearce, Wright

@IanMBrowne
July 27, 2019

BOSTON -- In a Saturday afternoon injury update, Red Sox manager Alex Cora had good news on Brian Johnson and Steve Pearce, but not on knuckleballer Steven Wright. Johnson, who was shut down with a non-baseball medical issue at the end of June, had a strong performance for Triple-A Pawtucket

BOSTON -- In a Saturday afternoon injury update, Red Sox manager Alex Cora had good news on Brian Johnson and Steve Pearce, but not on knuckleballer Steven Wright.

Johnson, who was shut down with a non-baseball medical issue at the end of June, had a strong performance for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night, allowing one hit and striking out six over three scoreless innings.

The lefty swingman is a candidate to start one of the two games in next Saturday’s day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.

“It was actually really good yesterday,” said Cora. “Good command of the fastball. Mixed up his pitches. But the fastball command was good. We’ve been saying it wasn’t arm related, so he’s in a good spot physically.”

Pearce, the World Series MVP from last year, hasn’t played for the Red Sox since May 31 due to a lower back strain and then a subsequent left knee injury he sustained during a Minor League rehab assignment.

The right-handed-hitting veteran at last seems to be making progress in his rehab at the team’s Spring Training base in Fort Myers, Fla.

“Talked to him yesterday,” Cora said. “Swinging the bat well, moving around defensively good. Running has been an issue. Hasn’t been able to get to the next step as far as his progression. That’s what’s holding him back. As far as the other stuff, he’s doing better.”

Wright had also been in Fort Myers attempting to come back from a deep bone bruise in his left foot. The fact he returned to Fenway Park on Saturday was not necessarily a good sign.

“Just getting checked out [by the medical staff],” said Cora. “Hasn’t done too much the last few days. Just doesn’t feel right. Kind of shut him down for a little bit, see if he can get back at it.”

After returning from his 80-game suspension on June 25, Wright pitched in six games for the Red Sox, posting an 8.53 ERA. He was belted on the right foot on a hard grounder by Max Muncy on July 13, and X-rays were negative. But his condition hasn’t improved since then.

Cashner: ‘Everyone grows up hating the Yankees’

When Andrew Cashner first met with the media after his trade from the Orioles to Boston, he mentioned the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry as one of the aspects he was most looking forward to in his new baseball home.

After Cashner earned his first win as a member of the Red Sox on Friday night against the Yankees, he mentioned they are one of his favorite teams to compete against. Why is that?

“I don’t know,” Cashner said. “Everybody grows up hating the Yankees, right?”

Cashner enjoyed the atmosphere of his first Red Sox-Yankees start, which included him getting a loud ovation when he was removed from the game during the seventh inning.

“As you’re walking off, you can kind of feel it. It’s a cool feeling,” Cashner said.

Cora says Hembree is healthy

From Opening Day through June 10, Heath Hembree posted a 2.51 ERA in 31 games and was one of Cora’s most trusted relievers. Hembree then went on the injured list from June 14-July 4 with a right elbow extensor strain. Since his return, he has an ERA of 9.00 ERA in nine appearances entering Saturday. Friday was the second time in those nine outings he didn’t record an out.

Given that, it’s fair to wonder if Hembree is still experiencing arm issues. But Cora says that he isn’t.

"I mean, the breaking ball wasn't good [Friday]. The fastball command wasn't great,” Cora said. “As everybody knows, Heater is a guy that lives upstairs with the fastball regardless of the velocity, and everything was down in the zone.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.