Notes: Johnson released, Devers rests ankle

August 10th, 2020

BOSTON -- 's association with the Red Sox started back in 2012, when the club took the lefty from the University of Florida with the 31st overall pick in the Draft.

It ended on Monday, after Johnson, frustrated by a lack of opportunity this season, asked for his release. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom granted it, and Johnson is now free to sign with any other team.

With two to three spots in the rotation serving as a revolving door for the Red Sox this season, lefty Johnson felt, before the season, that he would get chances in 2020 to prove he could bounce back from a 2019 season in which he was plagued by injuries and a non-baseball medical issue.

Instead, Johnson was sent to the alternate training site in Pawtucket, R.I., to start the season. And even as opportunities have continued to arise in Boston’s rotation, Johnson continued to not get his name called.

By Monday, he had enough, and asked to return to his home in Florida. Boston’s player pool is down to 59 following the release of Johnson.

“He just felt that he wanted an opportunity,” said Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke. “Sometimes you need to go to other places to have a better opportunity, so he asked for his release. Chaim did not want to keep him from an opportunity that he could get back to the big leagues, although we would like to have him here for depth. That’s a decision that Brian wanted.”

There were many ups and downs for Johnson in his time in the Red Sox organization. Things started inauspiciously when he was hit in the face on Aug. 18, 2012, pitching for Class A Lowell in the Futures at Fenway game. Johnson was wheeled out on a stretcher with multiple orbital bone fractures on the side of his face.

He returned to the mound with a solid 2013 season split between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and Class A affiliates Greenville and Salem.

Johnson continued to rise through the farm system and got his chance to debut for the Red Sox for a start in Houston on July 21, 2015. The only problem is that Johnson’s elbow was bothering him at the time, and he didn’t tell the training staff. It was a mediocre start and he was then shut down for the season.

In May of 2016, Johnson took a medical leave to treat his anxiety and depression. He returned to the Red Sox triumphantly by pitching a complete-game shutout against the Mariners at Fenway Park on May 27, 2017.

By 2018, Johnson became an invaluable swingman for the World Series champion Red Sox, making 38 appearances, including 13 starts, and going 4-5 with a 4.17 ERA.

But last season, Johnson bottomed out with a 6.02 ERA in 21 appearances -- seven of them starts.

Johnson’s stock started to fall last November, when the Red Sox took him off their 40-man roster. Roenicke admitted Johnson’s non-roster status may have contributed to him not getting a chance this season.

“It’s hard when a guy’s out of options,” Roenicke said. “It’s hard when a guy isn’t on the roster. But certainly, when guys are doing great, and we feel like they’re definitely better than everybody else, we would make that move. I don’t want to say why he is down on the depth chart, but it’s just an easier move when you know the pieces are that you can move them around and still have them in your organization.”

Devers rests ankle
One day after hit a Statcast-projected 449-foot blast and then made a brilliant defensive play to spark a win for the Red Sox, he was out of the lineup.

The reason? Devers banged up his left ankle crossing first base late in the game.

“His left ankle is a little iffy today. That’s why he’s not in the lineup. The trainers are working on him,” said Roenicke. “He may be available tonight, later. That’s why he’s not in there.”

Devers could be seen sitting in his outdoor suite -- which the players are using as personal locker rooms this season -- wearing a walking boot. Roenicke said that was not cause for alarm.

“It’s not a bad sprain or anything,” Roenicke said. “I think, just make sure there’s no swelling in there. A lot of times they put in compression things to make sure that it won’t swell. If you can get that liquid out of there faster, you’re going to heal better.”