TORONTO -- As the Red Sox arrived in Toronto for a four-game series Monday, they regained backup catcher Kevin Plawecki but were still without manager Alex Cora, who remains back in Boston recovering from COVID-19.
Plawecki returned to the roster and was in the starting lineup one week after he tested positive. Once again, bench coach Will Venable served as acting manager in place of Cora.
Prior to the start of the 2022 season, Canada’s restrictions on allowing individuals unvaccinated against COVID-19 into the country led MLB and the MLB Players Association to agree to permissible roster modifications for games in Toronto. There is no required minimum or maximum stay on the restricted list.
Houck has stated publicly that he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. The Sox didn’t give a reason for placing the two pitchers on the restricted list.
Garrett Whitlock will start in place of the 25-year-old Houck for the finale of this four-game series Thursday in Toronto. The power righty was stellar in his first MLB start at Tropicana Field last weekend, firing four shutout innings while allowing one hit and no walks while striking out seven.
Knowing that Houck wouldn’t be coming to Toronto, Venable had him pitch out of the bullpen in Sunday’s 5-2 loss to the Rays. Houck fired 1 2/3 perfect innings and will likely start at some point this weekend in Baltimore.
Crawford owns a 9.00 ERA over five relief appearances. He has 11 strikeouts and six walks in seven innings.
The Red Sox have known for weeks that the two righties wouldn’t be in Toronto, so they’ve been able to plan accordingly.
“Well, we have Danish and Schreiber, who will be here and active tonight, and they are two great arms that we are really confident in and excited that they can help us out for this series,” Venable said. “You go with what you’ve got and make the adjustment, and Danish and Schreiber will be available and active and throw big innings for us in this series.”
It has been a topsy-turvy week for the Red Sox, starting with Plawecki and two staff members testing positive for COVID-19 on April 18, followed by Christian Vázquez and Jonathan Araúz the next day. Of those three players, only Araúz remains on the COVID-19 IL.
Cora found out just minutes before the homestand finale April 21 that he had tested positive.
Monday is his fifth straight game away from the team.
“A.C. is doing well. Better and better every day,” Venable said. “Still going through the protocol and still kind of day to day. Just not here today, and that’s as far as I know.”
Venable has been working with the rest of the coaching staff to fill the big shoes of the team’s highly touted manager. Venable has been in frequent contact with Cora.
“It’s baseball as usual,” Venable said. “Just unfortunately, we don’t have our jefe here to do all the things that we love that he does, but for me personally I still have things I have to do for my role, and like I said before the other staff has been amazing and kind of picking up some of the things I’ve left behind.”