Cora: Sox's vaccination status 'going to change' by September

June 29th, 2022

TORONTO -- For reasons beyond baseball, the Red Sox endured their most scrutinized loss of the season on Tuesday.

With closer Tanner Houck on the restricted list due to not being vaccinated against COVID-19, Boston’s short-handed bullpen allowed four straight Toronto batters to reach in a 6-5, walk-off loss.

On the strength of that comeback win, the Blue Jays vaulted over the Red Sox by a half-game for second place in the American League East and in the Wild Card standings.

Imagine if such a scenario repeated itself during the weekend of Sept. 30-Oct. 2, when the Sox are scheduled to return to Toronto for games 157, 158 and 159 of the regular season.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora expressed confidence that the vaccination status of his team will be different in three months. He said he is keeping dialogue open on the subject with players who aren’t vaccinated.

“We still talk,” Cora said prior to Wednesday's series finale at Rogers Centre. “We’ll see. I do believe when we come to September, it’s going to be different.”

For this series in Toronto, Houck and center fielder Jarren Duran were unable to participate due to their vaccination status. Both had been key performers for a Boston team that started June with a 19-4 mark before dropping the first two games of this three-game road series.

Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who hasn’t pitched yet this season due to a stress fracture in his right rib cage, will be back in the mix well before Boston comes back to Toronto.

Both in September of 2021 and in this past Spring Training, Sale acknowledged he wasn’t vaccinated. It is unclear if that is still the case.

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.

Cora was asked to clarify if he thought things would be different in September due to Canadian regulations, or his currently unvaccinated players changing their stance.

“No, I don’t get into politics. I barely know the Puerto Rican ones,” Cora said. “I do believe for September, it’s going to change, from our end. Let’s leave it at that. I bet you a dollar it’s going to change.”