BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Alex Cora had a thick batch of injury and rehab updates prior to Sunday afternoon’s game against the Rays, and here are the highlights.
• Slugger J.D. Martinez was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game as he tries to get rid of the back spasms that have been bothering him on and off for the last five weeks.
“Yeah, J.D., he’s feeling better but he’s not ready to play today so stay away from him,” said Cora. “Hopefully tomorrow or during the week.”
Is Martinez in danger of going on the injured list, which the Red Sox could backdate if they wanted to?
“Not yet,” Cora said.
• The Red Sox are cautiously optimistic that the right quad strain that landed first baseman Mitch Moreland back on the injured list on Saturday -- just one day after he returned from a low back injury -- isn’t as serious as they first feared.
“Mitch is feeling better,” said Cora. “We’re going to stay away from other testing. He’s actually walking on the treadmill doing some stuff. Actually a lot better than we thought it would be. A lot better than he thought he was feeling. We’ll stay with that and if something else comes up during the week, then we’ll make adjustments.”
• With Moreland out for the foreseeable future, the Red Sox could really use Steve Pearce, who is on the injured list with a low back strain. Pearce is eligible to be activated on Tuesday. Though he’s making progress, it’s unlikely he’ll be back that soon based on Cora’s Sunday morning update.
“Pearce, he’s cleared to start doing baseball activities, most likely tomorrow,” Cora said. “That’s good news. Feeling a lot better. He hasn’t picked up a bat since New York [last weekend]. Tomorrow, probably, start hitting off a tee, soft toss, going through the progression.”
• Righty Nathan Eovaldi was supposed to throw a bullpen this weekend, but it is was delayed for a couple of reasons.
“With Nate, we’re going to push his bullpen back,” said Cora. “Like I said, in the last simulated game, mechanics wise, he felt off. So, yesterday, he had a little bit of soreness in the bicep, bicep tendinitis. We’ll make sure everything is fine with that. We’ll take a look at the mechanics and make an adjustment from that. Hopefully during the week he gets back on track. Until the symptoms go away, we’re not going to push it.”
Once Eovaldi throws the bullpen session, he might be cleared to start a Minor League rehab assignment.
The Red Sox continue to fill Eovaldi’s spot in the rotation by committee, and a new candidate has emerged. Cora said Sunday that lefty Darwinzon Hernandez, the team’s top-ranked pitching prospect by MLB Pipeline, could be called up to pitch Tuesday’s game against the Rangers.
• Fans who attend Sunday’s game at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket could get to see up to four Red Sox players in action. Lefty Brian Johnson, who has been out since April 6 with left elbow inflammation, is the starting pitcher. Steven Wright, who is in the midst of an 80-game suspension for violating MLB’s performance-enhancing drug policy, will pitch out of the bullpen. So, too, will righty Tyler Thornburg, who has been sidelined since May 23 with a right hip impingement. Infielder Tzu-Wei Lin, who is recovering from a left knee sprain, will be in the starting lineup.
“Raffy needs a day, Benny does too,” said Cora. “Staying away from those two to start off the game. Christian, he’s been good against lefties so put him there. Marco, maybe he can bunt on him and put pressure. It just felt right. He’s one of the best pitchers in the big leagues. Sometimes a weird lineup is successful against those guys.”
Devers has been the most productive hitter in the lineup for the Red Sox this season, but was in an 0-for-14 slump entering Sunday. Any reason Cora can pinpoint?
“He’s not dominating the strike zone,” said Cora. “He has two walks in probably the last 70 at-bats so that’s something that, not that I saw coming, but was a little worried because the strikeouts were getting higher and the walks stayed the same so when that happens it’s a matter of time, for you to keep chasing and pitches out of the zone and there’s no hard contact on those pitches. I think the day off [will help] and he can take a look at a few things. We talked about it yesterday too. We’ll be OK.”