Casas (rib cage) sets sights on June 21 return

May 16th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Ian Browne’s Red Sox Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

BOSTON -- Originally unsure about when he would be able to play baseball for the Red Sox again, now has a concrete timetable.

When the Red Sox open a three-game series in Cincinnati on June 21, Casas is confident he will be activated and will be in Boston's lineup.

Why June 21?

That is the first day Casas is eligible to return from the 60-day injured list. He wouldn’t pin his return on that date if his body wasn’t giving him every reason to.

“That's the goal. That's my goal, for sure, just to be back on that first day,” Casas said in an interview with earlier this week. “I don't know what the plans are in terms of a progression to start a rehab process or a rehab stint. But I don't anticipate needing many games.”

This is a welcome development when you consider the way the Red Sox and Casas were talking three weeks ago about his recovery from torn cartilage in his left rib cage. Back then, neither side was providing a road map because they had no idea how his body would heal.

Consider what Casas said on April 26.

“I'm still in pain to breathe,” Casas said that day to a group of reporters. “My lungs are still hitting my midsection, which I’m still getting to like 75 percent capacity without pain.”

And now?

“Everything’s been going well, making a lot of progress. Starting my workouts, starting a running progression here soon in the next couple days. I should get the clearance to start throwing in two to three more days,” said Casas. “I've already started lifting upper body.”

The one thing Casas will have to wait a little longer for is his favorite thing.

“Swinging is probably the last step. That’s a lot of rotation. That’s the last step of the rehab process is the full rotation,” Casas said.

But unlike when he first sustained the injury, Casas has plenty of other stuff to keep him occupied until he can swing.

“I’m picking weights up, obviously not at 100 percent,” Casas said. “I'm just slowly progressing into it and starting to activate the core again, just doing planks on my knees and maybe in a pushup position. I’m able to withstand my body weight, which is great right now. I'm ahead of schedule. I like the progress I’m making.”

It is no coincidence that Boston’s offense hasn’t been the same since Casas went down.

While some players have a hard time staying involved when they are injured, Casas has been inserting himself fully in recent days, acting like another hitting coach. Casas is one of the most cerebral hitters in the game, which is impressive given he is 24 years old.

“I'm in it with them. I feel like their failures are mine,” Casas said. “I'm the one who's giving them the advice going up there. A lot of these guys haven't faced pitchers from the Rays or some of the individual teams we’re playing now. Like we played the Nationals last year, so I was giving guys tips.”

For Casas, the timing of this injury couldn’t have been worse. He was getting hot, even as the weather remained cold. Unlike his rookie year, when he started cold and finished hot, he was hoping for a full season of solid production.

“I was looking back at the numbers through April 20 of 2023, I had [eight] hits. From [Opening Day] to April 20 this year, I had [19 hits] and six home runs. It was a crazy turnaround. I was excited with the progress I was making,” said Casas. “I felt like I was starting to hit my stride, and this stuff happens. I’m just trying to do my best to just be there for my teammates.”

Earlier in the homestand, several hours before a game, Casas was standing in the left-handed batters’ box at Fenway Park and staring out at the mound. He didn’t have a bat in his hand. What was he doing?


“I go out there to try to get a good picture, so when I go home, I can just close my eyes and see it,” said Casas.

The Red Sox look forward to the day Casas can stand in the box with a bat in his hand and an opposing pitcher on the mound.