Earlier this month, an MRI revealed that top Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata suffered a slight tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament after he experienced soreness behind his right triceps.
At that time, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said the plan would be to shut down Mata for an extended period before treating his injury without surgery.
It’s been a little less than three weeks since Cora revealed these plans regarding Mata’s road to recovery, and Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush provided an update Wednesday afternoon on how the 21-year-old right-hander is holding up.
“He’s in a rehab protocol right now,” Bush said. “There’s some strengthening exercises they’re doing. A whole variety. I’m not even sure exactly what they all are. But he will get back into a throwing program before too long to test it out and build from there. I don’t have a lot of specifics on it just because he’s [spent] more time with the trainers lately. Certainly he’s not throwing, not on the mound. But I still see him every day. He’s in here every day doing his rehab work and working back towards the throwing program.”
Mata, who turns 22 in May, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among pitchers in the organization.
The Venezuelan hurler — listed at 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds — spent the entirety of the 2020 season at the Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester, where his fastball sat between 96-97 mph.
He also took part in the club’s fall instructional league and came into the spring projected to begin the 2021 campaign at the alternate site, which is now in Worcester, with the chance to perhaps make his big-league debut later this year.
Now that he has been sidelined for the time being, though, the Red Sox will have to look elsewhere for internal starting rotation depth.
“With Bryan Mata on the IL right now, I’d probably say Connor Seabold is in that mix,” said Bush. “We also have a handful of minor league free agents that we signed. Some of them we signed last year and had at the alternate site.”
Stephen Gonsalves, Daniel Gossett, Kyle Hart, and Matt Hall were among the pitchers Bush named who are not currently on Boston’s 40-man roster but do have big-league experience.
As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, this group of pitchers will likely start out the year at the alternate training site.
“So we have a clump of guys that we’re going to get stretched out in Worcester,” Bush said. “And [we will] have them available for whatever we need, whenever we need it.”
(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)