Red Sox reliever Josh Taylor may not be available for the start of the 2022 season due to back issue, manager Alex Cora revealed on Monday.
“The only guy that is behind pitching-wise is JT,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) earlier Monday morning. “He has a back issue. So he fell behind. Not sure how it works out for us for the start of the season but he’s one guy that’s behind in his progression.”
When asked if Taylor will be ready for Opening Day in the Bronx on April 7, Cora responded by saying: “I don’t want to say it’s doubtful, but he has some catching up to do.”
Taylor spent time on the injured list last September due to a low back strain. The left-hander returned in time for the postseason and pitched well in his six appearances, but he did so while still dealing with discomfort in his lower back.
In a recent conversation with The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier and Pete Abraham, Taylor explained that he received an epidural injection last fall and could have undergone off-season surgery to repair a herniated disk. He instead opted to rehab from the injury through the winter and is now behind other pitchers as a result.
“It’s a little leftover from last year,” Taylor said. “I had that back issue and it’s still kind of lingering. We’re just progressing a little slower right now to try and get me back right. It’s not bad. It’s definitely way better than it was. I did a lot of work in the offseason to get it right. It’s a bit more strengthening right now to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Taylor also told Speier and Abraham that he has yet to throw off a mound this spring, but he will do so for the first time in a pair of bullpen sessions at the Fenway South complex this week.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off a 2021 season in which he emerged as one of Cora’s most trusted options out of the Boston bullpen. In 61 relief appearances (second-highest on the team) last year, Taylor posted a 3.40 ERA and 2.83 FIP with 60 strikeouts to 23 walks over 47 2/3 innings pitched.
With Taylor likely starting the year on the injured list, the Red Sox do have other left-handed relievers on the 40-man roster they can turn to in Austin Davis, Jake Diekman, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Matt Strahm. They also recently signed veteran lefty Derek Holland to a minor-league deal that includes an invite to major-league spring training.
(Picture of Josh Taylor: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)