Red Sox starter Tanner Houck revealed to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams on Sunday that he is not yet vaccinated against COVID-19. As a result, the right-hander will not be eligible to pitch against the Blue Jays in Toronto.
The Red Sox will visit Rogers Centre for the first time this season later this month. Houck was in line to start the second of that four-game series on April 26, but will instead miss it due to his vaccination status.
“I think it’s a personal choice for everyone whether they get it or not,” Houck told McWilliams earlier Sunday morning. “So, that’s all I really got to say on it.”
Any individual traveling to Canada must be vaccinated against COVID-19. The Canadian government defines this individual as someone who has received at least two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Travelers must have received the second dose of Moderna/Pfizer or first dose of Johnson and Johnson at least 14 calendar days prior to entering the country.
For the Red Sox, these guidelines apply to their series against the Blue Jays in Toronto from April 25-28, June 27-June 29, and September 30 through October 2.
Besides Houck, it is already known that fellow Boston starter Chris Sale is not vaccinated against the virus. The left-hander is currently on the 60-day injured list as he continues to recover from a stress fracture in his right rib cage, so he was not going to be able to pitch in next week’s series north of the border anyway.
Still, unless either pitcher gets vaccinated or the Canadian government changes its rules, Houck and Sale will not be eligible to travel to or play in Toronto this season.
In Houck’s case, the 25-year-old hurler will be placed on the restricted list during the Sox’ series in Toronto. While away from the team, Houck will be placed on the restricted list and will not receive any pay or service time for the games he misses.
The Red Sox will, however, have the ability to replace Houck on the active roster while he is on the restricted list. Although the club has yet to announce who will take Houck’s turn in the starting rotation on April 26, it would not be surprising if that responsibility fell to Garrett Whitlock, who pitched in relief of Houck on Saturday.
“We knew it beforehand,” Sox manager Alex Cora said following Sunday’s 8-1 win over the Twins. “So, we’ll plan accordingly.”
As noted by McWilliams, Cora also indicated that Houck will not be the only player Boston places on the restricted list for their trip to Toronto. According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, “the identities of the others are unknown.”
(Picture of Tanner Houck: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)