UPDATE: Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) on Friday that catcher Connor Wong has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain in his left hamstring.
“We’ll see how it goes. I think treatment will determine what’s next,” Cora said of Wong’s prognosis. “We have to calm him down first and then we’ll know more throughout the week.”
Red Sox catcher Connor Wong suffered a strained left hamstring in the fifth inning of Thursday’s 15-3 win over the Phillies at JetBlue Park.
Wong entered the game in the top of the fifth as a defensive replacement for fellow backstop Jorge Alfaro. The right-handed hitter got one at-bat in the latter half of the frame, but he strained his left hamstring while trying to beat out a grounder to shortstop. He was then replaced at catcher by Elih Marrero in the sixth.
When speaking with reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) on Thursday afternoon, Red Sox manager Alex Cora indicated that Wong would undergo further testing and that the club would know more about the 26-year-old’s status on Friday.
“We’ll know tomorrow,” Cora said. “He’s tight. It doesn’t look great right now, but hopefully we get better news tomorrow morning.”
Wong, who turns in 27 in May, is one of two catchers on Boston’s 40-man roster alongside Reese McGuire. Rather than go and out add a backstop to the major-league roster this winter, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom elected to sign Jorge Alfaro to a minor-league deal in January. Since both Wong and Alfaro hit from the right side of the plate, the two were expected to compete for a spot on the Opening Day roster as a complement to the left-handed hitting McGuire.
While Wong has one minor-league option remaining, Alfaro does not. Furthermore, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reported on Thursday that Alfaro has an upward mobility clause in his contract that requires the Red Sox to either add him to their big-league roster by March 25 or let him go to another club that has interest in putting him on its 40-man roster.
Wong is coming off a 2022 season in which be batted .188/.273/.313 with three doubles, one home run, seven RBIs, eight runs scored, five walks, and 16 strikeouts in 27 games (56 plate appearances) with the Red Sox. He also threw out three of 21 base stealers from behind the plate.
As noted by Cotillo, Wong appeared to have an inside track on making Boston’s Opening Day roster coming into camp last month. If this strained left hamstring results in him missing a significant amount of time, that could complicate matters. In that scenario, Alfaro would be the favorite to make the roster in Wong’s place, though the 29-year-old will be away from the team for some time as he prepares to play for his native Colombia in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
If Wong only sustains a minor setback as a result of this injury, the Red Sox could still elect three catchers on their Opening Day roster since Alfaro offers some versatility as a designated hitter and as a first baseman.
(Picture of Connor Wong: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)