Red Sox closer Tanner Houck was slated to throw live batting practice in Worcester on Tuesday. That did not happen as scheduled.
Houck, who has been on the injured list with lower back inflammation since August 6, is now “on hold” from throwing “because of continued back soreness,” manager Alex Cora told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham) before Tuesday’s game against the Twins.
Two weeks ago, Houck was diagnosed with a disc issue in his lower back after being examined by a spine specialist in Boston. Following a brief period of rest, the right-hander resumed playing catch again at Fenway Park last week after responding well to treatment.
“He’s got the green light to keep going,” Cora said last Tuesday. “We just have to build him up and see how it goes. The hope is for him to get back at one point this season. He feels strong. The treatment has been good. It’s just the start now. He feels good enough to keep going.”
Despite those positive steps, it now appears as though Houck’s availability for the rest of the year is in question. With only five weeks left until the regular season ends, the Red Sox could very well elect to shut down the 26-year-old hurler as their playoff hopes continue to dwindle.
Houck began the 2022 season in Boston’s starting rotation and started four games before moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis on May 15. Since then, the righty has posted a 1.49 ERA and 3.18 FIP with 33 strikeouts to 11 walks over 25 relief appearances spanning 36 1/3 innings of work. He has also gone 8-for-9 in save opportunities.
While Houck has been sidelined, the Red Sox have had to look elsewhere in regards to closing out games. Since Houck last pitched on Aug. 2, Garrett Whitlock has recorded a team-high three saves while Matt Barnes has notched two and John Schreiber has picked up one.
(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)