Red Sox’ Jorge Alfaro has unique clause in contract that could make him available to all other teams later this month

Red Sox catcher Jorge Alfaro has a unique clause in his contract that could complicate his future with the club, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Alfaro signed a minor-league contract with the Red Sox in January that came with an invite to major-league spring training. It has since been revealed that the deal also comes with an “upward mobility” clause that would go into effect on March 25.

As noted by Cotillo, this differs from a standard opt-out. It instead allows Alfaro to secure a major-league opportunity elsewhere if the Red Sox are not willing to give him one. If Alfaro is not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by March 25, he can request to become available to all 29 other teams in hopes of landing a big-league job.

If another club is interested in Alfaro, the Red Sox would then have 72 hours to either add Alfaro to their own 40-man roster or allow him to switch teams. If no other club is interested in Alfaro at the time of his request, Boston would be able to keep the 29-year-old without committing a 40-man roster spot to him.

Alfaro will soon be leaving Red Sox camp in Fort Myers to play for Team Colombia in the World Baseball Classic. The Sincelejo native has appeared in two Grapefruit League games so far this spring and has gone 3-for-6 (.500) with one double and two strikeouts.

After deciding against signing or trading for a catcher on a major-league deal this winter, the Red Sox brought in Alfaro as a non-roster invitee. The right-handed hitter is currently competing with Reese McGuire and Connor Wong for a spot on the club’s Opening Day roster. Because Alfaro can play first base and serve as a designated hitter, Boston could very well carry all three backstops on its 26-man roster come March 30.

More likely than not, though, the Red Sox will elect to carry the left-handed hitting McGuire and one of Alfaro and Wong, who both hit from the right side of the plate. Wong, who suffered a left hamstring strain in Thursday’s 15-3 win over the Phillies, also has one minor-league option remaining, meaning he can be shuttled between Triple-A Worcester and Boston up to five times this season. The same cannot be said for Alfaro, who is out of options.

A veteran of seven major-league seasons between the Phillies, Marlins, and Padres, Alfaro possesses intriguing power, athleticism, arm strength, and speed. With San Diego last year, he ranked in the 97th percentile of all big-leaguers in max exit velocity (115.2 mph), the 96th percentile in average pop time to second base (1.89 second), and the 85th percentile in average sprint speed (28.7 feet per second), per Baseball Savant.

On the other side of the coin, though, Alfaro does own a rather high career strikeout rate of 34.1 percent to go along with a career walk rate of just 4.2 percent. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder has also had his issues as a receiver after leading the National League in passed balls in each of the last two seasons.

Alfaro, who does not turn 30 until June, will have the next three-plus weeks to determine what his immediate future looks like. That being said, Wong’s status moving forward could impact his decision. Additionally, depending on how things play out in spring games (and in the World Baseball Classic) Alfaro could draw interest from catcher-needy teams who would be willing to guarantee him a roster spot. If that happens, the Red Sox would then have to decide to either add Alfaro to their own roster or let him go.

If Alfaro remains with Boston past March 25 without being added to the big-league roster, he would have the ability to opt out of his deal on June 1 and July 1 in order to test free agency. If Alfaro is in the majors with the Red Sox at some point this season, he would earn a base salary of $2 million.

(Picture of Jorge Alfaro: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

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Red Sox catcher Connor Wong suffers left hamstring strain; ‘It doesn’t look great right now,’ Alex Cora says

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)

Former Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki signs minor-league deal with Pirates

Former Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki has signed a minor-league contract with the Pirates, the club announced on Sunday. The deal includes an invite to big-league spring training and a salary of $1.5 million if Plawecki makes it to the majors with Pittsburgh, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Plawecki, who turns 32 later this month, spent the better part of the last three seasons with the Red Sox after originally signing with the club as a free agent in January 2020. He primarily served as Christian Vazquez’s backup before being somewhat surprisingly designated for assignment — and subsequently released — by Boston last September.

At that time, the Red Sox were already looking ahead to 2023 and wanted to get Connor Wong and the recently-acquired Reese McGuire as many reps as possible behind the plate. In order to accomplish that, they elected to move on from Plawecki, though that decision was not a popular one among other veterans in the clubhouse.

“It was very difficult,” Rich Hill told MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. “Throughout the clubhouse, it was a tough one for everybody. What everybody sees out in the field and in the dugout… what you don’t realize is the humanity side of this game. We’re not just all numbers. We’re human beings. And removing a guy like that from the clubhouse is a big hit for a lot of guys. I would say everybody in here.”

After batting just .217/.287/.287 with one home run and 12 RBIs in 60 games (175 plate appearances) with the Red Sox last year, Plawecki latched on with the Rangers and appeared in three games for the club before the 2022 campaign came to a close. Between Boston and Texas, he threw out just five of 51 possible base stealers.

In his three seasons with the Red Sox from 2020-2022, Plawecki slashed .270/.333/.364 with 20 doubles, one triple, five homers, 44 runs driven in, 107 runs scored, one stolen base, 31 walks, and 68 strikeouts over 148 total games (437 plate appearances). The right-handed hitter also gained notoriety for his role in Boston’s laundry cart home run celebration and his walk-up song (Calum Scott’s remix of “Dancing On My Own”), which ultimately served as the club’s anthem during their run to the American League Championship Series in 2021.

By signing with the Pirates, Plawecki will presumably be competing for a spot on Pittsburgh’s bench behind the likes of Austin Hedges and prospect Endy Rodriguez, who are currently the only two backstops on the club’s 40-man roster. The Bucs will also have fellow catchers Carter Bins, Henry Davis, Jason Delay, and Tyler Heineman in camp as non-roster invitees.

Plawecki becomes the second member of the 2022 Red Sox to join the Pirates organization this offseason, as Hill previously inked a one-year, $8 million deal with Pittsburgh back in December.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Rumored Red Sox target Roberto Pérez signs minor-league deal with Giants

Free agent catcher Roberto Perez has signed a minor-league contract with the Giants, the club announced Saturday. Perez will be at major-league spring training and will have the chance to earn $2.5 million with another $1.5 million available in incentives if he makes San Francisco’s active roster.

As was first reported by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Giants agreed to a deal with Perez last Sunday. The Red Sox made an aggressive bid for Perez, per Cotillo, and were even in consideration at the end, but the veteran backstop ultimately thought San Francisco represented a better fit.

Perez, a veteran of nine major-league seasons, was limited to just 21 games with the Pirates last year due to a right hamstring injury that ultimately required season-ending surgery in May. The right-handed hitter batted  .233/.333/.367 with two home runs and eight RBIs across 69 plate appearances before his one-year contract with Pittsburgh expired in November.

While offense has never been Perez’s strong suit, he is still regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in baseball. During an eight-year (2014-2021) run in Cleveland, the native Puerto Rican was named the Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards in 2019 and 2020.

To counter a lackluster career OPS of .658, Perez Perez has thrown out 97 of 248 potential base stealers in his big-league career. The 5-foot-11, 220-pounder has accrued 79 Defensive Runs Saved in 4,052 1/3 innings behind the plate. He has also been among the game’s top pitch framers since Statcast first began tracking that data in 2015.

The Giants, at present, have just one catcher on their 40-man roster in Joey Bart. They also acquired versatile catching prospect Blake Sabol from the Reds in December’s Rule 5 Draft and have Austin Wynns slated to compete for a roster spot in spring training.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, have two catchers — Reese McGuire and Connor Wong — on their 40-man roster. They also have Caleb Hamilton and Ronaldo Hernandez, who were both outrighted earlier this winter, and minor-league signee Jorge Alfaro set to join them at big-league camp in Fort Myers later this month.

In all likelihood, Perez likely viewed his chances of making San Francisco’s Opening Day roster out of spring training more favorably, which is why he elected to sign a minors pact with the Giants over the Red Sox. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom addressed this very topic and the potential catching competition as a whole when speaking with Cotillo on The Fenway Rundown podcast last week.

“[Perez] saw a better opportunity out there and that’s OK,” Bloom said. “We’ve been talking about this all along. The two guys that finished the season for us in the big-leagues (McGuire and Wong), we really like. At the same time, we recognize that neither of them have carried this load at the major-league level before. They both have things to prove and experience they don’t have under their belts, so it made sense to add someone who’s decisively a frontline catcher or someone who can create competition in that mix.

“Alfaro’s really intriguing,” added Bloom. “Always has been in terms of what he brings to the table. Just having some of the loudest tools and the best physical ability. Somebody we feel we can help. [Jason Varitek] got pretty excited about the possibility of working with someone who has that kind of ability and creating some competition there.

“So, we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “Again, these other two guys have had a bit of a head start in working with our pitchers, working with our staff, and really understanding what we expect on a daily basis. And that means something. But, we wouldn’t have brought Alfaro in without wanting to see what he could do and seeing where this goes.”

(Picture of Roberto Perez: Justin Berl/Getty Images)

Could Red Sox explore a trade for Padres catcher Austin Nola?

Could the Red Sox explore a trade for Padres catcher Austin Nola this offseason?

In Reese McGuire and Connor Wong, the Sox already have two big-league caliber catchers under club control for 2023. But that should not stop them from looking into external additions at the position. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much when speaking with reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) at the ongoing GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

“It’s a hard spot to find one guy you can trust, much less more than one,” Bloom said. “In any given winter, there’s only a handful of players on the free agent market who you see as really good fits at that position. So the trade market is another avenue. I would say that we don’t think we’ll be looking at a huge group of possibilities there, but there are some possibilities through both avenues.”

According to Speier, the Sox “have cast a wide net in trade talks about catchers” over the last two years. They had conversations with the Athletics pertaining to Sean Murphy ahead of this year’s trade deadline that did not pan out. They “also have discussed other catchers who are heralded for their defense,” such as Nola.

Like Murphy, Nola is under team control for three more years. He is also nearly five years older than Murphy and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn significantly less than him in 2023. Murphy is slated to receive $3.5 million in his first year of arbitration while Nola is projected for $2.2 million.

Nola, who turns 33 in December, appeared in a career-high 110 games for the Padres this season. The right-handed hitter batted .251/.321/.329 with 15 doubles, four home runs, 40 RBIs, 40 runs scored, two stolen bases, 34 walks, and 60 strikeouts across 397 trips to the plate.

From behind the plate, Nola logged 834 2/3 innings at catcher and threw out eight of 64 base stealers. Among the 15 catchers who caught at least 800 innings, Nola ranked 13th in Defensive Runs Saved (-6), 14th in Catcher Framing (-8.3), and 14th in Defense (-5.2), per FanGraphs. While those metrics are not all that encouraging, the 6-foot, 197-pounder has proven to be a better defender in the past, especially when it comes to pitch framing.

Originally selected by the Marlins in the fifth round of the 2012 draft out of Louisiana State University, Nola initially came up through Miami’s farm system as a shortstop not begin catching at the professional level until he was in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

The Marlins outrighted and released Nola at the conclusion of the 2018 season. The Baton Rouge native then inked a minor-league deal with the Mariners and finally made his major-league debut in 2019 at the age of 27. The following August, Nola was dealt to the Padres in a trade that involved six other players.

After an array of injuries limited him to just 56 games in his first full season with San Diego, Nola emerged as the Padres’ starting catcher in 2022 thanks in part to the way he handled their pitching staff in a run to the National League Championship Series.

The Padres ultimately came up short against Nola’s younger brother, Aaron, and the rest of the Phillies. Under the direction of president of baseball operations A.J. Preller, the Friars could elect to shake things up at catcher this winter.

In addition to Nola, San Diego has two other major-league caliber catchers on its roster in Jorge Alfaro and Luis Campusano. Alfaro posted a .667 OPS this season and is a non-tender candidate. Campusano, on the other hand, was ranked by Baseball America as the sport’s No. 53 prospect coming into the 2022 season. But the 24-year-old only received 48 at-bats this season, so the Padres may feel like it is time to give him an extended look beginning next spring.

From the Red Sox’ end, it would likely not take much to pry Nola away from the Padres as far as prospect capital is concerned. Nola himself represents an inexpensive addition at catcher who could platoon with the left-handed hitting McGuire if Wong winds up being the odd man out.

When it comes to what the Red Sox are looking from out of their catchers next year, Bloom emphasized the importance of handling a pitching staff.

“Now, that doesn’t mean there’s only one way to get value at the position, but it’s certainly something we value,” he said. “And I think we have a staff that can really take advantage of somebody who’s invested in that aspect of the game, specifically with [catching instructor Jason Varitek].”

Nola represents just one direction Bloom and Co. could lean if they intend on adding another catcher to the mix this winter. While Murphy is the top trade target, the Sox could also pursue the likes of Wilson Contreras, Mike Zunino, Omar Narvaez, Gary Sanchez, or even old friend Christian Vazquez in free agency.

(Picture of Austin Nola: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Red Sox catching prospect Brooks Brannon shows signs of promise in pro debut

The Red Sox have selected just one natural catcher in each of the last two amateur drafts. Last year, they took Nathan Hickey in the fifth round of the University of Florida. Earlier this summer, they took Brooks Brannon in the ninth round out of Randleman High School in Randleman, N.C.

At that time, Brannon was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 155 prospect in the 2022 draft class. The 18-year-old backstop was also committed to play college baseball at the University of North Carolina in nearby Chapel Hill.

It was believed that Brannon’s commitment to the Tar Heels was a strong one. But just two days after being drafted, the North Carolina native told HighSchoolOT’s Kyle Morton that he intended to go pro and sign with the Red Sox.

“Leading up to the draft, if I could have picked any team it would have been the Red Sox,” Brannon said. “They did the best as far as establishing a relationship. … Everything is very family oriented. … The fact that they have that is huge. I’m just glad to be a part of an organization that values that like they do.”

Towards the end of July, Brannon officially signed with Boston for $712,500. To put that number into context, third-rounder Dalton Rogers received a signing bonus of $447,500, so the Sox certainly went above and beyond to secure Brannon’s services.

“We were surprised to see him get that far,” amateur scouting director Paul Toboni told MLB.com’s Julia Kreuz back in July. “We think so highly of the baseball player and the person, we were beyond thrilled to see him staring at us at that point of the draft.

Fresh off belting 20 homers and driving in 91 runs as a senior at Randleman High, Brannon made his professional debut in the Florida Complex League on August 13. The right-handed hitter appeared in just five games for the FCL Red Sox, going 6-for-13 (.462) with one double, two triples, five RBIs, six runs scored, two walks, and five strikeouts.

Though he did not go deep in his brief pro cameo, Brannon was still recently identified by Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo as the best power hitter the Red Sox drafted this year.

“While the baseline stats are nice to see, [Brannon’s] underlying exit velocity data is even more encouraging,” Collazo wrote on Monday, “with the best 90th percentile exit velocity mark (105 mph) of this Boston draft class.”

On the other side of the ball, there are questions about whether Brannon can stick behind the plate long-term. The 6-foot, 210-pounder is described by Baseball America as someone who “needs to improve his actions behind the plate as both a receiver and pitch blocker.” Although his arm strength stands out, Brannon did not throw out any of the three runners who tried to steal against him in the Florida Complex League.

“Brooks’ defensive skill set was one of the parts of his game that we were drawn to most,” Toboni said over the summer. “While he’s big and physical, he’s really flexible and athletic. He can get his body into some pretty unique positions, especially for a big, strong kid. We also think he has good hands behind the plate and an obviously strong arm. In our eyes, he possesses all the physical and mental traits to take off with professional instruction.”

Brannon, who does not turn 19 until next May, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 30 prospect in Boston’s farm system. That ranks third among backstops in the organization behind only Hickey and Connor Wong.

Given that he has just five FCL games under his belt, Brannon is expected to return to the rookie-level affiliate next summer. That being said, it would not be all that surprising if he made it up to Low-A Salem before the end of the 2023 season.

(Picture of Brooks Brannon: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández could receive fourth minor-league option next season

Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez was called up from Triple-A Worcester on two separate occasions this season, yet he never got into a game and has yet to make his major-league debut.

Instead, Hernandez spent one day on the big-league roster in late April after Christian Vazquez was briefly placed on the COVID-19 related injured list. He then spent an additional day with the club in early August after Vazquez was traded to the Astros. But he was quickly optioned following the acquisition of Reese McGuire from the White Sox.

When Worcester’s season ended in late September, Hernandez made the trek to Boston and was added to the Red Sox’ taxi squad for their final road trip of the year in Toronto.

Despite not making his impact felt in the majors this season, Hernandez still enjoyed a relatively productive year at the plate in Worcester. The right-handed hitting backstop batted .261/.297/.451 with 27 doubles, 17 home runs, 63 RBIs, 50 runs scored, 21 walks, and 92 strikeouts in 105 games (439 plate appearances) with the WooSox.

From behind the plate, Hernandez logged 577 1/3 innings and threw out 16 of 65 possible base stealers. The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder out of Colombia also allowed 13 passed balls and committed six errors.

Hernandez, who turns 25 next month, was originally acquired from the Rays with minor-league infielder Nick Sogard in a February 2021 trade that sent pitchers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to Tampa Bay.

At that time, Hernandez was already a member of the Rays’ 40-man roster after being added in November 2019. His status did not change after being traded, so he has used minor-league options in each of the last three seasons.

Under normal circumstances, players typically receive three minor-league options. As MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith reported earlier this month, though, Hernandez — who did not play above rookie ball until 2018 — is expected to be eligible for a fourth option next year since “he has fewer than five full seasons of pro ball while using three options.”

If Hernandez receives a fourth option like the Red Sox expect him to , they would once again be able to send him to Worcester next season to continue to develop and provide depth. Without that option, Hernandez would need to make Boston’s Opening Day roster out of spring training if the club did not want to trade him or expose him to waivers.

“The main goal is to be here in the big-leagues,” Hernandez told Smith (through interpreter Carlos Villoria Benítez) last weekend. “If they have that option next year, that’s fine. That’s not a big deal for me. My main goal is to keep improving every day and try to be better so I can make it to the big-leagues and stay here. So my focus doesn’t change whether I have the extra option or not.”

Beyond Hernandez, McGuire and Connor Wong are the only other catchers on the Sox’ 40-man roster. During the team’s end-of-season press conference at Fenway Park on Thursday, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom indicated that catcher would be one position group the Red Sox explore making external additions at over the winter.

“This is one of the areas I fully expect that we’re going to explore additions,” Bloom said. “It’s nice to know that we have two guys that are familiar with how we do things, that showed a lot of good things. But we owe it to ourselves and everybody who cares about this team to look to get better and catcher is certainly not going to be an exception to that.”

McGuire and Wong split time behind the plate for the Sox after Vazquez was traded in August and Kevin Plawecki was designated for assignment in late September. Even though they were out of it at that point, Hernandez never received a promotion. As noted by Smith, this reflects that the Red Sox “still feel like he has improvements to make and he’s not in the immediate plans for 2023. ”

Depending on how the offseason plays out, however, Hernandez could solidify his case for an Opening Day roster spot if he is able to impress club officials and put together a strong showing in spring training.

“Obviously, if I can make the team and stay here with Boston, it would be great,” said Hernandez. “That’s what I’m working for. But I can’t focus on things that I can’t control. I’m going to work hard this offseason. I’m going to work hard and improve in all the aspects of my game and we’ll see what happens in spring training. But I’m confident that my skillsets will be good enough to play in the big-leagues.

“And hopefully, it’s with the Red Sox,” he added. “But we’ll see what happens. I can’t control the decisions they are going to make. But the things I can control, which is preparing for next season and preparing to be ready for spring training, that’s what I’ll do.”

Hernandez told Smith that if the Red Sox were to go in a different direction, there would be “a lot of options and a lot of opportunities out there with other organizations.

“I know the type of player that I am,” he said. “I know what I can do. And that’s why I’m not too worried about what’s going to happen in the future.”

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox commit 3 costly errors in 5-3 loss to Yankees

The Red Sox committed three errors and were swept by the Yankees on Wednesday night. Boston fell to New York by a final score of 5-3 at Fenway Park to drop to 69-74 on the season and 20-42 against American League East opponents.

Brayan Bello, making his eighth start of the year for the Sox, was the victim of poor defense behind him. The rookie right-hander immersed himself into the rivalry by allowing three unearned runs on six hits and just one walk to go along with six strikeouts over five solid innings of work.

All three of those runs came in the top of the fifth. Bello fanned Jose Trevino to begin the inning, but Aaron Hicks followed by reaching on a fielding error committed by Xander Bogaerts. Hicks moved up to second base on an Aaron Judge single before Giancarlo Stanton struck out swinging.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Gleyber Torres ripped a line drive to Alex Verdugo in right field. Verdugo attempted to gun down Hicks at home plate, but instead made an inaccurate throw that got past cutoff man Christian Arroyo and rolled to catcher Connor Wong.

As Hicks crossed the plate, Wong tried to get Torres caught in a rundown between first and second base. He instead made a poor throw that Arroyo had no chance of getting to and wound up in right field.

While Judge had already scored, Torres was on his horse and scored on a head-first slide to complete a Little League three-run home run that gave the Yankees a 3-0 plate.

Bello got through the rest of the fifth unscathed, but the damage had already been done. The 23-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 98 (59 strikes) and induced 14 swings-and-misses. He was the tough-luck loser on Wednesday, though he did lower his ERA on the season down to 5.10.

Shortly after Bello’s night came to an end, the Red Sox got one of those three runs back in their half of the fifth. Rob Refsnyder led off with a hard-hit single off Yankees starter Nestor Cortes. He then scored all the way from first on a two-out RBI double from Wong.

Trailing by two runs going into the sixth inning, Red Sox manager Alex Cora called upon Zack Kelly out of the Boston bullpen. Kelly issued a leadoff walk to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who promptly stole second base and scored from second on an RBI double off the bat of Trevino.

Following shutdown innings from Kaleb Ort and Eduard Bazardo, the pinch-hitting Reese McGuire led off the bottom of the eighth with a groundball single off Jonathan Loaisiga. Tommy Pham followed with a single of his own to put runners at first and second for Verdugo.

Verdugo grounded into a force out at third base, but Bogaerts filled the bases by blooping a single to right field. Pham then scored from third on a Rafael Devers groundball that got through the legs of Yankees first baseman Marwin Gonzalez.

The bases were still loaded with one out for J.D. Martinez, who seemingly drove in Verdugo by beating out a 6-4-3 double play. New York challenged the ruling on the field, however, and it turns out Martinez’s left foot missed the first-bag completely. The call on the field was overturned, meaning the inning ended without Boston tacking on additional run.

Ryan Brasier allowed one unearned run in the ninth on an Abraham Almonte fielding error in center field. Almonte, who had pinch-hit for Refsnyder in the seventh, led off the bottom of the inning with a line-drive double. He moved up to third and then scored on an Enrique Hernandez groundout. McGuire struck out against Clay Holmes to end it.

All told, the Red Sox went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday and left six men on base as a team.

Next up: A weekend with the Royals

The Red Sox will have the day off on Thursday before welcoming the Royals into town for a three-game weekend series. Veteran right-hander Michael Wacha will get the start for Boston in Friday’s opener while fellow righty Jonathan Heasley will take the mound for Kansas City.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN

(Picture of Connor Wong: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox to call up Connor Wong, Eduard Bazardo from Triple-A Worcester as rosters expand

With major-league rosters expanding from 26 to 28 players on Thursday, the Red Sox have called up catcher Connor Wong and right-hander Eduard Bazardo from Triple-A Worcester, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and Christopher Smith.

This will be Wong’s fourth big-league stint of the season. The 26-year-old backstop has already appeared in five games for Boston and has gone 2-for-8 with an RBI and two strikeouts.

In Worcester, however, Wong has been on a torrid stretch as of late. Dating back to August 13, when he returned to the lineup after missing two weeks with a wrist injury, the right-handed hitter has slashed .368/.411/.838 (220 wRC+) with five doubles, nine home runs, 22 RBIs, 14 runs scored, four walks, and 21 strikeouts over his last 16 games.

On the 2022 campaign as a whole, Wong has batted .288/.349/.489 (121 wRC+) to go along with 20 doubles, 15 homers, 44 runs driven in, 47 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 27 walks, and 80 strikeouts across 81 games (355 plate appearances) with the WooSox.

From behind the plate, Wong has thrown out 12 of a possible 49 possible base stealers while logging 460 innings at catcher. The 6-foot-1, 181-pounder also made his first start of the season at second base last Saturday in an effort to add to his versatility.

One of three players acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade, Wong is currently regarded by Baseball America as the top defensive catcher in Boston’s farm system.

Bazardo, meanwhile, is celebrating his 27th birthday on Thursday and has received quite the gift. In 37 appearances (four starts) for the WooSox this season, the Venezuelan-born righty has posted a 3.45 ERA and 3.58 FIP with 60 strikeouts to 19 walks over 57 1/3 innings of work.

Originally signed out of Maracay for just $8,000 in July 2014, Bazardo was initially added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November 2020 after an impressive showing at fall instructs. He made his major-league debut last April and appeared in a total of two games.

Although it seemed like Bazardo had a chance to crack the Sox’ Opening Day roster this spring, he was designated for assignment in early April. But he cleared waivers and was outrighted to Worcester.

With that being said, the Red Sox will need to add Bazardo to their 40-man roster, though they already have an opening on it and will not have to designate someone else for assignment.

(Picture of Connor Wong: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Chris Sale on 15-day injured list, option Connor Wong to Triple-A Worcester; Brayan Bello, Yolmer Sánchez called up

Before opening a three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Friday night, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves.

First off, left-hander Chris Sale was placed on the 15-day injured list with a left fifth finger fracture, retroactive to July 19. To take Sale’s place on the active roster, right-hander Brayan Bello was recalled from Triple-A Worcester.

Additionally, catcher Connor Wong was optioned to Worcester on Thursday. To take Wong’s place on the active roster, veteran infielder Yolmer Sanchez was selected to the 40-man roster from Worcester.

Sale, in the first inning of his second start of the season against the Yankees on Sunday, was struck in the hand by a 106.7 mph line drive off the bat of Aaron Hicks. The 33-year-old southpaw was immediately removed from the game and was later diagnosed with a broken left pinky. He underwent surgery — or an open reduction and internal fixation of a left fifth finger proximal phalanx fracture — in Wellesley, Mass. on Monday. The Red Sox are optimistic that he will pitch again this season.

Bello, meanwhile, is up with the Sox for the second time this season. The 23-year-old prospect made two starts against the Rays (one at home, one on the road) earlier this month and allowed a total of nine runs on 13 hits, six walks, and seven strikeouts over eight combined innings of work. He is expected to start Sunday’s series finale against Toronto.

On the position player side of things, Wong was optioned back down to Worcester so that the Red Sox could add another infielder (Sanchez) to their roster in place of the injured Trevor Story.

Wong took the place of Story on the major-league roster when the second baseman was placed on the 10-day injured list on Saturday. He appeared in two games during last weekend’s series in the Bronx and went 1-for-1 with a single.

Sanchez, meanwhile, made a brief cameo for Boston as a COVID-19 substitute back in June. Filling in for the then-unvaccinated Jarren Duran in Toronto on June 28, Sanchez went 0-for-1 with a walk and sacrifice bunt.

With the WooSox this season, the switch-hitting 30-year-old has batted .247/.378/.413 with 12 doubles, one triple, nine home runs, 33 RBIs, 43 runs scored, six stolen bases, 50 walks, and 67 strikeouts over 78 games (303 plate appearances) while seeing playing time at every infield position besides first base.

The Red Sox did not not need to create an opening on their 40-man roster for Sanchez since rookie right-hander Josh Winckowski is currently on the COVID-19 related injured list. Boston’s 40-man roster is now at full capacity.

(Picture of Yolmer Sanchez: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)