Red Sox ace Chris Sale tests positive for COVID-19, will miss next scheduled start on Sunday

Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale has tested positive for COVID-19, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Sale had been in line to make his next scheduled start for the Red Sox in Sunday’s series finale against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field, but that will no longer be the case.

The 32-year-old becomes the 10th Boston player to test positive for COVID-19 since August 27 — exactly two weeks since Friday — and will ultimately become the 12th player the club has had to place on the COVID-19 related injured list since that date.

While Enrique Hernandez, Josh Taylor, and Danny Santana have all been activated recently, the likes of Christian Arroyo, Matt Barnes, Martin Perez, Hirokazu Sawamura, Jarren Duran, Xander Bogaerts, Yairo Munoz, and Nick Pivetta remain sidelined.

Though it appears likely that some of those aforementioned names could re-join the team for their upcoming series with Chicago, Boston’s starting rotation plans for this weekend still remain somewhat disarrayed.

That being the case because Tanner Houck — Friday’s starter — is now the only definitive starting pitcher the Red Sox have named for their next three games, as Pivetta’s next scheduled start would come on Saturday and Sale’s would come on Sunday.

As noted by Cotillo, right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold traveled with the Sox to Chicago as part of their taxi squad and is a candidate to start on either Saturday or Sunday. The same can be said for fellow righty Kutter Crawford, who is slated to start for Triple-A Worcester on Friday but could very well be scratched from that outing.

Pivetta, on the other hand, can’t be ruled out for Saturday quite yet since he is vaccinated against COVID-19. If he is asymptomatic and cleared by Major League Baseball to return to the action, the 28-year-old hurler could still start this weekend, per Cotillo.

Sale, who would have been making his sixth start of the year for the Red Sox on Sunday, has posted a 2.52 ERA and 3.92 FIP to go along with 30 strikeouts to six walks through his first five outings (25 innings pitched) of the season since returning from Tommy John surgery last month.

At the moment, it is not yet known if Sale is vaccinated against COVID-19, though he did have a bout with the virus back in January. As Cotillo notes, “players who test positive for the virus have to miss a minimum of 10 days but there have been cases when vaccinated players return earlier than that timeframe.”

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Yairo Muñoz becomes latest Red Sox player to test positive for COVID-19

Red Sox infielder Yairo Munoz has tested positive for COVID-19, manager Alex Cora said during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Merloni and Fauria program earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Munoz, who was selected from Triple-A Worcester on Friday, tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning, per Cora.

The versatile 26-year-old has appeared in five games for the Red Sox since being called up from Worcester, most recently being used as a defensive replacement at second base in Tuesday night’s 8-5 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.

After starting that game on the bench, Munoz was dispatched in the middle of the second inning when — after getting test results back — Cora was forced to pull Xander Bogaerts, as it was later revealed that the star shortstop tested positive for COVID-19.

Because of that, Jonathan Arauz, Tuesday’s starting second baseman for Boston, shifted over to shortstop while Munoz took over at second base for the remainder of the contest.

Within the next few hours, both Bogaerts and Munoz will become the seventh and eighth players the Red Sox have had to place on the COVID-19 related injured list since Friday. They will join the likes of Enrique Hernandez, Christian Arroyo, Martin Perez, Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura, and Josh Taylor.

Hernandez and Arroyo both tested positive for the virus in Cleveland and remain in quarantine there, while Perez, Barnes, and Sawamura all tested positive for the virus in St. Petersburg and are quarantining at the team hotel.

On top of that, quality control coach Ramon Vazquez and strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose have tested positive as well, while Taylor and first base coach Tom Goodwin have been identified as close contacts and are also in quarantine.

As is the case for all players who test positive for COVID-19, Munoz will have to remain away from the Red Sox for the next 10 days at the very least.

(Picture of Yairo Munoz: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox minor-league coordinators Andy Fox, Darren Fenster filling in on Alex Cora’s coaching staff while Will Venable, Tom Goodwin quarantine in Canada

With bench coach Will Venable and first base coach Tom Goodwin currently quarantining in Toronto, the Red Sox have added Andy Fox and Darren Fenster to their major-league coaching staff, manager Alex Cora said Tuesday.

Venable tested positive for COVID-19 this past Saturday, during the first game of the Sox’ doubleheader against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Despite being vaccinated against the virus, Venable has been placed into a mandatory 14-day quarantine on account of the rules put into effect by the Canadian government.

Goodwin, meanwhile, has also been forced to quarantine since he was identified as a close contact of Venable, though he could return to the club sooner since he has yet to test positive for COVID.

“They’re doing OK,” Cora said of the two coaches ahead of Tuesday night’s game against the Rays at Fenway Park. “It’s not easy. I texted with them today. They’re doing OK. The organization has done an amazing job taking care of their diet plans. Both of them, they’re really good about their nutrition.

“But, all kidding aside, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s where we’re at,” added Cora. “Those two are relentless, they’re working with us, they’re doing their homework, they’re sending in information, and on top of everything that’s going on here, hopefully we can get them back soon here with us.”

In place of Goodwin and Venable, Cora will rely on two minor-league coordinators in Fox and Fenster — both of whom have been with the organization in some capacity since 2011 and 2012, respectively — for the time being.

Fox, 50, has served as Boston’s minor-league infield coordinator since 2011 and as assistant field coordinator since 2019. He also has experience as a minor-league manager and hitting coach as well as a major-league first base and infield coach for the Florida Marlins from 2007 through 2019.

“A person that I really respect and really like,” Cora said of Fox. “He can help [third base coach] Carlos [Febles] while [quality control coach] Ramon [Vazquez] is doing other stuff within the day.”

Fenster, 42, has served as the Sox’ minor-league outfield and baserunning coordinator since 2019 after previously managing the Portland Sea Dogs in 2018 and Greenville Drive from 2014 through 2017.

This summer, Fenster served as Team USA’s third base coach under manager Mike Scioscia and helped the United States baseball team (including Red Sox minor-leaguers Jack Lopez and Triston Casas) win a silver medal in Tokyo.

“I don’t know if the coaches get the medal, but hopefully he did,” Cora joked. “He can bring it here and we can see it.”

While Fox and Fenster will temporarily fill the void left behind by Venable and Goodwin, Cora will still turn to the coaches who have been on his staff throughout the season — such as Vazquez and game planning coordinator Jason Varitek.

“Like I always said, Will is the bench coach but Jason helps me out a lot, too — and Ramon,” said Cora. “Between Ramon and Jason, and Andy running the dugout, they’re going to be trying to get people ready, the lineup card, [mound] visits, and the replay phone.”

When asked if the Red Sox would be able to pull any strings in order to get Venable and Goodwin back to the states sooner than anticipated, Cora could only respond by saying it’s out of the club’s control.

“I think that’s out of our hands, to be honest with you,” he said. “That’s more about the government stuff.”

(Picture of Ernie Young, Darren Fenster, and Mike Scioscia: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

Red Sox closer Matt Barnes tests negative for COVID-19, could be activated for Wednesday’s game against Tigers

After a scare earlier in the afternoon, Red Sox closer Matt Barnes tested negative for COVID-19 Tuesday night, manager Alex Cora announced.

Barnes, who was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list prior to Tuesday’s series opener against the Tigers in Detroit, had been feeling under the weather earlier in the day and — along with one other unnamed player — was also exhibiting symptoms that run consistent with the virus.

As a result, the right-handed reliever, who is vaccinated, was forced to quarantine at the team hotel, but he could now be activated off the COVID IL as soon as Wednesday depending on how he is feeling in the morning.

“He tested negative,” Cora said of Barnes following Boston’s 4-2 loss to Detroit. “We’ll check him throughout the night, how he feels and all that. But he did test negative, so hopefully everything goes well tonight and he’ll be with us tomorrow.”

Cora acknowledged that Barnes will likely have to take one more PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test on Wednesday morning before being cleared to return to action.

“That’s the goal. Everything went well today,” Cora said on the possibility of having Barnes available for Wednesday’s contest against the Tigers at Comerica Park. “We’ll see how feels tonight, how he feels in the morning. Probably one more test or something like that. But as of now, that’s the goal.”

Barnes, who is currently in the midst of a career year that netted him his first-ever All-Star selection and a lucrative contract extension last month, had not appeared in a game for the Red Sox since Game 2 of last Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park before being placed on the COVID IL on Tuesday.

This is not the first time Barnes has dealt with COVID-related issues either, as the 31-year-old tested positive for the virus back in March but was cleared to return to the team after missing just two days because of subsequent test results.

When Boston placed Barnes on the COVID IL on Tuesday, they reinstated utility man Marwin Gonzalez from the 10-day injured list as a corresponding move, thus giving them 13 pitchers and 13 position players on their 26-man major-league roster.

Assuming Barnes is activated ahead of Wednesday’s matchup against the Tigers, it seems likely that infielder Jonathan Arauz would be optioned to Triple-A Worcester in order for the Red Sox to go back to carrying 14 pitchers and 12 position players. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Matt Barnes: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Friday’s Red Sox-Yankees game is on; Thursday’s postponed contest to be made up as part of split doubleheader on August 17

After Thursday’s game was postponed due to multiple COVID-19 tests, the Red Sox will be playing the Yankees as scheduled at Yankee Stadium on Friday night.

Thursday’s contest was postponed approximately 2 1/2 hours before first pitch on account of the fact that the Yankees had at least three players — pitchers Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes, and Wandy Peralta — test positive for COVID-19, while three additional players (Aaron Judge, Gio Urshela, and Kyle Higashioka) were going through COVID protocols.

While additional testing and contact tracing had to be conducted following Thursday’s postponement, it now appears that both clubs have been given the go-ahead to continue their series from Major League Baseball.

As for when Thursday’s game will be made up, that will happen in the form of a split doubleheader between the Sox and Yankees in the Bronx on August 17.

The two teams were originally slated to play a two-game series against one another at Yankee Stadium from August 17-18, but that has now essentially turned into a three-game set.

“After conducting testing and contact tracing involving members of the New York Yankees’ organization, the Club’s home game vs. the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium will proceed as scheduled,” MLB announced in a statement Friday afternoon. “The postponement of Thursday’s game will be made up as part of a split doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, August 17. The first game will be played at 1:05 p.m. (ET), followed by the previously scheduled 7:05 p.m. (ET) game.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, weekend weather played a factor in the decision to not make up Thursday’s game right away, as the National Weather Service forecasts that there is a 60% chance of precipitation in the Bronx-area on Saturday and a 70% chance of precipitation on Sunday.

With Friday’s series-opening contest scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m. eastern time, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will be making his 18th start of the season for the Red Sox.

The Yankees, meanwhile, will turn to fellow southpaw Jordan Montgomery to do start things off for them.

Friday’s game will be broadcast on both NESN and MLB Network for those watching out of market. First pitch, again, is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time.

(Picture of Yankee Stadium: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees game postponed because New York has multiple positive COVID-19 tests

Thursday night’s game between the Red Sox and Yankees at Yankee Stadium has been postponed, Major League Baseball announced earlier Thursday evening.

Per an official statement from the league, the reasoning behind the postponement has to do with positive COVID-19 tests from within the Yankees organization. By postponing Thursday’s game, MLB can now conduct further testing as well as contract tracing to ensure the situation does not worsen.

According to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, the Yankees cancelled their pre-game batting practice session shortly after 4 p.m. eastern time “out of an abundance of caution as they advance through COVID-19 protocols.”

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Thursday’s contest between Boston and New York would be postponed at approximately 4:32 p.m., and the announcement from MLB was released shortly thereafter.

The Red Sox (55-36) and Yankees (46-43) were slated to open up a four-game weekend series in the Bronx on Thursday night, but those plans have since been halted.

As stated by MLB, a makeup date for Thursday’s postponed game has yet to be announced and scheduling updates will be provided as available. Friday’s game is, at the moment, still on schedule for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch time.

On that note, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters (including Hoch) that the decision to postpone Thursday’s game came from the Commissioner’s Office and that “it is too soon to know what this means for the rest of the weekend.”

Cashman also said that Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes, and Wandy Peralta are three of the confirmed COVID-19 cases within the Yankees’ ranks, while there are three more who have “pending cases,” according to The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler.

(Picture of Yankee Stadium: Al Bello/Getty Images)

Red Sox activate Garrett Whitlock from COVID-19 related injured list, option Colten Brewer to Triple-A Worcester

Before wrapping up their three-game series against the Angels on Sunday, the Red Sox activated right-hander Nick Pivetta from the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, right-handed reliever Colten Brewer was optioned to Triple-A Worcester, the team announced earlier Sunday.

Whitlock was originally placed on the COVID IL on Saturday due to side effects from vaccination. He wound up only missing one game on account of feeling under the weather after receiving the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Through 10 appearances out of the Boston bullpen this season, the 24-year-old rookie has posted a 1.77 ERA, a 2.92 FIP, and a 21:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 20 1/3 innings pitched.

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, “Whitlock will be available out of the bullpen in Sunday’s series finale but is unlikely to pitch after throwing three innings Thursday night against Oakland.”

Brewer, meanwhile, was not used in the brief amount of time he was up with the Red Sox this weekend after beginning the year in the WooSox’ bullpen.

The 28-year-old hurler has compiled a 4.59 ERA, a 5.14 FIP, and a 77:48 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 69 total appearances (four starts) and 80 1/3 innings pitched in parts of two seasons with Boston since coming over from the Padres in a November 2018 trade.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Nick Pivetta on COVID-19 related injured list (side effects from vaccination), recall Eduard Bazardo from Triple-A Worcester

Before taking on the Athletics on Wednesday night, the Red Sox placed right-hander Nick Pivetta on the COVID-19 related injured list.

In a corresponding move, fellow right-hander Eduard Bazardo was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket, the team announced Wednesday.

The reason Pivetta was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list was because of side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine.

The 28-year-old can be activated at any time since the COVID IL does not require a minimum stint. He is slated to get the start for the Sox against the Angels on Friday, but it is not clear at the moment if he will be ready to return the mound for his start.

Through seven outings this season, Pivetta has been solid, posting a 3.19 ERA, a 3.78 FIP, and 35:22 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 36 2/3 innings pitched.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, right-hander Matt Andriese could be a candidate to get a spot start for Boston if Pivetta has not yet been activated by Friday night.

In Pivetta’s place, the Red Sox have called up Bazardo from Worcester.

Bazardo, 25, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

The Venezuelan hurler made his major-league debut for the Sox last month, working a scoreless seventh inning of relief while serving as the 27th man in a doubleheader against the Twins back on April 14.

In Bazardo, who has allowed four runs in his first 1 2/3 innings pitched with the WooSox this season, the Red Sox gain some bullpen flexibility while Pivetta is out.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez in MLB’s COVID-19 protocol due to cold symptoms

J.D. Martinez will not play in Saturday’s game against the Orioles. The slugger is under the weather and is dealing with cold symptoms, which resulted in him being placed in MLB’s COVID-19 protocols.

The Red Sox, however, do not feel that Martinez has COVID.

“With J.D., he’s under the weather,” Sox manager Alex Cora said during his pregame media availability Saturday. “He has cold symptoms. So the protocol has been activated. We’ll have more information throughout the night or tomorrow morning. We feel pretty confident that he’ll be able to be with us tomorrow. But obviously, we have to wait.”

Per the league’s health and safety protocols for the 2021 season, Martinez must test negative twice before being cleared to return to baseball activities. The 33-year-old has already taken a rapid COVID test and has taken or will take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

“I spoke to J.D.,” said Cora. “Obviously, we never know with the virus, but he feels pretty confident that it’s just a regular cold.”

There is a chance that the Red Sox could place Martinez on the COVID-related injured list before Saturday’s game and still have him available to play on Sunday.

In that scenario, Boston would activate one of the five taxi squad players who are currently traveling with the team for their first road trip of the season. Chris Herrmann, Michael Chavis, Cesar Puello, Colten Brewer, and Ryan Weber are those five players.

Again, Martinez’s absence would likely only last one day, as the Sox appear confident that the three-time All-Star just has a cold, not COVID-19.

“From our end, we do believe he’s going to be back with us tomorrow,” Cora said.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Eduardo Rodriguez on injured list; Alex Cora hopeful left-hander will be able to rejoin team ‘sooner rather than later. And sooner is like next week’

To nobody’s surprise, the Red Sox placed left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez on the 10-day injured list on Thursday due to left elbow inflammation.

The soon-to-be 28-year-old hurler was originally slated to start on Opening Day for the Sox in their first game of the year against the Orioles, but was scratched from said start after suffering a “dead arm” in the last week of spring training.

Now that he has been placed on the injured list — which was actually backdated to March 29 — the hope is that Rodriguez will be be able to return to the mound in the very near future.

“Him going on the IL is nothing long-term,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about Rodriguez earlier Thursday. “It’s just [that] we ran out of time to build him up. The hope is for him to rejoin us sooner rather than later. And sooner is like next week.”

Rodriguez will head to Worcester on Friday to throw a simulated game at the Sox’ alternate training site at Polar Park.

Though Cora was unsure of how many innings or pitches Rodriguez would throw in that simulated game, he did place an emphasis on the Venezuelan southpaw’s health in the midst of this latest setback.

“We’ll build him up and see how it goes,” said the Sox skipper. “Like the whole week, the next day is the most important day. Hopefully he’s OK. The goal is for him is to be with us hopefully next week.”

Because his stint on the injured list was backdated to this past Monday, Rodriguez could be activated from the IL as soon as April 8, which — as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — would line him up to get the starting nod against the Orioles in the Red Sox’ road opener in Baltimore.

Rodriguez, who missed all of 2020 due to a heart condition as a result of contracting COVID-19 over the summer, has not pitched on a big-league mound since September 2019. While he is surely anxious to get back out there as soon as possible, he also understands that he needs to be at his best health-wise before returning to action.

“I’m going to go out there when I’m 100%,” Rodriguez said last weekend. “That’s why we sat together and made the decision. I want to go out there and compete and not think, ‘Oh, my shoulder’ and all that and miss my spots.”

The start of the 2021 season, which for the Red Sox was pushed back from Thursday to Friday, will mark the second consecutive year in which Rodriguez was supposed to be Boston’s Opening Day starter but ultimately was not.

A bout with COVID-19 prevented that from happening last summer, and a bout with left elbow inflammation is preventing that from happening this spring.

“It sucks for him because going into ‘20 he was supposed to be the Opening Day starter,” Cora said of the 6-foot-2, 231 pounder back on March 26. “Going into ‘21, we announced it and now he’s not. But I told him yesterday, I said, ‘Hey, man. The way you throw the ball, the way your career is going, at one point in your career you will be an Opening Day starter. Maybe more than once.’ So he took it as a professional. With him, I think the communication is very clear. It’s very genuine. And for him to accept it and think about the future and not the first game of the season, it is a testament to who he is right now as a pitcher, as a person, as a leader in this team.”

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)