Before opening up a three-game weekend series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, the Red Sox made an extensive flurry of roster moves.
First off, shortstop Xander Bogaerts was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list, while left-handed reliever Darwinzon Hernandez was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. Right-handed reliever Kaleb Ort also had his contract selected from Triple-A Worcester.
Secondly, ace left-hander Chris Sale and infielder Jonathan Arauz were both placed on the COVID-19 related injured list, while lefty reliever Austin Davis was placed on the paternity leave list.
The Red Sox made all of these transactions official earlier Friday night.
Bogaerts will return from the COVID-19 related injured list after initially testing positive for the virus while the Red Sox were taking on the Rays in St. Petersburg on August 31.
The 28-year-old was forced to exit in the second inning of that contest at Tropicana Field on account of that positive test and was immediately placed into a mandatory 10-day quarantine at the team’s hotel.
Since those 10 days are now up, Bogaerts was eligible to be activated on Friday, which winds up being the case. The three-time All-Star will be starting at shortstop and batting cleanup in the first of three against the American League Central-leading White Sox.
Joining Bogaerts on the active roster will be two relievers in the form of Hernandez and Ort.
Hernandez returns to the Boston bullpen after missing slightly more than six weeks of action due to a right oblique strain he sustained in a relief appearance against the Blue Jays back on July 29.
Placed on the 10-day injured list on July 31, the 24-year-old southpaw was sent out on a rehab assignment with Worcester this past Tuesday. He appeared in one game for the WooSox later that same day and worked a scoreless eighth inning in which he walked one and struck out another in a 5-4 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Polar Park.
Ort, on the other hand, is called up to a major-league roster for the first time in his professional career, as he will take the place of Sale on Boston’s 40-man roster for the time being.
The Red Sox originally selected Ort from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of last winter’s Rule 5 Draft — shortly after they picked up Garrett Whitlock from New York as well.
A former undrafted free agent who initially signed with the Diamondbacks in 2016 but joined the Yankees organization a year later, the 29-year-old righty has emerged as the bona fide closer for the WooSox this season.
In 40 appearances out of Worcester’s bullpen, Ort has posted a respectable 3.12 ERA and 3.56 FIP to go along with 59 strikeouts to 20 walks over 43 1/3 total innings of work. He also leads the WooSox with 18 saves on the year.
As previously mentioned, the Sox were able to call up Ort, who will wear the No. 85, without having to remove someone from their 40-man roster because of Sale being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list.
It was revealed earlier Friday that the ace left-hander had tested positive for the virus, and would subsequently be forced to miss his next scheduled start on Sunday as a result.
In testing positive for COVID-19, Sale becomes the 10th Red Sox player to do so since August 27 while also becoming the 12th player the club has had to place on the COVID IL since that date.
Boston’s starting rotation for this weekend’s series with Chicago initially had Tanner Houck starting the opener, Nick Pivetta starting the middle game, and Sale starting the finale.
Pivetta, who has been on the COVID IL since September 5 since he, too, tested positive, could be able to take Sale’s spot and start on Sunday.
Saturday’s contest, meanwhile, will likely fall to right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold, who — like Ort — traveled with the Sox to Chicago as part of the team’s taxi squad.
In addition to Sale, the Red Sox also placed Arauz on the COVID-19 related injured list, meaning the 23-year-old has now become the 13th player Boston has had to place on the COVID IL since their initial outbreak began in Cleveland two weeks ago.
Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the reason for Arauz being placed on the COVID IL is a precautionary one, as the Panamanian-born infielder has been exhibiting virus-like symptoms, but has tested negative “multiple times.”
Along with Sale and Arauz, the Red Sox will also be without Davis for the time being since he is headed out on paternity leave, though the timing of his absence is in sync with the return of Hernandez.
Put another way, as Boston temporarily loses one left-handed bullpen option, they get another back in the Venezuelan southpaw.
Following Friday’s series of moves, the Red Sox’ major-league roster is at full capacity (26 players), while their 40-man roster currently sits at approximately 39 players.
(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)