Red Sox activate Martín Pérez from COVID-19 related injured list, return Kaleb Ort to Triple-A Worcester

As expected, the Red Sox have reinstated left-hander Martin Perez from the COVID-19 related injured list. In a corresponding move, right-hander Kaleb Ort was returned to Triple-A Worcester, the team announced earlier Tuesday evening.

Perez had been held out of action for a little more than two weeks after initially testing positive for COVID-19 while the Sox were in Tampa Bay on August 30. He became the third player on the team to test positive for the virus dating back to Aug. 27 and nine more have returned positive results since then.

After quarantining for 10 days, Perez was cleared to return to action and was sent out on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester over the weekend. The 30-year-old southpaw made one appearance for the WooSox on Sunday, tossing a scoreless seventh inning in a 3-1 victory over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at Polar Park.

Prior to going on the COVID IL, Perez had made nine appearances as a reliever after being removed from Boston’s starting rotation and inserted into the bullpen in early August.

In those nine outings, the Venezuelan-born lefty posted a 6.43 ERA and .908 OPS against to go along with seven strikeouts to two walks over seven innings of work.

With the addition of Perez, the Red Sox now have eight players on the COVID IL. They are also back at full strength from the left side of the bullpen as Austin Davis, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor are all active.

Ort, meanwhile, initially had his contract selected from Worcester when Davis was placed on the paternity leave list and both infielder Jonathan Arauz and left-hander Chris Sale were placed on the COVID-19 related injured list this past Friday.

Though Ort was not called upon during this past weekend’s series against the White Sox, he did make his major-league debut in Seattle on Monday night. The 29-year-old righty was deployed in the eighth inning of a 5-4 game the Red Sox were losing and put two of the first three batters he faced on base via a leadoff single and one-out walk.

Only six of the 12 pitches Ort threw went for strikes, and he was relieved by Taylor, who escaped the jam he inherited by retiring the only two Mariners he faced in order.

While he was returned to the WooSox on Tuesday, it seems likely that Ort would remain on Boston’s taxi squad for the remainder of their road trip that concludes on Wednesday afternoon.

(Picture of Martin Perez: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Xander Bogaerts, Darwinzon Hernandez activated; Kaleb Ort selected from Triple-A Worcester; Chris Sale, Jonathan Araúz placed on COVID-19 related injured list

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)

Rule 5 picks Tyreque Reed (1.166 OPS at High-A), Kaleb Ort (0.00 ERA at Triple-A) among early Red Sox minor-league standouts

Back in December, the Red Sox selected right-hander Garrett Whitlock from the Yankees in the major-league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.

Since arriving in Fort Myers for the start of spring training in February, Whitlock has done nothing but impress in his time in a Red Sox uniform to this point.

Through his first 10 appearances out of Boston’s bullpen this season, the 24-year-old rookie owns an ERA of 1.77 and an xFIP of 2.92 in addition to 21 strikeouts to just three walks over 20 1/3 innings of work.

To say that Whitlock — who had not pitched above Double-A and underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2019 before joining the Red Sox — has been one of the club’s biggest and brightest surprises this year would be an understatement.

Having said that, though, Whitlock is not the only player the Sox selected in last December’s Rule 5 Draft that has gotten his 2021 campaign off to an impressive start.

In addition to taking Whitlock, Boston also selected first baseman Tyreque Reed from the Rangers and right-hander Kaleb Ort from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the draft.

Reed, who turns 24 next month, is a former 2017 eighth-round draft pick who played for three Texas affiliates over three seasons before joining the Red Sox organization over the winter.

Known for his power, Reed — listed at 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds — has been crushing the ball with High-A Greenville so far this spring.

Over his first eight games with the Drive, the right-handed hitter is slashing .240/.406/760 with four home runs, nine RBI, nine runs scored, and five walks in 32 trips to the plate.

His latest home run was a walk-off piece that gave Greenville a 10-9 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones at Fluor Field on Sunday.

Among the top hitters in the High-A East (formerly the South Atlantic League), Reed ranks second in homers, 10th in RBI, 11th in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, and second in OPS (1.166).

The Mississippi native has also struck out in 25% of his plate appearances, which he has shown the tendency to do. But by getting on-base at a solid .406 clip, Reed has proven to be effective at the plate thus far, as evidenced by his early 207 wRC+.

“Power bat,” Red Sox vice president of pro scouting Gus Quattlebaum said of Reed this past December. “Big, physical right-handed hitting first baseman with big, big power that you see not only with the scout’s naked eye but also with the batted ball data. There’s a propensity from some strikeouts. We know he’s not immune to that. We really believe in the power potential. We’re really excited to bring him into the organization.”

Kaleb Ort, meanwhile, was selected by the Red Sox in the minor-league portion of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft after spending the previous four seasons as a member of the Yankees organization.

Unlike Reed, Ort was not drafted out of college and instead began his professional career in the Frontier League (independent) before signing as an undrafted free-agent with the Diamondbacks in 2016.

After being cut by Arizona the following spring, the Michigan native returned to the Frontier League before signing with New York in May 2017.

While with the Yankees, Ort appeared in a total of 90 games across five levels between 2017-2019 prior to getting scooped up by the Red Sox in December.

After receiving an invite to big-league camp in February, the 6-foot-4, 233 pound hurler opened the 2021 season at the Sox’ alternate training site and later Triple-A Worcester.

In six appearances out of the WooSox’ bullpen thus far, the 29-year-old has been lights out, as he has allowed just one unearned run on three hits and no walks to go along with nine strikeouts over six innings pitched. He has also converted four of a possible four save opportunities in the process of emerging as Worcester’s primary closer.

“Kaleb Ort is a guy who has really stood out to me, he took the closer role and ran with it,” WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott recently told MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison. “He’s come in and slammed the door without really any threat of a hiccup at all. He’s throwing strikes, aggressive, and he’s been impressive.”

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Ort works with a two-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s fastball that can top out at 98 mph and a slider.

That two-pitch mix has proven to be a potent combination for the righty reliever thus far, as he is holding opponents to a .150 batting average against while boasting a 40.9% strikeout rate, a 0.89 FIP, and a 2.20 xFIP.

What Ort has been doing in Worcester has caught the attention of Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who got to first know him earlier this year during spring training.

“He’s a good one,” Cora said before Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays . “His stuff plays. I really like what I saw. Velocity got better in spring training and he was throwing the ball well down there. He’s a guy we’re looking at, obviously, for the right reasons. We’re very excited with what he’s doing, what he did in spring training and what he can do, probably, in the future.”

With that, it sounds as though Ort could garner big-league consideration at some point this season if he continues to turn heads while closing out games for the WooSox.

Because the 2021 minor-league season is less than two full weeks old, it’s no sure thing that either one of Reed or Ort will be able to keep up with the level at which they are performing at at the moment.

Still, what these two Red Sox minor-league Rule 5 picks have done in their first month with their new organization has been eye-opening to say the least. If they can keep it up over the course of the summer will be something worth monitoring for sure.

(Picture of Kaleb Ort: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Katie Morrison, who covers the Worcester Red Sox for MassLive.com.

Among the topics Katie and I discussed were how she got into writing about baseball and her background in photojournalism, what she has made of brand-new Polar Park and the overall fan experience there, which Red Sox prospects (like Jarren Duran and Jeter Downs) and minor-leaguers (like Kaleb Ort) have stood out to her in Worcester so far, how she believes the 2021 WooSox will perform the rest of the season, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Katie for taking some time out of her busy schedule to have a conversation with me.

You can follow Katie on Twitter (@KatieMo61) by clicking here. You can check out her WooSox coverage for MassLive.com by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Polar Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)