Kutter Crawford makes Red Sox’ Opening Day roster

Kutter Crawford has made the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster, manager Alex Cora announced earlier Monday morning. The right-hander will be one of 15 pitchers Boston carries on its 28-man roster to begin the 2022 season and will be available out of the bullpen for Thursday’s opener against the Yankees in the Bronx.

Crawford, who turned 26 last week, was originally selected by the Sox in the 16th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Florida Gulf Coast University. The Florida native came into the year regarded by Baseball America as the No. 15 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking eighth among pitchers in the organization.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2019 and missing all of 2020 as a result, Crawford put himself on the map last season by throwing harder and limiting his walks.

While the Red Sox were navigating their way through a COVID-19 outbreak in September, Crawford was called up from Triple-A Worcester to start in place of Nick Pivetta on Sept. 5. His big-league debut did not go as planned (5 earned runs in 2 innings pitched), but the righty continued to make strides upon being returned to Worcester and was ultimately added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

On the heels of an off-season in which he posted a 0.42 ERA over five starts (21 1/3 innings pitched) for Estrellas Orientales of the Dominican Winter League, Crawford received his first invite to major-league camp and has impressed the Red Sox this spring.

In three Grapefruit League appearances out of the Sox’ bullpen, Crawford has pitched to the tune of a 2.25 ERA to go along with eight strikeouts to just one walk across four innings of work. In his most recent outing against the Pirates on March 29, Crawford struck out five over two scoreless frames while sitting between 95-97 mph with his four-seam fastball.

Cora has previously acknowledged that in terms of stuff, Crawford is one of the best pitchers the Red Sox have. To complement his high-octane fastball, the 6-foot-1, 209 pound hurler also works with a cutter, a curveball, a sinker, and a changeup.

Throughout his minor-league career, Crawford has primarily been used as a starter. The plan now, per Cora, is to use Crawford as a multi-inning reliever out of the bullpen beginning on Thursday.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Kutter Crawford in the mix for spot in Red Sox bullpen, Alex Cora says: ‘Stuff-wise, he’s one of the best that we have’

Although the Red Sox have optioned a number of their top prospects to the minor-leagues in recent days, Kutter Crawford remains at major-league camp and in the mix for an Opening Day bullpen spot, manager Alex Cora said Wednesday.

Crawford, who turns 26 on Friday, enters the 2022 season regarded by Baseball America as the No. 15 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks eighth among pitchers in the organization.

A former 16th-round draft pick out of Florida Gulf Coast University in 2017, Crawford made his major-league debut under unique circumstances with the Red Sox last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Nick Pivetta was scratched from his start against the Guardians on September 5, Crawford was called up and started in his place. The right-hander had a forgettable debut, allowing five runs in two-plus innings.

The Red Sox removed Crawford from their 40-man roster and returned him to Triple-A Worcester the following day. Since he was filling in for a player on the COVID-19 related injured list, though, they did not have to expose him to waivers.

After closing out his 2021 season with the WooSox, Crawford was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in November in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft, which wound up getting cancelled due to the lockout. He then spent part of his off-season pitching in the Dominican Winter League and posted a 0.42 ERA in five starts (21 1/3 innings pitched) for Estrellas Orientales.

Coming into the spring with his first invite to major-league camp in tow, Crawford has made the most of his time in Fort Myers thus far by pitching to the tune of a 2.25 ERA and striking out eight of the 16 batters he has faced over three Grapefruit League appearances.

In the Red Sox’ 6-2 loss to the Pirates in Bradenton on Tuesday, Crawford offered a glimpse of what could make him effective as a reliever at the big-league level. Over two scoreless innings of relief, the 25-year-old righty scattered just one hit and one walk while recording five strikeouts. Of the 38 pitches he threw, 24 went for strikes with his four-seam fastball hovering around 95-97 mph.

“He has good stuff,” Cora said. “He’s throwing 97 mph with a good cutter, good split. He’s in the mix.”

Crawford has primarily been a starter throughout his pro career; only one of his 67 appearances in the minors have been in relief. The Sox, however, believe Crawford can make the transition from starting rotation to the bullpen because of the arsenal he has.

“We’re trying to win ballgames, right?” said Cora. “And we’re going to try to take the best 28 [players] that fit the program right now. Let’s put it that way because, as you guys know, this isn’t the final product.”

With just over a week to go until Opening Day on April 7, Crawford still has some work to do before knowing if he will be traveling with the Red Sox to the Bronx or meeting up with the WooSox in Jacksonville for their first series of the season.

“We do believe that he’s good, really good,” Cora said. “Last year, that outing, he was ahead in the count 0-2 a lot of times and it just happened. But, stuff-wise, he’s one of the best that we have. So, we still have a week, he still has a few innings, and we’ll make decisions when we have to.”

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Nick Pivetta gives up 2 more home runs and Jake Diekman’s spring struggles continue as Red Sox fall to Pirates, 6-2

After a rare off day, the Red Sox returned to action in Bradenton on Tuesday and fell to the Pirates by a final score of 6-2 at LECOM Park. Boston is now 7-5 in Grapefruit League play.

Making his third start of the spring for the Sox was Nick Pivetta. In his penultimate outing before the regular season begins, the right-hander surrendered three runs — all of which were earned — on five hits and three walks to go along with five strikeouts over four-plus innings of work.

Two of the three runs Pivetta gave up on Tuesday came by way of the home run ball. After working a scoreless first inning, the 29-year-old served up a one-out solo shot to Hoy Park in the bottom of the second.

Two innings later, Pivetta ran into more trouble when he issued a pair of one-out walks to Greg Allen and Park. Veteran catcher Roberto Perez made him pay for that by ripping an RBI double to left field to score Allen and give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.

Daniel Vogelbach added on to that when he took Pivetta 377 feet deep to right field to lead things off in the fifth. Pivetta then walked Bryan Reynolds on six pitches, which is how is day would come to an end.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (50 strikes), Pivetta relied on his four-seam fastball 60% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday. The Canadian-born righty induced six swings-and-misses while topping out at 95.5 mph with the pitch.

In relief of Pivetta, Kaleb Ort got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen with no outs and one runner on in the latter half of the fifth. The non-roster invitee stranded the lone runner he inherited by getting Ben Gamel to ground into a force out at second and Yoshi Tsutsugo to fly into an inning-ending 7-6-4 double play.

From there, Jake Diekman was dispatched for the sixth, but the left-hander only saw his spring struggles continue. Diekman plunked the first batter he faced in Allen, yielded a one-out walk to Cole Tucker, then served up a blistering three-run home run to Kevin Newman.

That sequence increased Boston’s deficit to six runs. It also raised Diekman’s ERA this spring to an unsightly 22.63. The 35-year-old southpaw did manage to retire the side in the sixth before making way for Kutter Crawford, who fared far better.

In his two innings of relief, Crawford struck out five of the eight batters he faced while limiting the Pirates to just two base runners (one via a base hit and one via a walk) over that stretch. The 25-year-old hurler also hovered around 95-97 mph with his four-seamer, per Baseball Savant.

Crawford’s two impressive frames of work took things to the ninth inning. To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been stifled and kept off the scoreboard despite out-hitting the Pirates 8-7.

Down to their final three outs of the day and matched up against old friend Austin Brice, Nick Yorke drew a leadoff walk and Marcelo Mayer fanned on three pitches. That set the stage for versatile prospect Ceddanne Rafaela, who made the most of his playing time on Tuesday by crushing a two-run homer to the opposite field off of Brice.

Rafaela’s first home run of the spring made it a 6-2 game in favor of Pittsburgh, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

Christian Arroyo batted leadoff and got the start in right field. He went 1-for-3 with a walk before being pinch-ran for by Ceddanne Rafaela in the top of the seventh inning.

Alex Binelas, Triston Casas, Marcelo Mayer, and Nick Yorke all came off the bench on Tuesday and went a combined 0-for-3 with one walk, one strikeout, and one run scored.

Next up: Anderson vs. Houck

The Red Sox will return to Fort Myers on Wednesday afternoon to take on the Braves at JetBlue Park. As was the case the last time these two teams squared off in North Port, Tanner Houck is line to get the start for Boston while fellow right-hander Ian Anderson is slated to do the same for Atlanta.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be televised on NESN.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford tosses 3 strong innings in final Dominican Winter League start

Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford’s contract with Estrellas Orientales of the Dominican Winter League has expired, the club announced Wednesday morning.

Crawford, 25, made five starts for Estrellas, with his final outing coming against Tigres del Licey at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo on Tuesday night.

Over three innings of work, the right-hander yielded just one unearned run on three hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts on the night. He retired nine of the 15 batters he faced, worked around a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the second, and finished with a final pitch count of 65 — 37 of which went for strikes.

Estrellas topped Tigres by a final score of 3-2 to improve to 13-8 on the season.

In his five Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana starts, Crawford wound up posting a 0.42 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while recording 23 strikeouts and eight walks across 21 1/3 innings pitched.

As for why Crawford’s contract expired when the LIDOM regular season runs through December, SoxProspects.com’s executive editor Chris Hatfield suggests that the righty hit an innings limit set by the Red Sox on Tuesday.

The Red Sox added Crawford — as well as three other players — to their 40-man roster last Friday in order to protect them from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2019 and missing all of 2020 as a result, Crawford opened the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland and earned a promotion to Triple-A Worcester in late July.

In the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak in early September, the Red Sox selected Crawford’s contract from Worcester so that he could start in place of Nick Pivetta against the Guardians at Fenway Park on Sept. 5.

While he got shelled for five runs over two innings in his major-league debut, the Red Sox were still encouraged with what they saw from Crawford, who displayed a five-pitch mix that consisted of a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup.

Because he was added to Boston’s big-league roster for COVID-19-related purposes, the Sox were able to remove Crawford from the 40-man without exposing him to waivers, thus allowing him to close out the year in Worcester.

Now that he is back in the fold, Crawford, who turns 26 in April, figures to make his return to the majors at some point in 2022. Whether the former 2017 16th-round draft pick out of Florida Gulf Coast University makes his impact felt as a starter or reliever has yet to be determined.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Estrellas Orientales/Twitter)

Red Sox add Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, Jeter Downs, and Josh Winckowski to 40-man roster to protect them from Rule 5 Draft

The Red Sox have added four prospects to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, the club announced earlier Friday evening.

Right-handers Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford, and Josh Winckowski and infielder Jeter Downs were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster, which now increases from 33 to 37 players.

Clubs had until Friday at 6 p.m. eastern time to add eligible minor-leaguers to their respective 40-man rosters or otherwise risk losing them in the Rule 5 Draft, which usually takes place during the last day of the Winter Meetings in December.

By adding just the four names listed above, the Red Sox could now be faced with losing other notable prospects such as Thaddeus Ward, Durbin Feltman, Ceddane Rafaela, Frank German, Victor Santos, Kole Cottam, and Gilberto Jimenez in next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

Of the quartet of prospects the Sox did add, one made it as far as the major-leagues under unique circumstances, two made it as far as Triple-A Worcester, and one made it as far as Double-A Portland this past minor-league season.

Bello began the year in High-A Greenville’s starting rotation, but earned a promotion to Portland on June 8. In 15 starts for the Sea Dogs, the 22-year-old righty posted a 4.66 ERA and 3.12 FIP to go along with 87 strikeouts to 24 walks over 63 2/3 innings of work.

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for $28,000 in July 2017, Bello is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking first among pitchers in the organization. He was named the team’s minor-league Starting Pitcher of the Year in September.

Crawford, on the other hand, started out in Portland this spring as he was coming off Tommy John surgery that he underwent in October 2019. The 25-year-old ultimately earned a promotion to Worcester in late July, signaling that he was on the verge of a big-league call-up.

In the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak, the Red Sox called up Crawford from Worcester to fill in for Nick Pivetta against the Guardians on Sept. 5 at Fenway Park.

He allowed five earned runs in two innings and was promptly returned to the WooSox the following day, but Boston was able to remove the former 16th-round draft pick from their 40-man roster since he was a COVID-19 replacement.

Since the minor-league season ended last month, Crawford has been dominating in the Dominican Winter League. In four starts for Estrellas Orientales, he has allowed just two runs (one earned) on 12 hits, six walks, and 18 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 0.49.

Winckowski, meanwhile, was one of five players the Red Sox acquired in the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals back in February.

Like Crawford, Winckowski began the 2021 campaign with the Sea Dogs and pitched to the tune of a 4.14 ERA and 4.02 FIP over 21 appearances (20 starts) and exactly 100 innings before getting promoted to Worcester in late September.

In his brief stint with the WooSox that spanned two starts, the 23-year-old produced a 2.25 ERA and 3.28 FIP while recording 13 strikeouts and three walks in 12 innings pitched. He worked strictly as a reliever in the Arizona Fall League and is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 9 prospect in Boston’s farm system heading into 2022 season.

As for Downs, the move for Boston to add him to the 40-man roster comes at no surprise considering he was the top prospect acquired from the Dodgers in the infamous trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles last year.

After the minor-league season was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Downs began 2021 with the WooSox and stuck their throughout the year while slashing .190/.272/.333 with nine doubles, 14 home runs, 39 RBIs, 39 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 131 strikeouts over 99 games spanning 405 trips to the plate.

Despite the difficulties Downs encountered in his first exposure to Triple-A pitching, there was never really any doubt when it came to the Red Sox adding the talented 23-year-old infielder to their 40-man roster.

Capable of playing both middle infield positions, Downs, like Bello, represented the Sox in this summer’s All-Star Futures Game in Denver. He also enjoyed some success in the Arizona Fall League these last few weeks — as evidenced by his .880 OPS for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Downs, who does not turn 24 until next July, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 6 prospect in the Red Sox farm system.

(Picture of Brayan Bello: Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford impressive in first Dominican Winter League start

It may be the offseason for some, but Red Sox pitching prospect Kutter Crawford saw his first in-game action in nearly a month on Thursday night.

Crawford started for Las Estrellas Orientales as they went up against Tigres del Licey in their second game of the Dominican Republic Professional Baseball League at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo.

Over four impressive innings of work, Crawford kept the Tigres off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and one walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on 55 pitches — 34 of which were strikes.

After retiring each of the first five batters he faced, Crawford issued a two-out single to Dawel Lugo in the bottom half of the second that saw his no-hit bid come to an end. He then stranded Lugo by getting Mets prospect Ronny Mauricio to pop out to second base.

A one-out walk of Diamondbacks minor-leaguer Nick Heath in the third put another base runner on for Tigres, but Crawford again responded by sitting down each of the final five hitters he faced in order going into the top of the fifth inning.

While Estrellas ultimately fell to Tigres by a final score of 9-1 on Thursday, Crawford was certainly solid in what may have very well been his first outing outside of the United States.

The 25-year-old right-hander is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking 11th among pitchers in the organization.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, Crawford was originally selected by the Red Sox in the 16th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Florida Gulf Coast University.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2019 and missing all of 2020 while recovering from it and an additional procedure on his right elbow, the Florida native opened the 2021 season with Double-A Portland.

In 10 starts for the Sea Dogs, Crawford posted a 3.30 ERA and 2.80 xFIP to go along with 64 strikeouts to just five walks over 46 1/3 innings pitched before earning a promotion to Triple-A Worcester in late July.

Less than two months into his stint with the WooSox, Crawford had his contract selected by the Red Sox on September 5 while the big-league club navigated its way through a COVID-19 outbreak.

On that same day, Crawford made his first career major-league start against the Indians at Fenway Park, allowing five runs — all of which were earned — on five hits, two walks, and two strikeouts over two-plus innings in an eventual loss.

The Red Sox promptly optioned Crawford back down to Worcester the following day, and the righty closed out the season having put up a 5.21 ERA (but much more respectable 3.73 xFIP) and 67:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 10 appearances (nine starts) spanning 48 1/3 innings pitched at the Triple-A level.

On Sept. 21, Crawford was recognized as the team’s Lou Gorman Award recipient, which is given to a Red Sox minor-leaguer “who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the major-league team.”

As of the offseason progresses, it should be kept in mind that Crawford is one of several Red Sox minor-leaguers who can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter if they are not added to Boston’s 40-man roster by a certain date: November 20.

Crawford previously spent time on the Sox’ 40-man roster earlier this summer, but only for COVID-19-related purposes as he was removed from the 40-man without having to be exposed to waivers.

This time around, however, the Red Sox could risk losing Crawford via this December’s Rule 5 Draft if they choose not to protect him by adding the hurler to their 40-man roster.

When speaking with The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey recently, Red Sox director of player development Brian Abraham seemed confident that Crawford would remain in the organization heading into major-league spring training next year. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Estrellas Orientales/Twitter)

Red Sox top prospects Nick Yorke, Brayan Bello named organization’s Offensive Player, Starting Pitcher of the Year

Two of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system were recognized for the seasons they respectively put together this year.

Infielder Nick Yorke was named Boston’s Offensive Player of the Year, while right-hander Brayan Bello was named Boston’s Starting Pitcher of the Year, the club announced on Tuesday.

Yorke, 19, enjoyed a great deal of success in his first professional season with the Sox after being selected with the 17th overall pick in last summer’s amateur draft.

The right-handed hitting second baseman received an invite to major-league spring training earlier this year and broke minor-league camp with Low-A Salem.

After getting off to a slow start with Salem, Yorke turned a corner at the plate beginning in June, as he was slashing a scorching .323/.413/.500 (146 wRC+) with 14 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs, 47 RBI, 59 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 41 walks, and 47 strikeouts over 76 games (346 plate appearances) before earning a promotion to High-A Greenville late last month.

Upon getting promoted to a more advanced level on the minor-league ladder, Yorke did not slow down, as evidenced by him collecting two hits in his Greenville debut on August 24.

From there, the California native went on to hit .333/.406/.571 (158 wRC+) with six doubles, one triple, four homers, 15 RBI, 17 runs scored, two stolen bases, 11 walks, and 22 strikeouts across 21 games (96 plate appearances) with the Drive, whose season ended on Sunday.

All in all, Yorke this season ranked first among all qualified Red Sox minor-league hitters in batting average (.325), fourth in on-base percentage (.412), third in slugging percentage (.516), first in OPS (.928), second in wRC+ (158), per FanGraphs.

Yorke, who does not turn 20 until next April, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fifth among position players in the organization.

As for Bello, the 22-year-old right-hander also earned a midseason promotion over the summer after originally beginning the year — and dominating — with Greenville.

Across six starts with the Drive, Bello posted a dazzling 2.27 ERA and 2.82 FIP to go along with 45 strikeouts to seven walks over 31 2/3 innings of work before moving up to Double-A Portland in early June.

While the transition from High-A to Double-A did not go entirely smoothly for Bello, he was one of two prospects to represent the Red Sox in July’s All-Star Futures Game at Coors Field.

From the time he was promoted to Portland through the end of the minor-league season, the Dominican-born righty put up a 4.66 ERA, but much more respectable 3.12 FIP, while striking out 31.1% of the batters he faced and walking just 8.6% of them over 15 starts spanning 63 2/3 innings of work with the Sea Dogs.

Among the eight Red Sox minor-league pitchers who accrued at least 90 innings this season, Bello ranked first in strikeouts per nine innings (12.46), first in strikeout rate (32.8%), first in FIP (3.02), and first in xFIP (3.16), per FanGraphs.

Bello, who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, is the No. 6 prospect in Boston’s farm system, according to Baseball America.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Bello throws from a mid-three-quarters arm slot and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a fastball, a changeup, and a slider.

Despite the fact he does not turn 23 until next May, Bello will more than likely be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline since he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time this winter.

In addition to Yorke being named the Red Sox’ Offensive Player of the Year and Bello being named the Starting Pitcher of the Year, infielder/outfielder Ceddanne Rafaela was named the Defensive Player of the Year, right-hander Durbin Feltman was named the Relief Pitcher of the Year, infielder Christian Koss was named the Baserunner of the Year, outfielder Allan Castro was named the Latin Program Position Player of the Year, and right-hander Jedixson Paez was named the Latin Program Pitcher of the Year.

On top of that, right-hander Kutter Crawford — who made his major-league debut earlier this month — was named the recipient of the Lou Gorman Award, which goes to a player “who has demonstrated dedication and perseverance in overcoming obstacles while working his way to the major-league team.”

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

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)

Red Sox roster moves: José Iglesias signed, Josh Taylor activated, Michael Feliz selected from Triple-A Worcester

In addition to signing veteran shortstop Jose Iglesias to a major-league deal, the Red Sox made yet another flurry of roster moves ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Rays at Fenway Park.

First off, left-hander Josh Taylor was reinstated from the COVID-19 related injured list, while right-hander Michael Feliz had his contract selected from Triple-A Worcester and was added to the major-league roster.

Secondly, righty Kutter Crawford was returned to Worcester following Sunday’s 11-5 loss to the Indians, while fellow right-hander John Schreiber and infielder Jack Lopez were also returned to Worcester.

The Red Sox made all of these transactions official earlier Monday afternoon.

Taylor, who was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list last Tuesday after being identified as a close contact of Matt Barnes’ while the team was in Tampa Bay, re-joins the Sox after a six-day hiatus.

The 28-year-old became the fifth of 11 players Boston has had to place on the COVID IL since their outbreak began last Friday, but he becomes the first of that group to be activated off it — with Enrique Hernandez likely to follow.

Joining Taylor in the Red Sox bullpen will be Feliz, who initially signed a minor-league pact with Boston on August 28 after being released by the Reds.

Prior to getting designated for assignment by Cincinnati in late August, Feliz had appeared in a total of 16 games between the Pirates and Reds this season, posting an 8.79 ERA and 3.65 FIP to go along with 17 strikeouts to five walks over 14 1/3 innings of relief.

A native of the Dominican Republic, the 28-year-old originally signed with the Astros as an international free agent in 2010. He made his major-league debut for Houston in 2015, appeared in 46 games while Red Sox manager Alex Cora served as Astros bench coach in 2017, and was part of the trade that sent Gerrit Cole from Pittsburgh to the Lone Star State in 2018.

Per Baseball Savant, Feliz — listed at a stout 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds — operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, slider, and changeup.

With the additions of Taylor and Feliz, Crawford and Schreiber — both of whom made their Red Sox debuts on Sunday, were returned to Worcester. Lopez, too, was returned to accommodate the signing of Iglesias.

Because all three of Crawford, Schreiber, and Lopez were called up as COVID-19 replacements, the Sox were able to take the trio off their 40-man roster without exposing them to waivers.

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

After weekend of uncertainty, Kutter Crawford makes major-league debut for Red Sox

Kutter Crawford had been in line to make his regularly scheduled start for Triple-A Worcester on Friday while the team was in Rochester, N.Y.

Rather than have him pitch, though, the Red Sox scratched Crawford from his start with Worcester so that he could join the big-league club in Boston in the event that they would need a starter while navigating through a COVID-19 outbreak.

The 25-year-old was to fly from Rochester to Boston on Friday night, but that required a layover in Charlotte. His connecting flight was scheduled to depart from Charlotte Douglas International Airport and head towards Logan International Airport at around 10:30 p.m. eastern time. It did not leave until the wee hours of Saturday morning.

“My connecting flight in Charlotte was supposed to leave at 10:30 (p.m.) and it didn’t leave until 1:45, 2 o’clock in the morning,” Crawford said earlier Sunday evening.

Crawford did not arrive in Boston until around 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning. At that time, he was told by the Red Sox to remain on standby without being given a specific date as to when his name could be called.

Later that night, the Sox found out that Nick Pivetta, who was slated to start Sunday’s series finale against the Indians, was going to need to be placed on the COVID-19 related injured list, meaning a spot in their starting rotation had just opened up.

“I got in at 4:30 yesterday morning,” Crawford said. “Kind of uncertain what the plan was with all the COVID stuff. I was told to be on standby, and after [Saturday night’s] game I was notified that I’d be starting today.”

Able to have some friends and family in attendance at Fenway Park on Sunday, Crawford’s major-league debut did not go according to plan, as the right-hander allowed five runs — all of which were earned — on five hits, two walks, and two strikeouts over two-plus innings of work and took the loss in an 11-5 defeat at the hands of the Indians.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t go as I wanted it to,” he said in regards to his first big-league start. “But, we live and we learn and we’re going to make adjustments to keep moving forward.”

While the box score may suggest otherwise, there were positive developments from Crawford’s outing. Of the 57 pitches he threw, 40 — or 70% of them — went for strikes.

He also induced nine total swings-and-misses while topping out at 96 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 26 times.

Crawford’s 57th and final pitch was ball four to Bobby Bradley, putting a runner on first base with no outs in the third inning of a 4-0 game and subsequently prompting Red Sox manager Alex Cora to hand things over to his bullpen.

Before officially taking the ball out of Crawford’s hands, though, Cora took the time to offer the rookie right-hander some “words of encouragement” as his first start in the majors came to an end.

“I wanted him to take a deep breath and enjoy the situation,” Cora said. “It’s Fenway Park on a Sunday afternoon. There’s nothing better than that. There’s only one MLB debut. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a good one or you struggle. It’s something you still dream about as a kid. And I wanted him to take a deep breath, look around, see the whole thing — because he probably didn’t do that before the game or during the game.”

Cora understands that Crawford himself may be disappointed with his own performance on the mound, but given the circumstances, he should still hold his head high.

“Obviously there were a lot of two-out hits but he filled up the strike zone with good stuff,” said Cora. “It’s not easy to come into a situation like this and maneuver a big-league lineup.”

Crawford, who was selected by the Red Sox in the 16th round of the 2017 amateur draft, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 22 prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Before Sunday, the 6-foot-1, 209 pound hurler had made just six appearances (five starts) above the Double-A level after earning a promotion to Worcester earlier this simmer.

On short notice, and in his first in-game action since August 27, Crawford did not let the moment get to him, as he felt as though he was able to keep his emotions in check while working through the obvious nerves and anxieties that come with a major-league debut.

“I just didn’t execute some pitches when I needed to,” Crawford said. “I felt like I had pretty good control of my emotions. I didn’t feel like I got out of hand with some unfortunate hits and obviously giving up that home run to [Franmil] Reyes. But I felt like I had pretty good control of everything, I just didn’t execute pitches like I needed to, and they got me.”

Results aside, Cora seemed please with what he saw from Crawford on Sunday, as he praised the righty not only for his pitch arsenal, but for his demeanor as well.

“I can see it,” Cora said. “Stuff-wise, he’s really good. Like I told him on the mound, he’s a big-leaguer.”

As of now, it’s not particularly clear when Crawford will pitch again, though it seems likely that he would be returned to the WooSox once Pivetta can be activated from the COVID IL.

That being said Crawford can become eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time this winter, so the Red Sox would need to permanently add the righty to their 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline in order to protect him from that, thus ensuring he remains in the organization moving forward.

“With time I know he will contribute,” Cora said of Crawford. “He’ll be part of this.”

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)