Alex Verdugo out of Red Sox lineup for second straight night due to back tightness; outfielder expected back for Thursday’s finale against Astros

As they look to even their three-game series with the Astros at Fenway Park on Wednesday, the Red Sox will be without Alex Verdugo for a second straight night.

Verdugo has been dealing with back tightness the last few days, per Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The hope is that the outfielder will be ready to return for Thursday’s contest against Houston.

“He’s a little banged up,” Cora said of Verdugo when speaking with reporters prior to Wednesday’s game. “His back — he was tight on Sunday. Played on Monday. We decided to give him yesterday off. I talked to him yesterday during the game, and he felt like one more game will benefit him.

“So we’ll give him one more day,” added Cora. “He should be ready for tomorrow.”

Verdugo dealt with tightness in his back in early May as well, but only missed one game because of it.

The 25-year-old is hitting a sturdy .292/.351/.469 to go along with eight home runs, 11 doubles, one triple, 26 RBI, 36 runs scored, 18 walks, and 28 strikeouts over 56 games played so far this season.

With Verdugo out of the lineup, J.D. Martinez gets the start in left field and bats third, Enrique Hernandez gets the start in center field and bats ninth, and Hunter Renfroe gets the start in right field and bats fifth.

Danny Santana will hit leadoff and start at first base against Astros’ right-handed starter Jake Odorizzi. Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Santana.

Houston-area native Nathan Eovaldi will make his 13th start of the season for Boston. The veteran righty comes into play Wednesday sporting a 3.78 ERA and 2.40 FIP through 66 2/3 innings pitched on the year.

First pitch between the 34-26 Astros and 37-24 Red Sox on Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez held out of Red Sox lineup for second straight day due to sore left wrist; X-rays on slugger’s wrist did come back negative

The Red Sox will be without J.D. Martinez once again as they go for a three-game sweep over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night.

Martinez, who jammed his left wrist while sliding into second base in Friday’s game against New York, is out for the second straight day after he was scratched from Saturday’s starting lineup on account of the soreness he was experiencing.

X-rays on the slugger’s left wrist came back negative, so both sides are hopeful one or two more days of rest will do the trick and a stint on the injured list can be avoided.

“We’re going to stay away from him today,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said before Sunday’s game. “A little bit sore. Not as sore as yesterday. … I think one more day will benefit him. Maybe two. I do believe with treatment and all that he should be OK in the upcoming days

“We feel he’s progressing,” added Cora. “It’s just us thinking ahead and not pushing him so hard. I do believe if this game was probably later on in this season, he’ll find a way to go out there and compete.”

Martinez has been one of the Red Sox’ most productive hitters this season. The 33-year-old came into play Sunday slashing .321/.389/.569 with 12 home runs and 39 RBI over 54 games played thus far.

In Martinez’s place, the Sox will turn to Danny Santana to serve as designated hitter in Sunday’s series finale. The versatile switch-hitter will also bat out of the leadoff spot.

Here is how of the rest of the Red Sox will lineup behind Santana, with right-hander Garrett Richards making his 12th start of the season for Boston.

Fellow righty Domingo German gets the starting nod for New York.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. eastern time on ESPN.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox lineup: Kiké Hernández dropped down to seventh for Game 2 against Yankees, J.D. Martinez scratched due to sore left wrist

For the first time this season, Kiké Hernández will not be batting leadoff for the Red Sox while still being in the starting lineup.

Hernández has been dropped down to the seven-hole and will start in center field for Saturday night’s game against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The switch-hitting Danny Santana will start at designated hitter and bat leadoff in Hernández’s place.

“Danny’s swinging the bat well, though he’s not getting on base,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of his lineup decision. “He hit a ball hard in Houston. He hit a ball hard yesterday. He brings speed to the equation. Just felt like today, with this matchup, it was good to put Danny there. Hopefully we can exploit a few things from their starter and be more aggressive on the base paths.”

J.D. Martinez was originally going to DH and bat third, but has since been scratched from the lineup due to a sore left wrist that he jammed on a slide into second base on Friday night. The slugger will be available to pinch hit later in the game if needed, per Cora.

Coming into play Saturday, Hernández is carrying with him a .228/.284/.383 slash line to go along with eight doubles, one triple, five home runs, 12 RBI, 26 runs scored, one stolen base, 11 walks, and 38 strikeouts through his first 43 games of the season. This includes four pinch-hit appearances in which he replaced the No. 2, No. 8, and No. 9 hitters.

After missing nearly two weeks with a right hamstring strain and being activated from the injured list on May 17, the 29-year-old initially got off to a hot start with hits in four of his first six games back in action.

Since the Red Sox left Philadelphia, though, Hernández has cooled off significantly as he is currently in the midst of a 1-for-25 (.040) skid over his last seven games played dating back to May 25. He did not play in Thursday’s game against the Astros or Friday’s game against the Yankees.

What is surprising about the right-handed hitter’s recent struggles is that he has still proven to be effective when leading off a game (.289/.308/.395 in 39 plate appearances) or an inning (.275/.315/.522 in 73 plate appearances).

Still, the rather low on-base percentage Hernández has put up to this point without a doubt sticks out here.

Among 27 big-league leadoff hitters who have accrued at least 100 plate appearances thus far, Hernández ranks 20th in walk percentage (6.5%), ninth in strikeout percentage (20.8%), 25th in on-base percentage (.298), 21st in OPS (.700), 23rd in weighted on-base average (.305), and 23rd in wRC+ (91), per FanGraphs.

Prior to joining the Red Sox on a two-year, $14 million deal over the winter, the native of Puerto Rico batted out of the seven-hole in a grand total of 126 games between the Astros, Marlins, and Dodgers from 2014-2020.

In those 126 games, Hernández hit .200/.287/.335 with 16 homers and 48 RBI over 443 total plate appearances.

“Sometimes you got to breath,” Cora said of dropping Hernández down in the lineup. “Hitting him seventh, he’ll probably see the pitcher for one inning where he can see it from a different perspective and get feedback from the other hitters, and he can get going.”

Saturday’s contest in the Bronx will mark just Hernández’s third career game at Yankee Stadium, and his first since September 2016 when he was with the Dodgers.

Santana, meanwhile, will be batting leadoff for the third game in a row and the fourth time this season overall. The versatile 30-year-old is slashing .125/.222/.375 with two home runs and three RBI over his first 11 games as a member of the Red Sox.

What is Cora looking for out of the leadoff spot moving forward?

“We want somebody that can get on base,” he said. “Or somebody that can drive the ball. We want to set the tempo, and right now — we had that through stretches — but we haven’t been consistent.”

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up alongside Santana, Hernández, and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who will be looking to bounce back from a rough month of May in his first start of June.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon will be getting the start for the Yankees. A handful of Red Sox hitters have faced him before, including Santana and Hunter Renfroe.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. eastern time on FOX.

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Red Sox lineup: Michael Chavis batting leadoff in first start of season against Orioles

Fresh off getting recalled from Triple-A Worcester on Friday, Michael Chavis will bat leadoff for the Red Sox in his first start of the 2021 season against the Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday.

The Sox called up Chavis, who was on the team’s taxi squad, from the WooSox after placing utilityman Enrique Hernandez on the 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

Chavis will get the start at second base while hitting out of the leadoff spot for Boston, marking just the fifth time in his big-league career he has done so.

In four previous attempts — all of which came during his rookie season in 2019 — the 25-year-old went a collective 5-for-18 (.278) to go along with two home runs, five RBI, one walk, and four strikeouts over 19 plate appearances. He led off each of those games without a hit and is also a lifetime .202/.276/.356 hitter when leading off an inning, though he has crushed four solo homers when put in that spot.

Up with the Red Sox for the second time this season now, Chavis has a chance to once again prove that he belongs.

The former first-round pick and top prospect had put together an impressive spring, but ultimately lost the competition for Boston’s final bench spot to Christian Arroyo, who unlike Chavis is out of minor-league options.

“He did a good job in spring training early on,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about Chavis Friday. “I do believe toward the end because of the competition, he started chasing hits and he got out of his approach.”

Since making his major-league debut in April 2019, Chavis has experienced many highs and many lows in his time with the Sox.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Chavis batted 296 with a .389 on-base percentage, .592 slugging percentage, .981 OPS, nine home runs, two doubles, 24 RBI, 14 walks and 30 strikeouts over his first 26 big-league games and 119 plate appearances.

Since then, he has batted a subpar .228 with a .281 on-base percentage, .382 slugging percentage, 14 homers, 13 doubles, three triples, 53 RBI, 25 walks and 147 strikeouts over his last 111 big-league games (427 plate appearances).

“We know what he can do. I saw it in ‘19,” said Cora. “Obviously the league caught up with him. I do believe he did a good job in spring training knowing the boundaries of his swing. And hopefully, when he gets a chance here, he can do it.”

As Chavis prepares to make his first major-league start of the 2021 season against the O’s (15-17) on Saturday, here is how the rest of the Red Sox (20-13) will line up behind him.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be on the mound for Boston, and he will be opposed by rookie left-hander Zac Lowther for Baltimore.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Red Sox injuries: Alex Verdugo scratched from Wednesday’s lineup due to tight back, Christian Arroyo removed after being hit in hand by pitch

The Red Sox were dealt a minor blow before and during their 6-5, extra-innings loss to the Tigers Wednesday night.

Outfielder Alex Verdugo was originally penciled in to bat second and start in center field for Boston in the middle game of this three-game series at Fenway Park.

At approximately 4:03 p.m. eastern time, MLB.com’s Ian Browne tweeted that Verdugo had been scratched from the Sox’ lineup “due to a back issue.”

Less than a half hour later, the Red Sox officially announced that Verdugo was taken out of the lineup as a precaution due to “lower back tightness” and that “he was prepared to play but the [team was] being careful.”

When asked what into the decision to keep the 24-year-old out his lineup on Wednesday, Sox manager Alex Cora provided some clarity during his postgame media availability.

“Tight back,” Cora said in regards to what was ailing Verdugo. “He came into the office, he didn’t feel right. So I decided to stay away from him today. Hopefully, he can feel better tomorrow.”

The fact that Verdugo had to be scratched from the lineup resulted in Enrique Hernandez moving from second base to center field and Christian Arroyo, who was not originally slated to start, getting the start at second base.

In the sixth inning of Wednesday’s contest, Arroyo was drilled in the left hand by a 91 mph pitch from Tigers starter Casey Mize. The 25-year-old was able to take his base, but he was removed after the seventh inning on account of the pain he was experiencing.

Later diagnosed with a left hand contusion, X-rays on Arroyo’s injured hand came back negative.

It was only last Sunday that the infielder took a 94 mph pitch off that very same left hand in the first inning of a game against the Mariners that would force him to miss two games.

“I don’t think he’ll play tomorrow,” Cora said of Arroyo. “He got hit in the same hand as he did last week. It’s pretty sore. X-rays were negative. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow when he comes in but we’ll stay away from him.”

With an already short bench, Arroyo going down Wednesday forced the Red Sox to move Christian Vazquez from behind the plate to second base while Kevin Plawecki took over catching duties.

Even with Arroyo already being ruled out for Thursday’s series finale and Verdugo’s status up in the air, it’s not unreasonable to think the Sox could call up a position player from Triple-A Worcester for the matinee against Detroit.

Cora ruled that possibility out, though, and instead suggested that the club could make some roster moves ahead of their four-game series against the Orioles in Baltimore this weekend.

“I think we should be okay tomorrow, if (Verdugo) plays or not,” said the Sox skipper. “We’re going to have to talk about, after tomorrow, seeing where we’re at physically and making decisions based on that.”

Before claiming reliever Brandon Brennan off waivers from the Mariners and placing Ryan Brasier on the 60-day injured list on Monday, the Red Sox had not made a 40-man roster-related transaction since April 18, when Tanner Houck was appointed as the 27th man for a doubleheader against the White Sox.

Additionally, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes that Michael Chavis would be “the obvious candidate” to receive a call up from Worcester since Jonathan Arauz and Marcus Wilson are the only other WooSox position players on Boston’s 40-man roster.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers returns to Red Sox lineup for Wednesday’s game against Tigers; Alex Verdugo scratched due to lower back tightness

UPDATE: Per the Red Sox, Alex Verdugo was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup due to lower back tightness. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo adds that “Verdugo was prepared to play but the Red Sox removed him from the lineup as a precaution.”

After a day off on Tuesday, Rafael Devers returns to the Red Sox lineup for the second of a three-game series against the Tigers at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Devers was left out of Tuesday’s lineup due to a sore right shoulder that he aggravated in Texas over the weekend.

During his pregame media availability Tuesday afternoon, Red Sox manager Alex Cora did not seem all that concerned that Devers would miss a prolonged period of time after the 24-year-old received some treatment on his shoulder during the team’s off day on Monday.

He echoed that same sort of sentiment once again when speaking with reporters on Wednesday.

“Raffy, he was OK to play yesterday,” Cora said. “But why push him? We give him two days off.”

Devers will make his 28th start of the season at third base for Boston while batting out of the two-hole in Wednesday’s contest against Detroit.

The left-handed hitter is currently slashing .283/.368/.566 with seven home runs and 21 RBI through 114 plate appearances so far this year.

The Red Sox will be opposed by rookie right-hander Casey Mize for the Tigers.

Mize, who was selected by Detroit with the first overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft out of Auburn, comes into play Wednesday sporting a career 6.05 ERA over 12 starts (55 innings pitched) since making his major-league debut last August.

The 24-year-old hurler will be matched up against veteran left-hander Martin Perez, who will be making his sixth start of the season for Boston after lowering his ERA on the year to 4.70 in his last time out against the Rangers.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez for the middle game of this three-game set. Verdugo was initially slated to bat second, but he has since been scratched due to a back issue, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

Of these nine hitters, Marwin Gonzalez is the only one who has faced Mize before. The switch-hitter is 1-for-2 with a walk, HBP, and strikeout against the Tigers starter.

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. The Red Sox will be looking to improve to 19-12 on the season.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Brandon Wade/Getty Images)

Rafael Devers out of Red Sox’ lineup for Tuesday’s game against Tigers due to sore shoulder

As the Red Sox prepare to open up a three-game set against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, they will be without third baseman Rafael Devers for the series opener.

The reason for Devers being out is due to what transpired in Texas over the weekend.

In the ninth inning of Saturday’s 8-6 loss to the Rangers, the 24-year-old took a violent swing at a 93 mph fastball from Ian Kennedy, but came up empty and immediately appeared to be in pain after dropping his bat and indicating to Red Sox manager Alex Cora and a team trainer that he had done something to his right shoulder.

Devers was able to remain in the game and finish his at-bat, and he even played the entirety of Sunday’s contest as well, though there was a moment in the third inning where you could tell he was still experiencing some discomfort.

After fielding a grounder off the bat of Jonah Heim, Devers made a relatively routine throw to first to record the first out of the third. Upon making the play, however, he could be seen briefly stretching and massaging that same right shoulder.

Devers finished Sunday’s contest by going 0-for-3 at the plate with a walk and strikeout.

He was one of a handful of Red Sox players who went to Fenway during the team’s off day on Monday to receive treatment on his shoulder. The decision was later made that a second straight day of rest would de most beneficial for the young infielder.

“We’re going to give him one more day,” Cora said on Tuesday when asked why Devers was not in his starting lineup. “He came in for treatment yesterday for his shoulder, but felt like one more day was going to benefit him. So he’s not starting today.

Devers, who came into the week having played in 27 of Boston’s first 29 games this season, is currently slashing .283/.368/.566 with seven home runs and 21 RBI over 114 plate appearances.

Marwin Gonzalez will be making his third start of the year at third base in Devers’ place.

Here is how the rest of the 17-12 Red Sox will be lining up behind right-hander Nick Pivetta for Tuesday’s game against fellow righty Michael Fulmer and the 8-21 Tigers.

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

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Aric Becker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo (hamstring) returns to Red Sox lineup for finale against Jacob deGrom, Mets

After not starting each of his team’s last two games, Alex Verdugo is back in the Red Sox’ lineup for their series finale against the Mets at Citi Field on Wednesday night.

The 24-year-old gets the start in right field — alongside center fielder Kiké Hernández and left fielder J.D. Martinez — and will bat out of the two-hole, per usual.

Despite not starting Sunday’s game against the Mariners or Tuesday’s contest against the Mets, Verdugo was used as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning of Boston’s 2-1 win over New York.

Verdugo’s brief absence stems from a hamstring cramp he suffered in the fourth inning of Saturday’s loss to Seattle at Fenway Park.

On a line drive off the bat of Sam Haggerty, Verdugo ran in from center field to catch the ball on what looked like a pretty routine play.

Upon catching the ball, though, the young outfielder appeared to be in some discomfort as he gripped the back of his left leg while going back to his position.

He was able to finish Sunday’s game — and even went 2-for-4 with a double — but had not been able to return to Boston’s starting lineup until Wednesday.

“It was actually a very weird play,” Verdugo recalled over the weekend. “Just shuffled my feet, felt something grab a little bit, and just had to make sure that I kept that in mind and loosened it up throughout the game. But no problem.”

The Red Sox will be matched up against an extremely tough opponent in Verdugo’s return to the lineup in the form of Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom.

Through four starts this season, the two-time Cy Young Award winner has posted a miniscule 0.31 ERA and .426 OPS against to go along with a 50:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 29 innings pitched.

In three career starts against the Red Sox, deGrom owns a lifetime 3.32 ERA and .513 OPS against over 19 total innings of work. His most recent start against Boston came last July, an outing in which he yielded two runs over six innings in a game the Mets lost by a final score of 6-5.

Verdugo, meanwhile, has faced off against deGrom six times before in his young career and is 0-for-6 against him.

On the 2021 campaign as a whole, the left-handed hitter comes into play Wednesday sporting a .325/.371/.538 slash line to go along with three home runs and 13 RBI through 22 games and 89 plate appearances.

Here is how the rest of the 15-9 Red Sox will be lining up against deGrom and the 9-9 Mets:

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Red Sox Lineup: Going up Against Nationals Ace Max Scherzer on Jackie Robinson Day

After deciding to postpone Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin, the Red Sox will open up a 10-game homestand and three-game weekend series against the Nationals on Friday.

Left-hander Martin Perez will be making his seventh start of the season for Boston, and he’ll be opposed by vaunted right-hander Max Scherzer for Washington.

Perez is coming off his best outing of the year in which he held the Orioles to one run on five hits, one walk, and six strikeouts over seven strong innings of work last Saturday.

More significantly, the Venezuelan southpaw topped out at 95 mph with his four-seam fastball. He credits that increase in velocity to a revamped weight-lifting routine.

In two lifetime starts against the defending World Series champion Nationals, Perez owns a career 6.30 ERA and .841 OPS against over 10 total innings pitched.

Scherzer, meanwhile, has not been at his best so far this season even though the Nationals are 4-2 in his six starts.

Through his first six outings of 2020, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has posted a 4.31 ERA and 3.76 FIP over 31 1/3 frames of work.

Despite those somewhat surprising numbers, Scherzer does have a strong track record at Fenway Park, as the 36-year-old hurler owns a lifetime 3.13 ERA and .711 OPS against in five prior outings and 31 2/3 innings pitched in Boston.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Perez and against Scherzer to begin things on Jackie Robinson Day:

Among the nine hitters that make up this lineup we have grown accustomed to seeing, J.D. Martinez and Kevin Pillar have taken Scherzer deep twice before in their careers, while Mitch Moreland has one career homer off the Nats ace.

Also worth noting here is the fact that Alex Verdugo has two hits in three career at-bats while facing off against Scherzer, which is somewhat prevalent considering the 24-year-old is leading off for Boston in this one.

First pitch Friday, which again is Jackie Robinson Day, between the previous two World Series champions is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for win No. 11 in game No. 32.

Red Sox Lineup: Michael Chavis Batting Ninth, Starting at Second Base in Second of Three Against Blue Jays in Buffalo

For the first time since last June, Michael Chavis is batting out of the nine-hole for the Red Sox in Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays in Buffalo.

The 25-year-old will be starting at second base as he enters the week on a bit of a cold streak. Since going 2-for-2 off the bench on August 13, he is 2-for-his-last-20 at the plate with two RBI, one walk, and 12 strikeouts.

Per FanGraphs, Chavis has struck out nearly 43% of the time this season, which is the highest rate in the American League among hitters with at least 60 plate appearances thus far.

Most recently, the Georgia native fanned thrice against the Orioles on Sunday, which came five days after he fanned five times in five trips to the plate against the Phillies last Tuesday.

“You have one of those games where everything goes wrong and you can’t let it wipe out all the hard work and the point you got to recently,” Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said in regards to Chavis last week. “Because I think he has been swinging the bat a lot better… You’ve got to be able to forget some things. It’s a very humbling game.”

In those three games (two starts) out of the nine-hole last season, Chavis accrued nine plate appearances in that spot and showed signs of success, slashing .375/.444/.625 with two doubles, one walk, and two runs scored.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind right-hander Colten Brewer and against Blue Jays rookie right-hander Julian Merryweather, who Toronto got from Cleveland in exchange for Josh Donaldson back in 2018, to begin things on Wednesday night:

First pitch is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox going for their second straight win in Buffalo.