The Red Sox have shut down right-hander Tanner Houck due to a sore flexor muscle, manager Alex Cora announced Sunday morning.
Per Cora, Houck first felt discomfort during his last start for Triple-A Worcester, which was also the WooSox’ first game of the season in Trenton on May 4.
Houck lasted just three innings in his first start for Worcester this past Tuesday, allowing three runs on eight hits, no walks, and four strikeouts on 69 pitches (45 strikes).
The 24-year-old came in the following day experiencing soreness in his flexor muscle, which resulted in him being shut down.
“We’re not overly concerned,” Cora said. “This happened in his last start. The next day, he came in sore. He’s actually feeling better right now. But of course, we’re going to shut him down.”
Houck, who turns 25 next month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 3 pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system.
The former first-round draft pick made his major-league debut for the Sox last September and has posted a 1.98 ERA over six outings (five starts) since then.
This year alone, Houck has allowed seven runs (five earned) on 14 hits, one walk, and 12 strikeouts in three appearances (two starts) spanning 10 1/3 total innings of work.
While the Red Sox do not seem too concerned about Houck’s status moving forward, the fact that he has been shut down now means that the club is without their top two rotation depth options at the minor-league level for the time being.
That being the case because in addition to Houck being shut down, fellow right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold was placed on the injured list last Monday with right elbow inflammation.
The Sox did not seem too worried that Seabold would miss a significant amount of time, either, but his absence becomes more significant since Houck has been sidelined as well.
On top of those two, Bryan Mata, the organization’s top pitching prospect, underwent Tommy John surgery last month. So it goes without saying that Boston’s starting rotation depth has taken somewhat of a hit these past few weeks.
Still, as previously mentioned, the Red Sox seem optimistic that in Houck’s case, the righty will not be shut down for long.
“There’s no timetable, but this is something that we feel is going to be short-term,” said Cora. “It’s not something that we are overly concerned, but that’s where we’re at right now.”
(Picture of Tanner Houck: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)