Red Sox surprisingly option Tanner Houck to Triple-A Worcester

Before wrapping up their four-game series against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park on Thursday, the Red Sox announced they optioned right-hander Tanner Houck following the conclusion of Wednesday night’s doubleheader.

Houck got the start for the Sox in Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Jays and was stellar in the club’s 4-1 victory, surrendering just one run on two hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts over four strong innings of work.

Prior to the start of Wednesday’s twin bill, Boston recalled catcher Connor Wong from Triple-A Worcester to serve as the team’s 27th man for both games with Toronto. Wong, however, did not appear in either contest, making it seem as though he would be the one to return to Worcester seeing how he is the third backstop on the major-league roster.

Instead, in a surprising turn of events, Boston opted to send Houck down to the WooSox while keeping Wong up with the big-league club for the time being.

According to Red Sox manager Alex Cora, the decision to option Houck has more to do with roster flexibility as apposed to a demotion or anything like that, as the right-hander will pitch during next Saturday’s (August 7) doubleheader against the Blue Jays in Toronto.

“It’s about roster flexibility,” Cora said Thursday afternoon. “Tanner’s going to pitch in the doubleheader on Saturday in Toronto. We’ve got an off day on Monday (August 2), so for now it makes sense to go somewhere else. But, as you guys know, he’s going to be a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish — he’s a big part of it already. So, it just happens that roster-wise right now, in the upcoming days, this is where we’re going.”

Since making his major-league debut for the Sox last September, Houck has posted a dazzling 1.62 ERA and 2.38 FIP to go along with 51 strikeouts to just 14 walks over nine total appearances (seven starts) spanning 39 innings pitched.

After opening the 2021 campaign in Boston’s starting rotation, the 25-year-old hurler was optioned to Worcester in late April and wound up getting shut down for approximately six weeks beginning in early May after experiencing flexor muscle soreness in his throwing arm.

After making his return to the WooSox’ rotation on June 17, Houck was called back up by the Red Sox on July 16 to serve in a hybrid role where he could start and pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen when needed.

The former first-round pick twirled three scoreless frames of relief against the Yankees in the Bronx the very same day he was recalled to notch his first career save and has made two starts since then.

Barring an injury on the major-league front, it seems likely that Houck will make one start for Worcester before getting called up once again next Saturday.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, will seemingly role with a five-man starting rotation that consists of Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Richards, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Martin Perez.

Rodriguez will be making his 20th start of the season for Boston opposite fellow southpaw Hyun Jin Ryu in Thursday’s series finale against Torornto.

First pitch (weather permitting) is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Jarren Duran’s blazing speed lifts Red Sox to 4-1 victory over Blue Jays to salvage doubleheader split

After being limited to just one run in a 4-1 loss in Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Fenway Park, the Red Sox flipped the script on the Blue Jays by taking the seven-inning night cap by a final score of 4-1, therefore splitting the twin bill with their division rivals.

Matched up against another left-hander in Jays starter Steven Matz, the Sox — like they did earlier in the afternoon — got the scoring started right away in the bottom half of the first inning.

Enrique Hernandez led things off with a hard-hit double off Matz and Rafael Devers followed by ripping an RBI single to drive him in, but was thrown out at second base after trying to extend his run-scorning single into a double.

In the second, Alex Verdugo and Kevin Plawecki reached base via back-to-back singles to lead off the frame, while Bobby Dalbec advanced both runners 90 feet on a groundout and Jarren Duran got a productive night at the plate started with a sacrifice fly to right field that brought in Verdugo.

That early offense gave Red Sox starter Tanner Houck a two-run cushion to work with, and he did just that by impressing in his fourth start (sixth appearance) of the season on Wednesday.

Over four solid innings of work, Houck yielded just one earned run while scattering all of two hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts on the night.

The right-hander began his outing by retiring nine of the first 10 hitters he faced, as he took a no-hit bid into the fourth inning before issuing a leadoff double to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

A passed ball from Red Sox catcher Kevin Plawecki allowed Guerrero Jr. to advance up to third, and the Blue Jays took full advantage of that when Bo Bichette ripped a line-drive single to left field to bring in his side’s first run and cut Boston’s lead down to one run at 2-1.

Houck proceeded to fan Teoscar Hernandez and get Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to line out out to end the inning — as well as his night — while stranding Bichette in scoring position.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 75 (50 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler did not factor into the decision, though he did lower his ERA on the season down to 2.45.

Heading into the second half of this contest with a 2-1 lead to protect, the Boston bats struck once more in the fourth inning, and Plawecki proved to be the catalyst with a leadoff single.

After Dalbec struck out, Duran put his elite speed on full display when he took the fifth pitch he saw from Matz — a 1-2, 77 mph curveball down the heart of the plate — and sent it 359 feet towards the triangle in the right-center field gap.

Blue Jays center fielder George Springer bobbled the ball while trying to corral it, which in turn allowed a hustling Duran to score on the play, though it was ruled a triple and fielding error on the part of Springer.

Still, Duran’s Little League home run gave the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.

Garrett Whitlock took over for Houck in the fifth and tossed two scoreless innings, paving the way for Matt Barnes to come on for the seventh and shut the door on the Jays to notch his 23rd save of the season and secure the 4-1 victory for the Sox.

With the win, the Red Sox improve to 63-40 and are 8-4 since the All-Star break.

Devers removed with tight quad

Rafael Devers was taken out of this game in the sixth inning after tightening his quad while running his bases on a double in the fourth. He was replaced at third base by Bobby Dalbec (Michael Chavis took over at first) and will not play on Thursday — which was already planned.

Next up: Ryu vs. Rodriguez

The Red Sox will go for the series victory over the Blue Jays on Thursday night, with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston and fellow southpaw Hyun Jin Ryu doing the same for Toronto.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Tuesday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays game postponed due to severe weather conditions in the Fenway area

For the second straight week, a Tuesday night game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays has been postponed due to inclement weather.

Last week’s game was postponed on account of thunderstorms in the Buffalo-area, while this week’s game was postponed because of severe weather conditions in the vicinity of Fenway Park.

Tuesday’s rained-out contest will be made up as part of a split, seven-inning doubleheader at Fenway Park on Wednesday, July 28, with the day cap scheduled to begin at 2:10 p.m. eastern time and the night cap taking place at approximately 7:10 p.m. eastern time.

The Red Sox won the first game of their four-game series against the Blue Jays by a final score of 5-4 on Monday night.

Right-hander Garrett Richards was slated to make his 20th start of the season for Boston on Tuesday, while left-hander Robbie Ray was in line to do the same for Toronto.

Instead, those two veteran hurlers will start the first game of Wednesday’s twin bill, with Sox righty Tanner Houck matching up against Jays lefty Steven Matz in the second game.

First pitch of the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader is once again scheduled for 2:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Fenway Park: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Kiké Hernández comes through in clutch as Red Sox come back to defeat Yankees, 5-4, in extras

The Red Sox were down to their final out in the ninth inning Thursday night, trailing the Yankees by a score of 3-1, and on the verge of dropping their third straight game to their division rivals.

With runners on first and second base, Kiké Hernández came to the plate having already driven in Boston’s lone run of the night. In front of him, Alex Verdugo was at second base, while Jarren Duran — pinch-running for Bobby Dalbec — represented the tying run on first base.

Matched up against Yankees reliever Chad Green, Hernández got ahead in the count at 1-0 before taking a 96 mph fastball down the heart of the plate and ripping a two-run double off the Green Monster.

Verdugo was able to easily score from second, while the speedy Duran came in all the way from first to knot things up at three runs apiece.

After Red Sox closer Matt Barnes allowed one unearned run to cross the plate in the top of the 10th despite tossing a 1-2-3 inning, Boston took advantage of a wild Brooks Kriske in their half of the frame.

The Yankees reliever began his night by throwing a pair of wild pitches that allowed Rafael Devers — who started the inning at second base — to score and tie it at 4-4 while Xander Bogaerts was at the plate.

Bogaerts himself walked, and he, too, moved up to third base on two more wild pitches from Kriske, which set up Hunter Renfroe to drive in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

With the 5-4 win, their 30th of the comeback variety this year, the Red Sox improve to 59-38 on the season while maintaining their one-game lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Houck’s solid start shortened by rain

Well before all of Thursday night’s late-inning drama from Fenway Park, Tanner Houck made his third start of the season for the Red Sox, which was also his first major-league start in more than three months.

As he did out of the bullpen in the Bronx last weekend, Houck was fairly dominant against the Yankees this time around. The right-hander retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before a pair of leadoff walks in the top of the fourth did him in, as Gleyber Torres brought in Brett Gardner on an RBI groundout to put New York ahead, 1-0, in that same inning.

Still, Houck got through the rest of the fourth unscathed and got the first two outs of the fifth before the volume of rain in the Fenway-area picked up and forced a 55-minute rain delay that would subsequently end his day prematurely.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (54 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler wound up yielding just one unearned run on two hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts over 4 2/3 strong innings of work. His next start should come against the Blue Jays at Fenway next Wednesday.

After the rain delay

Following that lengthy rain delay, left-hander Josh Taylor came on in relief of Houck, got out of the fifth inning, and tossed a clean sixth inning as well.

In the process of the Red Sox bullpen taking over for Houck, the Sox offense was struggling to get anything going against Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery.

The left-hander held the Boston bats in check throughout his 5 2/3 innings of work, but they were able to finally break through in the bottom of the seventh.

There, after Darwinzon Hernandez had punched out a pair in the top of the inning, two straight one-out singles from Verdugo and Dalbec off New York reliever Lucas Luetge set something in motion.

Michael Chavis proceeded to rip a hard-hit groundball to third base that looked as though it could have gone for a double play, but Tyler Wade bobbled the baseball, thus preventing that from happening.

With the bases now loaded as the Sox lineup turned back over, Hernández came through with his first heroic of the night in scoring Verdugo on a game-tying sacrifice fly.

A Devers infield single very well could have continued the rally, but Dalbec was thrown out at home by Torres after trying to score from second, and that ended the inning.

Former Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino ran into some trouble against his old team in the top of the eighth, as he allowed the go-ahead run — and an additional run — to score thanks in part to allowing two walks, a stolen base, one hit, and one sacrifice fly off the bat of Torres that saw the Yankees go up 3-1.

Fast forward to the ninth, with Green on the hill for New York, Hernández delivered once more with that aforementioned game-tying, two-run double to left field to send this one to extras.

In the top of the 10th, Barnes yielded an unearned run in an otherwise perfect inning of relief, and would later earn his fifth win of the season when Renfroe walked it off on his sacrifice fly a half inning later.

By completing their 30th come-from-behind victory this year, the Red Sox have extended their winning streak to three consecutive games. As was previously stated, they are now 59-38 on the season, which is good for the best record in the American League.

Next up: Cole vs. Rodriguez

Friday’s starting pitching matchup between the Red Sox and Yankees will feature left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston opposite ace right-hander Gerrit Cole for New York.

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

(Picture of Kiké Hernández: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Jarren Duran, Tanner Houck called up from Triple-A Worcester; Austin Brice designated for assignment; Marwin Gonzalez (hamstring strain) placed on injured list

Before opening up what is now a three-game series against the Yankees in the Bronx on Friday night, the Red Sox made a flurry of roster moves.

First off, outfield prospect Jarren Duran was selected to the major-league roster from Triple-A Worcester. In order to create room for Duran on both the 26-man and 40-man rosters, right-handed reliever Austin Brice was designated for assignment.

Secondly, utility man Marwin Gonzalez was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain. The beginning of his stint on the injured list was backdated to July 13. To fill Gonzalez’s spot on the major-league roster, right-hander Tanner Houck was recalled from Worcester

The Red Sox made all these transactions official earlier Friday evening. Their 40-man roster is now full.

Duran, 24, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 5 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among outfielders in the organization.

Selected by the Red Sox in the seventh round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Long Beach State (Calif)., the left-handed hitter opened the 2021 minor-league season with Triple-A Worcester, where he has slashed .270/.365/.561 with eight doubles, one triple, 15 home runs, 32 RBI, 37 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, 24 walks, and 52 strikeouts over 46 games spanning 219 trips to the plate.

While Duran, who turns 25 in September, is not in the Sox’ starting lineup for Friday’s contest, he will likely join the likes of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts as top Red Sox outfield prospects to make their major-league debuts at Yankee Stadium.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds, Duran will wear the No. 40, which was last worn by former infielder Marco Hernandez.

As for Brice, the right-hander wound up getting designated for assignment in order for the Red Sox to clear a spot on their 40-man — and subsequently their 26-man — roster for Duran.

Brice, 29, opened the 2021 campaign in Boston’s bullpen, but was designated on May 21 after getting off to a rough start in which he posted a 6.94 ERA and .867 OPS against over 12 appearances spanning 11 2/3 innings of work.

After clearing waivers and being outrighted to Worcester on May 25, Brice found success with the WooSox, as he put up a miniscule 1.20 ERA in 12 games (15 innings pitched).

That decent run resulted in the righty earning a promotion back to Boston on July 10, though he appeared in just one game for the big-league club this time around and allowed one run on two hits over two innings in an 11-2 loss at the hands of the Phillies on July 10.

In designating him for assignment once again, the Red Sox will have seven days to either trade, release, or outright Brice if he clears waivers.

Turning to the second installment of Friday’s roster moves, Marwin Gonzalez was placed on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to July 13) after re-aggravating and straining his right hamstring in Sunday’s loss to the Phillies.

The versatile 32-year-old sustained the injury while running out a groundball in the second inning of that contest, resulting in him being replaced by Bobby Dalbec at first base in the top half of the third.

Because his stint on the injured list was backdated to July 13, the soonest Gonzalez could be activated is next Friday, July 23, though it certainly seems as though the switch-hitter could very well miss more than the minimum 10 days.

While Jarren Duran essentially takes Gonzalez’s place on the roster in terms of position player-to-pitcher composition, it’s right-hander Tanner Houck who literally takes Gonzalez’s spot on the major-league squad.

Houck, 25, last pitched for the Red Sox on April 18 after beginning the year in the club’s starting rotation and later making a spot start during a doubleheader against the White Sox.

In his three outings (two starts) with Boston this season, Houck — who made his big-league debut last September — posted a 4.35 ERA, a 2.39 FIP, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 12:1 over 10 1/3 total innings of work.

Upon being optioned to Triple-A Worcester in late April, however, the right-hander was forced to miss approximately six weeks of action after experiencing flexor muscle soreness in his throwing arm during his first start of the year for the WooSox on May 4.

Following a lengthy shutdown period, Houck was able to return to the mound for Worcester on June 17 and pitched to the tune of a 4.50 ERA and 3.28 FIP while striking out 22 and walking 18 in five starts (18 innings pitched) between then and the time he was called up on Friday.

The Red Sox plan on using Houck in a hybrid role in which the lanky righty will both start and pitch out of the bullpen when needed. The former first-round pick’s first start of the second half will come against the Blue Jays in Buffalo next Wednesday.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Boston Red Sox)

Red Sox to call up Tanner Houck for upcoming series against Yankees, joining Jarren Duran on major-league roster

Jarren Duran will not be the only fresh face joining the Red Sox in New York, as the club is also planning on calling up right-hander Tanner Houck ahead of Thursday’s series opener against the Yankees in the Bronx, according to WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche.

Houck, 25, opened the 2021 season in Boston’s starting rotation and posted a 4.35 ERA and .806 OPS against over three outings (two starts) and 10 1/3 innings pitched across two separate stints with the team, the second of which concluded after he yielded three runs over 4 1/3 frames as the 27th man in the first game of a doubleheader against the White Sox on April 18.

Since then, the lanky righty had to be shut down for approximately six weeks beginning in early May after experiencing flexor muscle soreness in his throwing arm, but was able to return to the mound for Triple-A Worcester on June 17.

In the five starts he has made with the WooSox since returning to action last month, Houck has put up a 4.50 ERA and 3.28 FIP to go along with 22 strikeouts to seven walks over 18 total innings of work.

At the moment, how the Red Sox plan on using Houck is unclear. As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the former first-round pick could be used as a starter, a multi-inning reliever out of the bullpen, or a hybrid-type who is capable of doing both when needed.

That being said, Sox manager Alex Cora did hint earlier this month that Houck’s role with the club during the second half of the season was going to be a multifaceted one.

“He’ll be versatile,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) back on July 1. “We’ve been talking about a few things. After the All-Star break, how are we going to do this? And where or how are we going to use him? Where and how are we going to use everybody else understanding that we’re going to play all those games in a row against division rivals. And we don’t have an off day until August 2.

“So we’ll stretch him out,” added Cora. “That’s the most important thing. And then we’ll decide how we’re going to use him. But versatility is something that might come into the equation and he might fit that bill.”

For the Red Sox to add both Duran and Houck to the major-league roster, a series of roster moves will need to be made.

While Houck is already on Boston’s 40-man roster, the same cannot be said for Duran, so a spot will need to be created there for the speedy outfield prospect.

Additionally, Cotillo notes that Marwin Gonzalez is likely headed to the injured list after the veteran utility man re-aggravated his right hamstring on Sunday.

Reliever Austin Brice, who was added back to the 40-man roster on Saturday, meanwhile, is a candidate to be designated for assignment in order to open up a spot on the 40-man for Duran, though that is just pure speculation at this point.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox injuries: Bobby Dalbec (hamstring tightness) out of Wednesday’s lineup, Christian Arroyo (knee contusion) set for rehab assignment with WooSox, Tanner Houck sharp in latest start

Red Sox manager Alex Cora provided injury updates pertaining to Bobby Dalbec, Christian Arroyo, and Tanner Houck prior to Wednesday’s game against the Royals at Fenway Park.

Dalbec, who experienced right hamstring tightness that forced him to exit in the sixth inning of Tuesday night’s win over Kansas City, is out of Boston’s starting lineup for Wednesday’s contest.

“Bobby’s OK,” Cora said earlier Wednesday afternoon. “He’s still tight. He’s going to get treatment. I don’t know if we’re going to try to make him run today. But better than yesterday, but not 100%.”

While it certainly looks like Dalbec, who actually turned 26 on Tuesday, will avoid a trip to the injured list and should be considered day-to-day, Michael Chavis will start in his place at first base and bat ninth on Wednesday.

Arroyo slated to begin rehab assignment with WooSox

Christian Arroyo, meanwhile, has been on the 10-day injured list since June 24 (backdated to June 21) due to a right knee contusion that was originally diagnosed as a right shin bone bruise after he collided with Enrique Hernandez in Kansas City two weekends ago.

Because his stint on the IL was backdated to June 21, Arroyo is eligible to be activated on Thursday, July 1. That said, the Red Sox would like the 26-year-old infielder to get some at-bats in with Triple-A Worcester before that happens.

“Most likely he’ll go to Worcester and he’ll DH tomorrow,” Cora said of Arroyo. “He faced Chris [Sale] today. I think he had two at-bats against him. But there’s not too much going on the field today as far as batting practice and all that. But that was the plan last night. Probably after the game we’ll let you guys know, but that seems to be what he’s going to do.

Arroyo himself expects to head out to Polar Park on Thursday to DH for the WooSox before rejoining the big-league club for their upcoming West Coast road trip.

Houck feeling good after third start back for WooSox

Red Sox pitching prospect Tanner Houck woke up Wednesday morning with no ill effects from his latest start with the WooSox at Polar Park on Tuesday night, Cora said.

In his third start back off the injured list after missing more than a month with flexor muscle soreness, Houck allowed two earned runs on three hits, zero walks, and two hit batsmen to go along with four strikeouts over four innings of work.

It was the right-hander’s longest outing (67 pitches, 40 of which were strikes) since he returned to the mound on June 17.

“Everything went well,” Cora said when asked about Houck, who turned 25 on Tuesday. “I actually texted with [WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott] this morning, he felt like [Houck] was really good. Command was good, the intent was good, very aggressive. Everything went well. Obviously, let’s see how he shows up today and if there’s any red flags. We don’t expect red flags, so it was a good one for him.”

As he continues to build up his arm strength, Houck could make his return to the Sox’ starting rotation out of the All-Star break if the club opts to add a sixth starter to the mix out of the gate in late July.

Also, for what it’s worth, Cora did not provide an update on backup catcher Kevin Plawecki, who has been on the injured list with a left hamstring strain since June 22 but suffered an apparent minor setback on Monday.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Tanner Houck tosses four 2-run innings in third start back for Triple-A Worcester as questions loom for Boston’s starting rotation

Red Sox pitching prospect Tanner Houck took another important step in building up his arm strength at Polar Park on Tuesday night, which also happened to be his 25th birthday.

Making his third start for Triple-A Worcester since coming off the injured list after missing more than a month with flexor muscle soreness, Houck put together his longest outing in quite a while.

Over four innings of work, the right-hander allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on three hits, zero walks, and two hit batsmen to go along with four strikeouts on the evening.

Both runs Houck surrendered came in his fourth and final frame, as he breezed through the first three and retired the first nine hitters he faced in order before running into some trouble as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders’ (Yankees affiliate) flipped back over.

In the fourth, Houck issued a leadoff single to Estevan Florial, a run-scoring groundout to Hoy Jun Park that was aided by a throwing error, and back-to-back singles to Ryan LaMarre and Socrates Brito.

He followed that sequence by plunking the next two RailRiders — Derek Dietrich and Kyle Holder — to first load the bases and then allow another run to score.

From there, Houck got Trey Amburgey to ground into a forceout and proceeded to fan Rob Brantly on five pitches to limit any further damage while also ending his night on a more somewhat positive note.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 67 (40 strikes), the 25-year-old hurler now owns an ERA of 3.32, a WHIP of 0.66, and a batting average against of .158 in three starts (10 2/3 innings pitched) with the WooSox since returning the mound on June 17.

In each of those starts, Houck has seen his workload increase from three innings on 45 pitches (26 strikes) to 3 2/3 innings on 58 (38 strikes) to four full innings on 67 pitches (40 strikes) on Tuesday.

“I feel good, feel strong, everything feels normal, and I’m excited for [my next start] Sunday,” Houck told MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison following the WooSox’ 9-7 loss to the RailRiders. “I’ve felt strong since the first outing. I just want to continue to pitch, pitch strong and keep moving forward.”

Houck has not started a major-league game for the Red Sox since April 18. Since making his big-league debut last September, the former first-round pick has posted a 1.98 ERA and 2.92 FIP over six total appearances (five starts) and 27 1/3 innings of work.

At the moment, the Sox have a healthy five-man starting rotation comprised of Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, and Martin Perez.

That said, Boston’s starters have not been particularly sharp as of late (5.40 starters’ ERA in June), and the club is preparing for a stretch out of the All-Star break next month where they are scheduled to play 18 games in 18 days (all against the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays) from July 15 until August 1.

When asked earlier Tuesday afternoon if the team would consider reshuffling its starting rotation or adding a sixth starter — such as Houck — to the mix post-All-Star break, Red Sox manager Alex Cora did not get too specific, but he did seem open to the idea of reinforcements for the rotation in the not so distant future.

“We’ll talk about it. I actually found out yesterday that we play on Thursday after the All-Star break. I thought it was a three-game series and I was actually planning on going to Puerto Rico. But, no, I’m not going to do that now,” Cora said with a grin on his face. “It’s a lot of straight games, a lot of good lineups. We’re talking about that. We’re talking about that.

“August, it’s going to help us with the five off-days,” added Cora. “That’s going to be very important. But, we’re going to need some help at one point. And these guys, they’ve been posting the whole time. So we’ll see where we go with it.”

In addition to Houck building back up in Worcester, Chris Sale is also slated to throw another live batting practice session at Fenway Park.

Cora described Sale, who is on the road back from Tommy John surgery after undergoing the procedure last March, as someone who “is feeling amazing” in between the days he has pitched, so that is certainly an encouraging development on the Red Sox’ note.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, if all goes well with Sale on Wednesday and the day after, the ace left-hander could be in line to begin a rehab assignment with a Red Sox minor-league affiliate sometime in July.

Like Houck, Sale represents another potential reinforcement for a Red Sox starting rotation that has left plenty to be desired recently.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Ashley Green/Telegram & Gazette)

Red Sox injuries: Christian Arroyo should avoid injured list, Tanner Houck allows 2 runs over 3 2/3 innings in latest start for WooSox

Infielder Christian Arroyo remains out of the Red Sox lineup for the middle game of their three-game series against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Wednesday night.

Arroyo suffered a bone bruise in his right shin in Sunday’s loss to the Royals after colliding with center fielder Enrique Hernandez in the fifth inning of that contest.

While the 26-year-old has been held out Boston’s lineup in the two games since sustaining the injury, he has been able to get treatment on his bruised shin and even participated in some running drills earlier Wednesday afternoon. The team appears optimistic that he can avoid a stint on the injured list.

“He’s doing better. Still sore,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said in regards to Arroyo’s status. “We’ll try to stay away from him today. We still believe it’s not an IL situation. Hopefully, he’s ready to play tomorrow — if not, by Friday. So, we’ll be patient with him.”

Boston concludes its three-game set against the Rays on Thursday before opening up a three-game weekend series against the Yankees back at Fenway Park on Friday.

With Arroyo being held out of action once more, Hernandez will get the start for the Sox at second base, while Danny Santana will bat leadoff and start in center field.

Tanner Houck’s tosses 3 2/3 innings in latest start for WooSox

Red Sox pitching prospect Tanner Houck made his second start for Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday since returning from the injured list after being shut down for more than a month with flexor muscle soreness.

After dazzling with three scoreless, no-hit innings in his return to the mound at Polar Park last week, Houck had a tougher time of things when going up the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings (Nationals affiliate) at Frontier Field on Wednesday.

The right-hander served up a leadoff home run to the first man he faced in Luis Garcia, though he was able to settle down for a stretch by retiring nine of the next 10 hitters who came to the plate against him going into the fourth inning.

With one out in the bottom of the fourth, however, Houck yielded a hard-hit double to former White Sox outfielder Daniel Palka and saw his day come to a close after recording the second out of the frame.

The runner he left on wound up scoring later in the inning, and the WooSox would go on to fall to the Red Wings by a final score of 5-3 to snap a modest five-game winning streak.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 58 (38 strikes), Houck wound up surrendering two earned runs on three hits (one home run) and zero walks to go along with six strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of work.

Assuming he wakes up feeling fine on Thursday, the soon-to-be 25-year-old hurler’s next start for the WooSox should come against the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Yankees affiliate) back at Polar Park on Monday.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Tanner Houck tosses 3 scoreless, no-hit innings in return to mound for Triple-A Worcester

Red Sox pitching prospect Tanner Houck took an important step in his road t0wards making a return to the big-leagues on Thursday night.

Fresh off being activated from the injured list after being shut down for more than a month due to flexor muscle soreness, Houck shined in his first start with Triple-A Worcester since May 4.

Matched up against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs with Chris Sale among those in attendance at Polar Park, the right-hander tossed three scoreless, no-hit innings while walking just one and recording six strikeouts.

Sitting between 95-96 mph with his fastball, Houck punched out a pair in each of his three frames of work in the process of retiring nine of the 10 hitters he faced. Of the 45 pitches he threw, 26 went for strikes.

“In terms of today, I threw all my pitches,” Houck said following the WooSox’ 3-2 victory over the Iron Pigs. “Threw the four-seam, two-seam, slider. Only threw one splitter, but it’s just part of it. It’s about continuing to grow, and I feel 100%. So, excited to keep moving forward and doing what I can.”

For Houck, tossing three scoreless innings without a problem while facing live hitters in a competitive environment for the first time in well over a month is certainly an encouraging sign, both for him and the Red Sox.

“I was just excited to show up today and be able to get to play in a game,” Houck said when asked about potential next steps in regards to his throwing program. “Being away for as long as I did, definitely a little stir-crazy at the end there. I wanted to get back out there and play. Getting to see this team compete on a day-to-day basis and how great they’ve been just makes me want to get out there even more.”

Prior to getting shut down in early May, the 24-year-old hurler was viewed as one of, if not the top rotation depth option available to the Red Sox at the minor-league level if one of their regular starters had to miss a significant period of time.

In six appearances (five starts) with Boston since making his major-league debut last September, Houck has posted a 1.98 ERA and 2.92 FIP over 27 1/3 total innings of work. Two of those five starts came in April.

Assuming he is a full-go for his next start with the WooSox, one would have to think Houck will be able to increase his workload as he continues to build up his strength and work his way back towards garnering big-league consideration once again.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Ashley Green/Telegram & Gazette)