Red Sox closer Tanner Houck underwent successful back surgery in Boston on Tuesday, the club announced. The right-hander had a lumbar discectomy performed by Dr. Christopher Bono at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Houck will miss the remainder of the 2022 season but is expected to be ready for the start of spring training in 2023. According to Hopkins Medicine, a lumbar discectomy is a minimally invasive type of surgery to fix a disc in the lower back.
Manager Alex Cora had revealed over the weekend that Houck would be undergoing season-ending surgery. The 26-year-old hurler was originally placed on the 15-day injured list because of lower back inflammation on August 6. He initially responded well to treatment and was making progress towards a return last week before continued back soreness forced the Red Sox to shut him down again.
It then became apparent that surgery, as opposed to rest, was the best course of action for both sides to take.
“Obviously we pushed it to pitch. But the strength is not back,” Cora told reporters on Saturday. “He was almost there. But it didn’t work out. So everybody decided this is the best course of action and he should be OK.”
All told, Houck posted a 3.15 ERA and 3.31 FIP with 56 strikeouts to 22 walks over 32 appearances (four starts) spanning 60 innings of work this season. The righty made all four of those starts in April before moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis on May 15.
From there, Houck ultimately assumed the role of Boston’s closer and pitched to a 1.49 ERA (3.18 FIP) to go along with 33 strikeouts and 11 walks across 25 relief outings (36 1/3 innings). He also converted eight of nine save opportunities.
Given his experience as a starter and reliever, the Red Sox will sit down with Houck at some point this off-season to determine how they can best utilize the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder moving forward.
“Tanner, he’s done it as a starter and a reliever,” said Cora. “He made some strides. I think he learned a lot about himself. He actually willed himself for a while there to be available, which is very important.”
The Red Sox transferred Houck to the 60-day injured list on Sunday, so he does not currently count against the club’s 40-man roster. That being said, the former first-rounder remains under team control through the end of the 2027 season.
(Picture of Tanner Houck: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)