Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale experienced neck stiffness setback over holidays, has resumed throwing program since then

On the road to recovery from Tommy John surgery, Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale apparently ran into a setback some time within the past month or so, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Per Bradford, “Sale experienced a setback around the holidays due to neck stiffness. The ailment put a halt to the starter’s throwing program, which he has begun participating in again.”

The encouraging aspect of this is that Sale has since resumed his throwing program, though his “workouts now include treatment on the neck issue to prevent the problem from cropping up again,” Bradford writes.

Sale, who turns 32 in March, underwent elbow reconstruction surgery on March 29 last year.

Pitchers typically take anywhere between 12-15 months to recover from said operation, which would put the southpaw on track to return to the mound at some point this summer if all goes accordingly.

“With Chris, we’re still looking at a midsummer return to have him fully stretched out as a starter,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said of Sale in November. “But everything continues going along with that. Arm’s doing great, which is awesome.”

Earlier this month, however, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Sox are expected to be “cautious” with Sale’s rehab and that “the pace for his return from Tommy John surgery is expected to be deliberate.”

The seven-time All-Star inked a five-year, $145 million contract extension with Boston shortly before the start of the 2019 campaign, when then-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was at the helm.

Since then, Sale has started just 25 games for the Red Sox, posting a 4.40 ERA and .695 OPS against over 147 1/3 innings pitched before getting shut down due to left elbow inflammation in August 2019, which ultimately led to TJS the following spring.

Under contract through the 2024 season (vesting option for 2025) with the opportunity to opt out after 2022, Sale is slated to earn $30 million in 2021. That dollar figure translates to $25.6 million for luxury tax purposes.

As noted by Bradford, the Florida native was expected to begin throwing off a mound sometime this month, though it appears the neck stiffness he dealt with and is getting treatment on threw a wrench in those plans.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox add right-hander Matt Carasiti on minor-league deal, per report

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Matt Carasiti to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford. The deal also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Carasiti, 29, is a veteran of two major-league seasons — first with the Rockies in 2016 and then with Mariners in 2019 — and owns a lifetime 7.46 ERA and 4.83 FIP over 30 appearances (five starts as an opener) and 25 1/3 innings of work between the two clubs.

A native of Berlin, Conn., Carasiti was originally selected by Colorado in the sixth round of the 2012 amateur draft out of St. John’s University in Queens.

Across seven minor-league seasons between five different levels, the 6-foot-2, 205 lb. righty is 17-29 with an ERA of 4.26 and batting average against of .272 over 250 total appearances, 34 of which were starts, and 432 2/3 innings pitched.

He also has experience overseas, as he pitched for the Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball in 2018 before coming back over to the states.

Around this time last year, Carasiti inked a minor-league pact with the San Francisco Giants only to undergo Tommy John surgery in March.

Per Bradford, the New England-born hurler recently held a workout for approximately nine clubs in Connecticut, leading to his signing with the Sox.

Based off data from Baseball Savant, Carasiti works with a sinker, a cutter, a forkball, and a changeup.

(h/t Chris Hogan for the video)

Carasiti will have the opportunity to further showcase this pitch mix while competing for a spot in the Red Sox’ Opening Day bullpen next month, though he will likely begin the year with Triple-A Pawtucket in more of a depth role.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed or re-signed the following players to minor-league deals:

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
INF Jack Lopez
INF Jeremy Rivera
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson
RHP Zack Kelly
RHP Jose Disla
RHP Daniel Gossett
RHP Zac Grotz
RHP Jose Adames
RHP Matt Carasiti

(Picture of Matt Carasiti: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Former Red Sox Left-Hander Brian Johnson Opens up About Asking for Release From Team That Drafted Him

Going back to August 10, the Red Sox came into the week having gotten their 2020 season off to a disappointing 6-9 start even after a walk-off victory over the Blue Jays the day before.

Through the club’s first 15 games, Boston pitchers had posted an ERA and xFIP of 4.74, good for the third and sixth-highest marks in the American League, respectively.

Despite those early struggles, the Sox opted to give unfamiliar names a shot at the major-league level while keeping others with major-league experience down at the alternate training site in Pawtucket.

One of said pitchers who spent a good portion of his summer in Pawtucket was none other than Brian Johnson. The 29-year-old southpaw was less than two full years removed from serving as a valuable swingman who could make spot starts and pitch out of the bullpen when needed for the eventual 2018 World Series champions.

Injuries and illness derailed Johnson’s 2019 campaign, though, and with a new head of baseball operations at the helm in chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the former top prospect was stripped of his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster and was ultimately outrighted to the minors.

Even with that demotion in his pocket as he reported to Fort Myers in February, Johnson looked solid in his spring outings and again at Summer Camp following the pandemic-induced hiatus.

Given the depleted state of the Red Sox starting rotation with Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez sidelined for different reasons, the Florida native appeared primed for a bounce-back year in 2020 while primarily operating as a back-end starter.

Alas, that possibility never came to fruition, as Johnson was not named to Boston’s Opening Day roster in late July and was instead sent off to Pawtucket.


A little over two weeks had passed since the 2020 major-league season had kicked off, and still nothing. Johnson found himself toiling away at McCoy Stadium, wondering if he was going to get another shot anytime soon with the team that had drafted him eight years ago.

When August 10 arrived, it was first reported that Johnson had left the alternate training site for an undisclosed reason, but it was later revealed and made official that he had asked for and granted his release from the Red Sox.

“Sometimes you need to go other places to have a better opportunity,” then-Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said of Johnson at the time. “He asked for his release. Chaim did not want to keep him from an opportunity to get back to the big-leagues. Although we would like him here for depth, that’s the decision Brian wanted.”

Roenicke also cited the fact that Johnson was out of minor-league options and was off the Sox’ 40-man roster as reasons for why the southpaw had slipped down the organization’s pitching ranks.

Johnson himself recounted how things transpired over the summer, from not making the Sox’ Opening Day roster to asking for his release, when speaking with WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the most recent installment of the Bradfo Sho podcast.

“Everyone has a reason for doing things,” he said. “The Red Sox can do what’s best for the Red Sox, and Brian needs to do what’s best for Brian. They just thought going that route was better for them, which I understand. They wanted to see what they had in guys that Chaim brought over, which is totally understandable. I don’t hold any grudge or ill will. The whole process was very professional on both ends. There was no bad blood. I talked to Chaim and [Brian O’Halloran] throughout the whole process along with my agent. Everything was talked out at length and it was very professional on both sides.”

Arriving at the decision to request his release from the only organization he had ever known was no easy quest for Johnson. His path to the big-leagues was filled with adversity both on and off the field, and the Red Sox had helped him fight those battles.

“It sucks, because there have been so many ups and downs in my career with the Red Sox,” he continued. “I said this years ago, that they helped me so much in a lot of ways. So it was like I felt guilty doing it, but at what point in time do you have to do what you feel is right for you? I felt like I hit that breaking point to where I wasn’t doing what I wanted. So I made that decision.”

After not getting picked up by another club over the remainder of the 2020 season, Johnson is about to embark on something he has never experienced before: an offseason without a team to turn to, although he is receiving interest from a handful of potential suitors.

“At first I was nervous,” he said. “But now I do have teams calling to sign me for next year, so I feel more confident that that happens. Once those first few phone calls come in, you feel more confident… What we experienced this year, there’s never been anything to judge it off of, you’re learning as you go, so I was nervous.”

Whichever team winds up signing Johnson, presumably to a minor-league deal, should be something worth monitoring over the winter and into the spring.

Red Sox’ Mitch Moreland Named 2020 Jimmy Fund Captain

Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland has been named the Jimmy Fund captain for the 2020 season, the organization announced earlier Friday.

Moreland, who has spent the past three seasons with the Red Sox and re-signed with the club in Januray, will become Jimmy Fund captain for the first time. The spot opened up when former Boston utilityman Brock Holt inked a one-year deal with the Brewers back in February.

As Jimmy Fund captain, Moreland’s responsibilities will include “attend[ing] fundraising events, visit[ing] patients and build[ing] support for cancer care and research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute” in addition to “encourag[ing] fans to step up to the plate and help strike out cancer by getting involved with Jimmy Fund events.”

The Red Sox and the Jimmy Fund have been charitable partners since 1953. Their relationship is probably most signified by the annual WEEI / NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, which began in 2002 and has raised millions for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Moreland took to Instagram to celebrate the announcement, writing, “Grateful for the opportunity to be a part of @thejimmyfund Thank you for giving me the role as the 2020 Captain.”

Given the current circumstances, it’s difficult to say what Moreland’s role with the Jimmy Fund will look like in 2020. Still, he was a great choice to fill the captain vacancy nonetheless.