Red Sox roster moves: Jarren Duran, Jonathan Araúz reinstated from COVID-19 related injured list, optioned to Triple-A Worcester; Geoff Hartlieb, Yacksel Rios designated for assignment

The Red Sox have reinstated outfielder Jarren Duran and infielder Jonathan Arauz from the COVID-19 related injured list and have optioned both of them to Triple-A Worcester.

In order to make room on the 40-man roster for Duran and Arauz, right-handers Geoff Hartlieb and Yacksel Rios were designated for assignment, the club announced on Thursday.

Though the Sox are off on Thursday, they remain active ahead of their pivotal three-game weekend series against the Yankees that begins at Fenway Park on Friday night.

Duran, who turned 25 earlier this month, was originally placed on the COVID-19 related injured list shortly before his birthday after exhibiting symptoms and testing positive for the virus on September 3.

Following a mandatory 10-day quarantine period at a Boston hotel, Duran was sent out on a rehab assignment with Worcester last Friday. The speedy outfielder went 4-for-13 (.231) at the plate with one double, one RBI, and three strikeouts over four games for the WooSox before officially being reinstated from the COVID IL.

Now that he is considered fully healthy, Duran represents an intriguing option for the Red Sox moving forward. Given how he has struggled to the tune of a .215/.241/.336 slash line at the major-league level since debuting with Boston in July, it’s unlikely the left-handed hitter could garner legitimate playing time– especially when you consider how crowded the Red Sox outfield is.

Still, one of Duran’s standout tools has always been his speed, and that speed could help the former seventh-round draft pick earn a call back up to the Sox in order to serve as a base-stealing specialist off the bench.

Arauz, meanwhile, was placed on the COVID-19 related injured list on September 10 while the Red Sox were in Chicago, though he never tested positive for the virus despite displaying symptoms.

Since he tested negative for the coronavirus on multiple occasions, Arauz’s quarantine period lasted less than 10 days, as he was sent out on a rehab assignment with Worcester this past Saturday.

In his last three games with the WooSox, the 23-year-old switch-hitter has gone 3-for-10 (.300) with a double, two runs scored, and a strikeout while primarily playing second base and third base.

With Duran and Arauz both coming off the COVID IL on Thursday, the Red Sox now have just three players sidelined on account of the virus in Phillips Valdez, Yairo Munoz, and Danny Santana.

All three of Valdez, Munoz, and Santana were present for Boston’s team picture day on Wednesday, so it appears as though they could be activated soon as well.

On the other side of this roster move, the Sox designated both Hartlieb and Rios for assignment, thus removing the pair of righties from their 40-man roster.

Hartlieb, 27, was initially claimed off waivers by the Red Sox on September 4, just two days after he had been designated by the Mets.

Promptly optioned and assigned to Worcester, Hartlieb appeared in just two games for the WooSox, allowing a total of one unearned run on two walks and two hit batsmen over two innings of work separated by nine days.

Rios, on the other hand, was originally acquired from the Mariners in exchange for cash considerations back on June 14 and was added to the active roster two days later.

In 20 relief appearances out of the Red Sox bullpen, the 28-year-old out of Puerto Rico posted a 3.70 ERA and 4.89 FIP to go along with 21 strikeouts to 14 walks over 24 1/3 total innings of work.

Boston optioned Rios to Worcester on August 14 in order to accommodate the additions of Chris Sale and Christian Vazquez to the major-league roster. He was later placed on the minor-league injured list on Aug. 22 and was held out of action for three weeks.

While with the WooSox, though, Rios put up a 3.60 ERA, a 1.77 FIP, and 7:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in four outings (five innings pitched) coming into play on Thursday.

The Red Sox will now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Hartlieb and Rios.

Per MLB Trade Rumors’ Anthony Franco, Hartlieb can still be optioned through the end of the 2022 season, so him getting claimed by another club is not out of the question.

As for Rios, he has the right to elect free agency if he goes unclaimed on waivers since he has previously been outrighted in his career.

(Picture of Jarren Duran: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Chris Sale, Christian Vázquez activated; Yacksel Rios, Connor Wong optioned to Triple-A Worcester

The first Sale Day of 2021 has finally arrived.

Before taking on the Orioles in the second game of their three-game weekend series at Fenway Park on Saturday, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves.

First off, ace left-hander Chris Sale was returned from his rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester and activated from the 60-day injured list, while catcher Christian Vazquez was activated from the bereavement list.

Secondly, in order to make room for both Sale and Vazquez on Boston’s major-league roster, both right-hander Yacksel Rios and catcher Connor Wong were optioned to Worcester, the club announced earlier Saturday afternoon.

Sale will make his first start for the Red Sox in just over two years in Saturday’s contest against the Orioles as he makes his highly-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery.

After starting the 2021 season on the 60-day injured list on account of the fact that he was still recovering from Tommy John surgery, which he underwent last March (on his 31st birthday), Sale was first sent out on a rehab assignment with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox in mid-July.

In five rehab outings between the FCL Red Sox, Double-A Portland, and Triple-A Worcester from July 15 through August 7, the 32-year-old hurler posted a 1.35 ERA and 1.59 FIP to go along with 35 strikeouts to just five walks over 20 total innings of work.

Because Saturday will mark Sale’s first major-league appearance in approximately 732 days, the Sox will surely look to manage the seven-time All-Star’s workload effectively so that he does not overexert himself and remains in line to make his next start against the Rangers this coming Friday.

By activating Sale from the 60-day injured list, the Red Sox were able to utilize the open spot on their 40-man roster that was created on Friday when utility man Marwin Gonzalez was designated for assignment at the same time Kyle Schwarber was activated from the 10-day IL.

Catching Sale in his season debut will be Vazquez, who makes his return to Boston’s lineup after missing three days of action while on the bereavement list.

Vazquez, who will hit out of the eight-hole on Saturday, has caught Sale on 17 previous occasions. The veteran lefty has put up a 4.61 ERA and .763 OPS against over 84 innings pitched while the 30-year-old backstop out of Puerto Rico was calling the shots behind the plate.

With both Sale and Vazquez being activated, Rios and Wong wound up getting sent down to the WooSox.

Rios, acquired from the Mariners in exchange for cash considerations on June 14, pitched to the tune of a 3.70 ERA with 21 strikeouts and 14 walks across 20 relief appearances (24 1/3 innings pitched) in his first stint with the Sox.

Wong, meanwhile, heads back to Worcester after being called up in place of Vazquez this past Wednesday.

The 25-year-old catching prospect appeared as a defensive replacement for Kevin Plawecki in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s 20-8 rout of the Rays, and he made his lone at-bat count by recording his first career triple and RBI in the blowout victory.

Through six games spanning four separate stints with the Red Sox now, Wong has gone 4-for-13 (.308) with one double, one triple, one RBI, three runs scored, one walk, and seven strikeouts over 14 total plate appearances.

While it’s likely both Rios and Wong will be up with the big-league club once more before season’s end, the Red Sox will be taking on the Orioles without them on Saturday afternoon.

Sale, again, will be getting the ball for Boston, while right-hander Jorge Lopez will be doing the same for Baltimore.

Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind Sale:

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Chris Sale and Christian Vazquez: Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

Newly-acquired Yacksel Ríos earns win in Red Sox debut: ‘He’s a guy that from afar, he always intrigued me,’ Alex Cora says

Yacksel Rios’ Red Sox debut came just hours after the reliever arrived in Atlanta and was activated ahead of Wednesday night’s series finale against the Braves at Truist Park.

Acquired from the Mariners in exchange for cash considerations earlier in the week, it seemed as though the Sox were likely going to option Rios to Triple-A Worcester as opposed to keep him up in the majors.

That was not the case, though, as Boston instead optioned infielder Michael Chavis to the WooSox while keeping Rios on their 26-man roster.

Available out of the bullpen in his first game in a Red Sox uniform, the right-hander was called upon by manager Alex Cora in a rather crucial spot with two outs and runners at second and third in the sixth inning of a game his side was trailing, 7-6.

With two potential insurance runs in scoring position for Atlanta, Rios — donning the No. 75 — was tasked with getting out of the jam he inherited by going up against a formidable opponent in Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson.

Having faced Swanson four times prior to Wednesday, Rios, who was working with Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez for the first time, started out by peppering the outer half of the strike zone and initially falling behind in the count before getting a called strike to even things at 1-1.

His third pitch, a 97 mph heater, went for another called strike to get ahead in the count at 2-1. Two of the next three pitches were fouled off by Swanson, which put the right-handed hitter in a 2-2 count as the battle ensued.

On the seventh — and what would turn out to be the final — pitch of the at-bat, Rios delivered a low 88 mph slider that nearly wound up in the dirt and induced relatively weak contact off the bat of Swanson.

Rios was able to knock down Swanson’s 68 mph comebacker with ease and upon corralling the baseball, made the simple toss over to Bobby Dalbec at first base to record the putout and retire the side.

It was not much considering he threw all of seven pitches (five strikes) to end things in the sixth, but Rios’ effort would prove to be meaningful in the end, with the Red Sox coming back to defeat the Braves by a final score of 10-8 courtesy of a game-winning grand slam from Christian Arroyo in the top half of the seventh.

Because he was the last Boston pitcher on the mound before Arroyo came through in the clutch once more, Rios wound up picking up his his first win of the season in his Red Sox debut.

Of the seven pitches the 27-year-old threw on Wednesday night, four were four-seam fastballs and three were sliders. He sat around 95-96 mph with his four-seamer while topping out at 97.1 mph with it, and he also averaged 86.9 mph with his slider.

When speaking with reporters before Wednesday’s game, Red Sox manager Alex Cora acknowledged that Rios’ fastball was something that made him appealing to the Sox when he was designated for assignment by the Mariners earlier this month.

“He has a good fastball,” Cora said. “His fastball got better through the winter. He made some adjustments in spring training with the Rays. He went to Seattle. He gave up some runs and all that, but we believe that if we can use that fastball in certain spots, he should be OK. And the velocity is up, it just gives us another strong arm to our bullpen and that’s always good. So, we’ll see, we’ll see where it takes us.”

Rios, who turns 28 on June 27, was originally selected by the Phillies in the 12th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of high school. He made his major-league debut for Philadelphia in 2017 and has also spent time in the Pirates, Rays, and Mariners organizations.

After being let go by the Pirates over the winter and inking a minor-league pact with the Rays in February, Rios opened the 2021 season with Triple-A Durham, where he posted a 0.66 ERA and 2.31 FIP across 12 relief appearances spanning 13 2/3 innings pitched.

He was then dealt to the Mariners for cash on June 4, though his time in Seattle did not last long considering he gave up one run in each of his three outings with the club from June 5-10 and was later designated on June 11.

Like Cora, Rios hails from Caguas, Puerto Rico. And while the Sox manager might not know the righty all that well, he still has some familiarity with him dating back to the 2017 World Baseball Classic in which Cora served as Team Puerto Rico’s general manager.

“I know him, but I don’t know him that well,” said Cora. “But he’s a guy that from afar, he always intrigued me. We tried to actually add him to the roster in ’17 [for the World Baseball Classic], but he was trying to make a team with the Phillies at that time.

“But good kid, good fastball, good slider,” Cora added. “We’ll see where it takes us.”

Christian Arroyo comes through with game-winning grand slam as Red Sox finish off sweep of Braves with 10-8 victory

The month of Christian Arroyo continued for the Red Sox in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

With his side trailing 7-6 with two outs and the bases loaded in the top half of the seventh, Arroyo came off the bench and delivered in the clutch.

On a 1-2, 89 mph cutter at the bottom of the zone from Braves reliever A.J. Minter, Arroyo crushed his first career grand slam — and the Red Sox’ first grand slam of the season — 467 feet to left field.

Arroyo’s fourth homer of the year, all of which have come within the last 12 games, put Boston back up 10-7 and propelled them to a 10-8 victory to finish off a quick two-game sweep of Atlanta.

The Sox had initially gotten out to a 2-0 lead over the Braves on a two-run single off the bat of Hunter Renfroe right away in the first inning.

Garrett Richards, Wednesday’s starter for Boston, gave back one of those runs on an Abraham Almonte sacrifice fly in the second, but contributed to his own cause two innings later by following a Bobby Dalbec RBI single with a run-scoring knock of his own.

Matched up against his counterpart in Braves starter Ian Anderson, Richards laced a hard-hit double to right-center field for his first career hit that gave Dalbec more than enough time to score from first and make it a 4-1 contest.

Despite helping himself out, the veteran right-hander ran into some trouble in the latter half of the fourth when he issued a leadoff triple to Dansby Swanson. That would set the stage for the Braves to plate two more runs and cut the deficit back down to one at 4-3.

Xander Bogaerts coldly greeted Braves rookie reliever Kyle Muller in the fifth with an RBI double that drove in J.D. Martinez from first, and he, too, scored on a run-scoring base hit from Rafael Devers. 6-3 Boston.

Again given a sizable cushion to work with, Richards watched that three-run lead dissipate in an instant when he served up a game-tying, three-run home run to Swanson, which would simultaneously mark the end of his outing after failing to record an out in the fifth inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 84 (54 strikes), the 33-year-old did not throw a single curveball on Wednesday and instead operated with just his four-seam fastball and slider. While he did raise his ERA on the season to 4.36, Richards’ next start should come against the Rays back at Fenway Park next Wednesday.

Hirokazu Sawamura got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in relief of Richards, and he was able to preserve the 6-6 stalemate going into the sixth inning by retiring the first three hitters he faced.

The bottom of the sixth, however, was a different story for Sawamura, as he allowed the then-go-ahead run to score on a solo homer from Freeman, which put the Braves up 7-6.

Recently-acquired Yacksel Rios would have to come on for the Japanese hurler, and he wound up picking up his first winning decision with the Red Sox by getting Swanson to line out to limit any further damage.

From there, the Braves turned to veteran reliever Shane Greene, who yielded a leadoff double to Bogaerts, a walk to Devers, and a one-out walk to Christian Vazquez to fill the bases for the Sox’ Nos. 8 and 9 hitters.

Danny Santana was originally going to hit in that No. 9 spot, which led Atlanta to bring in left-hander A.J. Minter. Red Sox manager Alex Cora countered by swapping Santana for the right-handed hitting Arroyo, and that move paid dividends to say the least.

Arroyo’s slam gave Boston a 10-7 advantage going into the late stages. Brandon Workman and Darwinzon Hernandez combined to keep it that way by tossing a scoreless seventh inning, while Josh Taylor did the same in the eighth.

That paved the way for Adam Ottavino, not Matt Barnes, to come on for the save in the ninth.

Ottavino did allow one run to score to narrow the lead to two runs, but he benefitted from Ronald Acuna Jr. running into an out at third base on the very same play the run scored, and followed that by punching out Freeman on four pitches to preserve the 10-8 victory and notch his fourth save of the year.

With the victory, not only do the Red Sox extend their winning streak to three and improve to 42-27 on the season; they also move to a game back of the Rays for first place in the American League East.

Vazquez removed due to stomach issue

Catcher Christian Vazquez needed to be removed from Wednesday’s game in the seventh inning due to what the Red Sox called a stomach illness. He was replaced by Kevin Plawecki.

Next up: First off day in quite a while

The Red Sox will enjoy a much-deserved off day on Thursday after completing a run of 17 games in 17 days without a break. They went 10-7 in that stretch.

Following the off day, the Sox will open up a three-game weekend series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Friday night.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta is slated to get the ball for Boston in the opener, while fellow righty Jackson Kowar is lined up to do the same for Kansas City.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 8:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)