ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts was removed from Tuesday’s game prior to the bottom of the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays because of a positive COVID test.
Bogaerts had an RBI single in the first. He was set to start the bottom of the second inning but was removed from the field by manager Alex Cora. Bogaerts was considered a close contact after Monday’s game before a later test Tuesday revealed that he contracted the virus.
That only adds to the Sox’ COVID issues. Prior to Tuesday’s game, Cora announced Hirokazu Sawamura tested positive.
Sawamura and Bogaerts join Kiké Hernández, Christian Arroyo, Matt Barnes, Martín Pérez, quality control coach Rámon Vázquez, and strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose as the seventh team member to have tested positive. Josh Taylor and first base coach Tom Goodwin are the close contacts.
“I’m not going to go into details with this,” Cora said before his team’s 8-5 loss to the Rays. “But I’m not as frustrated with the situation because I know everything else about it. So I’ve been saying all along, it’s their choice and you have to respect that. It just happened to us.”
The Red Sox placed Taylor, Sawamura, and Bogaerts on the COVID-related injured list. The team added righthander Brad Peacock, who allowed five runs in a Tuesday start which lasted just 2 ⅓ innings, and lefthander Stephen Gonsalves to the active big league roster before the game.
The Red Sox already had a depleted bullpen heading into this road trip. Cora said heading into this series that a couple of relievers would be down a couple of days. The loss of Barnes, Sawamura, Taylor, and Pérez hurts their depth and puts even more pressure on the Sox starters to go deeper into games, though Peacock was expected to throw a maximum of four innings Tuesday and didn’t even last that long.
“It’s not easy,” Cora said on managing the bullpen. “But I think we have to pick and choose in certain games that we can be very aggressive and in the other ones, we have to be more patient. So that’s on us as a staff to recognize when we can go all out. And then there’s certain days that we have to step back and just let the game breathe and see where it takes us.”
The Red Sox should have some help soon with the team likely to activate Ryan Brasier off the injured list for Wednesday’s game.
Hunter Renfroe was activated from the bereavement list and batted leadoff Tuesday, the first time in his career that he’s started a game in that spot ... The Red Sox entered the evening with six consecutive losses at Tropicana Field ... The Sox returned Raynel Espinal to the taxi squad. Espinal tossed two innings, yielding two runs ... Gonsalves pitched 2 ⅔ against the Rays and allowed two runs ... In addition to Brasier, the team will likely activate Danny Santana from the injured list ... Rosters are set to expand to 28 Wednesday.
Julian McWilliams can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack.