TORONTO — The Red Sox are without outfielder Jarren Duran and righthander Tanner Houck, both landing on the restricted list before Monday’s 7-2 loss to the Blue Jays as a result of their unvaccinated status. Three months ago, the Red Sox wanted to ensure the same would not be true of Trevor Story.
As Story neared agreement on his six-year, $140 million deal in March, the Sox declared Story needed to get vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s a stance the team struck largely because it wanted to ensure he would be available for all games in Canada (which requires visitors to be vaccinated), including potential postseason ones.
The Sox do not have an established policy requiring players whom they sign as free agents or acquire in trades to be vaccinated, but all of the other players whom the Sox had signed at that point in spring training were. The team wanted to avoid a scenario in which a potentially pivotal player would be unavailable for crucial games against a key divisional opponent.
Ultimately, Story agreed to get vaccinated out of a desire to be available. As he prepared to face the Blue Jays in Rogers Centre on Monday, Story felt that his decision had been a good one.
“To me, it’s a very personal decision, whichever way you want to decide. But at the end of the day, that’s what it came down to — playing these games in Canada. We obviously know how tough this division is. Each game counts,” said Story, who struck out three times Monday, but delivered Boston’s first run with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly. “So here we are.”
The second baseman suggested it would have been hard to have been away from the team for these games, particularly with the Red Sox amidst one of their hottest stretches in the last 20 years.
“We feel like every day when we’re coming to the park, it’s contagious. We feel like we’re creating a lot of momentum. Guys are showing up 12:30, 1 o’clock for a 7 o’clock game. Good teams I’ve been a part of in the past, it’s been that way. It’s exciting, man,” said Story. “That’s something I want to be a part of.”
Without Duran and Houck, the Red Sox called up Monday’s starter Connor Seabold and infielder Yolmer Sánchez from Triple-A Worcester. Righthander Silvino Bracho is with the team on the taxi squad, and will likely be added to the roster Tuesday with Seabold to return to the WooSox.
Around the injured list
Garrett Whitlock — on the injured list since June 10 due to a right hip strain — threw a bullpen session in Toronto. He’ll throw off a mound again on Friday in Chicago, and also take part in fielding drills in an effort to stress the injured area.
“It went well,” said Sox manager Alex Cora. “I think [Friday’s fielding drills are] the most important thing, actually, for him to move around and see how he feels and we’ll decide what we do after that.”
Lefthander Chris Sale threw a bullpen session in Fort Myers on Monday morning and will head to Double-A Portland in advance of his start there on Thursday, Cora said. Meanwhile, lefthander Josh Taylor will make a one-inning rehab appearance with Portland on Tuesday. While the reliever has been making game appearances every other day, Cora said that the Sox likely will want him to progress to the point where he pitches on back-to-back days before activating him.
At that point, it’s possible that Taylor could join a crowd of lefthanded relievers that already includes Matt Strahm, Jake Diekman, and Austin Davis.
“It’s too soon to start thinking about four lefties in the bullpen,” said Cora. “Let’s get him ready, let’s get him healthy, and the front office will do what they do.”
Nate Eovaldi — on the injured list since June 10 with lower back soreness — played catch on Monday and could throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. Outfielder Kiké Hernández (hip) has started throwing, but still isn’t swinging or taking fly balls.
Triston Casas among prospects getting healthy
According to farm director Brian Abraham, Triston Casas started swinging a bat again on Monday. The Red Sox second-ranked prospect, out since May 17 with a high right ankle sprain, is rehabbing in Fort Myers. Because of the amount of stress the 6-foot-5, 260-pound slugger puts on his landing foot, the team had been waiting until he could swing pain-free before having him resume doing so . . . Righthander Bryan Mata will pitch for Portland on Tuesday as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery in April 2021. The hard-throwing 23-year-old made four rehab starts, the last three with High-A Greenville, before being activated from the injured list for the purpose of returning to the upper levels . . . Righthander Thad Ward, out since undergoing Tommy John surgery last June, threw a simulated game at the team’s spring training complex in Fort Myers over the weekend and could start a rehab assignment as soon as this week.