The Red Sox’ starting rotation has been plagued with injuries for some time now, but developments among several key players Tuesday could mean more security is in the team’s future.
Michael Wacha looked stronger after being scratched from his start Monday with a “heavy arm.” He was at Fenway playing catch and will have a bullpen session Wednesday. Manager Alex Cora said the righthander is slated to start Friday against the Yankees “if everything goes well.”
Wacha has made 13 starts this season, his last being in the 6-5 loss at Toronto on June 28.
Nate Eovaldi and Garrett Whitlock each threw two innings against batters prior to the second game of a three-game set against Tampa Bay. Kevin Plawecki caught Eovaldi’s session.
“He looked better than he did in Anaheim when he got the win that day, he kind of hurt everything, so he looked really good,” Plawecki said.
Eovaldi’s progress is a positive change of events. He left his last start against the Angels on June 8 with soreness and days later was placed on the injured list, retroactive to June 9, with “low back inflammation.”
He was eligible to return in late June, but slow progress pushed that back.
“I felt good mechanically,” Eovaldi said. “A few little things to tinker with but it’s still early and I think I’ll be ready to go.”
Chris Sale is slated to make a rehab start for Triple A Worcester on Wednesday.
“They got bobbleheads over there tomorrow or something like that?” Cora smiled. “To the people in Worcester, you’re welcome.”
Cora said he hopes to get five innings out of the lefty and there’s a chance Sale could return to the Red Sox “at one point next week.”
Cora identified Josh Winckowski as the starter for Thursday’s series opener against the Yankees. He did not name a starter for Saturday.
Xander Bogaerts returned to the lineup after being pulled in the seventh inning of Sunday’s 4-2 extra-inning win over the Cubs.
Bogaerts received seven stitches in his left leg after a collision with Willson Contreras and did not play in Monday’s series opener against the Rays.
“A little sore but, you know, just a boo-boo, put a Band-Aid on and play,” said Cora.
Bogaerts hit a two-run home run to center field in the first inning and later added an RBI sacrifice fly in the Red Sox’ 8-4 loss to the Rays. The homer snapped his 25-game streak without a long ball.
Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers had Tuesday off. Rob Refsnyder stepped in at left field and Christian Arroyo played third base with Bogaerts’s return to shortstop. Devers’s presence was still felt, as #VOTEDEVERS was chalked in behind the plate.
Kiké Hernández continues to improvement from a strained right hip flexor and could go on a rehab assignment over the weekend. He took part in live batting practice sessions with Eovaldi and Whitlock, and ran the bases.
“He’s moving well, now it’s all about the baseball part of it,” said Cora.
The final pitch of Whitlock’s session came with a scare as minor leaguer Grant Williams lined a pitch up the middle that caught Whitlock on the cleat.
Cora said Whitlock may need “a few” minor league rehab outings before he is ready to be activated.
Josh Taylor will pitch Wednesday after Sale as he continues his rehab assignment in Worcester.
Darwinzon Hernandez, who had knee surgery in May to repair a torn right meniscus, struck out the side in his one inning for Worcester on Monday. It was his first appearance since May 13.
Take it easy
Pitching prospect Brayan Bello will make his major league debut Wednesday.
“Let’s chill [Wednesday], let him enjoy it. Whatever happens, happens,” Cora said.
“This kid is going to be a big part of this organization for a long, long time, so tomorrow is about going out there and being a big leaguer. If being a big leaguer is going five and no runs, so be it. If it’s three and he gives up seven, so be it, too.”
In nine games with Worcester, Bello had a 2.81 ERA. He said he will have some family in attendance for Wednesday’s game.
“I’m really happy to get the opportunity to make my MLB debut here in Fenway in front of all the fans,” said the 23-year-old. “I’ve been working really hard for this moment to be here and I’m excited. I’m just ready to go.”
The Baseball Hall of Fame released a list of 54 former inductees expected to attend the July 24 ceremony when David Ortiz will headline the 2022 class. Red Sox notables Wade Boggs, Pedro Martinez, and Jim Rice were listed.
Carl Yastrzemski, 82, was not on the list.
Jayna Bardahl was a Globe intern in 2022. Follow her on Twitter @Jaynabardahl.