HOUSTON — Rookie righthander Brayan Bello exited Wednesday’s series finale against the Astros with a left groin strain. Bello entered the game in the top of the fourth inning after Rich Hill yielded six runs in just three innings of work.
The plan was for Hill to go at least five and then hand the ball to Bello, hoping he could finish the game with the Sox bullpen on fumes.
But with two on and two outs in the fourth, manager Alex Cora noticed Bello laboring some on the mound.
“Right before the at-bat [against Jeremy Peña] I saw Bello stretching out,” Cora said after the Sox’ 6-1 loss Thursday. “Then he threw two pitches that didn’t do much and after the second one I saw him step back.”
“I felt it a little bit on that last pitch to [Christian] Vázquez,” Bello said. “The following pitches, I started to feel it a little bit more and more. I decided to stop. I hope it’s not that long [that I’m out]. But, honestly, I don’t know how long it’s going to be.”
Alex Cora remembers Vin Scully as ‘amazing’
Cora grew up in the Dodger organization. He was drafted by the club in the third round back in 1996 out of the University of Miami. Cora made his debut in 1998 and, of course, got the chance to rub shoulders with the legendary Dodger broadcaster, Vin Scully, who passed away Tuesday evening at 94 years old.
Cora took the time to remember Scully Wednesday morning prior to the Sox’ series finale loss.
“First of all he was amazing,” Cora said. “Just the way he did it by himself and the voice and the presence and the way he dressed.”
Cora mentioned Scully’s signature introduction to games, “It’s time for Dodger baseball.”
“Growing up in the organization, I loved that,” Cora said.
Scully was always in the clubhouse talking to players, adding that Scully had a way of putting them at ease when they were in slumps.
He also wasn’t afraid to be critical or tell the truth on the broadcast when need be.
A highlight moment of Cora’s career with the Dodgers came in 2004 against the Cubs. Cora put together an 18-pitch at-bat against Matt Clement which ended in a three-run homer. But what people don’t remember, Cora said with a smile, were the two at-bats prior to his homer.
In the first at-bat, Cora flied out against Clement. In the second he flied out again which prompted Scully to offer his opinion over the broadcast.
‘”When you don’t have power and you hit the ball in the air like that, bad things are going to happen,’” Cora remembered Scully saying. “He was basically calling me a bad hitter. And then, boom, I hit a home run. I always remember that. I always go back to that, but the man was special.”
Jason Varitek tutoring Reese McGuire
New Red Sox catcher Reese McGuire has some catching up to do when it comes to learning a pitching staff. It’s August with roughly two months of the season left. Despite time working against him and the Sox, the team is confident McGuire can, in fact, get into a rhythm with the staff because of one key person: game planning coordinator Jason Varitek.
“The Captain has been in the [clubhouse] since Tuesday,” Cora said. “Just relentless. Working and walking Reese the whole thing. Reese is a veteran, too. He worked with some people that used to work here. So we know a lot about Reese and he’ll be fine.”
Varitek sat at one of the circular tables in the clubhouse prior to the game, scouring through information, making sure McGuire is prepared as much as possible.
“It’s just like anything where you get the game plan, you kind of get an understanding of what guys like to do and then once the game starts adjustments can be made,” McGuire said.
Jackie Bradley Jr. to the bench
With Tommy Pham now a part of the mix, Jackie Bradley Jr. will be used in a bench role. Alex Verdugo has since shifted to right field, and despite Jarren Duran’s continued struggles (.181 with 36 strikeouts in his last 104 plate appearances plus a minus five in defensive runs saved), Duran will be the Sox everyday center fielder. Verdugo is minus two in defensive runs saved this year. Pham, meanwhile, is a plus-4, meaning the combined starting to outfield is minus-3 … Michael Wacha (right shoulder inflammation) will toss four innings for Triple A Worcester Thursday. James Paxton (Tommy John) took part in an up and down Tuesday. The Sox’ upcoming starters for the Royals series: Nick Pivetta, TBD (likely Josh Winckowski), Nathan Eovaldi, and Kutter Crawford. Royals starters: Kris Bubic, Zack Greinke, Daniel Lynch, and Brad Keller. … There was an unusual sequence leading off the bottom of the third inning as Yordan Alvarez struck out but wasn’t called out. Houston’s designated hitter took a ball from Hill. The next pitch was a called strike. After a foul ball, Hill threw a changeup that was called a strike by umpire Jim Wolf. But the at-bat continued and Alvarez grounded out to first base. Houston manager Dusty Baker admitted he missed it. The Sox noticed it but not in time to protest … Eric Hosmer is expected to make his debut Thursday in Kansas City. He will visit Kansas City for the first time since he left as a free agent following the 2017 season.