PITTSBURGH — Trevor Story’s return to the Red Sox is picking up speed. The second baseman is traveling with the team on its road trip and hopes to hit on the field by the end of the week.
He took controlled swings in an indoor batting cage before and after Tuesday night’s 5-3 victory against the Pirates at PNC Park.
Story was initially diagnosed with a deep bruise after he was hit while swinging at a pitch thrown by Corey Kluber of the Rays on July 12. A subsequent exam showed he had a hairline fracture in his wrist.
“It took a lot longer than we first thought,” Story said. “But I’m getting close.”
Because of the lengthy layoff, Story will need a few minor league games to get his timing back. He has been taking ground balls and running the bases in the last week. A return to hitting came last because of the impact it has on his hand.
Story has been hitting off a tee or at balls tossed to him. As he progresses, he plans to take swings off a high-velocity pitching machine.
“A lot of it will be getting my eyes used to seeing pitches again,” Story said. “But once I get going, I should be able to make a lot of progress in a short time.”
Story is confident he can return to the team by the end of the month.
“He’s going to be part of this at one point,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Keep improving, keep doing your progression. Whenever he’s ready he’s ready.”
Houck in limbo
Tanner Houck, who has been successful as the closer, was diagnosed with a disk issue after being examined by a back specialist. He remains in Boston getting treatment.
Whether Houck pitches again this season will be determined by how well that treatment works.
“From there, we’ll make a decision about what we’re going to do,” Cora said. “It’s not positive; it’s not negative. It’s in-between right now. This week is going to be huge for him for this season.”
Houck is 5-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 32 games, four of them starts. He has a 2.33 ERA since becoming the closer June 10 and has converted eight of nine save chances.
Pirates infielder Rodolfo Castro was fined and suspended for one game by MLB for having his cellphone during a game Aug 9.
It was not difficult to prove as the phone came flying out Castro’s pocket as he slid into third base and was shown on television. Castro nonetheless appealed and started at third base Tuesday.
Players are prohibited from using devices with Wi-Fi during games. Castro claimed it was an honest mistake.
The Pirates made a roster move before the game, putting third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes on the injured list with a back sprain and recalling infielder Kevin Padlo from Triple A Indianapolis.
Padlo, 26, made his Pirates debut, starting at third base and batting fifth. He had 20 games of major league experience with the Rays, Mariners, and Giants before the Pirates claimed him off waivers Aug. 7.
Captain’s a comic
Game-planning coach Jason Varitek took his family to Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire on Monday. They spotted a man wearing a Varitek T-shirt and decided to have a little fun.
In a video shared on social media by his wife, Catherine, Varitek walked over and asked the fellow how he was enjoying the pizza he was eating.
Then somebody commented on his T-shirt and asked if he was a fan of the former Red Sox catcher.
“Yeah, always,” the man said. “Sometimes you still see him at the games.”
Varitek then introduced himself and the man hugged him.
“You got me,” he said.
Bogaerts gets a day off
Xander Bogaerts, who fouled a ball off his lower left leg over the weekend, was given a day off. Kiké Hernández started at shortstop after being activated off the injured list. The Sox also activated outfielder Rob Refsynder, who had been on the injured list since July 30 with a right knee sprain . . . Infielder Yolmer Sánchez, who was 4 for 37 (.108) in 14 games, was designated for assignment . . . Lefthanded reliever Matt Strahm pitched a perfect inning for Triple A Worcester against Rochester. He struck out one and threw nine of 14 pitches for strikes. Strahm, out since July 13 with a bruised left wrist, could be activated this week . . . Rookie righthander Brayan Bello, who pitched 3⅔ innings Sunday in a rehab start for Double A Portland, is back with the team but remains on the injured list because of a left groin strain. A decision will be made this week as to his next step . . . The Sox are starting Rich Hill on Wednesday and plan to have Josh Winckowski pitch multiple innings in relief behind him. “If they can go eight between the two of them, that would be great,” Cora said . . . Kutter Crawford, Michael Wacha, and Nick Pivetta will be the starters for the Orioles series that starts Friday at Camden Yards.