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Red Sox shake up bullpen as Hirokazu Sawamura, Austin Davis both designated for assignment

Hirokazu Sawamura allowed four runs on three hits and two walks in the sixth inning Sunday. He has a 6.46 ERA and 2.02 WHIP in 15 appearances since the All-Star break.Steven Senne/Associated Press

The Red Sox changed the look of their bullpen after Sunday’s 12-4 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays. Lefthander Austin Davis and righthander Hirokazu Sawamura were designated for assignment after the game according to major league sources.

Righthanders Zack Kelly and Kaleb Ort will be added to the roster on Monday in Minnesota.

Sawamura allowed four runs on three hits and two walks in the sixth inning on Sunday. He has a 6.46 earned run average and 2.02 WHIP in 15 appearances since the All-Star break. The 34-year-old righthander is 6-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 104 regular-season games for the Sox since being signed as a free agent for a modest $3 million out of Japan.


Davis gave up four runs, two earned, in two innings on Sunday.

Acquired at the 2021 trade deadline from Pittsburgh for Michael Chavis, Davis had a 2.16 ERA through his first 31 outings this season, but has allowed 25 earned runs in his last 21 innings.

“It’s more about command. You see the WHIP, you see the walks, you see the counts. He hasn’t been able to put people away,” manager Alex Cora said.

Ort appeared in 12 major league games earlier this season and allowed 15 earned runs on 24 hits and seven walks over 15 innings. But he has pitched well for Triple A Worcester, posting a 2.88 ERA.

Kelly, 27, has no major league experience. He joined the Sox last season as a minor league free agent. He has a 2.72 ERA in 44 games for Worcester.

J.D. Martinez breaks six-week home run drought

J.D. Martinez finally hit his 10th home run of the season Sunday. Martinez stroked a Corey Kluber sinker left in the heart of the plate for a solo shot in the fourth inning. Martinez’s homerless streak, at 129 at-bats and 34 games, was the longest of the designated hitter’s Red Sox career.


Martinez has been taking better swings as of late, driving the ball to the wall despite not always getting results. He followed a 404-foot flyout to straightaway center on Friday with a two-run single off the Green Monster on Saturday.

It’s been a grind to get to this point and feel good about his swing, Martinez said, something that’s still a process. He admitted that it felt good to see one travel over the wall, even if Boston’s hopes for a sweep crashed.

Martinez caught a ride after his fourth-inning homer Sunday afternoon at Fenway.Matthew J Lee/Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

“I know I work real hard, if not harder than anyone,” Martinez said. “I’m not going to stop until I get it right.”

The grind has been rooted in his hips. Martinez said he hasn’t been able to unleash them the way he typically does.

“It’s a mapping thing for my brain. Finding a drill, finding something that gets me to fire my hips correctly,” Martinez said. “I can do them in drills, but when I grab the bat with two hands, it’s been a grind. I’m able to still put some barrels on balls and produce, but getting that extra gear behind it hasn’t been there for me.”

Cora believes Martinez is finally moving toward that gear.

“He swing has been getting better, a lot tighter,” Cora said. “Not chasing so many pitches that are bad. He’s been putting together quality at-bats and hitting the ball hard, so those are good signs.”

Brayan Bello hoping to build something

Rookie Brayan Bello will start Monday’s series opener against the Twins. Bello showed encouraging stuff Wednesday against the Blue Jays, going five innings and yielding two runs on six hits. Bello struck out seven and walked just one in the longest start of his brief major-league career.


“I think when there’s conviction behind his pitches, like everybody else, he’s really good. His stuff is that good,” Cora said.

Bello’s struggles, Cora said, are in part because he had to get used to a big league strike zone. A called strike at the Triple A level isn’t always a called strike in the majors, and hitters haven’t been chasing. And, for what it’s worth, Bello did not have any soft landings. The 23-year-old’s first two starts came against the Rays and Blue Jays.

He began to show promise when the Sox utilized him as the pitcher who followed the opener. He tossed 4⅓ innings against the Brewers, yielding two runs. His next appearance, on Aug. 3 against Houston, Cora and the coaching staff began to see Bello’s true stuff play out, albeit briefly.

“He was about to turn the corner,” Cora said.

A groin strain put him on the injured list for three weeks, but he returned the same pitcher fans saw in Houston.

The Sox aren’t sure how they’ll utilize Bello beyond Monday’s start, but with the team likely out of contention, it could be a benefit to give him some runway into September.

“For now, he’s in the rotation,” Cora said. “There’s no talk about innings limits and all that stuff. He’s one of the best five that we have and he’ll be out there.”


What does the future hold for Bello?Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Injury decisions

Tanner Houck (back), Eric Hosmer (back), and Nate Eovaldi (shoulder) will stay in Boston while the Sox are in Minnesota. Everything is trending in the right direction for all three: Eovaldi will likely throw a bullpen Monday, and Houck could Tuesday. Hosmer will swing a bat Monday . . . Tyler Danish was reinstated from the 15-day injured list and optioned to Triple A Worcester . . . Dylan Bundy is scheduled to oppose Bello on Monday at Target Field, followed by Kutter Crawford vs. Chris Archer on Tuesday, and Michael Wacha vs. Joe Ryan Wednesday.

Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @byJulianMack. Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.