The Red Sox placed Garrett Whitlock on the 15-day injured list Friday (retroactive to April 25) with right elbow ulnar neuritis.
They recalled Brayan Bello from Worcester to fill Whitlock’s roster spot.
Manager Alex Cora said the team first knew of Whitlock’s issue three weeks ago during a bullpen session and thought he could pitch through it because his symptoms were mild. Whitlock felt what he described as a tingling and numb sensation.
But once the symptoms became more defined during a recent bullpen, pitching coach Dave Bush shut Whitlock down.
Cora said the Sox aren’t too concerned regarding Whitlock’s injury, hoping he will miss just two starts. Whitlock has not undergone an MRI, and as of now, that will remain the case.
“Probably later in the season, he could push through it, but right now it doesn’t make any sense,” Cora said before Friday’s 5-2 Guardians win. “So, we’ll take care of him.”
Elbow injuries aren’t new to Whitlock, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019. That alone should play into some of the Sox’ caution. Rays starter Jeffrey Springs recently underwent Tommy John after getting an initial diagnosis of ulnar neuritis.
This season marks the second time the Sox have tried to transition Whitlock into a starter’s role. He got hurt both times.
Whitlock went on the IL with a bad right hip last June. When he returned to the mound, it was, again, as a reliever, but he walked with a noticeable limp and was shut down in mid-September.
Whitlock rehabbed all offseason following hip surgery and was held back at the start of the season, making his first start April 11 against the Rays. Nevertheless, the Sox don’t believe these two injuries should make them question the righthander’s durability as a starter.
“You can see it the other way around,” Cora said. “If you’re a reliever, you pitch every two days. So it really doesn’t matter. As a starter, you got four days in between starts. Of course, you have five or six innings.
“When you pitch every other day, you never know what can happen. That part we can’t control. We see him as a starter.”
Whitlock, 26, is 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA in three starts this season.
Bello last pitched against the Brewers on Sunday, allowing three runs on 4⅔ innings in a 12-5 win. He was sent down to Worcester Monday after the Sox added reliever Brennan Bernadino.
Comfortable as a visitor
Terry Francona, whose eight-year tenure as Red Sox manager from 2004-11 delivered two championships and is tied for the second-longest in franchise history, is very much at home as a visitor at Fenway Park. Francona is in his 11th year with the Guardians, making him that franchise’s longest-tenured skipper.
”It has been a long time [since managing the Red Sox],” Francona said. “Time goes fast. . . . Some days it feels like it was yesterday, and then some days, I’ll look in the mirror and realize that it hasn’t been just yesterday.
“But the further you get removed, especially when you’re happy in a place, it’s easier to remember all the good, which is good. I think that’s normal, and it’s easier to think about a lot of good times. That’s a good thing.”
Triple A thoughts
James Paxton (hamstring) is still scheduled to make his next rehab start Sunday for Worcester. He could join the Sox following it, though that hasn’t been determined. According to Cora, Paxton might need another start as he continues to clean up his mechanics. In his last two outings — one start, one in relief — Paxton allowed a combined 11 earned runs in just five innings . . . Chris Martin (shoulder) allowed a pair of singles and two runs in the sixth inning at Worcester, earning the 4-2 victory at Polar Park. He will likely rejoin the Sox this weekend . . . Joely Rodriguez (oblique) threw a bullpen Friday, and will next throw a live bullpen . . . The Sox claimed righthander Justin Garza off waivers from the Angels and optioned him to Worcester. Garza, 29, has pitched in 21 games in the big leagues, all with Cleveland in 2021, when he posted a 4.71 ERA with 29 strikeouts. This season, he has made six appearances with Triple A Salt Lake, allowing four runs on six hits in 8⅓ innings.