Garrett Whitlock pitched two innings before the Red Sox lost Saturday, 5-4, against Toronto, facing teammates Reese McGuire and Pablo Reyes in a simulated game.
With the Fenway Park stands empty outside a few dozen people taking the ballpark tour, Whitlock worked at his usual brisk clip and showed command of all his pitches, inducing a series of bad swings.
The righthander has been on the injured list since July 3 with a bone bruise in his elbow.
“He was good. [Velocity] was up; the shape of the pitches was good,” manager Alex Cora said.
Whitlock’s fastball was 93-94 m.p.h., according to Cora.
“For me, it was more about repetitions than anything else,” Cora said.
Whitlock was not made available to reporters. The Sox will see how he feels Sunday before deciding his next step, which would likely be starting a minor league rehabilitation assignment. The plan is to bring Whitlock back as a multi-inning relief pitcher. He is 4-3 with a 5.23 earned run average in 10 starts this season.
Story continues rehab play
Trevor Story was the designated hitter for Worcester at Syracuse on Saturday night, going 1 for 4 with a double in his 12th minor league game. He is scheduled to play shortstop behind Chris Sale, also with the Triple A team on a rehab assignment, Sunday afternoon.
Story’s 20-day rehab assignment expires Wednesday. With no minor league games Monday, it’s unclear if Story will be activated then or wait until later in the week.
Cora has said Story will make the decision for when he returns. He has been out all season recovering from elbow surgery.
Tanner Houck started Saturday for the WooSox and allowed two runs on three hits over 1⅔ innings and 46 pitches. It was his first time in a game since being hit in the face by a line drive on June 16 and fracturing several bones.
Sale (shoulder) will be pitching in his second rehab game with Worcester.
Bleier pitching to too much contact
To the extent the Red Sox have a lefty specialist, it’s Richard Bleier. But lefthanded hitters have a 1.030 OPS against Bleier in 44 plate appearances while striking out only five times.
“There’s not too many swings and misses. We haven’t played good defense behind him, either,” Cora said. “But that happens and your job is to throw strikes, and he hasn’t been able to put them away, especially lefties.”
Bleier was on the injured list May 22-July 17 with shoulder inflammation. He has since put 13 runners on base over 8⅓ innings with only three strikeouts.
“It’s one of those, he’s fighting it,” Cora said.
Bleier was obtained Jan. 30 from the Marlins for fellow reliever Matt Barnes, who had been designated for assignment. The deal has so far been a wash. Barnes had a 5.48 ERA over 24 games before undergoing season-ending hip surgery.
Bleier has a 5.40 ERA over 26 games and would seem to be in danger of losing his roster spot as the Sox get players off the injured list.
Mayer out with shoulder inflammation
Double A shortstop Marcelo Mayer, the organization’s top prospect, was placed on the injured list with what was said to be inflammation in his left shoulder. The Sox believe the injury is minor and will simply require rest and extra treatment.
The issue may have contributed to Mayer’s recent struggles in Portland, where he had been expanding the strike zone in uncharacteristic fashion since returning from the All-Star Futures Game.
The result has been the most prolonged slump of his professional career. In his last 14 games, Mayer hit .175 with a .493 OPS. He had 25 strikeouts and three walks in 61 plate appearances.
In all, Mayer has hit .189 with a .609 OPS in 43 games for the Sea Dogs and hasn’t driven in a run since July 21.
Alfaro chooses to walk away
Catcher Jorge Alfaro, who was designated for assignment Tuesday, cleared waivers and elected free agency. Alfaro was 2 for 17 in eight games for the Sox and caught only 36 innings in the 19 games he was on the roster … The Sox are 24-33 in August the last two seasons … The usually pristine greensward at Fenway has patches of sod throughout the outfield, particularly in right field, after the recent Pink and Fall Out Boy concerts. There are five more shows scheduled Aug. 16-21.