Red Sox place Rafael Devers on 10-day disabled list
Lost in the middle of a bang-bang play from nearly a month ago was an injury that nagged at Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers for weeks, until ultimately there was no choice but to place him on the disabled list on Thursday.
On June 17, during a four-game series against the Mariners in Seattle, Devers was on first base when Brock Holt sent a scorching line drive to first.
Devers scrambled to get back to the bag, diving with both arms outstretched before first baseman Ryon Healy could slap a tag on him.
Devers made it back in time, but he stayed on all fours for a spell, gathering himself. Once he got up, he pinched at the area between his neck and left shoulder.
He said he felt discomfort but kept it to himself.
“I just kept playing through it and it progressively just got worse,” he said.
Devers didn’t leave the game. In fact, he was on the field for all but one of the Sox’ next 20 games, hitting .267 with three homers and 13 RBIs.
“I wanted to keep playing to help the team,” Devers said. “But then eventually I got to a point where I asked trainers what they thought, and they said it would be best to take some time.”
Manager Alex Cora noticed some of the effects in Devers’s swing (he struck out 16 times in that span) and in the field (five errors).
“For a kid who’s 21, he never used that as an excuse,” Cora said. “That tells me a lot about him. He was able to handle it, but there’s certain guys that they’ll come out right away. So for him, it’s about playing and contributing, and he was.”
Timing Devers’s placement on the DL will limit the time he misses to just five games if everything goes according to plan. Ideally, he would return for the Sox’ second game after the All-Star break against the Tigers in Detroit. With Devers out of the lineup, Eduardo Nunez was slotted at third base Thursday night for the start of a four-game series against the Blue Jays. Cora said Brock Holt and Steve Pearce are also options as the Sox finish out the first half.
“If it’s changing your swing and it’s bothering you defensively, and we’ve got the All-Star break, and we’ve got those days, this is the perfect time,” Cora said. “Got two lefties, two righties [against Toronto], we’ll take care of it right now. Eduardo’s playing well, Brock is playing well. We’ve got Steve, too. So as far as the roster, we’re covered for this series. He wasn’t going to say no, but I had a conversation that day and then last night we talked about it, and it just made sense as far as the timing of all of it.”
Coming out of the break, the Sox will go with David Price for the series opener against the Tigers. The starter for the second game is still up in the air, but Chris Sale will take the mound in the third game.
“With all the off days that we have, I think this is going to keep [Sale] sharp,” Cora said. “And at the same time, we can steal a few days.”
Sale, who racked up 12 strikeouts Wednesday in his final start of the first half, will have a 10-day gap between starts. He’s going to his seventh All-Star Game.
Cora joked that he’d call his former boss, Astros manager A.J. Hinch, and recommend getting Sale in the game early, but he wasn’t concerned about any innings Sale might pitch having an impact.
“There’s a lot of days, so one inning is not going to hurt him,” Cora said. “Actually, it’s going to benefit us.”
They have options
Brian Johnson, who has been on the disabled list since July 8 (retroactive to July 5) with left hip inflammation, is scheduled to come off the DL Sunday, but Cora still hasn’t decided how he’ll handle that spot in the rotation.
The other option for Sunday’s game is Hector Velazquez, who went three innings in a spot start in Tuesday’s win against the Rangers.
“Hopefully BJ’s healthy and we can use him, then we’ll decide with the matchup where they’re at, what we see and go from there,” Cora said.
Johnson is 1-2 with a 4.23 ERA in 24 appearances this season. He’s made three starts, going 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA.
He and Velazquez combined to pitch six innings June 28 in a 4-2 win over the Angels. Johnson went four, giving up one run on three hits and one walk with two strikeouts.
He took the mound again July 3 against the Nationals, holding them to two runs on eight hits and two walks over 4⅔ innings in an 11-4 win.
Drew Pomeranz is scheduled on Friday to make his third rehab start with Triple A Pawtucket, and Cora said he’ll be looking to see consistency in the lefthander’s mechanics.
“That’s the most important thing with him,” Cora said. “Be on time and be consistent with his release point.”
Pomeranz is 0-1 with a 9.52 ERA during his rehab assignment. He’s given up six runs on nine hits (four homers) and four walks in 5⅔ innings, allowing nearly half of the batters he’s faced to reach base (13 of 28).
Pearce dinged up
Steve Pearce took a 94-mile-per-hour fastball off his left shin in the first inning. With trainers by his side, he limped down the line to take his base. The trainers stayed with him for a while as he tried to shake it off. He was eventually replaced at first base by Blake Swihart in the third inning. Pearce was diagnosed with a left shin contusion and is day to day . . . Wednesday’s 4-2 victory against the Rangers drew an 8.7 household rating in the Boston market, according to NESN. It was the second highest-rated game of season behind the April 10 game against the Yankees that had a 9.1. In all, an estimated 993,000 viewers saw the game in the nine New England television markets . . . Hailey Dawson, an 8-year-old from Las Vegas, threw out the first pitch. Hailey tossed the ball with a robotic right hand made by a 3-D printer at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Fenway is the 21st major league park where she has thrown out a first pitch as part of a campaign to raise awareness for Poland Syndrome. Hailey was born without three fingers on her right hand.