TAMPA — Martin Perez arrived at Red Sox camp as the No. 5 starter. Then David Price was traded before Chris Sale was shelved by pneumonia and elbow pain.
Now Perez is the No. 3 starter, somebody the Sox will be counting on to help prop up the rest of their rotation, which is very much a work in progress.
That made his start against the Yankees on Tuesday somewhat of a test. Perez failed in every way, surrendering six runs on four hits, a walk, and two wild pitches. He also failed to cover first base on a routine play and was lifted from the game after 34 pitches having recorded only two outs.
That an error by shortstop C.J. Chatham made five of the runs unearned didn’t matter.
“Bad luck,” Perez said with a laugh. “I threw everything I’ve got. But I’m healthy and in good shape.”
Perez threw 20 extra pitches in the bullpen to get his work in.
“At this point it doesn’t matter about the results,” he said. “You want to win but we’re just trying to work to get ready for the season. Everything was fine.”
Perez did hit 96 miles per hour with his fastball and manager Ron Roenicke said he felt he pitched better than the results showed.
“I thought he threw the ball really well. They didn’t square a ball up,” Roenicke said.
The Sox have gaping holes in their rotation with the news that Sale could need Tommy John surgery. But how can they fill those gaps with Opening Day coming up on March 26?
The best free agent starters — Clay Buchholz, Andrew Cashner, Marco Estrada, Matt Harvey, and Jason Vargas — are not particularly appealing and wouldn’t have time to get ready.
The other alternative for the Sox would be to use untested internal options such as Chris Mazza, Matt Hall, or Bryan Mata, or give another chance to Brian Johnson or Hector Velazquez.
“In today’s baseball, it’s a concern,” Roenicke said. “You have to deal with it because five starters aren’t going through a season. The more depth you have when these things crop up — whether it’s one guy, two or three — you’re more able to handle what happens and the length of time it happens.
“I don’t want to think about what’s going to happen either way. We’ll deal with it as it comes day to day.”
Xander Bogaerts, who has yet to play this spring because of a sore left ankle, has improved significantly in recent days and should be able to get in a game in the coming days.
Roenicke said Bogaerts would DH in his first game.
Andrew Benintendi was 0 for 3 and struck out twice against the Yankees after missing four days with a sore quadriceps.
Tzu-Wei Lin came out of the game after the first inning with a tight left hamstring. He will miss at least a few days.
Back in the Fort
Hall, Mata, Mazza, Velazquez, Trevor Hildenberger, Mike Kickham, and Daniel McGrath pitched in a simulated game in Fort Myers . . . The Sox, who are carrying an unwieldy 67 players on their spring training roster, are planning to make some cuts in a few days . . . The Sox were 0-2 against the Yankees in the Grapefruit League. The teams next play May 8 in the Bronx . . . Michael Chavis, who was 1 for 3 on Tuesday, has struck out eight times in 15 at-bats . . . As the Red Sox were discussing Sale’s situation across the field before the game, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that Aaron Judge (right shoulder) and Giancarlo Stanton (right calf) were likely to open the season on the injured list.