Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Kenley Jansen celebrates the win during the 9th inning of the game against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park in Boston,MA. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane/Boston Herald (Sunday,August 13, 2023).
If this Red Sox season wasn’t already more than halfway into the ground, they took another massive hit on Wednesday.
Kenley Jansen tested positive for coronavirus and is going on the COVID-related injured list, manager Alex Cora announced Wednesday afternoon. The Red Sox recalled Left-hander Brandon Walter to fill his spot on the active roster.
The veteran closer hadn’t pitched in six days when he took the mound for the ninth inning on Tuesday night. He ended up only facing two batters – giving up a leadoff walk to Oswaldo Cabrera and a single to Everson Pereira – before his manager and a trainer came out to collect him. The Red Sox announced that he’d been removed with “fatigue and illness symptoms.”
The veteran closer had been feeling under the weather and dealing with a lingering hamstring issue. Earlier in the week, he was seen wearing a mask in the clubhouse.
Under this season’s Covid protocol, Jansen must remain on the list for at least seven days. He’s the second Red Sox player (Brennan Bernardino) to go on the COVID-19 injured list in the last month after over a year without a single placement.
Jansen was Boston’s lone All-Star this season and their first true closer in several years. He owns a 3.63 ERA across 51 games, including 42 finished, and has converted 29 saves.
How will the Red Sox manage without him?
“We’ll see how it goes,” Cora said. “Mix and match.”
Cora said Corey Kluber “felt good” after his Tuesday evening rehab appearance, his second with Triple-A Worcester. The veteran hurler tossed 2 ⅔ scoreless innings in the WooSox’s 10-2 win over the Syracuse Mets, throwing 35 pitches (23 strikes). He allowed a leadoff single, then retired seven of the next nine batters faced.
Kluber has been out since June 20 with shoulder inflammation. Could he rejoin the team in the coming days? “We’ll see what’s next,” his manager said.
Zack Kelly (shoulder surgery) made a rehab appearance for Double-A Portland on Wednesday evening. The rookie right-hander needed 24 pitches (14 strikes) to get through his two-inning start, which included a 1-2-3 first inning. He gave up a two-out solo home run in the second frame before striking out the last batter. He’s scheduled for another two-inning outing with them on Friday.
During a brief break from this week’s endless rain, Kaleb Ort (elbow inflammation) threw one inning of live batting practice at Fenway. Joely Rodriguez (hip) is “progressing,” Cora said, and has been throwing on flat ground.
With the regular season ending in a little over two weeks and the Red Sox all but officially eliminated from the Wild Card hunt, players are starting to make their offseason plans.
On Wednesday, Cora expressed a hope that several of his team’s younger players will spend some time playing winter ball.
“There are certain guys that, we want them to go,” the manager said. “We’re not opposed to (Enmanuel Valdez) playing, I think it would benefit him.
“And (Wilyer) Abreu, too,” Cora said, then added, “Unless he plays a lot the last two weeks. Maybe that’s the case.”
There’s both risk and reward to a player spending time in one of the winter leagues; injuries can impact and derail spring training and their next season. But if a player wants to go, Cora said they’ll have a conversation and “kind of like, map it out.”
On the farm
In their final homestand of the season, the WooSox set a new Triple-A home-run record. On Tuesday night, Niko Kavadas’ fourth-inning home run tied the previous mark – 209 hit by the1996 Pawtucket Red Sox’s – and Narciso Crook’s homer broke it in the bottom of the sixth.
Kavadas homered again in the seventh for his first Triple-A multi-homer game. Entering Wednesday, the 24-year-old infielder/outfielder has four home runs in his last five games.
Shane Drohan’s first first appearance since Aug. 30 was an odd one. Though the organization’s No. 18 prospect pitched a hitless, shutout 3 ⅔ innings with three strikeouts, by the time he walked off the mound, he’d also walked seven batters.
Around the league
Max Scherzer’s season is over. The 39-year-old ace suffered a strained teres major, the muscle that connects the scapula and humerus, Texas Rangers general manager Chris Young announced on Wednesday afternoon.
It’s a huge blow to the Rangers, who entered Wednesday with an 80-64 record. They’re one game out of first in the American League West and holding the second of the three AL Wild Cards.
The Rangers acquired Scherzer from the New York Mets before last month’s trade deadline, hoping the three-time Cy Young and 2019 World Series champion could help them make their first postseason since 2016. The Texas team is one of the last franchises without a single championship; they lost their only two World Series appearances, to the San Francisco Giants in 2010 and the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011.