SAN DIEGO — David Price won’t be ready to help save the Red Sox this weekend.
While there was once some thought Price could return from the injured list to pitch against the Padres in the series finale Sunday, the Red Sox decided to go with Brian Johnson and give Price more time to recover from a cyst in his wrist.
Johnson has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) while throwing just 12 innings over four starts since returning from a personal issue in early August. He’ll likely start Sunday unless he’s needed out of the bullpen before then.
Price will throw 50 to 55 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday in Colorado.
“We didn’t feel comfortable pushing him to pitch this weekend,” manager Alex Cora said. “It’s not that there’s some red flags, but he’s not where we want him to be. This is a guy that we have to take care of.”
More often than not, Price has been able to come back from injury directly without rehab starts or simulated games. Is it a stamina issue or a pitch command issue?
“Yeah, both I think, both,” Cora said. “We’ve just got to make sure.”
Price threw on the field before Friday’s game before talking with Cora.
“I talked to him like an hour ago,” Cora said. “I talked to all the guys to see where we’re at. Talked to the medical staff and we felt as a group, this was the best way to go. Throw Tuesday and go from there.”
Asked if Price argued to make the start on Sunday or was on board with the decision, Cora said, “He’s on board.”
Bullpen heats up
The Red Sox’ bullpen owns MLB’s lowest ERA (2.81) and lowest opponent AVG (.201) since July 24.
Josh Taylor’s emergence and the return of Ryan Brasier have made the bullpen more sturdy of late.
Brasier’s 98 mph heater has looked much better after spending half the season in Triple-A Pawtucket.
“You see the fastball where it’s playing,” Cora said. “The slider is a lot better but I do feel the fastball command is a lot better than early in the season. Even when he was having success. Velocity, he’s been able to maintain it, but in this level even if you throw 98 or 99, if you don’t place it where you should, you’re going to pay the price.”
Cora previously said he over-relied on Matt Barnes early in the year. He was asked if he felt the same way about Brasier.
“No, and you know what, I think people took it the wrong way, that I apologized about the plan,” Cora said. “I didn’t apologize about the plan. I was honest with the way things were going. Because if you look around the league and how it works, there aren’t too many guys out there that are facing three, four, five all the time. It’s just the nature of the game. We asked a lot from him but we decided to make adjustments.
“Brasier, no, not really. I just feel like he struggled against lefties. It was just about command. It wasn’t about usage or pushing him against X or Y players. I think the fastball wasn’t going where it was supposed to be, just like last year, and that’s why he struggled.”
J.D. in field
With no designated hitter in the National League park, J.D. Martinez made the start in right field Friday. It was his 28th start in the outfield this year after making 57 starts in the outfield in 2018.
“We’ll take it day by day,” Cora said. “I don’t want to push him out there and all of a sudden his back starts acting up and we lose him for a long period of time. He’s scheduled to play tonight. He’ll tell me how he feels about it and if he’s scheduled to play tonight. He’ll tell me how he feels about it. If he’s OK he’ll play tomorow. And we’ll see Sunday.”
Michael Chavis began a rehab assignment with the PawSox on Friday.
“He’s going to play first base, five at-bats,” Cora said.
Asked if he could return in Colorado, Cora said, “We’ll see how it goes.” ...
Heath Hembree is nearing a comeback from an injection and should be able to pitch before the season is done.
“But he hasn’t thrown yet,” Cora said. “I think as far as like the way he has bounced back the last few days, you can see as far as exercises in the trainer’s room, and doing all the stuff to get to the next step that is playing catch, he’s moving fairly quick the last few days. We’re still very positive with Heath. There’s a good chance that he will pitch this season.”