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2 More Red Sox Players Out Due to COVID, Including Sunday's Starting Pitcher

The slew of positive tests began at the end of August, and the outbreak comes in the home stretch of the regular season as the Sox are fighting for a playoff spot.

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Right-handed pitcher Nick Pivetta, who was scheduled to start Sunday as the Boston Red Sox host Cleveland, was added to the team's growing COVID-19 injured list just three hours before the game.

Pivetta will be replaced by Kutter Crawford, a right-handed pitcher from Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Sunday. Shortly after, the team announced that infielder/outfielder Danny Santana was also added to the list and being replaced by outfielder Franchy Cordero from Triple-A Worcester.

The Red Sox' roster is in a state of upheaval as the team deals with a coronavirus outbreak. Pivetta and Santana's status bring the team's total to 14 players and coaches out due to COVID.

Rookie outfielder Jarren Duran was just added Saturday to the COVID-19 Related Injured List and catcher Connor Wong was recalled from Worcester in a corresponding roster move. As of Friday, there were 12 players and coaches out on COVID protocols, either for testing positive or for having close contacts who did.

Pivetta, 28, has made 26 starts for the Red Sox this season, going 9-7 with a 4.67 ERA (70 ER/135.0 IP) and 151 strikeouts. In five of his starts, he threw at least 5.0 innings, allowed two hits or fewer, and surrendered zero runs.

Crawford, 25, is making his first appearance on a major league roster. Selected by the Red Sox in the 16th round of the 2017 June Draft, the right-hander is 17-20 with a 3.56 ERA (122 ER/308.2 IP) in 63 career minor league appearances (62 starts).

A Florida native, Crawford began the 2021 season with Double-A Portland before making his Triple-A debut in July. Crawford most recently pitched on Aug. 27 against Buffalo, earning the win after allowing one unearned run on one hit with eight strikeouts and zero walks in 6.0 innings.

Santana, 30, has played in 35 games with Boston this season and batted .168 (18-for-107) with two doubles, one triple, four home runs, and 13 RBI. He has made 12 starts in center field, 11 at first base, two in left field, and two at designated hitter.

Cordero, 27, has appeared in 47 games with the Red Sox this season, making 27 starts in left field, eight at first base, one in right field, and one at designated hitter. He has hit .189 (24-for-127) with six doubles, one home run, and nine RBI. In 58 games with Worcester, Cordero has batted .309 (67-for-217) with a .914 OPS, seven home runs, and nine stolen bases.

"It's gut-wrenching," Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom said Wednesday when asked about the team's cases. "How else can you react? Every single one has been."

He said he wished the team knew why the outbreak was happening so it could prevent it, and emphasized that he and the organization are in favor of people being vaccinated.

Despite the outbreak, Bloom said that there had been no talk of postponing any upcoming games.

On Tuesday night, shortstop Xander Bogaerts was abruptly pulled from the Sox' game against the Rays. His positive test was confirmed by the team's public relations department.

Bogaerts had started the game for the Red Sox, picking up an RBI single in the top of the first inning. He was replaced by Jonathan Arauz prior to the start of the bottom of the second at Tropicana Field. The 28-year-old Bogaerts, an All-Star for the third time this season, leads the team in average (.297), hits (136) and on-base percentage (.365).

After the game, Cora said, "Obviously Xander, he's the leader of the team. He's one of the best shortstops, if not the best shortstop, in the league. We're gonna miss him but we still have our pitching staff, we still have some capable guys that can swing the bats."

The slew of positive tests began at the end of August, and the outbreak comes in the home stretch of the regular season as the Sox are fighting for a playoff spot.

Cora said Tuesday night he recognizes the playoff race doesn't stop just because the team is dealing with COVID concerns.

"Like I said yesterday and I'm gonna keep saying it. They're not gonna stop the tournament for the Red Sox. We know that. So we gotta figure this out. Show up tomorrow, play good baseball, do it the next day and then go home, and you know see where we're at."

Prior to Tuesday night's game at Tampa Bay, Cora announced that reliever Hirokazu Sawamura had also tested positive for the virus.

The Boston bullpen has been hit hard by the outbreak that started last week.

Left-hander Martín Pérez and right-hander Matt Barnes were added to the COVID-19 injured list before Monday’s 6-1 loss to the Rays. It was announced afterward that reliever Josh Taylor and first base coach Tom Goodwin were in quarantine as close contacts, and quality control coach Ramón Vázquez had tested positive.

In addition to Barnes and Pérez, quality control coach Rámon Vázquez tested positive, the Boston Globe reported, while first base coach Tom Goodwin and reliever Josh Taylor have been identified as close contacts. Taylor was removed from the bullpen during the fifth inning of Monday night's game and Goodwin did not coach.

It started last week when Kiké Hernández and Christian Arroyo both tested positive and were placed on the COVID-19 injured list Friday, followed by strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose.

Barnes has reportedly been vaccinated, so while he joins others in quarantine, he could return sooner than unvaccinated players.

Cora said before Monday's game that Pérez had tested positive. The news about Barnes came just before the first pitch. Cora spoke about the mounting concerns.

"I'm just tired, to be honest with you. You know, to be thinking about it the whole time and have to deal with this before a game and during the game and all that. Honestly, that's how I feel right now," Cora said. "The season part and all that stuff, that's the easy part for me. But to have to deal with everything that has to do with this - it's not easy. It's not easy."

Cora and the Red Sox will now be wearing masks in the dugout as a result of the potential outbreak. The team is also going through MLB COVID protocols that include contact tracing as well as testing.

Cora said Hernández and Arroyo are both feeling OK.

Pérez is 7-8 with a 4.88 ERA in 31 games this season, including 22 starts.

Barnes has allowed 10 earned runs over 6 2/3 innings in 11 appearances during August and watched his ERA climb from 2.30 to 3.81.

The Associated Press/NBC
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