FORT MYERS, Fla. — There are plenty of veteran pitchers in Red Sox camp this season with long injury histories, but the first pitcher sidelined by soreness this spring has a far shorter resume.
The Red Sox shut down second-year pitcher Brayan Bello on Friday for at least a few days with forearm soreness. The hope is that it’s a minor muscle flare-up and that he’ll be back to throwing on Monday, but given his importance to the team, they are playing it extra cautious with the young right-hander.
“Nothing to alarm, but obviously he’s so important to the organization and what we’re trying to accomplish,” manager Alex Cora said. “He’ll be back on his throwing program on Monday.”
Bello threw a bullpen earlier this week and complained of soreness shortly thereafter. The 23-year-old threw 96 innings last season between Double A and Triple A before throwing an additional 57 1/3 innings after debuting in the majors in July.
Cora wanted to ensure Bello wasn’t trying to play through an injury that cropped up over the winter.
“I actually talked to him, one of those heart-to-hearts, did this happen here or before?” Cora said. “He was like, no, no (here). He threw a lot of breaking balls in that bullpen working on stuff. It was kind of like a different bullpen for him. He felt it, but we’re very confident that Monday he’s back on his throwing program and we’ll go from there.”
Nevertheless, Bello’s status will be something to monitor in the coming days. With Chris Sale, Corey Kluber and James Paxton all possessing lengthy injury histories and Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck also coming off surgeries from last season, the Red Sox are planning to bring along most of the group slowly. But an injury to Bello would be a rough start to the spring, so the Red Sox will wait and see where the young righty is on Monday after a few days off.
Notes from camp:
• Kluber threw his first bullpen of camp Friday. The right-hander made 31 starts with a 4.34 ERA for the Rays last year in his first fully healthy season since 2018.
“In that regard, just the mental side of knowing I’m still capable of doing that,” Kluber, who turns 37 in April, said of coming off a healthy year. “Even though you have belief in yourself when you go through a few years of injuries in a row there are always some doubts in the back of your mind, am I going to be doing the right things? The wrong things? Do I need to change? But being able to get through a season healthy and feel like I have sort of pinned down a good, new routine to help me do that I’m excited about the year.”
• After being shut down in August with a lat strain, James Paxton is back to full strength. He threw eight bullpens this winter and had his first bullpen of Red Sox camp on Thursday. Paxton said it was nice to do normal spring training drills, ones that most pitchers consider boring, but ones that he hasn’t done in a while.
After the Red Sox turned down a two-year, $26 million club option this winter, the lefty exercised a player option in his contract worth $4 million to remain in Boston. He likely could have made more money on the free-agent market, even coming off injury, but opted to remain with a training staff and environment where he was comfortable.
“I haven’t pitched healthy in like three years,” he said. “I’m comfortable here. They know me. I know them. I’m trying to kind of establish myself back in the big leagues, and I felt like this was a good place to do it.”
• Whitlock and Houck threw their first bullpens of camp on Friday and appeared fully healthy.
• On Thursday, the Red Sox signed infielder Yu Chang. Chang had made a brief appearance with the club in September before being designated for assignment in the offseason. Chang will offer extra depth at shortstop for the Red Sox as Adalberto Mondesi continues his rehab from ACL surgery.
“We know Mondi, there’s a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day,” Cora said. “So we need a deeper roster and with him we accomplish that.”
“His defense was good,” Cora added. “He put up good at-bats, but defensively he’s solid. You can move him around, good athlete.”
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox placed Trevor Story on the 60-day injury list.
• Cora isn’t ruling out different lineup constructions. While Masataka Yoshida could lead off, he also said Kiké Hernández and Alex Verdugo are options. Yoshida doesn’t have much experience at leadoff after hitting third or fourth in Japan and could need some time to get adjusted to the league’s pitching before taking on a leadoff role.
• Cora made a point to note Jarren Duran is in the mix for a fourth outfielder spot alongside Rob Refsnyder.
• Yoshida has been impressed with the facilities so far.
“This is a really great complex,” he said through interpreter Kento Matsumoto, who’s also a scout who helped identify Yoshida. “I would say much better than the Japanese ones and I’m feeling really great to know the players and coaches here.”
• Justin Turner discussed his decision to wear No. 2. “I was born at 2:22 in the morning. My dad was always No. 2. My cousin was always No. 2. I’ve worn No. 2 since I was 4 years old.”
Still, Turner understands the importance of the number in Boston with Jerry Remy and Xander Bogaerts having worn it.
“I didn’t really have a lot of options and they asked me if I’d be OK with wearing No. 2,” he said. “I know obviously, there’s some history there with Bogey and Remy and I’ve read a little bit on social media. Hopefully I make Remy proud of what I do and what I accomplished. And I know a lot of guys have worn No. 2 before me and it is a big deal. I don’t take it lightly.”
• Adam Duvall arrived on Friday and is eager to get work getting more comfortable in center field. Duvall, who had wrist surgery last summer, said his wrist is fully healed and he’s a full-go this spring. Duvall said he ran a lot this winter to get ready for covering more ground in center field versus the corner outfield spots where he’s typically played.
As far as getting used to new outfield teammates, he said the World Baseball Classic will cut into their time but he still thinks he’ll have plenty of time to get to know Verdugo and Yoshida.
“You’re kind of the captain out there,” Duvall said. “So you’ve got to be very vocal with the guys and make sure that everybody’s kind of in the right spot based on where you’re shaded and, you know, so from a center field standpoint, that’s the biggest thing is make sure that you know, everybody’s shifting and everybody’s kind of maneuvering the same way in the outfield.”
• Catcher Jorge Alfaro has been delayed by visa issues. Still, he is expected in camp in the next few days.
• Nick Pivetta is recovering from COVID-19. He had to leave the back fields on Friday after losing his breath during some non-throwing drills. Cora said he’s still building back up, but should be OK soon.
(Top photo of Bello: Brian Fluharty / Getty Images)