BOSTON — A rained-out September series opener between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees should have been a massive letdown on Monday night. Instead, it simply delayed the start of a four-game series with minimal playoff implications. This isn’t a battle for the American League East. It’s a fight to avoid last place behind the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays.
“Tough season for both of us, put it that way,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
The game will be made up as part of a Tuesday split doubleheader. Nick Pivetta will start Game 1 at 1:35 p.m., followed by Kutter Crawford starting Game 2 at 7:10.
Some notes from the Red Sox clubhouse:
Sale being pushed back
The Red Sox have not announced a starting pitcher for Thursday’s series finale, but it won’t be Chris Sale. Rather than pitch Sale on regular rest, the Red Sox are pushing his next start to Saturday, giving him a full week between outings.
“Rest,” Cora said. “That would be good for him. Just to work on a few things during the week and then be ready for Saturday.”
Sale had an extra day of rest before his most recent start last Saturday, but that was still one of his worst outings of the season (six earned runs in four innings). His velocity was down, and he’s been uneven at best in the month-plus since returning from a stress reaction in his shoulder blade.
“You see flashes of it and then it kind of disappears for a little bit,” Sale said. “Pitch-to-pitch, inning-to-inning, you know it’s in there. It’s just, you’re kind of scrounging around the bottom of a barrel trying to find it. It’s tough.”
Reyes returns to the second base mix
After rehabbing in Triple A over the weekend, Pablo Reyes was back in the Red Sox clubhouse on Monday and the team expects to activate him on Tuesday. What does that mean for second-base playing time going forward?
“We’ve got to make a move first,” Cora said. “We’ll see how it goes, and then we’ll go from there.”
During the two weeks that Reyes has been out with left elbow inflammation, the Red Sox have almost exclusively used Luis Urías and Enmanuel Valdéz at second base. Valdéz could be optioned to open a roster spot, but he’s started six of the past eight games and was in the lineup again on Monday before the game was rained out. Urías lately hasn’t played nearly as much as Valdéz, but he’s out of options and would have to be designated for assignment. He was the team’s most significant acquisition at the trade deadline — a relatively cheap addition with short-term and long-term upside — but he has an underwhelming .700 OPS since the trade and has hit just .167 in his past 10 games. If the Red Sox have already decided he won’t be back next season, they could cut the cord early.
The other logical roster cut would be Ceddanne Rafaela, whose playing time has been limited since he joined the big league team late last month. He’s played well, but has been mostly a late-inning defender, backup shortstop and occasional pinch runner (all roles Reyes could play going forward). If Rafaela is sent down to get everyday playing time in Triple A, the Red Sox could have a three-man rotation at second base down the stretch.
Duvall expected back Tuesday
Adam Duvall was red hot for about two weeks, then he went cold for a few days, and then he disappeared entirely. The team’s regular center fielder sat out Saturday and Sunday and wasn’t in the lineup again on Monday. Turns out, he’s been dealing with an unspecified physical issue.
“He’s doing OK,” Cora said. “Battling with a few things. So, the hope is for him to start (Tuesday) against (Carlos) Rodon.”
Rodon is a left-handed pitcher, and lefties have been Duvall’s bread and butter. Wilyer Abreu has been the go-to center fielder against right-handers lately, with Duvall getting more reps in the outfielder corners.
Pitchers getting closer
Five months ago — before he had a 7.04 ERA for the season — Corey Kluber was the Red Sox’s Opening Day starter. It’s been something of a nightmare season ever since, with Kluber losing his job in the rotation and missing almost three months with a right shoulder injury.
Could Kluber still return down the stretch, though? The two-time Cy Young winner is scheduled to make his second minor league rehab start on Friday. He’s slated for two innings after going one hitless inning over the weekend. The Red Sox have said they’re planning to bring him back as a reliever.
Zack Kelly, who had elbow surgery in April, and Joely Rodriguez, who suffered a hip injury in late July, are also back with the Red Sox, though their return is less certain. Kelly could begin a rehab assignment this week, Cora said, while Rodriguez (who was believed to be lost for the season) is throwing on flat ground in an attempt to build back up to game action. Kaleb Ort, who’s been out since July 5, has started throwing bullpens.
(Top photo of Sale: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)