Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Taylor, who had a 3.04 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings as a rookie last season, is hoping to return to the team with his coronavirus quarantine completed. Chris Carlson/Associated Press


A year after emerging as a breakout star in the Red Sox bullpen, Josh Taylor reported to Fenway Park for summer camp last month excited to build on that success. Then an unexpected wrench was thrown into those plans.

Upon intake testing for COVID-19 before the beginning of camp, Taylor tested positive. He was asymptomatic, but had to quarantine for two weeks in a Boston hotel room, which he didn’t leave. When that period was over, he reported to Boston’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, where he is now continuing to sharpen up as he waits for a call-up to Boston.
Taylor is healthy, but admitted the initial news of his positive test caught him off guard.

“It definitely came as a surprise to me,” Taylor said in a Zoom call Monday. “I was asymptomatic, so obviously I had no idea what was going on and the fact that I tested positive, it kind of just threw me off. I feel like I came in ready to go and be able to break with the team and once I came out, there’s no Day 0 so we had to start the process over and do the full 14 days of quarantine just to be safe and make sure my teammates were safe, too.”

After MLB’s nearly four-month shutdown due to COVID-19, Taylor came to Boston built up and ready to go. He said the quarantine period took a mental toll on him, and stuck in a hotel room for two weeks, the left-hander had to find a creative way to keep his arm in shape.

“I was throwing into a sock in the hotel room just to get the throwing action with the weight of a ball going on, so it was tough,” Taylor said. “It was tough to keep my head in the right place, saying I’m going to be ready, I’m going to be ready and I was just trying to power through it.”

Taylor said initially he wasn’t happy with having to go to Pawtucket, but understood the procedures the Red Sox put in place to ensure his safe and healthy return. The lefty has thrown some sessions of live batting practice to hitters in Pawtucket and is scheduled to throw one inning in a simulated game on Tuesday. Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke said last week that Taylor could be activated soon after.

The return of Taylor, who posted a 3.04 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings as a rookie last season, would be much-welcomed to the Red Sox’ bullpen. Matt Barnes, who gave up the game-winning home run to Aaron Judge on Sunday night, and Brandon Workman have each had struggles to begin the season, and Taylor has high-leverage experience that would provide a boost for the Red Sox, who are 3-7.

“I’m watching every game, cheering for the team and it’s just tough seeing something go on and me sitting back saying, ‘Well, I wish I could help, I wish there was something I could do,'” Taylor said. “But I know my time’s going to come and hopefully sooner rather than later, I’ll be out there to help the team. … My mindset and where I was at two weeks ago, when the season started I was ready to go, but that’s just the competitive nature in me. I still feel like I’m ready to go but again, it’s not my call. I’m waiting for my call and when I get that, I’ll be ready for the opportunity.”

And though he was asymptomatic, Taylor had another important message regarding COVID-19.

“I think it’s very serious and people just need to do what they’re told,” Taylor said. “They need to wear their masks, they need to take the right precautions just so we can get this thing over with.”

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