Originally, the Boston Red Sox planned to have Josh Winckowski piggyback with starter Rich Hill against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night so that the rest of the bullpen could have the day to reset. But after Hill pitched five innings, Manager Alex Cora went to Ryan Brasier, Hirokazu Sawamura and Jeurys Familia to finish out the game.

It turned out he had a good reason why.

Cora announced after that 8-3 win that Nathan Eovaldi will not make his scheduled start Thursday because of soreness in his right trapezius muscle, so Winckowski will start the series finale against Pittsburgh. Eovaldi will instead pitch Tuesday at Fenway Park against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“He was feeling tight in his area right here, his trap, he battled, and before the game I was like, nah, you’re not pitching this one, so we pushed him to Tuesday,” Cora said, pointing to his collarbone area. “He’ll be OK, we just feel like he needs the rest, and because we’re set up for Baltimore the way we are, he’s not going to pitch there.”

Eovaldi said he doesn’t think the issue is serious and believes he could have pitched Thursday, but the team is being cautious.

“I felt it coming out of the last start, I can’t tell you exactly when, maybe day two or three, right in there,” Eovaldi said. “It’s been getting better, but I feel like I can pitch tomorrow and we’re just playing it safe.”


Eovaldi previously missed about a month because of a lower back and hip issue and has struggled to get his velocity back up to the high 90s since returning in mid-July. Still, Eovaldi has been one of Boston’s best starting pitchers this season and is 5-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 99.2 innings.

JAMES PAXTON, making his first rehab start on his road back from Tommy John surgery, faced just two batters Thursday before leaving because of lat tightness (latissimus dorsi muscle on the back).

The team is hopeful that the injury is minor, but any delay might threaten his ability to return this season. Paxton was supposed to pitch three innings for the Florida Complex League Red Sox in Fort Myers – his first game action in 499 days. He had not appeared in a game since April 2021, when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow while pitching for the Mariners.

The Red Sox signed Paxton to a creative free-agent contract in December. He was hopeful that he’d be able to start facing hitters at some point in May (13 months after surgery), but he began to suffer posterior elbow soreness and was shut down from throwing for a few weeks. After resuming his throwing program in late May, the lefty began facing hitters in early August. If everything went smoothly, he was expected to make a handful of rehab starts before potentially joining the major league team in mid-September.

That timeline is now in jeopardy, though it’s unclear if Paxton will have to be shut down from throwing again. The Red Sox have not said if they prefer to have him return as a starter or reliever late in the season. In nine major league seasons, Paxton has started all 137 of his appearances.

Paxton’s deal comes with a $6 million base salary for 2022 (which the Red Sox gave him knowing he’d spend most of the year rehabbing) and options for the next two seasons. After the season, Boston will have to decide whether to exercise a two-year, $26 million club option that guarantees Paxton’s contract through 2024, or decline it. If the club does decline it, Paxton will have the ability to exercise a one-year, $4 million player option for 2023.


WIL CROWE paused, looked down at the dirt and began kicking some of it with his spike, buying time to think and ensuring he didn’t say anything incendiary – but also clearly unhappy with what Hall of Fame pitcher and NESN color commentator Dennis Eckersley said about the Pirates on Tuesday, calling their roster “a hodgepodge of nothingness.”

Arguably the most honest and articulate player in the Pirates clubhouse, as well as a growing leader, Crowe seemed to know he would get asked for his reaction to what Eckersley said and wanted to strike the proper tone. He started by referencing the MLB Players Association and the fraternity to which he, his teammates and Eckersley belong.

“He’s in the Hall of Fame. He’s one of us,” Crowe said. “It’s just surprising that a guy of his stature would come after us. I think it was kind of crappy and bush league.”

Crowe said the Pirates were aware of what Eckersley said shortly after the conclusion of Tuesday’s game. One of Crowe’s first thoughts was a former player should be aware the Pirates are obviously rebuilding and it’s not the fault of those caught in the middle, the ones giving it everything they have.

Crowe isn’t wrong, though it’s likely Eckersley’s comments were more directed at ownership than anything.

For anyone who might’ve missed it, Eckersley ripped the Pirates and the lack of experienced players on the field at the moment, describing the current operation as “pathetic.”

“You talk about a no-name lineup,” Eckersley said. “There’s no team like this. Love to see some of the service time. You add it all up; it’s not much.”

It is a little ironic Eckersley pointed out what he did considering both the Red Sox and Pirates are in last place – and Boston spent roughly $140 million more to get there.

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