Boston’s Wyatt Mills is the latest Red Sox pitcher with an injury after being shut down with elbow inflammation. Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

The injury bug has been feasting on the Red Sox pitching staff this spring.

Early in camp it got starting rotation contenders Brayan Bello and James Paxton, both of whom will start the season on the injured list alongside the rehabbing Garrett Whitlock. Then it got lefty Joely Rodriguez, who strained an oblique and could be out for a while. Now it’s claimed righty Wyatt Mills, who was a contender to earn one of the last bullpen spots but who is being shut down with elbow inflammation.

That’s five arms who could have made the Opening Day roster, and while they won’t all be out long that’s a lot for any pitching staff to replace.

The issue may not manifest itself as much on the field. With two off-days in the first two weeks the Red Sox should only need one start from their No. 5 guy before Whitlock is ready, and Kutter Crawford and Josh Winckowski are both equipped to pick up the slack.

The bullpen will probably be OK too. Closer Kenley Jansen and top set-up man Chris Martin are both healthy and rookie Zack Kelly acquitted himself nicely during last September’s audition. The problem is what the club will do if anyone else goes down, because at this point the Red Sox have almost completely exhausted their MLB-ready depth.

Rodriguez’s injury is probably the most difficult because he’s one of only two lefty relievers on the Red Sox 40-man roster. The club likely won’t want to call up minor league lefties Bryan Mata, Chris Murphy or Brandon Walter – doing so would start their MLB service time clock and disrupt their routine as starters – and calling up any other lefties from the minors would require a corresponding 40-man roster move.


The same could be true if any more pitchers go down as well.

Considering the Red Sox may also have to clear space to keep non-roster invitees Raimel Tapia and Jorge Alfaro in the organization, there likely won’t be any obvious choices as far as designating someone for assignment. The other option, placing someone on the 60-day injured list, isn’t particularly appealing either, since that would rule out the player until June at the earliest.

Whitlock and Bello definitely aren’t candidates for the 60-day considering they may only need another week or two before they’re ready to return. Mills’ injury doesn’t sound serious, and if there is any chance Rodriguez can return by May the Red Sox need to keep that door open.

That leaves shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, who is nearing a return from last spring’s torn ACL, and Paxton, who suffered a hamstring stain early in camp but who is back on the mound and threw a bullpen session Tuesday. Maybe the Red Sox could ease them along slowly, but delaying their return to add a replacement-level lefty might not be the best roster management.

It’s an uncomfortable position for the Red Sox to be in, and hopefully one the club won’t be in much longer.

NICK PIVETTA allowed two runs on 10 hits in six innings of work in Boston’s 9-8 win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday in Fort Myers, Florida.


Triston Casas hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning to give Boston the win. Casas was 2 for 5 with two RBI and a run scored. Christian Arroyo and Justin Turner both went 3 for 4. Turner had two RBI.

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Red Sox starting pitcher Garrett Whitlock will start the season on the injured list and will likely start for Triple-A Worcester on Opening Day. Whitlock is likely to miss just one start for Boston. Charles Krupa/Associated PressSTARTER GARRETT Whitlock likely will start Opening Day at Triple-A Worcester on March 31.

It would be a rehab start for Whitlock, who is slightly behind schedule this spring and will start the regular season on the 10-day injured list. He’ll fly to Boston with the Red Sox next week. Boston plays its opener March 30 at home against the Orioles before Worcester opens at Polar Park the next day.

“There’s a good chance he pitches Opening Day for Worcester,” Manager Alex Cora said Friday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. “Obviously weather permitted. But I think that’s the plan.”

Whitlock underwent a right hip arthroscopy in late September. He should miss just one or two turns through the rotation before being activated from the IL.

BRAYAN BELLO will start the season on the IL. Bello pitched in a minor league game Friday. He went three innings, allowing one run and striking out four. He threw 42 pitches (24 strikes).


“Whitlock is ahead of him (by) a week,” Cora said.

ADALBERTO MONDESI will remain in Fort Myers rehabbing when the Red Sox leave next week as he recovers from a torn ACL in his left knee.

“Just rehabbing, getting ready, taking ground balls, moving around but nothing as far as like games,” Cora said.

CONNOR WONG, who is returning from a hamstring injury, went 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts in the minor league game Friday. He just took at-bats. He didn’t catch.

He’ll play in another minor league game Saturday. He’s scheduled to catch seven innings.

ZACH KELLY, the Red Sox reliever, became the first Newberry College baseball alum in 65 years to reach the majors when Boston promoted him last Aug. 29.


So of course his alma mater invited him back to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day 2023. The game was on at 4 p.m. Friday against Francis Marion.

“The gym I work out at, Fridays are arm farm days,” Kelly said. “We do strictly upper-body and our arms are toast for the next two days. Friday and Saturday, always toast.”

Kelly – with toast for an arm – didn’t warm up and threw the ceremonial first pitch over the catcher to the backstop.

“It was kind of embarrassing. I’m not going to lie,” Kelly said, laughing. “I’m glad nobody got a video of it because it would have been on Twitter instantly.”

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