CLEVELAND — Boston’s pitching staff took another hit Wednesday, when the Red Sox put starter Brayan Bello on the injury list with upper back tightness.

The Red Sox are now missing three of their five starters, and that doesn’t include Lucas Giolito, the team’s biggest offseason acquisition, who is out for the season with a torn elbow ligament.

Bello felt tightness in his back following his most recent start, and the Red Sox decided to be cautious and put him on the IL. Bello recently signed a six-year, $55 million contract extension.

Manager Alex Cora doesn’t believe the 24-year-old Bello will miss significant time.

“He’ll be OK. This is more of taking care of him,” Cora said before Wednesday’s game. “Hopefully he’ll be back when he’s supposed to come back. He’s very important for this organization, not only now but in the future.”

Bello pitched six scoreless innings Friday against the Pirates, allowing one hit with seven strikeouts. He is 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA and 26 strikeouts in five starts.


Bello’s injury further complicates Boston’s pitching.The Red Sox are already without starters Nick Pivetta (elbow) and Garrett Whitlock (oblique), both on the IL.

Still, the Red Sox took a 13-11 record into Wednesday’s game and led the majors with a 2.60 ERA — their second-lowest through 24 games since 1920.

Boston’s injuries haven’t been limited to pitchers, either.

Shortstop Trevor Story is out for the year with a shoulder fracture, and first baseman Triston Casas is out indefinitely with a broken rib sustained last week when he made a hard swing during an at-bat in Pittsburgh.

“It’s not hard at all,” Cora said when asked about the challenge of managing amid injuries. “Someone else has to step up. We’ve got to continue. That’s the nature of this business. It’s 162 (games) plus and you’re going to go through stuff like this.”

Cora said Pivetta is trending in the right direction and Whitlock is doing better.


To fill Bello’s roster spot, the Red Sox recalled right-hander Zack Kelly from Triple-A Worcester.

Cora started Cooper Criswell, who was recently recalled from the minors, in Wednesday’s game. Cora couldn’t commit to a starter for Thursday.

AT LONG LAST, Rafael Devers was back in the lineup – as the designated hitter. He hit second Wednesday.

Devers missed Boston’s previous five games because of a bone bruise in his left knee. In total, due to shoulder and knee issues, he played just 13 of the first 24 games but has not spent time on the injured list.

With Devers at DH, Masataka Yoshida was out for the third straight game. Tyler O’Neill was back in left field after returning Tuesday following a week-long absence.

A HANDFUL of young Red Sox players have gotten off to slow starts as part of a battered lineup that has underperformed. One player, though, has turned things around in a big way after struggling in both spring training and the first 10 days of the regular season

Rookie outfielder Wilyer Abreu was 8 for 63 (.127) with 26 strikeouts in exhibition play and didn’t look much better once Opening Day came, hitting .111 (2 for 18) with nine strikeouts and a .200 on-base percentage through April 10. In the two weeks since, he’s been an on-base machine. He has reached base safely in 11 straight games while going 13 for 36 (.361) with five doubles, two homers, eight RBI and seven walks. His OBP in that span is .465.

“We decided a week ago, this guy’s gonna play against righties,” Cora said over the weekend. “We have to play him. There’s a reason he’s here. He’s a good defender, he’s a good base runner. But he’s a good hitter. The more he plays, the better he feels.”

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