BALTIMORE — Triple A righthander Tanner Houck, who has appeared in three games for the Red Sox this season, has been shut down with a sore flexor muscle in his arm.
“We’re not overly concerned,” Sox manager Alex Cora said Sunday. “This happened in his last start and the next day he came in sore. He’s actually feeling better right now. But of course we’re going to shut him down.
“There’s no timetable. But this is something that we feel is going to be short-term. It’s not something that we are overly concerned about.”
Houck pitched three innings for Triple A Worcester against Buffalo on Tuesday in Trenton, N.J. He allowed three runs on eight hits and struck out four without a walk.
The 24-year-old is 3-2 with a 1.98 earned run average in six major league games.
Flexor soreness is common among pitchers and is often solved with rest, but also can be a precursor to a more serious injury.
For the short term at least, it’s an issue for the Sox as Houck was their primary depth starter. He filled in for Eduardo Rodriguez in the first week of the season, then returned April 18 to pitch the first game of a doubleheader.
The other Worcester starters are Daniel Gossett, Stephen Gonsalves, Kyle Hart, and Raynel Espinal. None are on the 40-man roster.
Gossett was 4-14 with a 5.91 ERA in 23 starts for Oakland from 2017-18 and hasn’t pitched in the majors since.
Gonsalves had a 6.57 ERA in seven games for Minnesota in 2018 and hasn’t pitched in the majors since. He started four of those games and was 0-2 with a 11.68 ERA.
Hart appeared in four games for the Red Sox last season and had a 15.55 ERA, allowing 13 earned runs over nine innings in three starts. He left a Saturday start for Worcester in the fourth inning after being injured making a fielding play.
Espinal has no major league experience and has been primarily a reliever in the minors.
The Sox viewed righthander Bryan Mata as starter depth this season, but the 22-year-old righthander was injured in spring training and had Tommy John surgery on April 13. Another option, righthander Connor Seabold, has been sidelined with elbow inflammation.
Ryan Weber started for Worcester on Sunday. The 30-year-old righthander is 4-12 with a 4.86 ERA over parts of six major league seasons with four teams. He was 3-7 with a 4.73 ERA in eight games for the Sox from 2019-20.
Weber is 1-7 with a 6.27 ERA in 16 career starts.
Jonathan Araúz replaces Christian Arroyo
Infielder Christian Arroyo was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Friday because of a bruised left hand. Infielder Jonathan Araúz was recalled from Worcester.
Arroyo was having trouble gripping the bat after being hit on the same hand twice in 11 days, the last time coming Thursday.
“I don’t want him to feel the pressure of coming back sooner and then something bad really happens,” Cora said.
Arroyo has started 18 games at second base this season, hitting .275 with a .710 OPS. Arauz, 22, played in 25 games last season after being taken in the Rule 5 Draft from Houston. He hit .250 with a .644 OPS.
The Sox are in the middle of a stretch where they will have the same umpire crew for 14 consecutive games. Ryan Blakney, D.J. Reyburn, Ron Kulpa, and Brian O’Nora picked up the Sox in Texas on April 29 and are scheduled to have them through Thursday.
It’s part of Major League Baseball’s coronavirus protocols to make travel safer for the umpires.
“We talked about it [Saturday]. They’ve been around for a while,” Cora said. “But it’s been OK. I don’t think there’s an advantage … it’s weird, but at the time, we understand why.”
The umpires traveled with the Sox from Texas to Boston and then from Boston to Baltimore. Cora told the arbiters the Sox had a flexible dress code and they weren’t obligated to wear suits.
Checking in with Mom
Cora dutifully spoke to his mother, Iris, on Sunday. She told him the Sox remind her of a Little League team with the way they celebrate after victories and pout after losses. “I was dying laughing,” Cora said. “I take that as a compliment. That means that we care and we’re having fun.” The manager’s mom also suggested he bunt more often . . . MLB’s Mother’s Day celebration included naming honorary bat girls for each team to highlight the fight against breast cancer. Brookline’s Nancy Mella Bulkeley represented the Sox. She is a nine-year breast cancer survivor and has been a top fundraiser in the Susan G. Komen More Than Pink Walk, participating since 2018. Players on both teams wore pink wristbands and/or arm sleeves, with some wearing pink cleats or using pink bats . . . The Orioles placed righthander Dillon Tate on the injured list with a strained left hamstring and recalled outfielder Ryan McKenna . . . The visiting team has won 10 consecutive games played by the Sox and Orioles. The Sox are 6-0 at Camden Yards this season, scoring 48 runs.