Having waited patiently for All-Star right fielder Mookie Betts to work his way back from a lingering left abdominal strain, the Boston Red Sox on Friday finally opted to place Betts on the 10-day disabled list just prior to his missing a sixth consecutive game with the malady.
Betts participated in a batting session on Friday, ramping up his activities after he hit off a tee the previous day. The Red Sox were initially hopeful that Betts would return at some point during the four-game series with the Astros, but his attempt to hit pregame did not go as well as anticipated.
In their first game with Betts on the DL, the Red Sox were handed a 7-3 loss and they will look to rebound from two straight losses Saturday night in the third game of a four-game series with the Houston Astros.
"He went to the cage and did some front toss to get loose," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "He was going to take light BP after the first round. You could see that he was a little hesitant. I was like, 'Hey wait a minute, how do you feel?' He was honest with us.
"I think it's a smart move now. He made some progress, but he feels like he's not there yet. Obviously, as you guys know with where we are at, it seems like it's going to take more than this week, so let's keep progressing and get him where he's supposed to be and when he's ready, he's ready."
Betts is batting .359 with 17 home runs and 37 RBIs in 48 games. He leads the majors in batting, slugging (.750), OPS (1.197), runs (52), total bases (138), and extra-base hits (37). First baseman/left fielder Sam Travis was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.
Left-hander David Price (5-4, 4.04 ERA) will get the start for the Red Sox (39-19). Price has allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last four starts, going 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA during that span. That is his longest such streak since a six-start stretch from Aug. 17-Sept. 12, 2016.
Price is 5-2 with a 2.79 ERA over 10 career appearances (eight starts) against the Astros.
Right-hander Justin Verlander (7-2, 1.11 ERA) will start for the Astros on Saturday. In 23 games (22 starts) with Houston including the postseason, Verlander is 16-3 with a 1.36 ERA and 179 strikeouts over 152 1/3 innings.
Verlander last pitched Monday in a 5-1 win at Yankee Stadium against the New York Yankees when he allowed one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings.
He will face the Red Sox for the first time since Game 4 of the 2017 American League Division Series when he worked 2 2/3 innings of relief. Verlander was also victorious against Boston when he allowed two runs over six innings in Game 1.
For his career, Verlander is 5-5 with a 2.88 ERA over 17 career starts against the Red Sox.
The sight of outfielder Josh Reddick ramping up baseball activities on Friday qualified as a positive for the Astros (37-22), who were aided by homers from George Springer, Evan Gattis and Carlos Correa Friday. Reddick landed on the 10-day DL on May 21 with a staph infection in his left leg, an ailment that initially proved perplexing.
Reddick produced six home runs, 18 RBIs, and a 109 adjusted OPS over 42 games prior to being sidelined. He missed his 11th game on Friday.
"It is a good sign," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's the next step in a long process to get him back. We hope that we can speed that up and potentially get to a rehab assignment if that's what's needed and go to the next step. We'll see how he feels (on Saturday) and if we need to move forward."