The Red Sox have a COVID-19 problem on top of all of their other struggles, and it’s hard for Alex Cora not to think about.
Prior to Boston’s series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays, Cora revealed Martín Pérez tested positive for the virus. About 10 minutes before first pitch at Tropicana Field, Matt Barnes was placed on the COVID-19 injured list after testing positive. That’s on top of Kiké Hernández and Christian Arroyo testing positive over the last few days.
Ramon Vázquez and Kiyoshi Momose also have the virus, while Josh Taylor and Tom Goodwin were deemed close contacts.
Simply put: it’s a lot to deal with right now, and things didn’t get much better for the Red Sox on Monday considering they lost 6-1 to the Rays and now are nine games back in the American League East.
Cora, who’s usually optimistic after games no matter the outcome, understandably sounded defeated when asked about the COVID-19 situation.
“It is what it is. It’s part of life,” he said over Zoom. “I’ve been saying it all along. On the professional side of it, we just got to keep grinding. No one is going to stop the tournament because we have X amount of cases. We just got to find ways to keep competing, try to win ball games.
“Hopefully tomorrow we’re OK. That’s what I pray for — for this to be the end of it. This part of it is not comfortable. It’s not easy. Like I said on Feb. 10, this was one of my biggest fears.”
According to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, the Red Sox had zero issues with COVID from May 15 to Aug. 3. They’ve now had 14 separate incidents of players and staff testing positive or being a close contact.
“I’m just tired to be honest with you,” Cora said, “to be thinking about it the whole time and have to deal with this before a game and during the game and all that. … The season part, all that stuff — that’s the easy part for me. But to have to deal with all this, it’s not easy.
“But I’ll be OK. I got a good group of guys, work for a great organization. I got my family that supports me. If I feel down, I know somebody will call me or text me, pick me up. But right now, like I told the coaches, now is not the time to quit.”
The Red Sox still have a two-game lead over the Oakland Athletics for the second Wild Card spot in the AL, so now more than ever the Red Sox need to come together and figure out how to win games.
Here are some other notes from Monday’s Red Sox-Rays game:
— Bobby Dalbec provided a bright spot for the team as he continued his hot streak with another home run in the top of the second inning. His solo blast was the only run Boston end up amassing.
— The Red Sox had yet to name a starter for Tuesday’s game ahead before COVID wreaked havoc in the clubhouse. Now it’s a bit more complicated given the amount of people deemed close contacts or tested positive for the virus.
After the game, Cora said they still were unsure who would take the mound.
— Nick Pivetta gave the Red Sox five innings, but his five walks and four earned runs were just too much for his team to overcome.
“He battled, right?,” Cora said. “He walked (five), the leadoff homer. The wild pitch. It was a weird one. He gave us 101, 102 pitches, we needed that. Overall, he was OK.”
Pivetta, though, wasn’t exactly happy with his outing.
“I wouldn’t say pleased. I think I hold myself to a higher standard than that,” he said. “I grinded, yes, but I need to limit my walks at the end of the day.”
— Boston found out in the fifth inning that Taylor was deemed a close contact to Barnes.
— Brandon Lowe continued to be a Red Sox killer when he led the game off with a home run in the first inning. In 13 games this season against Boston, Lowe has three doubles, three home runs, 10 RBIs and 13 walks.