Hirokazu Sawamura played a crucial role in getting the Red Sox to the Wild Card Game, but he won’t be joining the team for Tuesday’s winner-take-all showdown against the New York Yankees in Boston.
The reliever was left off of the Wild Card roster, which was revealed Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters prior to Tuesday’s game, Red Sox manager Alex Cora revealed how Sawamura responded when he was told he wouldn’t join the team for the must-win game — even though he came in clutch when he relieved Chris Sale after 2 1/3 innings in Sunday’s postseason-clinching defeat of the Washington Nationals.
“It’s always tough to tell somebody that has been with the club the whole season that they’re not going to be part of whatever series. But this is a different game,” Cora said. “It’s a one-game playoff. You have to make adjustments accordingly. And he understands.”
Teams can tweak their rosters after every round of the postseason, so there’s a chance he could rejoin the Red Sox should they advance to face the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series.
“There’s no promises, obviously, but if we advance then we’ll make adjustments with the roster,” Cora said. “He knows that. He’s all in. He understood. He’s getting his work in just in case something happens and we advance and see where we go.”
Sawamura lasted 1 2/3 innings against the Nationals on Sunday and was integral in holding a Washington squad that had worked two runs off of starter Chris Sale. That was his first appearance since Sept. 24.
With Sawamura sidelined, the Red Sox will work with a bullpen that includes Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Austin Davis, Tanner Houck, Adam Ottavino, Nick Pivetta, Garrett Richards, Hansel Robles, Eduardo Rodriguez, Josh Taylor and Garrett Whitlock behind Nathan Eovaldi.
The inclusion of Taylor — especially over Sawamura — is somewhat surprising given he hasn’t pitched since Sept. 22 due to a back injury. According to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, Taylor threw a bullpen session Monday, and the results apparently were convincing enough to add him to the roster.
We’ll see how it all works out Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 8:08 p.m. ET at Fenway Park.