Tanner Houck made his stance regarding his role with the Boston Red Sox in 2023 clear.
Houck, who made four starts in 32 appearances on the mound last season, has worked toward his comeback this season. After Houck registered his final save of the campaign on Oct. 4 against the Houston Astros — the right-hander landed on the injured list with a back injury that resulted in season-ending surgery.
And while Houck made it clear that he’s willing to put the team first, he did reveal a role preference he’d love to fulfill for Alex Cora’s pitching staff.
“I’d love to start. I love starting, I’ve been starting my whole life,” Houck said at Winter Weekend on Saturday. “I’d like to continue that but I’m also willing to step up with whatever the team needs to fulfill a role. I don’t wanna be selfish in that way. I’m gonna go out there and get as many outs as they want me to get no matter where it is — first or ninth inning.”
The 26-year-old has made 20 starts in 53 games pitched through three seasons with the Red Sox to kick off his major league career. Last season, Houck went 5-4 and pitched to a 3.15 ERA through 60 innings. He also tallied 56 strikeouts with 22 walks and recorded eight saves.
Houck acknowledged the recovery process set him back, however he’s remained confident. While pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report within a few weeks (Feb. 13), Houck offered a status report on his health.
“I’m technically about a week behind everyone else but that’s not very much time at all,” Houck said. “… I feel 100%. Feel better than I have in the past five, six years. So I think this was just part of something that I needed to get done, cleaned up and ready to go.”
Wherever the Red Sox elect to place Houck before Opening Day, he intends to utilize the opportunity with a few new faces — Corey Kluber, Kenley Jansen and Chris Martin — added this offseason. Boston’s acquisitions certainly present a different look for the Red Sox, both in the rotation and bullpen.
“A lot of experience,” Houck said. “And in this game I think experience is the biggest thing you can have. So I’m super excited to get with them during spring training, start picking their mind, especially on the pitching side. There’s always something you can learn from someone, whether it’s a different feeling, whether it’s just like a conversation that you have. It’s just a different way of viewing something that we all do, every day.”