Boston Red Sox pitcher Tanner Houck tried to push through a back ailment last season until he couldn’t anymore.
Houck’s 2022 campaign came to a premature end when the right-hander underwent back surgery in early September to correct a disc issue.
At the time, Red Sox manager Alex Cora expected Houck to be ready for Spring Training this season, and that’s still the case with the 26-year-old feeling much better about his health entering a new year.
“I didn’t have the pain or shooting down my leg anymore. After the surgery, it went away right then and there,” Houck said a couple weeks ago at Red Sox Winter Weekend. “Mainly, it’s been waiting for the wound to heal itself. After that, it’s full go. I feel great. No worries. Haven’t had any setbacks from it.”
Houck did make four starts last season, but spent the majority of his time coming out of the bullpen. It seems Houck will appear in a reliever role again in 2023 with the Red Sox flushed with starting arms even though Houck would prefer to start.
But Houck said he will be ready for however the Red Sox use him. Last season, he posted a 5-4 record to go along with a 3.15 ERA while recording eight saves.
The back surgery didn’t sidetrack Houck’s offseason plans completely. He’s not far behind his usual schedule, but more importantly, Houck believes he is physically in a better spot than he has been during his previous three seasons in the majors.
“I’m technically about a week behind everyone else, but that’s not very much time at all,” Houck said. “So, I’m pretty confident going into camp that I’ll be 100%. I feel 100%. I 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.”