The Boston Red Sox are gearing up for another baseball season, and all eyes are on pitcher Garrett Whitlock.
According to manager Alex Cora, the right-hander's status for Opening Day remains uncertain, leaving fans wondering if he'll be ready to take the mound when the Sox face off against the Baltimore Orioles on March 30th at Camden Yards.
Whitlock is in his third season with the Red Sox and the first year of his four-year, $18.7 million contract extension. He's a key player on the team. The Sox are counting on him to be a full-time starter in 2023 after primarily using him in a bullpen role over his first two seasons in the Major Leagues.
But Whitlock's recovery from hip surgery in September 2022 is ongoing, and the team is cautiously approaching his return. On Monday, Cora revealed to reporters, including Red Sox Insider Ian Browne, that Whitlock might not be ready for Opening Day, despite the team's initial expectations that all seven rotation candidates will be prepared.
The Sox have seven rotation candidates competing for five spots. So they are covered if Whitlock misses a couple of starts. But fans are hoping that the promising young pitcher will be back on the mound sooner rather than later.
Whitlock participates in bullpen sessions but has not yet been cleared for fielding practice, requiring more movement. However, the team monitors his progress closely and will evaluate him in the upcoming weeks to determine when he'll be ready to make his season debut.
Suppose Whitlock is not ready for Opening Day; it won't be because of an injury but because of the natural progression of his recovery. Cora and the rest of the coaching staff are confident in their plan for Whitlock's return. They are prepared to cover his potential absence.
The Red Sox have a lot riding on their pitching staff this season, and Whitlock's role is critical to their success. He made 31 appearances, including nine starts, in the 2022 season but struggled in the final stretch with a 7.20 ERA in four September appearances. This came after a dominant 2021 season in which he pitched 73 1/3 innings with a 1.96 ERA.
Fans hope Whitlock can recapture the form he showed in 2021 and help lead the Sox to victory in 2023. But first, he needs to get healthy and back on the mound. During spring training, the team will be cautious with all its starters to avoid further injuries.
While Whitlock's status for Opening Day remains uncertain, the team is optimistic that he'll be back in action soon. In the meantime, they're focusing on getting their big league starters into games and getting them ready for the long season ahead.
Sox fans will closely monitor Whitlock's progress in the coming weeks and hope for good news. The team is counting on him to be a key contributor this season, and his return to full health is crucial to their success.