Red Sox will be without unvaccinated Houck, Crawford in Toronto

Apr. 25—The Red Sox placed right-handed pitchers Tanner Houck and Kutter Crawford on the restricted list Monday ahead of this week's four-game series in Toronto, indicating the two are unvaccinated and ineligible to play in Toronto under current Canadian government regulations.

To fill their spots on the roster, the Red Sox called up right-handers Tyler Danish and John Schreiber. The Red Sox also announced that catcher Kevin Plawecki has been activated from the COVID-19 list and will be available in Toronto, and that catching prospect Connor Wong would be optioned to Triple-A Worcester to make room on the active roster.

Players who go on the restricted list do not get paid and do not accrue big league service time, which is no small matter for young players like Houck and Crawford. Due to his bouncing back and forth between the majors and minors last year, Houck still hasn't accumulated a full year of service time and won't be eligible for free agency until 2028 at the earliest. The rookie Crawford also could potentially be optioned back to Triple-A when the big league rosters cut down by two at the end of the month, meaning even a few days worth of forfeited big league wages could be hard to make up.

The roster moves indicate that all of Boston's other active big leaguers are vaccinated, answering a question that has loomed large over the franchise since it was confirmed unvaccinated players wouldn't be allowed into Canada this season. The Blue Jays are currently tied with the Yankees for first in the AL East and hold a three-game lead over the Red Sox, so this series will be a big one for a Boston club that enters with a 7-9 record and coming off four losses in five games.

In addition to Houck and Crawford, the Red Sox likely have two other unvaccinated players who are currently on the injured list. Chris Sale (elbow/rib) confirmed during spring training that he did not get vaccinated over the offseason, and left-handed reliever Josh Taylor (back) recently had his rehab assignment paused after he was identified as a close contact for COVID-19.

Under current MLB protocols, vaccinated players can continue to play if labeled a close contact, but unvaccinated players must sit out five days for a mandatory quarantine. Taylor was known to be unvaccinated last fall too and missed time during the club's September outbreak after being identified as a close contact.

With Houck unavailable, the Red Sox have shuffled their rotation plans for the upcoming series. Nathan Eovaldi will start tonight against Jose Berrios, Nick Pivetta will face Kevin Gausman on Tuesday, Michael Wacha will go up against Ross Stripling on Wednesday, and while no Thursday starter has been officially announced, the expectation is that Garrett Whitlock will take on Alek Manoah.

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