The Red Sox announced they’ve reinstated ace Chris Sale and closer Matt Barnes from the COVID-19 injured list. Ryan Brasier was optioned to Triple-A Worcester, while Michael Feliz was designated for assignment to clear roster space.
Sale and Barnes become the two latest players to return after testing positive for the coronavirus. The Sox are still without Christian Arroyo, Yairo Muñoz, Jarren Duran, Jonathan Araúz, Danny Santana and Phillips Valdéz for virus-related reasons. Sale and Barnes were perhaps the two most impactful players yet to return from the outbreak before this evening, though.
After missing all of 2020 and a good portion of 2021 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Sale returned to make five starts before testing positive on September 9. He turned in a few vintage performances before contracting the virus, working 25 innings of 2.52 ERA ball with a quality 27.5% strikeout percentage and a tiny 5.5% walk rate. Getting a few more great starts down the stretch would be critical for a Boston team that enters play tonight tied with the Blue Jays and holding a half-game advantage over the archrival Yankees for the American League’s two Wild Card spots.
Barnes missed a bit more time than Sale did, as he tested positive on August 30. That couple weeks on the shelf required him to make a pair of minor league rehab appearances this week before returning to the active roster. One of the league’s best relievers in the first half, Barnes had a disastrous August and will be looking to return to his early-season form down the stretch.
The Red Sox signed Feliz to a minor league deal near the end of August and selected him to the major league club a couple weeks later. He made just four appearances for Boston, tossing 5 1/3 frames of two-run ball before losing his spot. The Red Sox will place the 28-year-old on waivers over the next few days.
Feliz has split the 2021 season between three teams, pitching for the Pirates and Reds in addition to his work with the Sox. He’s posted a 7.32 ERA in 19 2/3 innings between that trio of clubs despite solid strikeout and walk rates (25.3% and 6.9%, respectively). Opposing hitters have popped four home runs off the fly-ball pitcher in that limited body of work.