Pitchers Eovaldi and Whitlock set to rejoin Red Sox Friday

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Boston Red Sox are set to get pitching reinforcements for their weekend series at the New York Yankees with the expected return Friday of starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and reliever Garrett Whitlock from the injured list.

Boston manager Alex Cora also hasn’t ruled out second baseman Trevor Story from playing Saturday and Sunday. Story left Tuesday night’s game at Tampa Bay with a bruised right hand after getting hit while swinging at a Corey Kluber pitch.

Cora said it is “most likely” that Eovaldi, out since June 9 with lower back inflammation, will start the series opener Friday night at Yankee Stadium. The right-hander is 4-2 with a 3.16 ERA in 12 starts.

Whitlock, sidelined since June 9 by right hip inflammation, is 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA over 13 games, including nine starts.

Chris Sale, who worked five scoreless innings Tuesday night in his season debut after being sidelined by a fractured rib, had his between-starts bullpen session Thursday and is lined up to start the final game before the All-Star break on Sunday.

Two other injured starters, Rich Hill (left knee sprain) and Michael Wacha (right shoulder inflammation) are throwing off a bullpen mound. Hill had a 25-pitch session Thursday.

Cora said right-hander Josh Winckowski tested positive for COVID-19 after allowing three runs over six innings in Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Rays. Winckowski, who is vaccinated, was placed on the COVID-related IL.

Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez was recalled from Triple-A Worcester.

Infielder-outfielder Kiké Hernández (right hip flexor strain) was scheduled to see a specialist Thursday. He had his rehab assignment ended earlier this week.

The status of reliever Matt Strahm for the Yankees series remains in limbo. The lefty was struck on his pitching hand by Taylor Walls’ single Tuesday night.

The Red Sox entered Thursday night’s game against the Rays with a 2-7 record over their previous nine games and in a three-way tie with Seattle and Toronto for the second AL wild card spot.

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