Red Sox notes: Rafael Devers in a walking boot

Just as he was starting to break out, Rafael Devers found himself back on the bench for the Red Sox on Monday night.

It’s not performance-based.

Devers hurt his ankle while on the bases of the Sox’ 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday, manager Ron Roenicke revealed.

“He jumped at the first-base bag (Sunday) night,” Roenicke said. “His ankle is a little iffy today. That’s why he’s not in the lineup. The trainers are working on him. He may be available tonight, later.”

But TV cameras at Fenway Park caught footage of Devers sitting outside his sweet and wearing a walking boot that extended halfway up his left leg, a sign that his ankle could be a more serious issue than Roenicke led on.

Told about the walking boot, Roenicke said, “I don’t know. It’s not a bad sprain or anything. I think, just make sure there’s no swelling in there. A lot of times they put on compression things to make sure that it won’t swell. If you can get that liquid out of there faster, you’re going to heal better.”

Devers has been quiet most of the 2020 season, but has shown signs of breaking out with a game-tying homer against the Jays on Sunday and two sparkling plays at third base.

The Sox had been hitting him second in the order to spark the slow offense. In his absence, Roenicke put Kevin Pillar in the leadoff spot and moved Alex Verdugo to the No. 2 spot for Monday’s series-opener against Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough.

Jonathan Arauz took over at third base. The Rule 5 pick has struggled in his first big league season, going 0-for-9 at the plate with just sporadic playing time thus far.

“His first four at-bats were great,” Roenicke said of Arauz. “He had a chance to get a hit on all four of them. His last game that he played in Tampa wasn’t so good, but also great pitching and they really pitched him tough. He was really disappointed after the last game. He wants to get that first big league hit. So hopefully tonight, he’s pretty calm, he’s relaxed in most everything he does as you guys can see. We’re very confident in what he can do. He doesn’t look like a guy who spent most of the time in A-ball last year. So hopefully tonight’s a good night for him.”

Johnson let go

Left-hander Brian Johnson was supposed to be an extra starting pitcher for the Red Sox this season, but instead was granted his release in a surprise move on Monday afternoon.

The soft-tossing lefty did not make the team for the start of the season, but was staying in shape in Pawtucket awaiting the call for an opportunity.

He requested his release and the Sox granted it to him.

“He just felt like that he wanted an opportunity,” Roenicke said. “Sometimes you need to go to other places to have a better opportunity, so he asked for his released. Chaim (Bloom) did not want to keep him from an opportunity that he could get back to the big leagues, although we would like to have him here for depth, that’s a decision that Brian (O’Halloran) wanted.”

Eovaldi gets extra rest

Nathan Eovaldi has been strong through four starts this year, but he hasn’t made it through a season healthy from start to finish since 2014.

He’s throwing 100 mph already early in the season and the Sox are trying to slow him down a bit in an attempt to keep him healthy all year.

“I think any time you have the opportunity to give him that extra day off, you try to do it,” Roenicke said. “I know he was set on pitching (Sunday) and this next time, he’ll be on six days (instead of five). So just trying to get the opportunity, when we can, to back off on him some.

“But as you know, he’s a full effort guy. The first pitch you see is always big time velocity. So he doesn’t really ease into things but that’s the way he pitches. Hopefully the medical staff, I know they work with him all the time, and they talk to him about different things to keep him healthy and we’ll continue to do that and continue to try to make sure we keep him healthy all year.”

Perez eager for Fenway start

Martin Perez, who starts Tuesday vs. the Rays, has walked nine and fanned 11 batters through 15-⅔ innings over his first three starts since signing with the Red Sox.

Over his career he’s struck out just 5.8 batters per nine innings, though he did set a career-high last year with 7.3 strikeouts per nine.

“First half last year was good but the second half was not good with my hips,” he said. “A lot of ups and downs. But I was able to throw harder, too, and adding the cutter to my sequence was good too. Now I feel great. I feel 100% and I trust all my stuff.”

Perez said his signature cutter is feeling powerful again. He’ll likely need to miss more bats to be successful at the hitter-friendly confines of Fenway.

“I feel great when I pitch here in Fenway,” he said. “I feel comfortable. That’s important. Just something that I’ve been looking forward to when I was little. To have a chance to pitch at Fenway is special for me. Just going to go out there and enjoy it and give my 100% every time.”

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