Boston Red Sox left-hander James Paxton will not pitch this season after suffering a Grade 2 lat tear during a minor-league rehab start last week, the team announced Thursday. Paxton has not pitched in an MLB game since last April and was close to completing his Tommy John surgery rehab when he suffered the new lat injury.
"The fact that he was going to throw the 2 or 3 innings that day, it was like, 'OK. He might be here in September,'" Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters, including MassLive.com, about Paxton's injury. "It's disappointing but like I've always said in these cases, it's more about the person. I can't even imagine just going through the whole process and this is what happens. But he's in good spirits. He'll be OK. He'll pitch at the big league level at one point. He will and he's going to be dominating."
Paxton, 33, was making his first minor-league rehab start last week and he faced only two batters before exiting with the injury. In early May he experienced soreness in his surgically repaired elbow and had to be shut down temporarily, slowing his recovery. Prior to the lat injury, there was a chance Paxton could have joined the Red Sox in September, likely in a limited capacity.
Injuries have limited Paxton to only six major league starts since 2020. He missed time with back and forearm issues with the Yankees in 2020, then made just one start with the Mariners in 2021 before needing Tommy John surgery. Paxton has a very long injury history. Only four times has he made 20 starts in a season and he's never thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.
The Red Sox signed Paxton to a one-year, $10 million contract in November hoping he would return around the All-Star break once he completed his Tommy John surgery rehab. The contract includes a two-year, $26 million club option and a one-year, $4 million player option. Following the lat injury, it's likely Boston will decline the club option and Paxton will exercise the player option.
"We'll see how it goes," Cora said about the contract option decisions, according to MassLive.com. "We saw the guy making progress and getting to the point that he was actually getting to throw real games and that happened. As far as his arm and all that, we were very excited about it. Now it's just see what we decide and what he decides. So we'll get there when we get there."
At 60-64, the Red Sox enter Thursday in last place in the AL East. They are 18-33 in their last 51 games and has used 12 different starting pitchers this season. Paxton owns a 3.59 ERA with 831 strikeouts in 754 2/3 career big league innings.