Red Sox activate Brayan Bello off IL, surprisingly send down Josh Winckowski

Red Sox

Winckowski has been a mainstay in the Red Sox’ bullpen since the start of last season.

Josh Winckowski will start games in the minors. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Brayan Bello is back in the mix with the Red Sox, but an unexpected move was made in order to clear a spot for him on the active roster.

Boston activated Bello off the 15-day injured list and will start him in Sunday’s series finale against the Washington Nationals, the team announced. To make room for Bello, the Red Sox are surprisingly sending reliever Josh Winckowski down to Triple-A Worcester.

Winckowski has delivered solid results on the mound this season for the Red Sox. The righty is 1-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 24 1/3 innings pitched over 12 appearances, logging a few brief starts when the Red Sox were down several starting pitchers in late April and early May.

Entering the season, Winckowski was among those battling for one of the final spots in the Red Sox’ starting rotation. The 25-year-old came up to the majors as a starting pitcher in 2022, but has almost exclusively been used as a reliever since the start of last season.

Now that he’s back in Triple-A, Winckowski will start games again, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters on Sunday.

Bello had been sidelined since April 21 due to right lat tightness, getting placed on the injured list a few days later as he didn’t feel well following his most recent start. However, Red Sox manager Alex Cora insisted at the time that Bello wouldn’t be out for too long and that the injured list placement was for precautionary reasons.

There was an expectation that Bello, the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter, would be activated for Sunday’s game after making a rehab start earlier in the week. He gave up three runs over 2 2/3 innings in his start with Double-A Portland, but told reporters that he was feeling well afterward.

“Obviously, I didn’t have the command I had at the start of the year, but I feel really good,” Bello said on Tuesday through a translator. “I feel really happy, and overall I’ll be ready to go on Sunday when I’m supposed to go.”

Bello went 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA in the five starts he made prior to the injury.

There’s more help coming to the Red Sox’ starting rotation beyond Bello. Garrett Whitlock is making a rehab start on Wednesday and could get activated shortly after that. Nick Pivetta also rejoined the starting rotation earlier this week after being sidelined for a bit due to a right elbow flexor strain.

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