Red Sox lose another starting pitcher, RHP Brayan Bello placed on injured list with a tight back

CLEVELAND (AP) — Boston's pitching staff took another big hit Wednesday as the Red Sox placed starter Brayan Bello on the injury list with upper back tightness.

Bello's injury means the Red Sox are missing three of five starters, and that doesn't include Lucas Giolito, the team's biggest offseason acquisition, who is out for the season with a torn elbow ligament.

Bello felt tightness in his back following his most recent start, and the Red Sox decided to be cautious and put him on the IL. Bello recently signed a six-year, $55 million contract extension.

Manager Alex Cora doesn't believe the 24-year-old Bello will miss significant time.

“He’ll be OK. This is more of taking care of him,” Cora said before Wednesday's game. “Hopefully he’ll be back when he’s supposed to come back. He’s very important for this organization, not only now but in the future and if we take care of this and he’ll be fine.”

Bello pitched six scoreless innings on Friday against the Pirates, allowing one hit with seven strikeouts. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.04 ERA and 26 strikeouts in five starts.

Bello's injury further complicates Boston's pitching situation.

The Red Sox are already without starters Nick Pivetta (elbow) and Garrett Whitlock (oblique), who are both on IL.

Despite the rash of pitching injuries, the Red Sox are 13-11 and entered Wednesday's game leading the majors with a 2.60 ERA — the club's second lowest through 24 games since 1920.

Boston's injuries haven't been limited to pitchers, either.

Shortstop Trevor Story is out for the year with a shoulder fracture, and first baseman Triston Casas is out indefinitely with a broken rib sustained last week when he made a hard swing during an at-bat in Pittsburgh.

“It’s not hard at all," Cora said when asked about the challenge of managing amid injuries. “Someone else has to step up. We’ve got to continue. That’s the nature of this business. It’s 162 (games) plus and you’re going to go through stuff like this."

Cora said Pivetta is trending in the right direction and Whitlock is doing better.

To fill Bello's roster spot, the Red Sox recalled right-hander Zack Kelly from Triple-A Worcester.

Cora started Cooper Griswell, who was recently recalled from the minors, in Wednesday's game. Cora couldn't commit to a starter for Thursday. It's possible the Red Sox may have to make another roster move.