OAKLAND, Calif. -- Even as the Red Sox shuffle through bodies in their bullpen on a seemingly daily basis, it seems unlikely they'll turn to Alfredo Aceves again anytime soon.
Aceves, who was optioned back to Pawtucket not long after joining the team in Seattle earlier this week, remains an enigmatic figure, one the Sox aren't sure they want to have around for an extended period of time.
The veteran right-hander pitched well on three different occasions in spot starts earlier this season. Each time, however, he was with the team for only 24 hours or so, before being optioned back to the minor leagues.
When Aceves pitches out of the bullpen -- a role he doesn't enjoy -- and remains with the team for an extended period, he's not nearly as good a fit, industry sources say.
During batting practice Tuesday at Safeco Field when pitchers typically shag fly balls in the outfield in groups and socialize to pass the time, Aceves stood apart from the rest of the team on the foul lines, isolated.
"He doesn't belong here,'' said one clubhouse source, "and he knows it.''
On Tuesday night, when the Red Sox needed to get into the bullpen in the third inning because of a poor outing by rookie Allen Webster, Aceves came into the game and recorded two outs.
In the fourth inning, however, he didn't return to the mound, a strange move considering the team could have been expected to stick with Aceves -- one of the team's long relief options, stretched out, and prepared to pitch far deeper into the game -- for multiple innings.
NESN's cameras caught Aceves wincing in one of his final pitches in the third and manager John Farrell acknowledged that the pitcher had experienced some "tightness'' in his left side prior to being called up from Pawtucket. But Farrell maintained Aceves wasn't hurt and, in fact, wanted to continue pitching.
At the time, Farrell said the Red Sox elected to go with a lefty reliever -- Craig Breslow, who pitched well over the next 2 1/3 innings -- to "slow down'' the Mariners' lineup.
Still, it seemed odd that Aceves pitched for just two-thirds of an inning and odder still when he was returned to Pawtucket the following day, some 48 hours after joining the team for the stated purpose of providing depth to its beleaguered bullpen.
The Sox have been unhappy with Aceves in relief, believing he does not bring the same competitiveness to the mound as he does when he serves as a starting pitcher.
Aceves drew the ire of Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves in spring training when he threw no more than half-speed in live batting practices. He later enraged teammates when, after a disastrous start against Oakland earlier in the season, he questioned why they hadn't provided him with more run support. In that outing, Aceves committed two balks and also failed to cover first base.
Should the Sox need an emergency starter for a doubleheader or a last-minute injury, Aceves could remain an option.
Any notion of him remaining with the team for an extended period out of the bullpen, however, seems remote.