BOSTON -- After Monday’s offday, Tuesday was a busy afternoon for the Red Sox before the start of their brief, two-game series against the Rockies.
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Right-hander Clay Buchholz, on the disabled list since June 9 because of a neck strain, threw earlier this afternoon, an “aggressive” long toss out to 120 feet, and also a session from a shorter distance on flat ground. He could throw a bullpen session on Wednesday, another on Friday, and then make a rehab outing on Sunday or Monday. Each of those steps would be dependent upon how he responds to the previous step.
It is not yet certain how many rehab outings Buchholz would make. That would depend upon how he responds physically, the quality of his pitches, and his stamina.
Buchholz is 9-0 in 12 starts, while the Sox are 11-1 in those games, with an American League-best 1.71 ERA. He has not pitched since June 8, against the Angels
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With right-hander Ryan Dempster starting tonight against the Rockies, the Sox rotation is:
Wednesday vs. Rockies: John Lackey
Thursday vs. Blue Jays: Jon Lester
Friday vs. Blue Jays: Allen Webster
Saturday vs. Blue Jays: Felix Doubront
Sunday vs. Blue Jays: Dempster
Friday will be Webster’s fourth major league start. He is 0-2 with an ERA of 11.25. A good portion of his struggles have come early in his outings; in the first inning, he has allowed nine runs, eight earned. Of the 16 runs he’s given up, 12 have come in the first two innings.
Manager John Farrell said one tactic the team could take to help Webster get past his early-inning struggles is to have him throw a simulated first inning in the bullpen before his starts. They have used this approach with other pitchers, including left-hander Andrew Miller last season.
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Right-handers Alfredo Aceves or Rubby De La Rosa could have been candidates to make the start that was assigned to Webster. Farrell said part of the reason for the decision was that the team didn’t want to have too many starting pitchers on the Pawtucket-Boston shuttle. He also felt Webster would benefit from the experience.
“Stay with him for the time being, to allow him to go through the rotation a couple of times, work with our staff here, and just become a little more comfortable with the big league environment,” Farrell said.
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Before the game, the Sox will put Franklin Morales on the DL with a left pectoral muscle strain, and call up right-hander Pedro Beato. With right-hander Clayton Mortensen, on the DL since June 11 with a right groin strain, eligible to be activated Wednesday, Beato is expected to go back to Pawtucket after Monday’s game. The brief call-up for Beato is a preventative approach. With the possibility of thunderstorms during the game tonight, the Sox face the possibility of a delay. If Dempster’s outing has to be curtailed because of the weather, the Sox don’t want to be caught a pitcher short.
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To make room on the 40-man roster for Brandon Snyder, who was called up to replace Will Middlebrooks, the Sox moved catcher David Ross from the seven-day concussion DL to the 60-day DL. It is the second time this season Ross has been on the DL with a concussion. He also missed 11 games from May 12-24.
Asked if he though Ross might miss the rest of the season, Farrell replied:
“We’re not thinking along those lines today.”
Ross is scheduled for a follow-up exam on July 9.
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The Sox opted to call up Snyder rather than Brock Holt because Snyder has been in this situation before, of working off the bench. Holt, who was acquired by the Sox in December from the Pirates as part of the trade for Joel Hanrahan, has played 24 major league games, all last season, with 14 starts.
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Shane Victorino is back in the lineup, batting second and playing right field, after leaving Sunday’s game in Detroit because of tightness in his back. He underwent tests on Monday which showed the issue was in his upper back, rather than his lower back which had caused him problems earlier this season. Victorino told Farrell yesterday he felt good enough to play if the Sox had had a game.
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The Rockies, by the way, have not played at Fenway since the 2007 World Series. They last played at Fenway in the regular season also in 2007, taking a three-game series, 2-1.