Pregame notes: No full-time DH in Ortiz's absence; Morales to 'pen

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Pregame notes: No full-time DH in Ortiz's absence; Morales to 'pen

BOSTON -- David Ortiz is expected to be out a week -- and likely longer -- but manager Bobby Valentine said he doesn't plan to have one specific player replace Ortiz as the team's DH.

On Tuesday, with Ortiz out after injuring his heel running the bases Monday night, Valentine went with Daniel Nava as the DH, hitting him in Ortiz's customary No. 3 spot in the lineup.

"We can rotate guys through,'' said Valentine. "I don't see one person sticking out and saying 'He's going to replace David Ortiz.' I think we'll get a combination of people to help us score runs.''

The opportunity for Nava comes at a time when he's ostensibly lost the everyday left fielder's job to Carl Crawford, who returned from a stint on the 60-day DL Monday.

Nava, however, finds himself in something of a slump of late. His batting average has dipped to .265, the lowest it's been all season. He homered in the three-game series in Tampa Bay, but it represented his only hit of the series.

Indeed, since June 25, Nava is hitting just .127 (8-for-63) and has just four extra-base hits -- two homers, two doubles -- in that span.

Other options for the Sox are few, at least untilif Ortiz is placed on the DL. One possibility is Cody Ross, who was not in right field and who was not mentioned by Valentine.

Valentine was asked about using Carl Crawford in the DH spot while returning Nava to left field. Valentine said he gave that move some consideration, but ultimately decided that the "second day back from the DL, I want him to get into the flow of the game. And DHing isn't the way to get into the flow of the game.''

While Valentine wouldn't confirm the news, it appears the Sox have decided to drop Franklin Morales from the starting rotation. The Sox used a six-man rotation coming out of the break to give their starters additional time to rebound, but now are ready to go back to a five-man starting staff.

Morales, who moved into the rotation when injuries sidelined Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, is an impressive 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA in five starts.

"It's a hard decision," said pitching coach Bob McClure, who added that the Red Sox think the left-hander "has a future" as a starter. But Morales is more suited for relief work than any of the five other current starters -- Buchholz, Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Aaron Cook and Felix Doubront.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was in the lineup despite some struggles of late. He's batting just .108 (4-for-37) since July 1 and had struck out 20 times in his last 41 plate appearances, including multiple strikeout games in six of his last nine starts.

"He's not laying off pitches soft and down in the strike zone,'' said Valentine.

Saltalamacchia came out early Tuesday for extra batting practice and Valentine said he was confident that the catcher could work through his slump.

"I've seen him do it before,'' he said.

Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

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Red Sox secure playoff with 6-4 win over Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Dustin Pedroia hit his fourth career grand slam to help Rick Porcello get his major league-leading 22nd win, and the Boston Red Sox clinched a playoff berth by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 Saturday night for their 10th consecutive win.

Boston maintained a 5 1/2-game lead over Toronto for the division title and ensured no worse than the AL's second wild card. While the Red Sox technically have a magic number of one, the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles play each other three times in the season's final week - meaning only one of them can win match Boston's 91 wins.

Among the other wild-card contenders, only Detroit can reach 91 victories.

Pedroia stopped an 0-for-17 skid with a single in the sixth and gave Boston a 6-3 lead with a seventh-inning drive off Danny Farquhar.

Porcello (22-4) gave up three runs, eight hits and struck out nine over 6 1/3 innings. He just missed getting his 12th consecutive start of seven or more innings and three runs or fewer, which would have moved him past Cy Young (1904) and Pedro Martinez (2000) for the longest stretch during the same season in franchise history.

Craig Kimbrel, the fifth Boston reliever, reached 30 saves for the sixth straight season despite allowing Logan Forsythe's solo homer in the ninth.

Brad Miller hit a two-run double in a three-run second that put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and gave him 80 RBIs.

Tampa Bay threatened in the second but failed to score due to two nice defensive plays. Pedroia made a throw from just in front of the outfield grass at second base on Mikie Mahtook's grounder to get Corey Dickerson at the plate. Third baseman Brock Holt made a solid play along the line on Alexei Ramirez's grounder and threw him out at first to end the inning.

Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

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Farrell: Sandoval could possibly return to Red Sox for postseason

Thought to be lost for the season after shoulder surgery this past spring, Pablo Sandoval could possibly return to the Red Sox for the postseason, Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters Saturday.

Sandoval joined the team in St. Petersburg, where the Red Sox are playing the Tampa Bay Rays. Farrell said Sandoval had played in instructional league games in Florida and was "well ahead of schedule."

He could be an option to be activated if another player is injured. 

“One of the things I put in my mind that I have to work,” Sandoval told Boston Herald. “I learned a lot of things about this surgery so I had to work hard to be on the field as soon as possible.

“There are a lot of things I’ve been doing, working out, doing things so I can get better and better everyday.”

Sandoval, 30, is in the second year of a five-year, $95 contract. He lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw in spring training and in April an MRI revealed he needed surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder, which was to have ended his season.

He appeared in only three games this season and hit .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI in 126 games in 2015.