SEATTLE -- Going into Saturday night's game here with the Mariners, closer Alfredo Aceves hadn't pitched since Tuesday and manager Bobby Valentine vowed to try to change that.
Aceves is the rare closer who actually wants to pitch in non-save situations, believing that it enables him to stay sharp. While other relievers carefully monitor their workload, Aceves thrives with more work.
"I'd like to get Alfredo in a game,'' said Valentine. "He loves to pitch, which is a good thing. I think the more he pitches, the better he is. He was definitely pitching (Friday night) until we had what we had (with starter Aaron Cook shutting out the Mariners with a very low pitch count).''
As much as Valentine would like Aceves to work more, he's fearful of giving him work for the sake of it, then finding he has save situations in the next three straight games.
"We had that situation once (earlier in the season),'' said Valentine. "He pitched just to pitch one game, then he ended up pitching five in a row, I think. But he wants to be sharp when he goes out there and so do I.''
Aceves is something of an oddity, since most pitchers who benefit from extra work are more sinker-slider types whose stuff gets better when they're somewhat tired.
By contrast, Aceves is more of a power arm who just happens to like pitching as much as possible.
"I don't think it's his stuff; it's his being,'' said Valentine. "He's a highly-conditioned athlete who loves his job, loves to throw. He's continuously tweaking and trying to make himself a little better and the only way for him to do it is to face hitters.''
According to a source, one of the things that saved Clayton Mortensen from being returned to Pawtucket to create a roster spot for Josh Beckett was the fact that Valentine wanted another weapon to face lefties earlier in the game.
With Rich Hill on the DL and Franklin Morales in the rotation, a bullpen that once featured three lefties now has just one -- Andrew Miller.
Mortensen has limited opposing lefties to just four hits in 25 at-bats this season (.160) with an OPS of just .400.
The Sox have announced their starting pitchers through the end of the current road trip, with Felix Doubront going Sunday in the series finale here, followed by Daisuke Matsuzaka (Monday), Jon Lester (Tuesday) and Franklin Morales (Wednesday) in Oakland.
Beyond that, however, the Sox haven't revealed their plans for the weekend series with the Yankees at Fenway.
There's an off-day Thursday. If the Sox stayed on schedule, they would go with Aaron Cook Friday, Beckett and Doubront in Saturday's doubleheader and Matsuzaka in the final game of the first half Sunday.
"We're discussing it but we don't really have to set it yet,'' said Valentine. "You have the day off, so you can be a little more flexible on that last (series). I'd like to get through Oakland, win some games between now and then and see where we are.''