CLEVELAND -- For the second straight game and third time in the last five, Jackie Bradley Jr. was absent from the Red Sox starting lineup, mired in an 0-for-20 skid.
Bradley, whose last hit came back on April 5, sat despite the presence of a righthanded starter on the mound for the Cleveland Indians in the middle game of a three-game set at Progressive Field.
Manager John Farrell is keeping a close eye on Bradley to see how he handles the adversity.
"That's where those sit down conversations become important,'' Farrell said, "just to get a sense where he's at mentally, what he's feeling at the plate. And you have the give-and-take of what you see versus what he feels. I think most importantly to (have him) know that we're here working with him, we're here supporing him.''
Farrell said Bradley has "handled it very well. And yet, if he's frustrated, you certainly would expect that to a certain extend. But it hasn't affected his work. And yet we know he's getting challened right now, too.''
When the Sox made the decision to have Bradley break with the team out of spring training, part of the process involved knowing that Bradley's maturity level would help him if he struggled in the big leagues. "Without a doubt,'' said Farrell, "that was one of the main reasons we felt a player with limited experience, when those challenges presented themselves, that Jackie would be equipped to handle this. With the potential of being challenged at this stage, we felt like this is something he could not only handle, but learn from, if in fact it did turn out that way.''
-- David Ortiz was in the lineup for Pawtucket Wednesday night, with an eye toward making it back with the big league club by Friday, when the Sox open a home stand.
"The plan is for him to be in the lineup again (Thursday),'' said Farrell, "and if all things go accordingly, there's a real possibility he could rejoin us on the home stand...It's still open-ended, but optimistically, it would be at the start of the home stand.''
There's incentive for Ortiz to be activated before Saturday, Ortiz will still be eligible for a $2 million increase in his 2014 base salary. The contract calls for Ortiz's base to go from $13 million to $15 million if he can avoid spending 20 or more days on the disabled list. Ortiz was placed on the DL -- retroactive to the end of spring training - on March 31, meaning that Friday is the 20th day of that assignment.
-- After getting just three at-bats in the first 13 games of the season, Mike Carp got his first start as a member of the Red Sox Wednesday night, playing first base as Mike Napoli was moved to DH. "Another lefthander against (Cleveland righty Justin) Masterson,'' said Farrell, "and it's a day to get Mike Napoli off his feet, keep him in the rotation, balancing in his down days and yet keeping his bat in the lineup. We're looking forward to see Mike getting some at bats.''
Farrell acknowledged that "it's almost unrealistic to stay sharp'' with an average of one at-bat every four games.
"We need to keep everyone involved as best we can,'' Farrell said, "so this is an opportunity to do just that with the string of righthanders we're going to be facing in this series and with Kansas City as well (this weekend).''
-- John Lackey long-tossed from a distance of 130 feet, and threw off flat ground.
The plan is to have a "light'' bullpen session Thursday, followed by a regular session at Fenway over the weekend, with an eye toward
starting a rehab assignment next week.
"He's making very good progress,'' said Farrell. "There's no symptoms remaining in the biceps area and feels very upbeat and positive right now.''
Farrell stressed that, given Lackey's recent medical history (Tommy John surgery), the Sox want to make sure he tests the biceps in game conditions before returning to the roster.
"Most importantly,'' said Farrell, "we want to do what's right for John from a health standpoint. Until we sit with him and map it out, that's when a more definitive plan will be announced.''
-- Reliever Joel Hanrahan had his second day of a throwing program, throwing from 75 feet Tuesday and getting out to 90 feet Wednesday.
The real test for Hanrahan will come when he throws off a mound, since that angle will require him to stretch the right hamstring which sidelined him initially.
Interestingly, Farrell refused to guarantee that Hanrahan will regain the closer's role upon his return.
"I don't think we're sitting here today ready to make that claim,'' said Farrell. "I think we've got to get some things first, particularly how he responds with the hamstring. He's going to need to a couple of rehab appearances just to get himself going again. This is a bigger-bodied guy that is a power pitcher and we want to make sure that he feels comfortable physically before we bring him back to us. "We'll work through that at that time.''
-- Franklin Morales (lower back) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment at Single A Greenville Wednesday, on target to throw 50 pitches or three innings.
Meanwhile, Craig Breslow (shoulder) threw an inning in an extended spring training game Tuesday and will follow Morales out on a rehab assignment soon.
Farrell estaimted that Breslow would need "five to seven'' rehab appearances before being ready for the big leagues. The tentative plan calls for another extended spring inning Thursday, come to Boston and throw a bullpen for Farrell and the staff Sunday and then begin a rehab assignment.