Red Sox to use off-day to mull roster decisions

Red Sox to use off-day to mull roster decisions
June 4, 2012, 2:08 pm
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TORONTO Mondays scheduled off-day for the Red Sox could likely turn into a very busy day for the teams decision makers.

Among the items that will need to be discussed:

What is the next step for Dustin Pedroia?
What, if anything, should be done after Daniel Bards disastrous outing Sunday against the Blue Jays?
What to do about Kevin Youkilis?
What to do with the impending returns of several outfielders?

"There's not a lot of hypothetical talk," said manager Bobby Valentine before Sundays series finale in Toronto. "But, there's talk about where we are, what we have at this present time. I guess well see. General manager Ben Cherington is having a lot of thoughts about the roster because the roster is pretty complicated. It's going to continue to be challenging."

Valentine said over the weekend a decision of whether or not to place Pedroia, who has missed the last six games with a torn abductor muscle in his right thumb, on the DL or to continue to wait it out had not been made. Valentine said there would likely be meetings about Pedroia on Monday. Pedroia, who is expected to get treatment and probably do some hitting on Monday, said as he left the visitors clubhouse after Sundays game he expected to play Tuesday. Whether that was more than wishful thinking is unknown.

After Bards outing against the Jays on Sunday, Valentine was asked if he would consider skipping Bards next turn, letting the right-hander get things figured out.

Ill think about it a while, Valentine said. I have some time. Regretful its going to have to take up an off-day. I dont know.

If Bard is skipped, who would take his spot in the rotation?

Daisuke Matsuzaka, on his second 30-day rehab assignment, has pitched well but whether he is ready for a return to face major league hitters is uncertain. He has until June 24 on his current assignment, and is scheduled to make his next start on Tuesday.

Aaron Cook, on the DL since May 6 with a left knee laceration, is not ready. Would the Sox consider having Vicente Padilla make a start? Or would they call up a pitcher from Pawtucket for one start? Bards next day to pitch would be Saturday.

There were several teams in Toronto for the three-game series with interest in Youkilis, including the Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers. If the Sox opt not to trade Youkilis, they could move him to first base, have Adrian Gonzalez stay in right, and let Will Middlebrooks take over third base regularly.

But, the Sox have several outfielders getting ready to return from the disabled list.

Darnell McDonald, on the disabled list since May 12 with a right oblique strain, is getting close to a return. He has been on a 20-day rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket since May 25. Serving as the designated hitter and leading off Sunday, he went 1-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts. On Saturday, he played both ends of a doubleheader batting second, playing left field in the first game, and serving as the DH batting first in the second McDonald went a combined 3-for-8 with two runs scored, two doubles, an RBI, and two strikeouts. In all, he has played seven games with the PawSox, going 5-for-26 (.192), with four doubles, two runs scored, two RBI, and eight strikeouts. He has until June 13 on his rehab assignment but the Sox may opt to bring him back sooner.

Cody Ross has been on the DL since May 19 with a fracture in the navicular bone of his left foot. He was eligible to be activated Sunday but was not ready. However Ross, who was examined by the medical staff before the team left for the three-game series in Toronto on Friday, said he expects to be free on Monday of the hard plastic boot he has been wearing. Ross also said he would resume baseball activities on Tuesday and begin a rehab assignment at some point.

When either of the outfielders returns, corresponding roster moves will have to be made. That could likely affect the futures of Marlon Byrd, Daniel Nava, Will Middlebrooks, and possibly where Adrian Gonzalez will be playing.

In 32 games with the Sox, Byrd is hitting .271, with one home run, and seven RBI. However, in his last seven games, with four starts, he is hitting just .231 (3-for-13) with one RBI, one walk, and four strikeouts.

Nava, meanwhile, has been one of the Red Sox' most productive bats. Although his six-game hitting streak ended on Sunday, in 24 games since being called up May 10, he has reached base safely in 22, batting .303. He also has three outfield assists, tied with Ross for the team lead, while starting every game in left field since his call-up. As a switch-hitter he offers some versatility, although his left-right splits are stark, batting .380, with a .600 slugging percentage, and .515 on-base percentage from left side, .174.391.310 from the right.

However, rather than sending out an outfielder, the Sox could opt to return Middlebrooks to Pawtucket, with Youkilis and Gonzalez staying at their customary positions of third and first, respectively. Valentine has said he doesnt like to see young prospects sitting on the bench. If Middlebrooks playing time is going to be more limited, it may be decided a return to Triple-A would be in his best interest.