BALTIMORE - It doesn't appear that Stephen Drew will be back in the Red Sox' starting lineup until Thursday at the earliest, when the Sox begin a seven-game homestand.
Drew was out of the lineup Monday night and again Tuesday with a strained right oblique and manager John Farrell hinted that with Baltimore scheduled to throw lefty Wei-Yin Chen Wednesday in the finale, it would be logical for Drew to sit again in the series finale.
"There's still a little bit of tightness,'' said Farrell. "It's one of those situations where if we were to push this and aggravated it, you could be looking at certainly more time than the day-to-day situation that we're looking at right now.
"So there's the possibility with Chen on the mound (Wednesday) that we could give him another day tomorrow.''
Will Middlebrooks (broken finger) took some early batting practice, but is still some time away from fully re-starting baseball activities.
"The most encouraging thing was putting a bat in his hands and swinging it like he did in BP,'' said Farrell, "indicates that the range of motion and the overall stability to the finger is improving. And until we start to ramp up the baseball activity, particularly throwing...he can grip the bat in decent fashion, but throwing the baseball is the one (action) that hyper-extends that index finger. So most importantly, we've getting closer to that.''
Jackie Bradley Jr. sat a second straight game to work on some swing mechanics.
"I would expect that this is a couple of days for him to catch his breath a little bit,'' said Farrell, "and look at him being back in the lineup (Wednesday) against Chen, whom he's had some success against. I realize he's swung the bat OK against (Tuesday starter Chris) Tillman (3-for-7), but we felt like he needed a couple of days to regroup.''
Farrell continued to say that he's had no issue with his team's effort and preparation in the midst of a streak that has seen the club go 8-16 over the previous 24 games.
"From what we've gone through,'' said Farrell, "there's been some consistency there. That was part of the discussion on Sunday night when we met (with the players) before the game. It would be one thing is there were inconsistencies with the effort between the lines and the effort leading up (to the game).
"That's why Sunday was more about reminders and being candid. We're all looking for ways to get better and yet...our effort and preparation, those have been consistent.''
According to a source, Farrell did have to prod the pitchers to go out and stretch as a unit before games.
"Those are some things we discuss as a group, that we remind from time to time,'' he said. "And that was an opportunity to do just that on Sunday.''
Amid multiple reports that John Lackey might opt to retire in 2015 rather than play for the minimum salary of approximately $500,000 -- as dictated by the terms of his contract if he missed a season because of an elbow injury -- GM Ben Cherington said he was unaware of such talk.
"I haven't heard anything about that,'' said Cherington. "That's the first I've heard of it. It's more of a question for John, I guess. But I know the way he's pitching right now and what I know of him as a competitor and how much he enjoys being in the clubhouse and how important it is for him to compete, I would certainly expect him to want to keep playing.
"He certainly looks like a guy who's going to keep pitching for quite some time. I haven't heard anything about that. Obviously, our expectation is he's going to be here.''