Pregame notes: Lavarnway returned to Pawtucket

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Pregame notes: Lavarnway returned to Pawtucket

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON-- BOSTON -- Ryan Lavarnway, who hit .304 (7-for-23) with three RBI in his seven-game big league debut has been returned to Triple-A Pawtucket with right-hander Scott Atchison getting called up for his fifth stint this season. With three games scheduled in under 24 hours, including Saturdays doubleheader, manager Terry Francona was concerned about his pitching.

"We talked to Lavarnway Thursday last night after we kind of had a chance to talk before we left and decided that even with the three games coming up in two days we probably better protect our pitching so we got Atch here, Francona said. Hes been lengthened out to three innings at a time and weve all seen what he can do. Just really want to protect our bullpen. It would be nice to have the extra position player. Saying that, Lavarnway is a catcherDH. We have that. If you're going to protect your lineup in a doubleheader thats probably not what you do. So we swapped them out. Just want to protect our pitching.

Francona is not concerned, though, that the odd schedule has had an adverse effect on the pitching staff.

Weve never gotten to a point where Ive thought anybodysgottenoverdone or anything, he said. The odd times where things like that, I think you have to pay attention to it, not let somebody pitch three days in a row or something like that when they shouldnt, and we dont, but I dont think its ever gotten in the way of our pitching. And like on a day like today we went and got Atch so something doesnt happen. If we have a lead, were fine. But if something happens when someone exits early or were losing, then you can ruin your bullpen and thats why its important to have somebody here.

It is rare to have two consecutive days off in the baseball calendar. But the Red Sox find themselves with that unusual scenario Sunday because of the impending hurricane and Mondays scheduled off-day. Francona was uncertain if that would affect his pitching rotation.

I dont know, he said. Well get through this and then well figure that out. Obviously its not just cut and dried because its two days off and we dont have that very often, so well look at it.

Lavarnway will likely be back up when rosters expand in September.

The way he controlled the strike zone, Francona said of what he liked about Lavarnway. We only saw him catch two innings so thats a little bit hard to give a proper evaluation. But obviously a smart kid. He helped us win some games. Thats what we asked him to do. Its not an easy thing to do but I think the experience was probably really good for him. Hell be back. Hell be back as soon as we can get him back here, spend September with us and hopefully learn some more. Spending some time with bullpen coach Gary Tuck will be really important.

With left-hander Gio Gonzalez starting for the As tonight, and two righties, Guillermo Moscoso and Graham Godfrey, starting tomorrow, Carl Crawford is getting tonight off with Mike Aviles making his first professional appearance in left field. Crawford is expected to play both games of the doubleheader.

Were trying to give as many guys some time off as we can, Francona said. Theres only so much we can do. I thought Carl was actually cramping a little bit last night during the game. So with the late arrival and everything I thought it would be a good day because hell probably play both tomorrow.

J. D. Drew is expected to play tonight and Saturday with Single-A Lowell as rehab games as he makes his way back from the disabled list , where he has been since July 20 with a left shoulder impingement. He is expected to serve as the Spinners designated hitter tonight.

If things go well for Drew this weekend, he is expected to join the PawSox next week.

Right-hander Bobby Jenks, on the DL since July 8 with left back tightness, is expected to pitch one inning in a rehab assignment with the Single-A Salem Sox on Saturday. Where he pitches after that is dependent on the weather.

Were trying to move him to Triple A, Francona said. But theres some things to think about with the weather so, but pretty good chance well get him up to Triple A.

Kevin Youkilis, on the DL since Aug. 18 with a lower back strain, is expected to begin a rehab assignment next week with the PawSox.

Hes doing really well, Francona said. Hes probably going to go out and get a couple of at-bats Tuesday and Wednesday. I think theyre in Rochester. J.D. would do the same thing

Youkilis hit off a tee and took some soft toss Thursday and hit in the cage Friday.

Hes been making progress. Hes doing well. Hes doing fine, Francona said.

Except for a brief stop into Fenway on Aug. 16 and 17 when they played three games in about 27 hours, the Sox have virtually been on a road trip since Aug. 8. They are now home through Sept. 4, with three games against the As, three against the Yankees, and three against the Rangers.

Im hoping itll be terrific, Francona said of the homestand. The last time we were home it was almost like a continuation of the road trip. We were home for 24 hours or whatever it was, and three games. It was almost like more of a hindrance. But, hopefully, well take advantage of it on the field. But itll be nice to unpack for a little while. Its been a long time.

Reminder: Because of the approaching hurricane Sundays game has be rescheduled as the second game of Saturdays doubleheader and Saturdays scheduled game has been moved to an earlier start time. Saturdays scheduled game will begin at 12:00 noon in the first game of the doubleheader. The second game (originally scheduled for Sunday) will begin at 5 p.m.

Carl Crawford has been given the night off for Friday night's game against the A's, and Mike Aviles will play left field for the first time in his career. Crawford is expected to play both games on Saturday.

Kevin Youkilis will make a rehab appearance with the PawSox on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Other Red Sox rehab appearances: J.D. Drew will be in Lowell on Friday and Saturday, and Bobby Jenks will be with Salem on Saturday.

Tonight's Red Sox lineup:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Marco Scutaro SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Jed Lowrie 3B
Mike Aviles LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Darnell McDonald RF

Tim Wakefield P

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Righty Tyler Thornburg seems a guarantee to join David Price on the disabled list to start the season.

Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida the spasm was “not shoulder related.”  But the trap, a large muscle along the neck and back, does extend to the shoulder blade.

Dombrowski told reporters it is most likely that Thornburg starts the year on the disabled list. More is expected to be known Tuesday, possibly after an MRI.

Robby Scott could be a replacement for Thornburg. If so, the Sox would likely have three lefties in the bullpen, along with Fernando Abad and Robbie Ross Jr.

"Possibly. Possibly," Dombrowski said of Scott. “We still have to make those decisions. But possibly.”

Dombrowski didn’t indicate a desire to go outside the organization for now.

Thornburg had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.

Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last season for the Brewers. The Sox picked him up at the winter meetings in a deal that sent Travis Shaw and prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers.