BOSTON – David Ross was in the Red Sox clubhouse Wednesday afternoon before the game against the Twins at Fenway Park. Ross was walking without the limp that hobbled his left knee as he walked off the field after his fifth-inning collision with Will Middlebrooks on Tuesday.
Ross, who left the game one pitch after the collision, said his knee felt much better, the swelling had gone down, and he could be used in an emergency to replace Jarrod Saltalamacchia, if necessary.
If Ross were not available, manager John Farrell said the team would do everything possible to avoid using Mike Napoli behind the plate. Napoli has spent most of his eight-season career catching, but was diagnosed with avascular necrosis this past offseason.
In that situation, Jonny Gomes would be the emergency catcher. Gomes, however, has not caught in his professional career.
-- Middlebrooks has some soreness on the right side of his rib cage, Farrell said. Middlebrooks underwent an MRI on Wednesday afternoon. The exams he underwent Tuesday night showed no fractures, Farrell said, but Middlebrooks is sore and is considered day to day.
-- Responding to a report on Yahoo! Sports that Clay Buchholz has been using sunscreen to doctor his pitches, Farrell replied:
“I don’t know of our pitchers using sunscreen. Seemingly the comments that came out of our series up in Toronto suggested some form of cheating. And yet Clay uses rosin, which I think every pitcher who walks to a mound and certainly a major league mound will use. But the fact is that Clay hasn’t used any foreign substance. We’ll take those accusations as a compliment to a guy that’s really pitched well.
-- The Sox are hopeful Andrew Bailey, who was placed on the disabled list retroactive to April 29 with a right biceps strain, could throw Thursday, to get a range of motion and begin a throwing program. The Sox have not gotten to the point of deciding if Bailey will need rehab outings before being activated.
-- Farrell said he would try to stay away from left-hander Craig Breslow, who pitched in the last two games after being activated from the DL on Monday.
-- Given the state of the Sox bullpen, getting starters deeper into games would be beneficial. In nine games since April 28, Bailey’s last appearance, starting pitchers have averaged six innings a game. Ryan Dempster pitched in the eighth inning last night, the first starter to do so since Clay Buchholz on April 25. John Lackey, who is scheduled to start tomorrow, went five innings in his last outing.
“We’re hopeful he can continue to work deeper into games, and we fully expect that,” Farrell said.
“We’re getting deep enough into the season where starters should be getting into the seventh and eighth inning with a little bit more regularity. So, there’s two ways to bridge that gap to the closer and that’s making sure that we do get the complement of innings out of the rotation, and guys are going to get opportunity, whether that’s [Clayton] Mortensen, certainly the way [Andrew] Miller’s been throwing the ball has been much more consistent of late, Breslow’s return to us has been a plus. So we’ll look to match up as been we can before we get to Koji [Uehara] and [Junichi Tazawa] to finish things out.”
-- The Sox lead the major leagues with four balks this season. Two were committed by Alfredo Aceves, and one each by Junichi Tazawa and Ryan Dempster, who was called for one against the Twins Tuesday night. It was just the third balk called against Dempster in his 16-season career.
“I don’t know if it’s on the hit list of things to look out for by the umpires,” Farrell said. “I certainly don’t think it is. I know we’ve been called for that many. But, again, we’re probably on the high side of that because of one inning that got ugly.”
-- Farrell said he sees David Ortiz being a better hitter now than in Farrell’s previous tenure with the Sox, as pitching coach from 2007-10.
“It starts with his routing leading up to BP, and then what he sets out to accomplish ever day on the field pregame. You rarely see him look to drive the ball out of the ballpark. He uses the whole field. In the first two rounds he tries to pepper the left field foul pole, which is clearly just staying inside the ball and giving him full plate coverage. And when you look at what he’s been able to do against left-handed pitching the last two years, whether that was through conversation with Adrian Gonzalez and his approach against lefties, I do know there were conversations that took place. I’m not saying that’s his whole reason. But he’s mature and gotten better with time. And when you see how he goes about his work day, there’s nothing artificial that has led him to the success that he’s had.
-- Sox pitchers have begun taking batting practice in preparation for interleague games. Their first interleague play is a four-game home-and-home series with the Phillies May 27-30.