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Minor-league notes: Reddick, Navarro sidelined

05.04.09 at 9:59 am ET

A number of top Red Sox prospects have either been sidelined with or are returning from injuries. Josh Reddick, who had gotten off to a tremendous start in which he had been demonstrating both power and patience as the leadoff hitter for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, suffered a strained oblique on Thursday. The injury occurred in his fifth and final at-bat of a game in which he also hit his sixth homer of the young season.

The injury was a Grade 1 strain, meaning that it was the mildest possible oblique strain. Nonetheless, the Sox plan to proceed conservatively as they do with all oblique injuries, particularly for a player such as Reddick who has an extremely aggressive swing. The Sox have yet to create a timetable for the return of the outfielder (he is currently on the seven-day disabled list, but as of Sunday, his injury was still in the acute phase, and so the team could not evaluate how he responded to activity), but it would seem a safe bet that he will be out for at least two weeks.

“Those things are obviously tricky. We’€™re going to be extremely cautious here because we don’€™t want any reaggravation of the injury,” said farm director Mike Hazen. “Being that he’€™s an aggressive swinger, you somewhat have to be mindful of that. He’€™s doing better in the first couple of days, which is good. We’€™ll see how it goes from here.”

Reddick is generally regarded as the second-best position playing prospect in the Sox system, behind only Lars Anderson. Though he struggled after a mid-year call-up to Portland last year, he has been off to a strong start in Double-A this year, hitting .288 with a .358 OBP and .644 slugging mark. He homered in each of the first four games of the year. …

Another top Red Sox prospect will be out for an even longer stretch. Shortstop Yamaico Navarro, who excelled at two levels of A-ball in 2008, underwent surgery to repair a broken hamate bone about a week ago. The injury was an old one, and neither Navarro nor the club knows when he initially suffered the fracture.

Initially, after Navarro played in one game this year, the organization attempted a conservative course with his rehabilitation. He was placed on the seven-day disabled list in hopes that rest might permit him to heal to the point where he could stay on the field. But as he worked towards a return, he re-fractured the bone, with the recurrence worse than the original injury. As a result, Hazen said, surgery became unavoidable.

The team is hopeful that Navarro will follow a similar timetable to that of catcher Ty Weeden. Weeden, who underwent surgery in March during spring training, has already reported to Single-A Salem of the Carolina League. If Navarro can follow a similar timetable, the Sox are hopeful that he could be joining Weeden in Salem by mid-June…

The Sox have also received some good news on their medical reports of late, as 2007 top draft selection Nick Hagadone is now impressing while pitching in extended spring training games. Hagadone, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, has now pitched in two games, and all indicators for his return have been good.

He reached 96 mph in a one-inning outing, and touched 94 while throwing two innings on Saturday. In that two-inning outing, the left-hander struck out three batters, two on changeups (the pitch on which Hagadone suffered the tear of his ulnar collateral ligament).

This coming week, the Sox will continue his progression, asking him to pitch into a third inning as the next step in his five-day pitching cycle. Hazen anticipates an assignment to Single-A Greenville of the South Atlantic League by the end of May, barring any setbacks…

Given that the Red Sox allowed eight steals to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, it seems worth noting the exceptional job that catcher Mark Wagner has done controlling the running game for Double-A Portland. Wagner — who is expected to return from a hamstring injury this week — has gunned down eight of 11 opponents who tried to steal on him, a 27.3 percent success rate. (As mentioned in today’s Five Things, opponents are stealing against Sox catcher Jason Varitek at an 89.7 percent clip.) …

Ryan Westmoreland, the highly regarded outfielder out of Rhode Island whom the Sox drafted in the fifth round of last year’s draft and then signed to a $2 million bonus, has returned to game action for the first time since undergoing surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder during the offseason. He played in extended spring training games in both Saturday and Sunday. He will play exclusively as a designated hitter for about a month before he returns to the outfield. As for a minor-league assignment, Hazen said the Sox do not yet have a timetable, noting that Westmoreland will need to get at least 30-40 at-bats in extended spring training before an assignment is discussed.

“He’€™s got a ways to go,” said Hazen.

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