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Pre-Game Notes: Tuesday Afternoon

03.23.10 at 4:57 pm ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The ranks are thinning.

The Red Sox announced a few players who were shipped from big league camp to the minors. Most prominent among them was Michael Bowden, who was somewhat disappointed that he was not in the mix for one of the last bullpen spots. The Sox prefer to have the right-hander remain stretched out as a starter. Though Bowden was roughed up in his final outing of the spring, allowing four runs (three earned) in three innings to the Cardinals on Monday, the results were positive on his work to smooth out his delivery in an effort to improve his command.

Also optioned to Pawtucket were reliever Ramon A. Ramirez (thus leaving the Sox with just one Ramon Ramirez in big league camp) and first baseman Aaron Bates. Right-hander Jorge Sosa, who is with the Sox on a minor league deal, was reassigned to minor league camp.

— The Sox still have yet to make a decision on their Opening Day starter. The team is still trying to figure out how its rotation will be structured through the first week and a half of the season, during which time the team will have numerous off days with which to contend.

— Francona was asked about Rays skipper Joe Maddon‘s suggestion that Jacoby Ellsbury could emerge as a 20-home run hitter. Francona said that the team will not ever ask Ellsbury to change his approach at the plate, but that he does expect that with greater strength, knowledge of the league and maturity about his own game, he expects there to be some increase in power totals for the outfielder.

“He probably will hit some more home runs,” said Sox manager Terry Francona.

— Red Sox pitcher Boof Bonser said that the groin injury that he suffered in his outing on Monday was relatively minor. He reported that the team’s training staff felt that the injury was already showing some improvement and he hoped not to have to take more than a day off, although it remained unclear precisely when the 28-year-old will be able to resume throwing.

“It’s fine. Just a little tweak yesterday. Nothing major,” said Bonser, who recalled that the discomfort arrived on his fourth pitch to Rays outfielder Ben Zobrist, the final batter faced by the pitcher in his two-plus-inning outing. “They said it’s nothing to really worry about it.”

Bonser said that he was not doing any baseball activity on Tuesday, but that he hoped to resume such activity on Wednesday. He has yet to find out when he will next pitch in a game, but the Sox are hopeful that he won’t be significantly affected.

“I don’t think it would be an extended period [on the sidelines],” said Francona.

— The velocity of reliever Manny Delcarmen remains a work in progress. The Sox feel that he still has his usual power in the tank, thanks to his long toss sessions from up to 200 ft. But that has yet to translate, perhaps of mechanics that became a bit out of whack towards the end of last season when he tried to pitch through elbow soreness and, Francona suggested, when the team asked him to spend more time working out of the slide step.

“There’s a little bit left on his fastball that we haven’t seen,” said Delcarmen. “I think we’ll see that.”

— Delcarmen is viewed as one of the keys to the bullpen because of his versatility. In particular, his ability to attack left-handers with his changeup has been a key to the Sox’ ability to avoid overuse of left-hander Hideki Okajima, particularly at times when Okajima is the only left-hander on the roster. But Francona said that any spring struggles experienced by Delcarmen will not impact the team’s roster decisions at the back of the bullpen.

— Third baseman Jorge Jimenez, whom the Sox lost temporarily as a Rule 5 draftee, was excited that his return to the Red Sox was to big league camp, rather than the minors. The 2006 15th-round pick impressed Marlins officials during his time in camp. For more on him, click here.

Clay Buchholz is slated to throw about four innings in his outing against the Twins on Tuesday night.

— There are still no real updates to offer on Jed Lowrie, who has been able to engage in almost no physical activity since being diagnosed with mononucleosis. He’s been limited to walking and riding an exercise bike for short stretches. Francona worried that Lowrie will not only lose the time that he is out with the illness, but will also need to make up for the strength he is losing while out.

Jonathan Papelbon “feels fine,” Francona said, following his sluggishness due to anti-migraine medication on Sunday. He is scheduled to throw an inning on Tuesday night against the Twins.

Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a side session on Tuesday, and remains on schedule to pitch two innings in a major league game on Thursday.

Alan Embree threw a side session on Tuesday, and will pitch in a minor league game at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

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