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Franklin Morales (back) sidelined indefinitely, Opening Day concerns for Stephen Drew, Ortiz to start hitting

03.15.13 at 12:30 pm ET
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Stephen Drew has been sidelined since being hit in the helmet by a pitch on March 7. (AP)

SARASOTA, Fla. — Red Sox manager John Farrell, prior to his team’s Grapefruit League game against the Orioles in Sarasota, offered medical updates on three of his sidelined players.

Left-hander Franklin Morales, who was already expected to open the year on the disabled list, is sidelined indefinitely following an epidural injection to treat a bulging disc in his back. The condition was discovered during an MRI in Boston.

“When he first had the back symptoms, he went through conservative oral medication but it was clear he needed to receive the injection,” said Farrell. “[The next step is to] begin to initiate some activities as the symptoms subside, which they are. We’re hopeful to start inside-the-weight room type workouts. There’s no target date to put a ball back into his hand yet.”

Farrell said that the Sox currently plan to build Morales back up to work out of their bullpen. That being the case, it might be a while before he could be build to the point of offering the team depth in their starting rotation. Asked if it will be weeks or months before Morales — who went 3-4 with a 3.77 ERA, 76 strikeouts and 30 walks last year in 70 1/3 innings — will be able to throw again, Farrell said it was “hard to project right now.”

Meanwhile, Farrell said that shortstop Stephen Drew faces at least “a few days before he’s able to get back on the field” while waiting for mild concussion symptoms to subside. That, in turn, could put his availability for Opening Day in question, depending on precisely how much more time Drew must spend sidelined before he can resume baseball activities and get into games.

“There’s going to be a work plan that coincides with how many days down he’ll miss, both in getting his body back in game shape and how many at-bats does he feel he’ll need to feel like his timing in there. It’s still too early to tell all that,” Farrell said.

Drew, said Farrell, is “frustrated, because a lot of his normal everyday is normal. Yet when he gets to some loud areas, that has an affect. Any kind of quick movements, it’s almost like the vision takes a little bit of time there to catch up. There’s a little bit of a delay there. Those are all classic symptoms of a mild concussion.”

Drew is still taking standard post-concussion exertion tests on a bike to monitor his recovery time between rounds of strenuous exertion.

Meanwhile, David Ortiz – currently in the middle of what the team announced on Sunday would be a five- to seven-day period of rest while dealing with inflammation in his heels (particularly his right) — is showing improvement in response to the anti-inflammatories he’s taken and his period of inactivity.

“Feels better. Symptoms have decreased. So the prescribed down days and the medication are having the effect we’d anticipated,” said Farrell. “Optimistically, we’re looking at hopefully getting him back to taking BP on Monday. That would be at the end of that seven-day period.”

There still is no date for when he might next run.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

– Today’s Red Sox lineup features minor league outfielder Bryce Brentz, who was slated to be a participant in Red Sox big league camp until he shot himself in the leg when a gun he was cleaning accidentally discharged.

“There was a lot of positive talk surrounding him and for the right reasons on the year that he had last year. Unfortunate incident that thankfully wasn’t more severe than it turned out,” said Farrell. “He’ll get a couple games here. He’s likely to be over in Port Charlotte [to play the Rays on Saturday]. I know he’s excited to get back on this side. I know it was disappointing when it was taken away, and when he couldn’t post for big league camp. ”

– Farrell said that he’s looking forward to looking at first baseman/third baseman Travis Shaw in forthcoming big league exhibition games. Shaw is on the travel roster but not in the lineup for the game in Sarasota.

– The Red Sox are expected to make another round of roster cuts later today.

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