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Red Sox pregame notes: No set date for returns of Stephen Drew, Clay Buchholz; Sox bullpen doesn’t need a ground-ball pitcher?

07.02.13 at 6:19 pm ET
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For the third straight game, Stephen Drew is out of the Red Sox lineup, a fact that is unlikely to change over the duration of the three-game series with the Padres. While manager John Farrell said the team is encouraged by Drew’s progress from a hamstring injury that caused him to leave Friday’s game, he also mentioned that it is unlikely Drew will return to action before the Sox leave for a 10-game West Coast road trip.

“[Drew is] improving,” said Farrell. “He was able to get out and do some running today. Light jogging. But he’s been responding favorably to treatment. Still day-to-day. Don’t have a projected date this week when he can get back on the field.”

While Drew is not expected to play before at least Friday, Farrell said that he was “hopeful” that Drew could avoid the disabled list. However, he suggested that roster need could dictate a change of course.

“We’re going to continue to stay as we are with our roster situation, but if there are any delays, we’ll adjust, but as of now that is our approach,” said Farrell.

With Drew hurt, the Red Sox were forced to call up infielder Jonathan Diaz, which in turn, has left the Red Sox with a short (six-member) bullpen for the time being. Farrell acknowledged that the Sox will remain flexible about potential roster decisions as need dictates.

“If there needs to be a change, we would certainly make that,” he said.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

Clay Buchholz began what Farrell described as the first step of his precisely designed throwing program.

“He threw out to 60 feet. No issues. The throwing program will outline 60, 90, 120 at varying number of throws or progressive number of throws before we get him back on the mound.” Farrell added, “We don’t have a specific date, right now, that he will be back on the mound.”

Buchholz went on the 15-day disabled list on June 18 due to a neck strain, which had been bothering him since June 8. Given the incremental build-up of his throwing program, the fact that he’ll need to throw off a mound in a bullpen session and the fact that the team will have Buchholz make at least one rehab start before his return, it is virtually impossible that he would return to the Sox rotation prior to the All-Star break.

— The Red Sox bullpen does not feature the prototypical groundball option in the late innings. In past years, the Sox had contributors such as Justin Masterson and Matt Albers offered the possibility of a ground ball or double play in situations with baserunners. The Sox relief corps does, however, have a number of pitchers capable of generating swings and misses. The bullpen averages 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings, with left-hander Andrew Miller having punched out an extraordinary 14.1 per nine innings.

“To look upon a guy who’s a double-play candidate, we don’€™t have that one sinkerballer that exists to become that clear-cut choice. We’re looking more at potential swing-and-miss than trying to get two outs with one pitch,” said Farrell. “All things being equal, I’d rather have the guy that doesn’€™t put the ball in play. I think the one thing coming out of that is not to read into it that we need a ground-ball-type pitcher. The style of guys that we have are very effective, particularly when they’re not going to put guys on base via the walk. Still, the strikeouts late in the game are key.”

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Stephen Drew,
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