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Red Sox pregame notes: Bullpen in flux as Brandon Workman, Franklin Morales near returns; plaudits for Jonny Gomes

08.04.13 at 2:10 pm ET
By
Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava is becoming a daddy, and Brandon Workman may as well be singing Diddy: Nobody can hold him down.

The outfielder will miss the Red Sox’ series in Houston against the Astros, and as a result of him being placed on MLB’s paternity list, the Red Sox will likely call up Workman to pitch out of the bullpen. Workman was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket Thursday, but since he is replacing a player out on paternity leave, he is exempt from the rule that would otherwise force him to stay in the minors for 10 days.

Workman, of course, made a splash with three consecutive quality starts in July, but was bumped from the rotation when the team traded for Jake Peavy. The plan is for him to work out the bullpen, and manager John Farrell said Sunday there is no timetable set in stone for his workload. Instead, Workman will just pitch when the game situation calls for it.

“Hopefully it’s a clean inning coming in to start with, but if not we’re not going to hold him to that — or hold the staff to that,” Farrell said, adding that he may  pitch back-to-back days somewhere along the way. “It’ll depend on if there’s an inning where it’s a short one. At the moment, we’re not rushing into that.”

Workman has exactly two relief appearances as a professional, both having come this year. But now he finds himself in the middle of a bullpen that is very much in a state of flux.

The Red Sox have a number of relievers in the major leagues and with Pawtucket who have shuttled to and from the cities, with Workman, Rubby De La Rosa, Pedro Beato, Jose De La Torre and Steven Wright among them. Drake Britton was called up last month and seems to have stuck, while his fellow southpaw, Franklin Morales, is on the mend from a pectoral strain and has retired all 13 hitters he’s faced in three rehab outings with Triple-A Pawtucket.

As a result of all that, the team is starting to hit a home stretch with some bullpen roles still up in the air — an odd position, especially given how successful the Red Sox have been this season, and how well the relievers have performed since the All-Star break, a time during which Boston’s bullpen has a 1.59 ERA that is tops in the American League.

“It’s probably not the norm. But you’re also going to take guys’ track records or track paths that they get here, and there’s going to be different timelines to that,” Farrell said. “We’re taking a guy (Workman) whose started his entire pro career except for one relief appearance here, and now we’re working him in the bullpen. There’s still going to be some of those transitions and firsts [that] take place in the month of August. The fact is that they have to be talented to get here in August in the position we’re in as a team.

“I think that’s the most important thing in all this [is] that they forced there way to the big leagues.”

OTHER RED SOX NOTES:

– Morales tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings for Pawtucket on Saturday. The plan had been for him to go 35-40 pitches, but he was so efficient — needing just 26 pitches (18 strikes) to retire all seven batters he was faced — he was lifted before he got there.

Farrell said Morales will have Sunday and Monday off before another multi-inning appearance Tuesday.

“Now that he’s got the three outings under his belt, one being multiple innings, hopefully we’re getting out of the woods, so to speak, of what he’s been dealing with,” Farrell said.

In  4 1/3 scoreless innings in Triple-A, Morales has yet to permit a baserunner while fanning six.

Clay Buchholz had an “aggressive” throwing session on Sunday, according to Farrell, and will have Monday off. Though there is nothing in terms of a concrete timetable for his return to the mound, the Red Sox do anticipate that he’s moving closer to some kind of work off of a mound for the first time since July 14.

“We’re getting closer to the mound and hopefully we’d be able to incorporate some work, whether that’s continued crow hop off the mound or actually getting on it,” said Farrell. “I think the mound is definitely getting closer here.”

The right-hander, out since June 8 with an inflamed bursa sac in his shoulder, is gaining strength and stability with each workout.

– After a number of timely defensive plays this week, Jonny Gomes drew more praise from his manager, not only for his prowess in left field, but also for his more general baseball intelligence.

“Almost every situation that we find ourselves in, he’s probably worked through it in his own mind and anticipated what’s about to take place,” Farrell said. “Whether it’s a pinch-hit at-bat in the ninth or a couple plays defensively, he’s already worked through it in his mind, and probably envisioned what the outcome might be. Sometimes he doesn’t get enough credit. He’s an intelligent player, and I think that’s why he’s able to execute in those moments late.”

Farrell suggested that Gomes’ baseball acumen has exceeded what he knew of the outfielder.

“Did not know this about him,” said Farrell. “Some people might judge the book by the cover. It’s not an accurate one in this case. He’s a smart player. He’s got a feel for the history of the game to those who are currently in it to every situation that comes up. He’s very much in tune, and he’s in tune with every move that [bench coach Torey Lovullo] and I will discuss. He thinks the game like a manager. As a role player, you have to. That’s why he’s very good at it.”

Read More: Brandon Workman, Clay Buchholz, daniel nava, franklin morales
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