PHILADELPHIA -- Not only are the Red Sox in possession of a commanding lead in the American League East, but they are getting healthier.Backup catcher/utility man Blake Swihart (right hamstring strain) was activated from the disabled list prior to Tuesday's game. And starting second baseman Ian Kinsler, who had the
PHILADELPHIA -- Not only are the Red Sox in possession of a commanding lead in the American League East, but they are getting healthier.
Backup catcher/utility man Blake Swihart (right hamstring strain) was activated from the disabled list prior to Tuesday's game. And starting second baseman Ian Kinsler, who had the same injury but to the left hamstring, could return as early as Wednesday.
"He feels that he's close to being 100 percent, so there might be a chance he might be back tomorrow or Friday," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "We feel very good where he's at. He had good workouts in Lowell and I'm happy he's around us again."
The Red Sox decided not to have Kinsler go on a Minor League rehab assignment. Instead, he will face lefty Eduardo Rodriguez in a simulated game in Philadelphia on Wednesday and the Red Sox will make their decision from there.
To make room for Swihart on the roster, the Red Sox designated catcher Dan Butler for assignment.
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
When Kinsler returns, Boston's infield depth will be greatly improved.
"We'll mix it up," said Cora. "Obviously Brock [Holt] can play short, Ian we have to take care of him, too. Same way with [Rafael Devers]. They're coming back from hamstring injuries, so we'll make it work. Brock can play first, too, and he can play the outfield, so we'll be fine. We'll find a way [to keep everyone involved]."
Set to Sale on Sunday
Ace Chris Sale, who returned from the disabled list with a dominant effort in Baltimore (68 pitches, 12 strikeouts, no earned runs in five innings) will make his next start on six days of rest with the Red Sox having two off-days this week. Christopher Johnson will open the homestand against the Rays on Friday, followed by David Price on Saturday and Sale on Sunday.
"I actually found out about the 12 strikeouts when we were on our way to [Philadelphia]," Cora said. "I was like, 'Wow. He struck out 12 on 68 pitches? That's almost impossible.' His fastball was good. His breaking ball was good. He seems effortless again."
Sale's next two starts will both be against the Rays. He will miss the four-game showdown against the Indians at Fenway Park next week.
J.D. gets both games in Philly
Without the designated hitter for this two-game series in Philadelphia, star slugger J.D. Martinez is starting both games in right field. Jackie Bradley Jr. got a rest on Tuesday, with Mookie Betts playing center. On Wednesday, Betts will get a rare break, which comes prior to a team off-day on Thursday.
One of Cora's goals down the stretch is to keep everyone as fresh as possible.
Insights from TLR
One thing Cora has enjoyed in his first season as a manager is the unique opportunity to tap into the insights of Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa, who is in his first season as a special advisor to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. La Russa is around the team the majority of the time. The way Cora looks at it, the more the better.
"We talk a lot," Cora said. "I enjoy having dinner with him. That's pretty cool. He feels a little bit awkward to be in the clubhouse or be at batting practice, and I'm the other way around, man. Like, 'Come down. You won a lot of games.' I think guys enjoy his company, his stories and he's connected to the game."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.