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Inbox: Impact of Pedroia, Thornburg returns?

Red Sox beat reporter Ian Browne answers fans' questions
May 7, 2018

What's going to happen with the roster as Dustin Pedroia and Tyler Thornburg get ready for their returns? -- @Grudecks If everyone is healthy, something is going to have to give when Pedroia returns. At that point, you won't be able to keep Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt and Blake Swihart

What's going to happen with the roster as Dustin Pedroia and Tyler Thornburg get ready for their returns?
-- @Grudecks

If everyone is healthy, something is going to have to give when Pedroia returns. At that point, you won't be able to keep Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt and Blake Swihart as reserves. One player out of those three will have to go. One thing to keep an eye on is whether Boston will try to rest Nunez with a stint on the disabled list. It's obvious his right knee isn't fully healthy yet. On the pitching side of things, the Red Sox have Thornburg and Steven Wright coming back in the near future. At that point, Hector Velazquez and Christopher Johnson (out of options) could be in jeopardy.
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How do you see the lineup shaking out once Pedroia returns?
-- @tmacbermuda

Look for Pedroia to hit seventh, because that is generally where Nunez has been hitting. Manager Alex Cora is locked into the Mookie Betts-Andrew Benintendi combo at the top of the order. Once Pedroia is back, Nunez will be a super-sub, filling in at various positions each week.
Thornburg is reportedly up to 97 mph, and videos of his hook look unfair. When can we expect to see him back?
-- @SoxFanForsyth

I'd say within the next couple of weeks. Thornburg has a couple of markers left. One is pitching back-to-back games. Another is coming in for the middle of an inning. If Thornburg is right, he could give the bullpen a major boost when he returns.
What's your opinion on using more of J.D. Martinez in left, Benintendi in center, Mitch Moreland at first and Hanley Ramirez at DH?
-- @BrayanR1794

Cora's comment after Sunday's game was telling when he said that Moreland is putting pressure on the manager to play him more. Without a doubt, Jackie Bradley Jr. will see his playing time dip if he doesn't start hitting in the near future. But as we've seen before, Bradley can follow excessive cold streaks with blistering hot streaks. With such a deep roster, Cora will try to find the hot hand as often as possible. Right now, that is Moreland.
Is the Swihart issue (no at-bats or reps in the field) related to the Yankees' fast start?
-- @soxnation25

It has nothing to do with the current streak by the Yanks and everything to do with a roster that has some repetition at the positions Swihart can play. Cora has determined that the defense of Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon is too valuable for Swihart to be moved into the catching mix. As it is, Cora is trying to finagle the red-hot Moreland into the lineup at first base/DH, so that also takes another option away from Swihart.
Swihart for Matt Harvey makes sense to me. Thomas Pomeranz is off to a shaky start, and the back of the rotation could use an extra legit starter. Would the change of environment for both players make sense to you?
-- @KrazyKula

I've heard crazier ideas. I'm all for taking a shot with Harvey. You have nothing to lose if you're fine taking the balance of his $5.6 million salary for the rest of the season. Maybe pitching guru Brian Bannister can help Harvey figure out what has been ailing him. The main thing with trading Swihart is that you should make sure the return compensation is worthwhile. I'm sure the Red Sox are doing plenty of due diligence on Harvey. The Mets must trade Harvey by Saturday, otherwise he becomes a free agent.
Why haven't the Red Sox traded Swihart if they have no intentions to use him as a catcher?
-- @ribeachguru

The answer to that question is pretty simple: Boston doesn't have any viable options within the organization if Vazquez or Leon sustain an injury.
Is a Betts contract inevitable? It would be such a shame to just let him play out his arbitration years, and leave for free agency.
-- @OneRedSeat2004

I wouldn't say it is inevitable. The Red Sox have been unable to agree on a one-year contract with Betts for the past two offseasons. Two years ago, the team had to automatically renew him. This past year, they went to arbitration. But if I'm the Red Sox, signing Betts to a long-term contract would be my top priority.
Do you agree that the Red Sox should have David Price use breaking pitches more than fastballs since his velocity has dropped?
-- @yrealitycheck

Price isn't a finesse pitcher. He needs to rediscover his fastball command and change speeds a little more to make hitters off-balanced. Velocity is overrated if Price can paint a little more with his pitches. Mixing in some curves to "steal strikes," as Cora put it recently, would be a good idea as well.
What do you predict Price's ERA will be when the season ends?
-- @seanpagne_papi

I'm going to go with 3.65. I think Price will figure out the adjustments he needs to make and pitch well for the rest of the season.
If there were going to be an August callup that could have an impact on the postseason chase, a la Benintendi and Rafael Devers, who might that be for the 2018 Red Sox?
-- @AlexWhizzy

Going into the season, Michael Chavis would have been someone to keep an eye on. But he is serving an 80-game suspension for a positive PED test. Sam Travis is a hitter who could play a role at some point if the Red Sox need him.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.