BOSTON -- The Red Sox have some good news on the Mookie Betts front. The star right fielder seems to be turning a corner in his recovery from a left abdominal strain and might go on a short Minors rehab assignment later this week.That could position Betts to be back
BOSTON -- The Red Sox have some good news on the Mookie Betts front. The star right fielder seems to be turning a corner in his recovery from a left abdominal strain and might go on a short Minors rehab assignment later this week.
That could position Betts to be back in Boston's lineup by the weekend.
"Mookie just swung the bat," said manager Alex Cora before Wednesday's game against the Tigers. "Actually he was tracking pitches. He'll take batting practice tomorrow and then we'll decide where we go but he's feeling a lot better."
If Betts doesn't feel discomfort taking BP at Fenway on Thursday, perhaps he can play for Triple-A Pawtucket in a home game Friday night. Friday is also the first day Betts is eligible to come off the disabled list.
Betts last played for the Red Sox on May 27.
"I talked to him yesterday about it and he feels that getting an at-bat or two or four [in the Minors] maybe is the best way to go, not only for what he's going through but also to get his timing back," said Cora. "We'll make the decision when it comes down to it but he mentioned it yesterday."
There is also good news on second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who recently went back on the DL with left knee inflammation after playing just three games in his return to action. Pedroia was told by Dr. Riley Williams that there is nothing structurally wrong with his surgically repaired left knee, and the only current issue is inflammation.
"I've got to get some treatment stuff and get it going again but it's definitely good news," said Pedroia. "But like the doctor said, a lot of these have been done in basketball and he knows how to monitor workload and stuff like that with minutes in the game, but with baseball, you can't really say, 'Hey you can play four minutes in the first quarter?' so I'm kind of the first one going through this for a position player. We've just got to be smart. I'll be back to normal soon."
Pedroia is eligible for activation Saturday, but the Red Sox will wait and see how he progresses before deciding on when he returns.
"Timetable, I'm going to listen to what the trainers say, what the doctors say," Pedroia said. "I'm going to try to control what I can control and that's kind of do what you're told."
Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt are two established veterans who can start when Pedroia is unavailable.
Thornburg back at it
Reliver Tyler Thornburg, who was acquired from the Brewers on Dec. 6, 2016, and has still never thrown a pitch in a regular-season game for the Red Sox, is making progress again in his return from right shoulder surgery.
The righty pitched a strong scoreless inning for Pawtucket on Tuesday, throwing eight of his nine pitches for strikes and retiring all three batters he faced.
"He's pitching Friday and hopefully -- that's the one that we're looking forward to," said Cora. "It's not that first one after having a lot of off-days. It's the one on Friday to see if he can bounce back from the one yesterday."
The Red Sox restarted Thornburg's Minor League rehab clock at 30 days with Tuesday's appearance.
The news is not as good on righty reliever Austin Maddox, who emerged late last season from the Minors (0.52 ERA in 13 appearances for Boston), but has had shoulder woes since Spring Training. Maddox made five rehab appearances for Pawtucket and Double-A Portland between May 18 and Saturday, notching an 11.12 ERA.
"Maddox, inflammation in the shoulder," said Cora. "He wasn't able to bounce back. Velocity was down so he's here with us. Get treatment and we'll see what happens."
Beeks ready for debut
Lefty Jalen Beeks was at Fenway Park on Wednesday, preparing for his first Major League start, which will take place on Thursday night against the Tigers. Beeks, Boston's No. 15 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is filling in for Thomas Pomeranz, who is on the DL with left biceps tendinitis.
The 24-year-old is 3-3 with a 2.56 ERA for Pawtucket this season, holding opponents to a .197 average.
"I'm really excited," said Beeks. "It's an honor that I get to be here and be a part of this team.
To make room for Beeks on the roster, the Red Sox optioned lefty reliever Bobby Poyner to Pawtucket.
A 12th-round selection in the 2014 Draft, Beeks is having a breakout season in the Minors.
"I think my delivery has gotten better this year, so I think each of my pitches have gotten better," Beeks said. "I've had all four of my pitches in each game working better. I've actually diversified, evened out my percentages throwing each pitch, not overusing any of them."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.