NEW YORK -- With Mitch Moreland's ailing right hamstring still requiring treatment, the first baseman didn't make the starting lineup of Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees on Monday, but was loosely available for the late innings.Manager Alex Cora said Moreland would be available only
NEW YORK -- With Mitch Moreland's ailing right hamstring still requiring treatment, the first baseman didn't make the starting lineup of Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees on Monday, but was loosely available for the late innings.
Manager Alex Cora said Moreland would be available only in a "perfect spot" to pinch-hit. Cora dared Moreland to dream big.
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"He's going to get treatment the whole day. I was joking with him -- maybe a Kirk Gibson moment," Cora said.
Steve Pearce made the start in place of Moreland on a day Cora also made several other lineup changes, inserting Rafael Devers, Brock Holt and Christian Vazquez in place of Eduardo Nunez, Ian Kinsler and Sandy Leon, respectively.
The earliest Moreland would start again is Game 5 (if necessary), because the Yankees will throw lefty Carsten Sabathia for Tuesday's Game 4. Pearce was definitely going to start that game.
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As for Moreland, the hope is that he continues to get better each day. There is no consideration for taking him off the roster, because the Red Sox don't want to have to lose him in the next round if they get that far.
"Honestly, yesterday, I was very concerned [about Moreland]," said Cora. "Today, less concerned, but still concerned. For him not to play, it takes a lot. He was here yesterday. The treatment was very aggressive."
Moreland is known for his high pain tolerance and always seems to be playing through an injury.
"Today, he walked in and was like, 'I'm all right,'" Cora said. "We'll talk a little bit. If we use him, we use him. If we stay away from him, we stay away from him. It has to be kind of like perfect storm for him to go out there."
Sale not likely to pitch until Game 5
While ace Chris Sale expressed his willingness to Cora to pitch out of the bullpen if needed in Game 3, Cora sounded like he would prefer to stay away from the lefty.
Due to multiple bouts of left shoulder inflammation, Sale pitched only 17 innings from July 28 through the end of the regular season. He fired 93 pitches over 5 1/3 innings in Game 1 on Friday.
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"If you ask him, he'll pitch today," Cora said. "That's the nature of the playoffs. The mentality of all these guys is push, push, push, grind, grind, grind, in the great words of Mike Lowell. But we've got to be smart, too. We've got other guys we feel can do the job."
The Red Sox want him fully ready to pitch Game 5 at Fenway on Thursday if the series goes the distance. Cora said he won't consider Sale to start Game 4 on short rest even if the Red Sox lose Game 3.
Another Price check
As for Price, Cora is keeping his options open. At least in terms of the number of outs he would be available for, Price probably becomes more of a bullpen factor for Game 4 and Game 5. Price threw 42 pitches in his ill-fated loss in Game 2, lasting just 1 2/3 innings.
"I talked to him today. He said he's available. He's in good spirits. We talked a little bit yesterday, just talked to him about it," Cora said. "We'll see how it goes. Still, he made a start two days ago. Health is very important. I know there's a point that everybody's all in, but at the same time, I have to be smart about it. He told me that he's all in, so we'll see how it goes."
Cora thinks the issue that plagued Price in Game 2 was the same thing that troubled him earlier in the season: not having enough separation with his pitches.
"From my experience, and this is my only experience with him [in the playoffs], everything was blended together as far as velocity, and we saw what happens early in the season when everything is together," Cora said. "There was some velocity. When the fastball was 93 and the changeup was 86 [during the season], he dominated. When he used his fastball in different spots he was really, really good. It was a tough one, but we have to turn the page and prepare for whatever role we're going to use him."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.