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Cora optimistic after seeing Betts take BP

MLB.com

BOSTON -- Mookie Betts came to batting practice before Saturday's matchup with the White Sox ready to take some swings.

Betts, who has been out since May 29 with a left abdominal strain, participated in batting practice for the second straight day. While he is going to wait to see how Betts feels, manager Alex Cora said he was optimistic based on batting practice.

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BOSTON -- Mookie Betts came to batting practice before Saturday's matchup with the White Sox ready to take some swings.

Betts, who has been out since May 29 with a left abdominal strain, participated in batting practice for the second straight day. While he is going to wait to see how Betts feels, manager Alex Cora said he was optimistic based on batting practice.

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"It seems like now he's gaining momentum," Cora said. "Hopefully he doesn't stop throughout the day … there was a lot of energy today. It looked like he was a lot better able to drive the ball. No hesitations. Hopefully he can do it again tomorrow, and we'll go from there."

Cora said he still plans to have Betts play a rehab game before returning to the Red Sox lineup.

"It makes sense for us for him to, at least, before he comes here, to get a few at-bats, get his feet wet," Cora said.

And another optimistic update on an injured player -- Tyler Thornburg, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery. The reliever pitched an inning on Friday in Pawtucket's 8-1 loss to the Indianapolis Indians, allowing one hit but no runs.

"I saw him this morning," Cora said. "He felt good about not only his performance, but how he feels today. The plan is for him to pitch tomorrow. I think one off-day, pitch tomorrow, see how it goes, and we'll map it out for the rest of the week."

An abundance of pitchers
Drew Pomeranz might be on the DL with biceps tendinitis, but the Red Sox are far from lacking in pitchers -- with 13 on the active roster since Justin Haley was called up from Pawtucket on Friday.

While that number impedes the depth for position players, Cora said he likes having more arms in the bullpen, especially because of Steven Wright in a new starting role.

"Now with Steven in the rotation, although we know he can go deep in the game, but at the same time, we never know because of where he's coming from," he said. "It feels safer right now with all those pitchers."

With the added flexibility in the bullpen, Cora also feels he's acquired a better understanding of how to best implement righty Heath Hembree into the mix.

"One inning one day, and then the next day probably bring him in with traffic and outs …" Cora said. "He's been doing an outstanding job in those situations. We're very happy with the way he's performing."

Blake Richardson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Boston.

Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts