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Pomeranz improving, but not pushing recovery

Cora 'can't assume' left-hander will be ready for Opening Day
Special to MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- With a rash of injuries in the back half of the rotation this spring, the Red Sox's early-season rotation is in flux. Manager Alex Cora isn't ruling out the possibility of having one of the team's former All-Stars ready for when Boston opens the regular season later this month. Drew Pomeranz has a chance to be ready for the Red Sox's first series in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"We're going to have to wait and see how he reacts to what he's going through right now," Cora said prior to Friday's game against the Marlins in Jupiter.

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JUPITER, Fla. -- With a rash of injuries in the back half of the rotation this spring, the Red Sox's early-season rotation is in flux. Manager Alex Cora isn't ruling out the possibility of having one of the team's former All-Stars ready for when Boston opens the regular season later this month. Drew Pomeranz has a chance to be ready for the Red Sox's first series in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"We're going to have to wait and see how he reacts to what he's going through right now," Cora said prior to Friday's game against the Marlins in Jupiter.

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While a small Boston contingent made the trip across Florida to take on Miami at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, a group of recovering Red Sox stayed in Fort Myers, Fla. Among the rehabbing athletes were a handful of pitchers, including Pomeranz.

Less than a week removed from a mild flexor strain in his left forearm, the starting pitcher returned to throwing earlier this week. On Thursday, the lefty stretched out to 90 feet and, Cora said, felt "no pain." On Saturday, Pomeranz will stretch out to 120.

"He'll do it again, and we'll see how he feels," Cora said, "but it looks like he's doing better."

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Austin Maddox is in a similar situation. The relief pitcher threw Thursday, too, and he is starting to make some significant progress in his return from right shoulder inflammation.

"He should be back on the mound in the coming days," Cora said.

Still, the Red Sox are in no rush to make sure either is ready to go by Opening Day.

As good as Pomeranz feels right now, Cora said there's too much time left between now and the start of the season. Boston would love to have the pitcher ready, but there are more important things than pitching in March.

"We can't assume he's going to be ready. We take it day by day with him," Cora said. "Like I said before, I'm not going to jeopardize a guy's season just to push him to be ready in the first week."

Video: NYY@BOS: Holt plates Bogaerts with an RBI single

Holt ready to return

Boston scratched Brock Holt from a Grapefruit League game Tuesday, and it is now ready to get him back in the lineup. The former All-Star got four at-bats and played second base during a "B" game in Fort Myers, on Friday, Cora said. Holt will be back with the big league club Saturday, and he should start at third base. Utility player Eduardo Nunez will start at second, where he's anticipated to begin the season in the wake of Dustin Pedroia's injury.

Also in Fort Myers, pitcher Williams Jerez threw batting practice. The lefty has yet to pitch in a Grapefruit League game this year.

Vazquez gets rare chance to catch Sale

Chris Sale started 32 games, pitched an MLB-leading 214 1/3 innings and threw 3,428 pitches during the 2017 regular season. Sandy Leon was behind the mound for all but 5 1/3 of those frames.

Saturday marked just the third time since Sale joined the Red Sox that he threw to catcher Christian Vazquez, and it went smoothly. During their limited action together in 2017, Sale posted a 13.50 ERA, gave up two home runs and allowed two stolen bases. Cora insists it was merely coincidence they got paired for Sale's first Grapefruit League start of '18, a 5-4 loss to Miami, but he wants all Boston's pitchers and catchers to become comfortable with one another.

"I want everybody to catch everybody and work together, because you don't know," Cora said. "We have two capable guys, actually three with Blake [Swihart] the way he's playing, and we don't know what's going to happen, so it will be good for them to work together and talk."

Up next

The Red Sox return to Fort Myers on Saturday, albeit for a game across town. Boston will head over to Hammond Stadium for a 1:05 p.m. ET first pitch against the Twins, live on MLB.TV. David Price is set to take the mound for the Red Sox against Minnesota starting pitcher Kyle Gibson. The outing will be Price's spring training debut.

David Wilson is a contributor to MLB.com.

Boston Red Sox, Drew Pomeranz