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Inbox: Will Swihart get a chance to play more?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers questions from Red Sox fans
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

What are the Red Sox going to do with Blake Swihart?
-- @ScottyBryden

They're going to keep Swihart on the bench for now as quality depth in case an injury develops. He is the perfect example of guy who might not seem valuable right now, but he could become invaluable if there are any injuries at first base, designated hitter, left field and/or catcher. Swihart covers you at a lot of positions. The reason he is being used so sparingly is that Boston has an even more established player in front of him who is fighting for playing time in Mitch Moreland.

What are the Red Sox going to do with Blake Swihart?
-- @ScottyBryden

They're going to keep Swihart on the bench for now as quality depth in case an injury develops. He is the perfect example of guy who might not seem valuable right now, but he could become invaluable if there are any injuries at first base, designated hitter, left field and/or catcher. Swihart covers you at a lot of positions. The reason he is being used so sparingly is that Boston has an even more established player in front of him who is fighting for playing time in Mitch Moreland.

Swihart has no options left, so the only other solution would be to trade him. But if you do that, the organizational catching depth would be depleted greatly.

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How long before we start to see Swihart catch a few games over Sandy Leon, with Leon's struggles with the bat? #freeblake
-- @SamDrusch

The pitching staff truly values Leon behind the plate. He is tremendous at calling a game and strong in every way as a defender. Rick Porcello is currently on a roll with Leon, so I'm sure the Red Sox will ride that while it's hot. Right now, Leon is hitting .115. If that continues, they could consider getting at least some spot starts for Swihart behind the plate.

Is there a timeline for Tyler Thornburg right now? And how quickly do you think he can contribute?
-- @ShackTS

Thornburg will continue to pitch extended spring games in Fort Myers, Fla., for a few more days and will visit with the Red Sox at Fenway Park this weekend. At that point, the training staff will hopefully clear him to go pitch on a regular Minor League rehab assignment for an affiliate. You could potentially see Thornburg back with Boston at some point in May.

How effective Thornburg can be remains up in the air. Everyone seems to recover differently from the surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome. Hopefully Thornburg is one of the pitchers who recovers well. He is exactly what they need to supplement what they already have in the seventh and eighth inning.

Is Alex Cora looking to rotate the infield like he does the outfield (i.e. give each infielder at least one day off a week)?
-- @AlexWhizzy

Look for this to happen once Dustin Pedroia is back. At that point, Eduardo Nunez will be in the same position as Moreland -- a part-time player who has the skills to play every day. I could see Nunez playing as often as five days a week in his "utility" role.

How do you feel the four-man outfield experiment is going?
-- @hardba1l

In the short term, the Red Sox will sacrifice some defense when Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. or Mookie Betts get a day off so J.D. Martinez can get some time with the glove. That isn't so much a knock on Martinez as it is a reflection of how elite the other three guys are on defense.

That said, the Red Sox are a better team because they have Martinez. He will make a huge impact on offense and that offsets whatever they might lose on defense when one of the other outfielders gets a night off. Martinez was a free agent, and he had a right to pick his next destination. I don't think he would have picked Boston if he didn't have assurances that he would see some time in the outfield.

Does Cora value winning series more or sticking to his schedule to rest players? And if he determines the rest days four or five days in advance, how could he plan to rest three of his best hitters the same game?
-- @SeanRCurtis1

Cora's top priority is for the Red Sox can position themselves as well as they can to not only get to the postseason, but thrive once they get there. At 17-4, he is doing pretty well so far. This is the only series they've lost in 21 games. Cora is adamant about not running his players into the ground, and he has stuck to that plan. It will get tougher when Boston hits a losing skid. So far, they've only lost two games in a row once. When Xander Bogaerts and Pedroia are back, it will be less glaring when a couple of key hitters get rest on the same day.

First man gone in bullpen once Thornburg and Steven Wright are back? Brian Johnson? Heath Hembree? Hector Velazquez?
-- @steve_blundell

Velazquez, because he has options, and Johnson and Hembree don't. Also, Wright and Johnson both give you length out of the bullpen, which lessens the need for Velazquez.

Is it possible to extend Rusney Castillo for say, three years at if not $1 million per season, then possibly league minimum, to lower his AAV and make him valuable to the Red Sox or as a trade candidate?
-- @gene_delucy

Only if Castillo wants to give up a lot of guaranteed money. He is due $11 million this season, $11 million next season and $13.5 million in 2020. I get that it's a tough situation for the player and the team, but there's really no way around it unless Castillo wants to voluntarily ask for his release, which I don't see happening. He has a family to support and a life to live well after his baseball career is over, so I think everyone can understand why he would just stay the course for now.

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

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