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Wright, Pomeranz nearing spring debuts

Candidates for 5th spot in Sox's staff hoping to pitch March 13
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Look for right-hander Steven Wright and left-hander Drew Pomeranz to make their first outings of Spring Training on March 13, either at Dunedin against the Blue Jays or in a Minor League game.

Both pitchers have gone at a slower pace this spring due to the injuries they are coming back from. Pomeranz had left elbow fatigue and soreness late in 2016, while Wright missed most of the last two months of the season with bursitis in his right shoulder.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Look for right-hander Steven Wright and left-hander Drew Pomeranz to make their first outings of Spring Training on March 13, either at Dunedin against the Blue Jays or in a Minor League game.

Both pitchers have gone at a slower pace this spring due to the injuries they are coming back from. Pomeranz had left elbow fatigue and soreness late in 2016, while Wright missed most of the last two months of the season with bursitis in his right shoulder.

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Pomeranz and Wright will throw their second live batting practice sessions of camp on Wednesday, positioning them to start five days later.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said that if they can both stay on schedule, they should be ready to open the season in the starting rotation. This takes on more importance now that David Price is sidelined indefinitely with left forearm soreness.

"We'd still be able to map them out to 85-90 pitches by April 2," Farrell said.

WORTH NOTING

• New setup man Tyler Thornburg, who struggled mightily (1 1/3 innings, 7 ER) in his first two Grapefruit League outings, will do some extra work on the side before getting back into a game. Thornburg has a history of struggling in Spring Training, but he has looked particularly out of sync in his first two outings for the Red Sox.

"He's going to throw [on] a little flat ground today," said Farrell. "We're going to get a bullpen in, likely on Tuesday before we look to get him back in a game later next week. It's been more [about] timing in his delivery. He's out of sync right now. His body is drifting to the plate too quick -- you see a number of pitches left up in the strike zone up to his arm-side. To see him hit a guy the other day with a changeup, that just says his timing right now needs a lot of work."

• Though the Red Sox weren't going to hold Fernando Abad back in his desire to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, it does complicate the lefty reliever's challenge of winning a spot in the bullpen. Robbie Ross Jr. and Robby Scott are the two other southpaws in the bullpen.

"You love the fact that his country looks upon him as a guy to contribute for the World Baseball Classic," said Farrell. "He's pitched four times; there's been early-camp mixed results, which are not uncommon. But in those positions of competing for a spot, you'd like to think that a guy's going to be here to make that mark here. He's aware of his status on the roster competing for a spot. When he returns, it's constant evaluating that's going on."

• Wondering why first-base coach Ruben Amaro has been coaching third base while Brian Butterfield has been in the dugout during games? Butterfield is still recovering from right knee replacement surgery he had during the offseason, and he had a left knee replacement a couple of years ago. The goal is for Butterfield to coach third for the final week of Grapefruit League games, in order for him to be ready for the start of the season. Pawtucket manager John Boles has been coaching first.

"Ruben has done a great job," said Farrell. "For never having coached third base, his decisions have been good. I think it's been great exposure, great experience for him."

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

Boston Red Sox, Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright