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Wright to return as reliever when activated

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- Knuckleballer Steven Wright will pitch out of the bullpen for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday in preparation for the role he will likely be used in when he is reinstated from his 15-game suspension on Monday.

"At this point it seems like it," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "We have five [starters] -- and five good ones. He's a guy who is going to be different, obviously, with the knuckleball. We've got catchers that it seems like they don't have a problem with it. We'll see how it is. As of now, that's where we see him."

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BOSTON -- Knuckleballer Steven Wright will pitch out of the bullpen for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday in preparation for the role he will likely be used in when he is reinstated from his 15-game suspension on Monday.

"At this point it seems like it," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "We have five [starters] -- and five good ones. He's a guy who is going to be different, obviously, with the knuckleball. We've got catchers that it seems like they don't have a problem with it. We'll see how it is. As of now, that's where we see him."

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Wright was an All-Star for the Red Sox as a starter in 2016, but he missed most of last season when he had a cartilage restoration procedure on his right knee.

Pitching out of the bullpen isn't completely foreign to Wright. Since his initial callup to the Red Sox in 2013, Wright has made 15 relief appearances, going 4-0 with a 3.88 ERA. He hasn't pitched a regular-season game as a reliever since 2015.

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Not only will the Red Sox get Wright back next week, but reliever Tyler Thornburg might not be far from a return either.

Thornburg, who missed all of last season due to surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome in his right shoulder, made another rehab outing for Double-A Portland on Thursday, giving up two hits and two runs over two-thirds of an inning.

The righty will join the Red Sox on Friday in Toronto, where he will get examined by the medical staff and throw a side session.

Cora said that Thornburg will go back out on his rehab assignment and pitch some more games after checking in with the team this weekend.

JBJ shows progress in BP, gets another day

The slumping Jackie Bradley Jr. was out of the lineup for the second day in a row, and third time in the past four games on Thursday night. However, Cora did see progress while throwing early batting practice to Bradley before Thursday's game.

"He'll hit early again tomorrow, and we'll go from there," said Cora. "But we talked about it yesterday, we're making some adjustments and there was a better rhythm in batting practice today. You can see his hands were working a little bit more. He was able to drive the ball to left-center, that's a good first step. Obviously he worked yesterday throughout the day and today, that was good.

"I mean, it's batting practice. He knows what's coming, but it was good. You can see he's making strides. I'm not 100 percent sure if he'll play tomorrow, but at least today was a good day for him."

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

Boston Red Sox, Tyler Thornburg, Steven Wright