BOSTON -- With the pitching staff nearly back to full strength for the Red Sox, the two rehabbing players to keep an eye on are knuckleballer Steven Wright and reliever Tyler Thornburg.Both have been making solid progress, though there's no firm date on when they will re-join the Red Sox.Wright
BOSTON -- With the pitching staff nearly back to full strength for the Red Sox, the two rehabbing players to keep an eye on are knuckleballer Steven Wright and reliever Tyler Thornburg.
Both have been making solid progress, though there's no firm date on when they will re-join the Red Sox.
Wright underwent a cartilage restoration procedure on his left knee 11 months ago.
"With Steven, he pitched [extended Spring Training], I want to say two days ago," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "He felt OK. He's making strides. He went five innings. His next one is this weekend, still in Fort Myers. He's been covering first. He's been doing everything. It's not controlled. It's just a regular game. After that one we'll probably make a decision. If he comes out well, then he'll go to a rehab assignment, and we'll go from there."
One thing to note is this: While Wright could start a Minor League rehab assignment, he must serve a 15-game suspension once the Red Sox activate him for violating terms of Major League Baseball's Domestic Violence Policy.
Wright is also able to resume a Minor League rehab assignment during the final six games of his suspension, per rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
At this stage, Wright appears more likely to be used as a reliever when he returns to the Red Sox. The rotation already has Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez, and Thomas Pomeranz could be back by next week.
Thornburg could give the bullpen a big boost when he returns. There has been some inconsistency with Cora's setup crew.
"Thornburg pitched two days ago again [in extended spring]," Cora said. "Velocity is way up. Still 94-95. Offspeed command is not there. He's still struggling with that. But he's in a more aggressive program. I want to say he was supposed to pitch today or [Saturday]. He's been aggressive this week. There's a lot of workload. He wanted to, and he felt comfortable with it."
Pomeranz stretched to 86 pitches
In what might have been the last start of his Minor League rehab assignment, Pomeranz threw 5 1/3 innings at Double-A Portland on Friday, allowing four hits and two runs over 5 1/3 innings. Facing Binghamton, Pomeranz walked three and struck out four. He threw 86 pitches, 53 of them for strikes.
Pomeranz had a career year for the Red Sox last season, going 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA. He suffered a mild flexor strain in his left forearm in the second inning of his first Grapefruit League start on March 2.
Once Pomeranz returns, he joins a rotation that already includes a strong group of Sale, Price, Porcello and Rodriguez.
Hanley still day to day
As expected, Hanley Ramirez was not in the lineup the day after he was belted on the right wrist by a fastball from Yankees righty Sonny Gray.
There's a chance Ramirez -- who has a contusion -- could be back by Saturday.
"There's always a concern when you're talking about hands, fingers. Those are your tools," Cora said. "Those are what make you who you are. We know about his history and where he's at mentally. Hopefully, it's something that there's nothing major there, he'll be fine mentally and he can continue to swing the bat the way he's been doing so far."
Lin will get a look
Brock Holt played the first three games at shortstop after Xander Bogaerts was placed on the disabled list. But Tzu-Wei Lin is getting a look there on both Friday and Saturday.
Holt, who was out of the lineup on Friday, will play second on Saturday and Eduardo Nunez will take a rest.
"Like I said, it's matchups and who's on the mound for us and all that stuff. We're comfortable with Brock when he's playing short. We feel like our analytic department is putting guys in the right spot defensively, and they have to make the routine play," Cora said. "We're not asking them to be someone they're not. Brock can make the routine play. He can turn the double play and he puts [together] a good at-bat. We'll see how it goes. It's two games for Lin, go out there and catch the ball and have good at-bats."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.