In order to give his ace Jon Lester extra rest coming out of the All-Star break, Red Sox manager John Farrell shuffled the rotation, pushing Lester back two days to Tuesday and moving Ryan Dempster to Sunday.
The starter for Monday’s series opener against Tampa Bay is to be determined, but the likely candidate is Brandon Workman.
“Just coming out of the break, just general wear and tear through the first half of the season,” Farrell said. “We have an opportunity to give [Lester] a couple of extra days coming out of the break and two, he’ll benefit from it.’’
Through his first 20 starts, Lester has thrown a team-high 125⅔ innings. He staggered into the All-Star break, going 2-6 over his past 11 starts with a 6.27 ERA.
“When we came back in for the workout Thursday and then just going through the normal throwing program we’ve done the last couple of days, just felt like two extra days will help him,” Farrell said.
After undergoing treatment for a hamstring injury that kept him out of Saturday’s game against the Yankees, Shane Victorino is expected to return to the lineup Sunday.
“Shane has responded favorably to treatment [Saturday],” Farrell said. “We expect him back in the lineup [Sunday]. He’s been dealing with this issue for quite a while. We fully expect him to have to deal with it, but it’s not to the point to disable him.”
He tweaked the hamstring chasing down a fly ball in the third inning Friday night and aggravated it running out a ground ball in the bottom half of the inning. He was replaced by Daniel Nava after the inning.
“He’s come in today feeling better than I think he even anticipated after coming out last night,” Farrell said. “So we’re hopeful and expecting him to be in the lineup tomorrow.”
Victorino landed on the disabled list in May with a hamstring strain and missed 17 games. Among rib, back, and hamstring issues, injuries have cost the 32-year-old outfielder 34 games this season.
After a two-game rehab assignment with the Double A Portland Sea Dogs, shortstop Stephen Drew returned to the Red Sox lineup and went 0 for 2.
He went on the disabled list July 5 (retroactive to June 29) with a right hamstring strain and missed 16 games.
“It’s kind of frustrating that I had to go on the DL, but it’s kind of part of the game and I’m looking forward to getting back and getting back into the routine,” Drew said.
Keeping Drew on the active roster after he initially sustained the injury created a numbers crunch. Brandon Snyder and Jonathan Diaz were both called up as extra infielders, leaving the Sox with just six pitchers in the bullpen. Ultimately, they placed Drew on the DL and called up righthander Jose De La Torre from Triple A Pawtucket. But just as that move was made, Drew said, his injury was beginning to fade.
“We were trying to stay off the DL, but with numbers we needed pitchers and it was probably better that we went ahead and got on the DL and healed it up right,” Drew said. “Knock on wood, hopefully it won’t come back.”
Whether exercising, hitting, or taking ground balls, Drew was constantly working. By the time he started his rehab assignment, he said, the toughest tests were behind him.
Farrell said, “Through the work that he went through, all the first-step quickness, all the change in direction, all the ground ball work that he went through prior to being sent onto rehab was, I think, a pretty stern test and would have answered any of those questions if there was anything lingering.”
To make room for Drew, the Red Sox optioned infielder Brock Holt to Pawtucket.
Farrell had to decide whether he wanted to keep Holt, who hit .290 in 10 games, or Snyder, who is hitting .231 in 11 games. The decision came down to keeping a righthanded bat on the bench, Farrell said.
“Both guys were playing well,” Farrell said. “The fact is with Stephen coming back to us, a lefthanded hitter, the righthanded guy on the bench fits a little bit better. That was expressed and explained to Brock.
“But he gave us everything that we could have hoped for in the time that he was here and probably solidifies further why he was so sought after during the trade in the winter time. He’s a valuable player and he’s got a place here as we go forward.”
Drake Britton had to take a deep breath before he came out to make his major league debut in the ninth inning.
With the Sox down, 4-2, and still trying to rally, the job of the 24-year-old lefthander was to get out of a first-and-second jam that Pedro Beato had left for him.
With his parents watching in the stands, Britton got Ichiro Suzuki to pop up, then had to keep from being star-struck when Robinson Cano stepped to the plate.
“I knew it was Robinson Cano but I was like, ‘That’s Robinson Cano!’ ” Britton said. “It was unbelievable.”
With Luis Cruz having stole third, Cano drove a fly ball to center field for the Yankees’ fifth run. Brett Gardner was soon out trying to steal second, completing Britton’s inning.
“Once I got out there and just tried to breathe I calmed down a little bit and was able to get back in the zone,” Britton said. “I just did my best to try and keep it inside to Cano and Ichiro. I was trying to enjoy myself, too.”
Britton’s big day has become a common occurrence, as he was the sixth Red Sox pitcher to make his major league debut this year, following Alex Wilson, Allen Webster, Steven Wright, De La Torre, and Workman.
Should Clay Buchholz seek a second opinion on the neck strain that’s kept him on the DL since June 18, he would likely see Dr. James Andrews, Farrell said. After starting a throwing program at the beginning of the month, he suffered a setback on the Sox’ road trip just before the All-Star break. The lingering soreness forced him to be shut down. Buchholz began throwing again Friday, tossing on flat ground from 90 feet. The Sox have been patient with Buchholz, who was 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA before going on the DL, but have said that if he doesn’t improve they will change course. “The throwing that he would do [Saturday and Sunday] would obviously have some input into that final decision, going on to see him,” Farrell said . . . Already plagued by injuries, the Yankees placed outfielder Zoilo Almonte on the 15-day DL with a sprained left ankle. They also designated Alberto Gonzalez for assignment and called up outfielders Melky Mesa and Thomas Neal from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.