SEATTLE — At what could be just the right time, the Red Sox are putting their pitching staff back together.
Austin Davis returned from paternity leave and Hirokazu Sawamura was activated off the COVID-19 injured list on Monday before the Sox played the Seattle Mariners.
Martín Pérez is with the team and will “most likely” be activated on Tuesday according to manager Alex Cora.
Matt Barnes is scheduled to pitch for Double-A Portland in Hartford on Tuesday. That would put him in line to be activated on Friday when the team returns to Boston to start a series against the Orioles.
The biggest piece of the puzzle, Chris Sale, could be back as soon as Saturday or Sunday.
For a change, Cora was able to discuss additions instead of subtractions.
“It helps,” he said. “The swing-and-miss stuff and what Davis has done against lefties is very important, especially in this series. We’re going to be able to mix and match.”
Even with a two-week absence, Sawamura is fourth on the team with 50 appearances. The 33-year-old rookie from Japan has averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
“We hate the fact that we missed him for  days,” Cora said. “But recharge, reset, and hopefully his fastball and split combination gets some swings and misses.”
Sawamura could have been activated last week. But the Sox had him throw in the bullpen over the weekend to make sure he was sharp.
“I was doing stretches and what I can in my room. That was pretty much it,” Sawamura said through an interpreter.
Barnes pitched a scoreless inning for Worcester on Sunday. He is scheduled for another inning on Wednesday.
The righthander allowed 10 earned runs on 12 hits and six walks over 5 ⅔ innings in his 10 appearances before contracting the virus. The hope is the minor league outings will help get him back on track.
Sale, who was asymptomatic, told Cora on Monday that he feels great. He’s at his home in Boston and doing what he can to stay in shape.
“There’s a good chance,” Cora said when asked if Sale could start this weekend against the Orioles.
Translated: Yes he will.
Sale is 3-0 with a 2.52 earned run average in five starts since returning from a two-year absence following Tommy John surgery.
Cora said Sale has a “huge patio” at home with ample room to “throw rocks at the trees.” Presumably the Sox have provided Sale with some baseballs.
The Sox are waiting for clarification from Major League Baseball as to what day Sale can return.
Two players who tested positive for COVID-19 and experienced symptoms, infielder Christian Arroyo and outfielder Jarren Duran, are still recovering.
Duran is feeling better but has not started baseball activities. Arroyo was hit harder by the virus but is getting closer to getting back on the field.
To what degree they can help the Sox before the season ends is uncertain. Arroyo has played in only three major league games since July 18. Duran was overmatched in the 33 games he played earlier in the season, hitting .215 with 40 strikeouts in 107 at-bats.
Lefthander Chris Murphy was named the Northeast League pitcher of the week for the second time this season for Double-A Portland.
Murphy, 23, faced Binghamton on Friday and struck out 11 over six scoreless innings. He allowed two hits without a walk to improve to 3-2 and lower his ERA to 3.86. He has struck out 47 over 32 2/3 innings for the Sea Dogs.
Murphy was a sixth-round pick out of the University of San Diego in 2019.
To make room for Davis and Sawamura on the roster, lefthander Stephen Gonsalves and righthander Brad Peacock were returned to Worcester … Righthanded reliever Eduard Bazardo was activated off the 60-day disabled list and optioned to Worcester. He had been on a rehab assignment with the WooSox since Aug. 29, appearing in five games and allowing four runs on six hits over five innings. He has pitched in only 13 games this season because of a lat strain … Sawamura was happy to be in uniform at T-Mobile Park, which he first visited as a college student. “There’s a significance to playing here,” he said. “This was where I saw my first MLB game.” … Tanner Houck is scheduled to start Wednesday. That game was previously listed as “TBA” for unknown reasons … Nate Eovaldi, who starts Tuesday, has a 1.91 ERA in his last six starts with the Sox winning five of those games. Eovaldi’s 28 starts and 163 ⅔ innings are his most since 2014 and his 171 strikeouts are a career best. “This year he has been so consistent,” Cora said. “Everything so far has been amazing. You look forward to him going out there every five days. You feel that as a manager that for six or seven innings he’s going to be on top of the game.”