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Red Sox facing some decisions in getting roster down to 13 pitchers

Hirokazu Sawamura could be the odd man out of the rotation when the Red Sox shrink their staff to an MLB-mandated 13 pitchers from the 14 currently on the roster.Sarah Stier/Getty

Rosters will be limited to 13 pitchers starting on Monday and this time Major League Baseball means it.

The new rule was originally intended to start in 2020 but was pushed back by the pandemic. Enforcement this season was delayed by the shortened spring training caused by the lockout — first to May 2, then to May 30 and finally to June 20.

MLB hopes the rule will add more offense into the game and decrease the dominance of pitchers, in particular the trend of starters only facing a lineup twice then giving way to a parade of relievers.

For the Red Sox, who are carrying 14 pitchers, the change will require a roster move before Monday night’s game against Detroit.


The Sox have several candidates for demotion. They could designate newcomer James Norwood for assignment and hope he clears waivers. Norwood was acquired from the Phillies on Saturday and joined the team on Sunday.

Hirokazu Sawamura, who was optioned earlier this season, has not distinguished himself.

In general, the Sox will need more from their starters and four or five outs from some relievers instead of two or three.

Through Saturday the Sox had used their bullpen 245 times. Only the Nationals (259) have had more relief appearances.

“Captain Hook needs to relax a little bit and let them be,” manager Alex Cora said before Sunday’s 6-4 victory over the Cardinals.

The Sox could use a lefthanded bat and versatile glove on their bench. Vaccination status also will come into play as the Sox play in Toronto for three games starting next Monday.

Casas concern

First baseman Triston Casas, one of the organization’s top prospects, hasn’t played since May 17 because of a high right ankle sprain.

Cora suggested he won’t be coming back any time soon.

What does the future hold for Triston Casas?John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

“In the beginning, we thought it was something minor,” he said. “We thought it was going to be day to day. But he wasn’t moving well and he’s a big guy. He hasn’t been able to actually push off it.


“He’s missing at-bats and that’s the part that’s disappointing.”

Cora said there is no timetable for Casas to return. The 22-year-old is at the team complex in Fort Myers, Fla.

Happy homecoming

The Cardinals did right by Packy Naughton. They named the rookie lefthander from West Roxbury to their taxi squad for the series.

That allowed Naughton to see his family on Thursday, then watch the Warriors-Celtics game from a suite arranged by teammate Albert Pujols.

Naughton, 26, was a ninth-round draft pick of the Reds in 2017 after playing at Boston Latin and Virginia Tech. He was traded to the Angels in 2020 and claimed off waivers by the Cardinals during spring training this season.

“It’s been awesome,” Naughton said. “I love it over here. There’s a sense of winning. As a player, to come in the clubhouse and just know that winning is the only priority is what you want.”

Naughton has appeared in nine games for St. Louis, starting three. He has a 5.40 earned run average over 13⅓ innings but has struck out 12 with only one walk.

His ERA was skewed by a poor outing on June 8 at Tampa Bay when he allowed four runs over 1⅓ innings.

“Naughton has done a nice job. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him, whether that’s serve as an opener, go two times through the lineup, come out of the pen,” Cardinals manager Oli Marmol said.


West Roxbury native Packy Naughton, seen here pitching for the Cardinals earlier this month, has appeared in nine games for St. Louis this season.Joe Puetz/Getty

“It’s been someone we’ve been able to trust and not just left-on-left situations. His overall demeanor, personality, and competitiveness fits in well with what we do. He cares about winning and not just himself.”

Naughton will return to Triple A Memphis after this series and get a start. He has worked on refining his slider and being more consistent with his velocity.

Target practice

Rafael Devers has been hit by a pitch four times in the last seven games after not being hit in his first 59 games. It’s something to keep an eye on as Devers is getting annoyed by it . . . Kiké Hernández (right hip) and Josh Taylor (lower back) seem likely to start minor league rehab assignments this week . . . Sunday’s victory gave the Sox five consecutive series victories. They are 9-1-2 in the last 12 . . . The Sox are 19-4 when Trevor Story drives in a run . . . Players from both teams wore light blue cleats, caps, wristbands, and socks to raise awareness for prostate cancer on Father’s Day . . . Sox president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom took in the game with his kids from the Monster Seats . . . The Sox celebrated Juneteenth before the game with Michelle Brooks-Thompson performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The team also recognized several Boston-based organizations which have advocated for social and economic equality. Among them were the Museum of African American History, Boston While Black, The Partnership, NAACP Boston, and Spark FM Online. Juneteenth is a federal holiday commemorating the freeing of slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865, by the Union Army, two years and nearly six months after the Emancipation Proclamation. Jackie Bradley Jr., who took part in the ceremony, arrived at the ballpark wearing a black Juneteenth Sox jersey.


Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him @PeteAbe.