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Kutter Crawford’s flexibility to work in starting rotation or out of bullpen of value to Red Sox

Kutter Crawford will start against the Blue Jays looking to rebound from a loss to the White Sox in which he allowed four earned runs in six innings.Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

TORONTO — Kutter Crawford was dropped into the Red Sox bullpen after two starts this season when Garrett Whitlock came off the injured list.

The righthander knew the move was coming and excelled in relief, allowing four earned runs over 21⅔ innings as opponents hit .143.

“Pitching is pitching. I wanted to start but you take the role they give you,” Crawford said.

Crawford returned to the rotation on June 3 in place of the injured Chris Sale. He has since gone 1-2 with a 4.71 ERA in five starts. He will make another start Saturday against the Blue Jays and Yusei Kikuchi.


“He’s handled the back-and-forth very well,” pitching coach Dave Bush said Friday, before the Sox beat the Blue Jays, 5-0, at Rogers Centre. “He’s gotten back into a routine and built up his innings. He can go as long as we need him.”

The Sox have already used 11 starters this season. Crawford’s flexibility has been valuable.

“It’s been good for us and good for him,” Bush said.

Crawford stayed with a six-pitch mix as a reliever, although he’s cut back on some of his secondary pitches. His four-seam fastball and splitter have been particularly impressive.

“I look at it like I’m a starter and I prepare that way,” Crawford said. “If you’re stretched out as a starter, it’s not hard to go back to the bullpen. I feel good with what I’ve been able to do this season.”

Zack Kelly has resumed a throwing program in Florida.Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Positive injury updates

Righthander Zack Kelly, who initially feared he’d miss the rest of the season when he injured his elbow on April 12, started a throwing program Friday at the team complex in Fort Myers, Fla. The reliever had surgery on May 2 to reposition the ulnar nerve.

“Good for him,” manager Alex Cora said. “For him to take that first step, that’s a positive.”


There’s also good news for righthander John Schreiber, who has thrown twice in the bullpen as he returns from a muscle strain in his shoulder.

Schreiber, who was pitching very well out of the bullpen before being hurt on May 15, will need to face hitters before getting into minor league games.

“Right on schedule,” Cora said.

Infielder Yu Chang is scheduled to play back-to-back games with Double A Portland starting Saturday. That would be his third attempt at a rehab assignment after a breaking the hamate bone in his left hand on April 24.

Infielder Pablo Reyes (abdominal strain) is set to start a rehab assignment on Tuesday.

Lefthanded reliever Richard Bleier will pitch Sunday for Portland. He has been out since May 21 with a sore shoulder.

Joely Rodriguez is slated to pitch Saturday in a rehab assignment for the WooSox.Brandon Sloter/Associated Press

Rodríguez continues rehab

The Sox don’t seem to be in much of a hurry to activate lefthanded reliever Joely Rodríguez off the injured list.

He started a rehab assignment with Triple A Worcester on June 20 and has since made four appearances, allowing two runs on seven hits over 3⅓ innings. Rodríguez is scheduled to pitch again Saturday.

The Sox signed Rodríguez to a one-year, $2 million deal last November. The 31-year-old journeyman strained an oblique muscle during spring training, then allowed eight earned runs over four innings in five appearances in May. He returned to the injured list on June 1 with shoulder inflammation, an ailment rampant among Sox pitchers who have struggled this season.

Portland's Luis Guerrero will replace Shane Drohan in the Futures Game.GWINN DAVIS

Guerrero has bright Future

Double A righthander Luis Guerrero was selected to the Futures Game roster to replace Triple A lefthander Shane Drohan, who came out of his last start with a slight calf strain. The 22-year-old is 3-1 with a 1.19 earned run average in 26 relief appearances.


Guerrero was born in the Dominican Republic, grew up in Boston, and was drafted in 2021 out of a junior college in Florida. He has a 2.34 ERA over two minor league seasons despite a childhood knee condition that causes him to walk with a limp.

“I have a lot of respect for him,” Cora said. “For him to have the stuff that he has, you have to have not only the ability but you’ve got to have the heart and the courage to overcome what he has.”

Kyle Hudson, right, coached third base on Friday instead of his usual spot next to first.Christian Petersen/Getty

Coaching shift

With third base coach Carlos Febles missing the series for a personal matter, first base coach Kyle Hudson moved across the diamond and major league field coordinator Andy Fox stepped in at first. Triple A bench José David Flores was temporarily added to the staff … Third baseman Rafael Devers is likely to get a day off Saturday rather than play three consecutive games on the artificial turf at Rogers Centre.

Peter Abraham can be reached at peter.abraham@globe.com. Follow him @PeteAbe.