David Ross walked into the Red Sox clubhouse Wednesday afternoon without a limp. That was the first good sign for the Red Sox. The second was that Will Middlebrooks swung at a few balls on a tee.
Ross and Middlebrooks collided in the fifth inning Tuesday night while chasing a foul ball and came away injured. Middlebrooks bruised the right side of his rib cage and Ross his left quadriceps, right above his kneecap.
Both left the game and were out of Wednesday's lineup in a 15-8 loss to the Twins.
"We'll take it day to day, but I feel like I could back up [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] today," said Ross, who on Tuesday was having trouble squatting. "Moving in the right direction."
Ross was treated with ice throughout the night and woke up feeling better than he expected.
"Waking up this morning was 10 times better than [Tuesday] night. I was really sore, limping. Woke up and could bend it," Ross said. "Squatting still feels a little tight, there's some swelling in there. I think the training staff did a good job."
Ross said he "definitely" would be able to catch by the weekend.
Middlebrooks had X-rays and an MRI that came back negative. He hopes to play Thursday. Ross is day to day.
"He's banged up a little bit," said Sox manager John Farrell .
For both players, it will be a matter of pain tolerance. The Red Sox do not believe any roster moves will be needed.
Pedro Ciriaco started at third base against the Twins. Saltalamacchia was behind the plate.
Farrell was asked which player he would use as backup catcher if needed.
First baseman Mike Napoli has caught 539 games in his career, but none since being diagnosed with a degenerative hip disease in December. But the Red Sox have no plans to use Napoli behind the plate.
"We'd probably do everything we could to stay away from him," Farrell said. "Which would include Jonny Gomes in a very rare situation."
Gomes has never caught in a professional game, but told the Sox he would be willing to catch if needed.
Righthanded reliever Andrew Bailey, who is on the disabled list with a biceps strain, is expected to start throwing Thursday. He is eligible to be activated May 14. The Sox have not decided whether Bailey will need a minor league rehabilitation assignment . . . Lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales started and went two scoreless innings for Double A Portland. He allowed two hits and struck out three against Reading, throwing 24 pitches. Morales has been on the disabled list all season because of a back injury suffered in spring training. He returned to pitch in a game for Single A Greenville April 17 and strained a pectoral muscle. The Red Sox have said they want Morales to get stretched out in case he is needed as a starter. But that could change depending on the status of the bullpen.
Through Tuesday, Red Sox relievers had made 96 appearances over 33 games, sixth in the American League. Junichi Tazawa was tied for second in appearances with Koji Uehara tied for third. Tazawa, who was one of three relievers Wednesday, pitched the ninth of the blowout loss, allowing one run and two hits.
The best way to ease that workload is for the starting pitchers to go deeper into games. The Sox are hoping that will be the case for John Lackey, who starts on Thursday.
Lackey has thrown 15⅓ innings in his three starts. The first was cut short by an injury and the next two were trimmed down as a result after he returned from the disabled list.
Lackey threw 98 pitches against Texas on Saturday and should be able to get to 110 this time. The hope is that will be over six or seven innings.
"The next progressive step, in term of the number of pitches thrown, we would be comfortable with increasing that number," Farrell said. "It always depends upon the stress of the pitches thrown inside of a given outing. We're hopeful that he can work deeper into games and we fully expect that."
Swinging into action
Red Sox starters were on the field early to take batting practice in preparation for upcoming interleague road games. The first one is May 29 in Philadelphia.
The pitchers have been gradually building up, starting with hitting off a tee before getting onto the field. Farrell said the gradual steps are designed to guard against injury.
"We want to give ourselves plenty of lead-up time and repetition," Farrell said. "The one thing that has happened to American League pitchers is that they've suffered some minor injuries swinging a bat. You don't see many National League pitchers suffering the same thing."
Ryan Dempster, until this season a career National Leaguer, hit the left foul pole with a shot. He also was adept at getting bunts down.
Dempster, a career .099 hitter, is seeking his first home run after 588 at-bats. He does have nine doubles and two triples.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias was back in the Pawtucket lineup after being benched for three games for disciplinary reasons. "He handled the initial option back to Pawtucket as a pro, and he continued to get his work in," Farrell told WEEI. "But I think as time has gone on, he's kind of feeling like he should be in a big-league uniform. Yet, that time isn't now." . . . Alfredo Aceves has started two games for Pawtucket since being demoted on April 24. He has allowed two earned runs on 11 hits and five walks over 12 innings. Aceves has struck out 12 and won both games. "Solid performance numbers," Farrell said. "It's still a matter of gaining that consistency." . . . Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, the first designated hitter of the Red Sox, was recognized before the game. Cepeda hit .289 with 20 homers and 86 RBIs for the Sox in 1973. Ron Blomberg, the first DH of the Yankees, was on hand, too. David Ortiz presented Cepeda with a framed photograph . . . Shane Victorino is sporting a Mohawk haircut . . . The Red Sox returned to Fenway on Monday to find new leather chairs in front of their lockers in place of their old padded folding chairs.