BALTIMORE — With the Red Sox looking for reinforcements in the bullpen, lefthander Franklin Morales and righthander Alex Wilson are set to begin rehab stints with Triple A Pawtucket next week.
After throwing a bullpen session Thursday, Wilson, who was placed on the disabled list July 9 with a sprained right thumb, will throw an inning on Monday.
Morales, who has been on the disabled list twice this season, will throw an inning Tuesday.
Although the pitchers’ rehab assignments are aligned, their situations are very different, said manager John Farrell.
Morales missed 52 games at the start of the season with a lower back strain. He made his season debut May 30 and pitched in six games before landing on the disabled list again with a left pectoral strain.
“Franklin’s situation is going to be different from Alex’s, just for the simple fact of the amount of time missed,” Farrell said.
Farrell said it was difficult to gauge how many innings of rehab Morales might need.
“It’s hard to say right now,” Farrell said. “We’ll see how he comes out of the first one. From a physical standpoint we’re just going to evaluate where stuff is.”
Clay Buchholz continued with his throwing program Friday with the hopes of gradually reaching an intensity level that will allow him to soon pitch off a mound.
On flat ground Friday, Buchholz made about 40 throws from progressive distances up to 100 feet.
“Probably consistent with what he went through two days ago,” Farrell said. “Continued progression in terms of intensity and volume.”
Buchholz hasn’t pitched since June 8, when he strained his neck fielding a comebacker.
He went on the disabled list June 18 (retroactive to June 9) and has missed 40 games.
“We’re hopeful that with each session there’s gradual increases in intensity,” Farrell said. “I think until he feels like he’s cut the ball loose from those distances without any restrictions or holding anything back, that’s the main goal of that phase. At that point that’s when we’d look to get on the mound.”
Over the past month, third baseman Jose Iglesias has predictably cooled off at the plate. Since coming off the disabled list July 20, shortstop Stephen Drew has struggled to find a rhythm, with just one hit in 15 at-bats, finishing 0 for 3 in Friday night’s 6-0 loss to the Orioles.
But Farrell said the duo’s defensive value on the left side outweighs whatever struggles they encounter as the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters in the lineup.
“We feel like with added at-bats coming out of Stephen’s DL stint, the timing will get to where it was pre-injury,” Farrell said. “And with Iggy, I still feel like there’s a competitive spirit in his at-bats even though the numbers of late have not been anything like they were for the better part of the first month and a half from the offensive side.
“Some of what you have to do is take the good with the bad and continue on. I think inside of that, there’s going to be game situations in which you’re going to have to execute as the situation calls for. And if that means the small game, so be it.”
Any lineup tinkering, Farrell said, would be for matchup purposes, adding Brandon Snyder to the mix against lefthanders.
“But given where those two guys are in the order, and not to degrade their performances in any way, defense is a premium,” Farrell said.
Outbid on pitcher
According to Yahoo! Sports, the Red Sox failed in their bid to land Cuban righthander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. The Phillies emerged among several suitors Friday, signing Gonzalez to a six-year contract worth upward of $60 million. Gonzalez, 26, defected from Cuba in February . . . Finding rest for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been challenging since backup David Ross (concussion) went on the 60-day disabled list, and it doesn’t get easier with Monday’s makeup game with the Rays. Saltalamacchia will likely get Sunday off, Farrell said, because it’s a “natural break in the schedule” being a day game after a night game. “We know that we’re in a stretch now with Monday being taken away from us from an off-day standpoint that we’ll monitor that close,” Farrell said. “But I think of late, he’s still held some very good durability.” Saltalamacchia has appeared in 78 of the team’s 104 games, with 72 starts behind the plate. “Physically, he’s like most catchers and this time of year, he’s banged up a little bit,” Farrell said. “But he’s done a very good job of handling our staff and leading guys through a given game plan. So that’s not to say we won’t pick spots, but with three righthanders going, we’d like to have the bat in there, but a Sunday day game trumps that.” Farrell said he watches for signs of fading in all his players. “For any player, regardless if it’s catcher or otherwise, you see if the swing is getting a little bit longer at times. Could that be a reason why? Their legs might be needing a little bit of a breather. All those things are monitored with Salty, for sure.”Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.