When thoughts about the future creep into Brandon Workman’s mind, he does his best to ignore them.
Right now, Clay Buchholz is in Pawtucket. So is Felix Doubront. What happens with the Red Sox’ rotation is out of Workman’s control.
“That’s not something I’m really trying to worry about,” Workman said. “I’m trying to throw the ball as well as I can on my day and that’ll take care of itself one way or the other.”
Since he’s been in the rotation, Workman has been a steady arm for the Sox, and he showed it again Sunday, giving up just two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts over six innings. He didn’t factor into the decision in the 3-2 loss to the Indians, but in five starts since being called up from Triple A on May 25, Workman is 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA.
“Something that we quickly came to understand of Brandon a year ago. Even in a very early stage of his career, he was a consistent strike thrower, kept the tempo and the pace and the emotion of the game under control, and he continues to do it, whether it was last postseason coming out of the bullpen or in the starter’s role,” said manager John Farrell.
On Saturday, Buchholz threw 62 pitches over 4⅔ innings for Pawtucket, giving up three runs on four hits (two home runs) with five strikeouts.
“Overall, strike throwing was improved,” Farrell said. “The report on just sheer arm strength and velocity was increased.”
Farrell said he has yet to talk to Buchholz about whether he will make another rehab start.
“One of the things we’ll have to consider is the number of pitches that he’s currently built up to and what he’ll be required or likely asked to do once he comes back to our rotation,” Farrell said. “So that’s the one thing that we’ve got to kind of work through right now.”
With plans for Buchholz up in the air, Farrell said he hasn’t thought about what he’ll do with Workman going forward. But he acknowledged that Workman has made a case since he’s been in the rotation.
“We still have some time before those guys come back,” Farrell said. “We’re not here to make a decision yet, but he’s certainly doing everything he can to not only make a strong statement but put us in position to win each time he’s walked to the mound.”
The process of shaking off oblique tightness and getting back on the field was more arduous than Stephen Drew imagined.
But in his first action since June 8, Drew went 2 for 4 on Sunday, with singles to right and left field, saying he felt fine.
“Overall, it was a good day,” Drew said. “So, I’m still moving forward. Overall, I was pretty pleased with it.”
Drew also struck out twice, but when he looked at his fifth-inning punchout on replay, it confirmed what he thought about Corey Kluber’s 2-and-2 slider.
“It was off the plate,” Drew said. “I thought I saw it right, and did. Just kind of unfortunate there.”
Drew’s second strikeout came in the ninth inning, after John Axford walked two straight batters. With the count 2 and 2, Drew missed a knee-high fastball over the middle.
“Just swung under it,” Drew said. “Wish I would have put that ball in play. But getting back, I think the timing’s pretty good so far.”
Still, going on a six-game hiatus three-plus weeks after signing with the Sox, and two weeks after completing his minor league assignment without any hiccups, was frustrating.
“It’s something that I’ve never had in my career,” Drew said. “Having them four or five days off trying to come back as quick as possible, just trying to heal this thing up. Just glad to be out there again.”
Outfield an option
The plan at the moment is to keep Will Middlebrooks at his two natural positions — third base and designated hitter — while he works his way back from the fractured right index finger that landed him on the disabled list last month.
But as Middlebrooks progresses, Farrell said, the Sox will also think about playing him some in the outfield.
“Our intent is to get him back in the flow of things playing at those two positions,” Farrell said. “Once we get into the rehab progress or plan — a week to 10 days — we may take a look at him in the outfield just to answer any questions of flexibility that we can before a decision on the roster is to be made.”
Farrell has been juggling injuries, free agent signings, and hot bats on the left side of the infield for the past month. The return of Drew slid Xander Bogaerts to third base. When Middlebrooks went on the DL May 17, the Sox called up Brock Holt, who has hit .339 since.
To keep Holt’s bat in the lineup, Farrell moved him to the outfield. When Middlebrooks returns, Farrell might have to do the same thing.
“If that gives us the ability to find at-bats for Will if he were to come back here in that capacity, so be it,” Farrell said.
Middlebrooks was in the clubhouse on Sunday after going 1 for 3 in the first game of his rehab assignment with Pawtucket on Saturday. So was Shane Victorino, who has been on the DL since May 24 with a right hamstring strain. Victorino went 0 for 2 and played five innings in right field on Saturday for the PawSox. Farrell said Victorino’s at-bats and innings will increase on Monday against Rochester.
Doubront threw 93 pitches, allowing no hits, in five innings for Pawtucket on Sunday in his second rehab start. He finished with 10 strikeouts against Charlotte.
“Each guy is following the plan as outlined,” Farrell said.
Jack Manning, a 16-year-old Pan-Mass Challenge cyclist and cancer survivor from Norwood, threw out the ceremonial first pitch along with and his father, Vincent, in honor of both Father’s Day and the PMC. Jack, who wears a prosthetic on his left leg, was treated for osteosarcoma at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2006 and continues to play baseball, among other sports . . . A fever kept Bogaerts out of the starting lineup for the second time in four days. He did pinch run for A.J. Pierzynski in the ninth. Farrell said he hoped to have Bogaerts back in the lineup on Monday against the Twins . . . Holt went 2 for 4, giving him multihit games in three of the last four days . . . Daniel Nava had a career-high three walks . . . Koji Uehara extended his scoreless streak to 19 appearances.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.