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Brian Johnson will stay in Red Sox rotation for a while

Brian Johnson went 4<span class="twothird"><span class="web_fractions">⅔</span> </span> innings in the Red Sox’ win over the Nationals on Tuesday.Alex Brandon/AP

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brian Johnson has been in the Red Sox rotation since June 28 when he replaced an injured Steven Wright. It appears he will hold the job through the All-Star break and perhaps longer.

Manager Alex Cora said Friday that Wright is not making much progress with the inflammation in his left knee. The Sox also know that Drew Pomeranz will need at least a few more minor league rehabilitation starts before he returns.

That leaves Johnson, who has allowed three earned runs over 8⅔ innings in two starts since coming out of the bullpen. He has not been credited with a win, but the Sox won both games.


“We feel that we’re covered,” Cora said before his team’s 10-5 win over the Royals. “BJ’s done an outstanding job and we trust him . . . He’s been good for us as a starter.”

Wright threw off the bullpen mound at Yankee Stadium last Sunday but has not been on the mound since, his throwing limited to flat ground.

“Steven is still working his way [back], doing some baseball activities, doing his drills to keep his arm in shape,” Cora said. “We’ll see how that goes.

“It’s not that he had a setback. But at the same time, he doesn’t feel 100 percent. We have to be smart about him.”

Wright has not pitched in a game since June 22. Cora admitted there was little chance he would return before the break.

“We’re running out of time,” he said. “We’ve been taking care of [the starting pitchers] the whole time. We’re good where we’re at as far as pitching. There’s no need to rush him.”

Johnson went 4⅔ innings and threw 77 pitches against the Nationals on Tuesday. Cora said the hope would be for him to go five inning or six innings against Texas on Monday at Fenway Park.


“I’m building back up,” said Johnson. “I feel like I could throw 85-90 pitches.”

Pomeranz is scheduled to pitch for Triple A Pawtucket on Saturday against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at McCoy Stadium. The goal is to go four innings.

Pomeranz pitched poorly for the PawSox on Monday, allowing five earned runs on four home runs in 2⅔ innings against Rochester. The lefthander blamed rusty mechanics and said he felt fine physically.

“He got his repetitions. Not as many as we wanted to,” Cora said. “It was a good start to the process.”

Cora felt Pomeranz came back too soon from the disabled list at the start of the season when he was out with a forearm strain.

“At this level if you’re not right, they’ll take advantage of it,” he said. “He wasn’t as sharp as we wanted. We were running him out there; we felt like every outing he was going to get better and he did for a little bit.

“But this time he wants to make sure his mechanics are where they’re supposed to be.”

Pomeranz has complicated mechanics and needs to be “on time” to pitch effectively. It clicked in last season when he was 14-3 with a 2.85 ERA in his final 24 starts.

But that has yet to happen this year. Pomeranz was 1-3 with a 6.81 ERA in eight starts before going back on the DL. The 29-year-old will be a free agent for the first time after the season.


Good signs for Sox

The Red Sox signed three more of their draft choices before the deadline on Friday: righthander Chase Shugart (12th round), righthander Chris Machamer (16th round), and lefthander Gregorio Reyes (27th round).

Machamer, a draft-eligible sophomore from the University of Kentucky, signed for $213,000, or $88,000 above what his slot was worth, according to MLB Pipeline.

Shugart and Machamer were assigned to Single A Lowell. Reyes, who is from Puerto Rico, was assigned to the Gulf Coast League.

The Sox signed 28 of the 40 players they drafted, 26 of the first 28.

The top unsigned pick was 14th-rounder Nick Lucky, a high school shortstop from Pennsylvania who decided to attend Coastal Carolina.

Bright future

The Red Sox had one player selected to the Futures Game on July 15 at Nationals Park. Righthander Bryan Mata, of Venezuela, will play for the World Team and manager David Ortiz. Mata, 19, is the youngest pitcher in the Single A Carolina League. He is 5-2 with a 3.14 ERA . . . Voting for the All-Star Game ended on Thursday night. The starters and reserves will be announced on Sunday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Moreland almost there

Mitch Moreland, who came out of Tuesday’s game with back spasms, unsuccessfully tried to talk his way into the lineup against Kansas City. “I should be in there [Saturday]. It’s just a small spot,” he said . . . Rafael Devers got a day off to give him an extended break after Thursday’s off day. The 21-year-old started 83 of the first 88 games . . . Dustin Pedroia returned to Boston after spending four days in Manhattan working with his knee surgeon on rehab techniques that could help him return to the field. “A few tests, probably a few adjustments as far as the rehab. That’s all I have,” Cora said. “That’s all I know.” Pedroia hoped that working directly with Dr. Riley Williams III would help his comeback. But it remains uncertain when — or if — he will return this season.


Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.