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Alex Cora hoping Red Sox can find help from within

Nate Eovaldi felt good after throwing a bullpen session Friday, said manager Alex Cora.Kathy Willens/AP/Associated Press

Manager Alex Cora said last week that the only way to know if the Red Sox benefitted from the All-Star break would be how they responded Friday night against the Dodgers. While the Sox are entering the second half of the season with practically the same roster, they are hopeful that it breeds different results. As the trade deadline approaches, they may be adding pieces but he wouldn’t mind if some of the answers — notably Nate Eovaldi — come from within.

“He threw 27 pitches,” Cora said Eovaldi’s bullpen session Friday. “I just talked to him and he felt great. We’ll see what’s next, live batting practice or a rehab assignment. We’ll talk about it. He threw one on Wednesday. He’ll probably throw one more and we’ll go from there.”


Cora said starter Brian Johnson threw a bullpen, too, and that he feels good. Since the Sox are looking to put him back in the rotation, the Sox will have to stretch him out, which might mean the timetable for his return might be a bit further out. Although the Sox clearly need a No. 5 starter — which Johnson could fill — the rotation as a whole is going to have to pitch better.

“From the rotation to the bullpen we have to be better,” Cora said. “There were times there that we chased our tail that whole week and that’s not easy to do. We talk about usage and performance and all that we have to be better.”

Mitch Moreland played in a rehab game on Thursday and the plan was for him to play the entire weekend, Cora said. Yet he was scratched from Friday night’s contest in Pawtucket. Moreland, who had been dealing with a quad injury, hasn’t played since June 7.

Red Sox sign five

The Red Sox announced the signings of five additional draftees on Friday — the deadline to reach agreements with the draft class of 2019 — with perhaps the most intriguing name being a player whose next step will not be to one of the team’s affiliates but instead to the gridiron.


The Red Sox announced the signings of 12th-rounder Brendan Cellucci, a lefthanded pitcher, 13th-rounder Blake Loubier, a high school righty who was signed for $500,000, shortstop Karson Simas (25th round), and two righthanded pitchers, 31st-rounder Feleipe Franks and 32nd-rounder Bradley Blalock.

Loubier is considered the highest-ceiling member of the group, possessing a fastball, curve, and changeup that have the appearance of a starting pitcher’s arsenal, but with the need to develop strength and power with that pitch mix.

Franks, however, represents a fascinating wild card. The 6-foot-6-inch, University of Florida starting quarterback hasn’t played baseball since high school. But the Red Sox took a flyer on him — much as they did another Gator quarterback, Jeff Driskel, in 2013 — on day three of the draft.

Franks signed for $40,000. His football future is somewhat up in the air. If he ends up playing his way into NFL draft consideration, then he may never join the Sox. But he’s expressed interest in coming to spring training and pursuing a career on the mound.

After the draft, Franks stepped on a mound for the first time in five years and, according to a source, touched 94 miles per hour.

Cellucci was a lefthanded reliever with a big fastball at Tulane. He’ll report to Lowell. Simas is a middle infielder out of high school in California who shows athleticism, solid bat-to-ball skills, and has a chance to stay at shortstop. His father is a coach in the Dodgers organization. Blalock has a starter’s delivery and athleticism with a chance to develop over the long haul.


Loubier, Simas, and Blalock will report to the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League

The Sox lost out on righthander Sebastian Keane. The North Andover High product elected to go to Northeastern instead. Keane was drafted in the 11th round.

Timely reminder

One lesson from this week’s All-Star festivities, Cora said, was that opponents still see the Red Sox as a threat.

“I think that was the coolest thing about the All-Star Game,” Cora said. “People in that clubhouse still believe in us. I don’t know if they really like it or not, but they let us know how good we are. If we forgot about that, the [other players] reminded us of that. They feel like, ‘Your run is coming. Your run is coming.’ They know we’re very talented. For how positive it is, they were probably like hopefully it doesn’t happen. But it was good to hear from other people.”

Christian Vazquez (right) celebrates his second-inning homeer with third base coach Carlos Febles.Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Globe Staff

Series was circled

It’s rare that the Dodgers get a chance to come to Fenway. It’s the first time since 2010 that they have made the long haul to Fenway. Cody Bellinger talked about playing at Fenway during the All-Star break and wanting to get back there again when it’s warmer. October baseball at Fenway can be tough on a West Coast squad. But Friday evening’s 77 degrees just ahead of the start Friday meant Bellinger got his wish.


The Dodgers had this series circled for an obvious reason. The Sox beat them in the World Series in five games, handing the Dodgers their second straight Series loss.

“They’re a good team, very talented, a complete team,” Cora said of the Dodgers, who came in with baseball’s best record at 60-32. “They’re doing some great things over there. They’ve been doing it for a while. It feels weird playing them right after the World Series. I saw [manager Dave Roberts during the All-Star Game]. Just a very talented team. They do everything right. They’re playing with a lot of passion, a lot of emotion, which is cool.”

Reliever Matt Barnes knows how important this series is, too, and adds that he feels the break was a good thing for all his teammates.

“We ended [the first half] on a good note, taking two out of three against Toronto and sweeping in Detroit,” Barnes said. “If we can keep that up and continue to play good ball, I think we’ll be good. We have to continue that attitude we had going into the All-Star break.”

Xander Bogaerts (center) is greeted by Andrew Benintendi (16) and rafael Devers after hitting a three-run homer in the seventh.Barry Chin/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

USWNT honored

The United States Women’s National Soccer Team was honored at Fenway Park after winning the World Cup. Two of its players, midfielder Sam Mewis and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, threw out the first pitch Friday. Both have New England roots. Mewis played at Whitman-Hanson High while Naeher is from Bridgeport, Conn., and played for the Boston Breakers. Sox pitchers Chris Sale and Rick Porcello were on the receiving end of each of their throws.


Sox honor Poulsen

Prior to the game, Jim Lonborg and Sox president Sam Kennedy presented a 1967 American League championship ring to the family of the late Ken Poulsen. Poulsen played five games for the Impossible Dream Sox, filling in while Dalton Jones was on military duty in June. Poulsen, a 19-year-old infielder, was 1 for 5 before returning to the minors. He never played in the majors again, ending his career in 1973 in the Yankees organization. The Red Sox inadvertently forgot to award Poulsen his ring. His son, Brett, daughter-in-law Courtney, and three grandsons were at Fenway for the ceremony . . . The Sox’ 2017 first-round pick Tanner Houck was promoted to Triple A Pawtucket after just his second relief outing for the Double A Portland Sea Dogs. His most recent outing came Wednesday where he worked an inning and didn’t give up a run . . . Dodgers lefthander Rich Hill benefited from the schedule. He was home in Boston for the All-Star break then rejoined the team at Fenway Park on Friday. Hill, who is on the injured list with a forearm strain, hopes to start throwing again next week . . . The Sox had a moment of silence before the game in memory of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died on July 1.

Peter Abraham and Alex Speier of the Globe staff contributed. Julian McWilliams can be reached at