- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Busy day at the Fens. Stephen Drew is here, signed and in uniform, and while he will be optioned out after he clears waivers Friday, he’s available to manager John Farrell for the next two games. Yes, Farrell said, he would be willing to use him in an emergency.
Left-handed pitcher Felix Doubront was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left shoulder, an injury that Farrell said the Sox medical staff has traced to Doubront bumping the shoulder with a car door the day before. The manager said that Doubront didn’t mention the incident until he was examined after Tuesday’s game, but insisted that the bruise that resulted could have resulted in diminished stuff Tuesday night. Otherwise, Farrell said, tests did not show a specific structural issue that would account for the discomfort he felt.
Odd, yes, that Doubront told reporters Tuesday he felt a type of numbness in the shoulder, which wouldn’t seem to be consistent with whacking his shoulder with a car door, but that’s the explanation at this stage. This is not the first time a Sox starting pitcher has offered an unconventional explanation for an injury. Last season, remember, Clay Buchholz said his shoulder discomfort was the result of holding his sleeping toddler awkwardly; he eventually wound up missing three months.
The Sox will need another starter to take Doubront’s spot in the rotation Sunday against the Rays in Tropicana Field. Farrell ruled out Chris Capuano as a possibility, saying he is not stretched out enough to be used as a starter, and said it will be a right-hander from Triple-A Pawtucket. He said that choice has not been made but he mentioned Brandon Workman and Allen Webster as possibilities.
Farrell said he spoke again with Xander Bogaerts and reiterated the team’s long-term plan is for him to be the club’s shortstop. He also said he met with third baseman Will Middlebrooks on Tuesday, and said that Middlebrooks has to be healthy again before he can address how he will be used going forward.
General manager Ben Cherington, in a conference call with reporters, said that Middlebrooks is “weeks, not days” away from recovering from his fractured left index finger.
Drew, as you might guess, expressed how happy he was to be back and said he has been working out seven days a week in anticipation of playing again. He admitted that leaving $4 million on the table -- the amount of money he lost by not accepting the Sox qualifying offer last fall -- was a hit, but that he was pleased that he will be an unfettered free agent after this fall.
Drew said that he believes it was Sunday that he heard from the Sox, which underscores how the Middlebrooks injury last Friday was the catalyst to this deal, although Cherington in his conference call noted that the Sox have been on the lookout for help on the left side of the infield all along.
In the midst of everything else, Farrell also shook up the lineup -- installing Grady Sizemore at the top of the order, sliding Dustin Pedroia from the top spot into the No. 2 hole and dropping Shane Victorino into the sixth spot. Mike Napoli is not playing, Farrell said, because he has been dealing with flu-like symptoms, so Mike Carp was playing first base, Jonny Gomes (who had three hits Tuesday) is batting cleanup, and Sizemore was playing center field in place of Jackie Bradley Jr.
Given Victorino’s problems against right-handed pitching (he has a .232/.279/.339/.618 slash line), Farrell said that in a conversation he had with the outfielder, Victorino agreed it might be a good idea to bat lower in the order.
The Sox come into Wednesday’s game with a 10-19 record against right-handed starters and face another in Toronto’s Drew Hutchison Wednesday night, so Farrell said the lineup changes might stick for a while. It should help, he said, to have another left-handed hitter at the top of the lineup. That, of course, is predicated on Sizemore producing in the top spot, and Sizemore takes a .297 on-base percentage into Wednesday night’s game, far below the optimum. Sizemore has been hitting better of late -- in his last 10 games, he has a .281/.324/.334/.667 slash line.