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Saturday, April 13, 2013
Pregame notes: Pitcher updates

By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- One of the first sights at Fenway Park on Saturday morning was Felix Doubront going through a two-inning simulated game under gray skies and in temperatures hovering in the high 30s.

Meanwhile, several other Red Sox players were making progress independent of the team's first meeting with the Tampa Bay Rays later in the day.

Manager John Farrell said that designated hitter David Ortiz will get three or four at-bats in the first half of a doubleheader for Pawtucket on Saturday. Ortiz went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a strikeout in his first rehab game Thursday night.

Franklin Morales threw two innings in an extended spring training game Friday and is due for one more outing in Florida before going out on a rehab assignment, which likely includes one start at Portland and another with the PawSox.

Farrell said that Morales has had no further issues with the back strain that has kept him on the sidelines and it is just a matter of building back the arm strength for one of the organizations' top depth options at starting pitcher. Morales, who was 3-3 with a 4.14 ERA in nine starts with Boston last season, will eventually get up to a pitch count of 85 to 90.

"If the need is here we will have the ability to recall him at that point, provided there are no setbacks," Farrell said. "That's the range that we definitely want to get him to."

There is always the chance that the need will be greater in the bullpen, where Morales has spent the bulk of his career. If that is the case, the club will pick its spots with the hard-throwing left-hander.

"If he does come back to the bullpen, ideally we'll start him out with some clean innings before just running him into situations where there are men on base, that type of thing," Farrell added. "We'll see how that unfolds."

While Morales nears a return, John Lackey is closer to testing his injured right biceps.

"We're hopeful to put a ball back in his hand in the next couple of days," Farrell said. "There's decreasing symptoms, the tightness that he felt is gradually going away. I don't know that we have a template that we're going to follow with this one, but certainly how he feels is the most important guide in all this."

Lackey was placed on the disabled list retroactive to April 7 after leaving his start the day before with a strained biceps. An MRI revealed no tear, but the club will take a cautious approach on Lackey, who missed all of 2011 following Tommy John surgery.

"We'll need to test him just so that when he walks to the mound he's aware and he's confident that there's nothing structurally holding him back," Farrell said when asked if Lackey will be making rehab starts before returning to the big club.

Additionally, left-handed reliever Craig Breslow is scheduled to throw one more simulated game before getting his first taste of game action Tuesday in extended spring training. With Morales sidelined and Andrew Miller, the lone lefty in the bullpen, struggling a bit so far this season, Breslow's road to recovery from left shoulder tendinitis is important for the overall stability of the pitching staff, even though Breslow has never been a situational left-hander.

Miller has allowed the first man to reach in three of his four appearances this season.

Doubront was originally scheduled to start Friday's series-opener, which was postponed. He got through the simulation with no issues and remains on target to make his second start of the season Tuesday in Cleveland. That will be his first outing in 10 days.

"It served the purpose that we were intending, and that's to get him some work and keep him as sharp as we can," Farrell said.