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Sunday, April 21, 2013
Lackey to pitch for Portland on Monday

By Scott Barboza

BOSTON -- John Farrell is looking ahead to the conundrum, potentially, of making some hard decisions later this week.

The Red Sox manager offered up status reports on several of Boston’s mending arms prior to Sunday’s day-night doubleheader.

Most notably, John Lackey is scheduled to make a rehab start at Double-A Portland on Monday, with a scheduled four-inning, 65-pitch outing. Franklin Morales will follow on Wednesday with a four-inning start for the Sea Dogs after throwing a bullpen session at Fenway on Sunday.

Farrell also said the team intends to have Joel Hanrahan throw off a mound as early as Monday. Meanwhile, left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, who has made two outings at extended spring training in Florida, will get in an inning Tuesday at Portland.

That flurry of activity means management could face some tough calls this week.

“Provided all follow through their progression without any setbacks, those decisions are probably [coming] within the next week,” Farrell said.

Farrell was encouraged by Lackey’s bullpen session on Friday and hinted he could return as early as this week. Lackey was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7 after leaving his first start of the season with a biceps strain the previous day.

“He felt great coming out his bullpen,” Farrell said, “and he’s ready to go for his outing tomorrow.

Farrell continued, “If he comes out of tomorrow as he did out of his bullpen, we might be looking at just one start.”

Morales threw a bullpen session on Sunday before his scheduled Portland appearance. Farrell indicated that the left-hander “could still use a couple more starts, Wednesday included.”

Breslow, a Connecticut native, was happy to arrive back in Boston after spending the beginning of the season at extended spring training in Florida. He reported no incidents with his ailing shoulder during his two, inning-long outings in the Sunshine state and anticipated the chance to throw in front of a live audience.

“You can simulate the situations of a live game, but there’s no comparison for a pressure situation in a real, live game,” Breslow said. “There’s always an element of seeing how you’ll react in those situations and how [the shoulder] will hold up.”

Breslow’s return would give the Red Sox another left-handed option out of the pen, with Andrew Miller the only lefty reliever for now. Farrell has looked to the tandem of Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa in situations against left-handed hitters early on.

“Fortunately, we’ve had starters go deep into games to give guys rest, particularly the right-handers that we use against left-handers -- Koji [Uehara] and Taz [Tazawa], have been outstanding against left-handed hitters,” Farrell said. “So to add some versatility to the pen? Yeah, that would be a good thing.”

With Joel Hanrahan, who was placed on the 15-day retroactive to April 14 with a strained right hamstring, still a ways away, Farrell will avoid having to make at least one decision -- who is his closer? -- this week. But the question remains what Hanrahan's role will be upon his return.

Andrew Bailey, who has slid into the closer’s role, has recorded saves in each of his last three appearances, but allowed a home run to Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain before shutting the door in the Red Sox's emotional 4-3 win on Saturday.

Hanrahan would be eligible to come off the disabled list on April 30.

“As a unit, our goal is easy, that’s to keep the score where it is, whether winning, behind or even tied,” Bailey said Sunday. “For me and Joel, the experience we both have is that winning is the end-all, be-all. We all have that one common goal and I think we’re both satisfied as long as we keep winning and producing.”