Pablo Sandoval

Red Sox pregame notes: Pablo Sandoval to return Sunday; Who stays, who goes in starting rotation?

Ryan Hannable
June 06, 2015 - 10:39 am

It certainly wasn't a quiet Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park prior to the second game of a three-game series with the Athletics, as Red Sox manager John Farrell had numerous updates and insights to offer prior to the game. -- Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval is out of the lineup for the second straight day after committing two errors in Thursday's loss to the Twins. It was his third error this past week and he's also struggled at the plate as he's in the midst of an 0-for-12 skid and since May 12 he is hitting just .117 with only one extra-base hit. Farrell said he has spoken with Sandoval and the time is to give him a "breather." He expects him back in the lineup for the series finale Sunday afternoon. "Just [a breather]," Farrell said. "Give him another day. A couple of days to take some extra BP in the cage, smooth some things out, a little bit of a breather. We've had a chance to  talk briefly over the last couple of days and some of thoughts behind it -- give him a little bit of a breather. I would expect him to be back at third base [Sunday]." -- The team will go back to a five-man rotation next week and it would appear the final spot comes down to Joe Kelly and Steven Wright. Kelly will start Saturday as he is winless since his first start of the year, compiling a record of 1-4 with a 5.83 ERA. In four starts this season, Wright is 1-2 with a 3.91 ERA. He's gone at least five innings and allowed three earned runs or less in all four starts. Farrell was asked what goes into making the decision as to who to keep in the rotation. "€œYou look at the performance overall, one," Farrell said. "If there was an adjustment made by taking one of the current starters and put him in the bullpen, what'€™s the best combination? What'€™s the best use of the stuff that'€™s at your disposal? What'€™s the best use of the talents and the styles that are an option for you? If we'€™re focusing on two guys, which has been written about everyday, between Steven and Joe, both have pitched out of the bullpen, both have given us very good starts. Both are competent and capable major league pitchers. We'€™ll make that decision in the coming days." Whomever doesn't stay in the rotation could either go to the bullpen, as both have bullpen experience, or could go down to Triple-A. It would appear staying in the bullpen is the more likely of the two. "That'€™s to be determined," Farrell said. "But still, if you'€™re taking the approach, you take the most productive 12 pitchers. These guys are contributing to us every time they walk to the mound." OTHER RED SOX NOTES -- Justin Masterson pitched his second rehab start following being placed on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis with Double-A Portland Friday night. The right-hander went 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, while walking one and striking out two. Farrell said the reports were he got better as the game went along and the next step will be determined after a bullpen session on Sunday. "Final three innings were stronger and more consistent than the first two," he said. "He came out of it I think feeling improved over his last outing. There's a definitely progressive step being taken here. We'll probably wait until after he throws his bullpen tomorrow to determine if there is another one needed or do we insert him back with us. He got to 80 pitches last night, which is a minimum that someone has to throw to come back in a rotation spot. A step of improvement, but we'll have a chance to be a little more specific with Justin once we get on the mound and have bullpen session." Added Farrell: "In talking with Kevin Walker (pitching coach) at Portland, there was some increase in consistently to the action to his sinker, but that really started to settle in in the third inning. The first couple inning was getting his feet on the ground and getting a feel for the game. The next step would be ensure that -- we wouldn't want that to show up in a major league game." Whether Masterson will pitch out of the bullpen or go back into the rotation (which he has experience in doing) has yet to be determined, according to Farrell. -- Hanley Ramirez struggled in the month of May, batting .235 with two home runs and 5 RBIs. He had a stretch of 19 games where he didn't record an RBI and seemed to lack the power to the pull-side that he had in the month of April. Farrell acknowledged some of that had to do with him missing a few games after running into the wall down the left field line at Fenway Park at the end of April and then missing three games. He added Ramirez is past that now, as he has hits in four of his last six games, including three RBIs and three, multi-hit games. "There was certainly some affect," Farrell said. "I can't say to what extend it took away from the power. Was it the realignment of his lower half and his stride that allowed his hands to free up and immediately we saw some extra-base power come as a result to that. I think any time a player misses four or five days his timing his going to be affected somewhat. It took him a handful of games to get back in the flow of things. I can't say that if you look back over the course of May and for the first 3 1/2 weeks of May there was one RBI in that span. "Was it the sole reason for the impact of the collision or was it fundamentally some things that have drifted differently? All I can say is we're past that. He's swung the bat much better of late."