The Boston Red Sox are ready to return from the All-Star break. They will arrive in Tampa tomorrow and have a scheduled workout at 6:00 pm at Tropicana Field. A few key players are expected to return to action in the series against the divisional-rival Tampa Bay Rays.
Jacoby Ellsbury is almost ready to return from a shoulder subluxation. He is set to be activated on Friday, but it is unknown if Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine will immediately put the center fielder in the starting lineup. Ellsbury, who was last year’s AL MVP runner-up, suffered the injury during the home opener at Fenway Park.
Will Middlebrooks is expected to be in the starting lineup on Friday. He last played on July 1 and left the game after suffering a strained left hamstring while sliding into second base. Boston’s rookie third baseman has been bothered by the hamstring before, but this is the most time he has missed due to it. Middlebrooks is batting .298 with 10 home runs, 37 RBI and an OPS of .873 in 48 games this season.
Clay Buchholz was hospitalized with gastrointestinal illness and internal bleeding on June 23. He made a rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket and is expected be activated to start on Saturday. Buchholz has a record of 8-2 with a 5.53 ERA and a 1.541 WHIP this season. With Buchholz back, the Red Sox will go with a six-man starting rotation, but that isn’t likely to last very long.
Boston general manager Ben Cherington needs to cut two players from the roster in order to activate Buchholz and Ellsbury. To make room on the roster for Ellsbury and free up a log jam of outfielders, Nick Cafardo tweets that the Red Sox are looking to trade an outfielder, preferable Ryan Sweeney. Recent call-ups Mauro Gomez and Pedro Ciriaco could be sent back down to Triple-A Pawtucket to free up roster space. With their play last weekend, the infielders proved worthy of return to Boston later this summer.
Despite losing three of four games versus the first-place N.Y. Yankees at Fenway last weekend, the Red Sox have one of the best records in league since the middle of May. Winning 31 of their last 55 games, Boston has a winning percentage of .564 since May 11. The players returning from injury could help solidify the roster, which has already had 44 different players appear in a game. The Red Sox need a healthier team in the second half in order to play above .500 ball and move out of last place.
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