BOSTON -- Earlier this week, the Red Sox invited top pitching prospects Anthony Ranuado and Matt Barnes to spend some time at Fenway Park and observe some of the goings-on of life in the Majors. Neither pitcher was added to the roster, and they watched the games from the stands.
What were the Red Sox trying to accomplish with the two right-handers?
"We just got them exposed to some of the things that our pitchers go through both in terms of a team advance, an advance report or pitcher/catcher meeting, to see how it's applied in-game," said manager John Farrell. "It was the first time they've sat in the stands here in a regular-season game and it gave them a chance to understand the speed of the game a little bit more.
"And at the same time, there's a guy that they were pitching with two months ago that's pitching here, or there's a couple of guys that were. That might serve as the best benefit in all of this. It's a reminder to them of how close they are, but having outlined some of the specifics that the individual guy needs to be consistent with, in terms of delivery, pitches, all those things. But this was to try to draw closer their inevitable arrival here."
Victorino day to day with jammed right thumb
BOSTON -- There have been two constants with Shane Victorino this season: The first is that he has played at a high level almost every day he's been on the field. The second is the nagging injuries that take him off the field at times.
Thursday was another one of those days that Victorino was out of the lineup. His latest annoying nag is a jammed right thumb, which forced manager John Farrell to pinch-hit for him in the 12th inning on Wednesday.
"Shane is day to day right now," said Farrell. "He's obviously not in the lineup. He came out last night a little bit sore with that thumb. There are really no other updates as of today."
At various times this season, Victorino has dealt with issues in his back, hamstring and hip, as well as the thumb that is currently troubling him.
However, Farrell has no doubt that Victorino will be there for the big games that are ahead for the Red Sox.
"No [concern], other than the fact that he does need some time right now to get ahead [of it]. But there's not an overriding concern that he's not going to be available," said Farrell.
The absence of Victorino combined with Jacoby Ellsbury still being out created an opportunity for Jackie Bradley Jr. to make his 23rd start of the season for the Red Sox.
Bradley, who spent most of the season in the Minors, is hitting .152 with two homers and seven RBIs.
"Still getting his feet on the ground," said Farrell. "Still understanding the capability of Major League pitching from day to day, particularly their command and their ability to attack certain areas when an opposing pitcher gets ahead in the count. He's been challenged in certain areas of the strike zone that he's been working at to continue to improve on. That's all part of establishing himself at this level."
Even a player like Dustin Pedroia struggled in his early days in the Majors. By no means have Bradley's struggles at the plate reduced the club's outlook of him as a player.
"It's the first time he's played in the big leagues. That's going to present some challenges in itself," Farrell said. "So, this is I think a very normal path for a young player who has gotten to the big leagues at an early stage in his pro career. There have been some things thrown his way maybe sooner than some others. It hasn't changed the overall view of Jackie's ability, both current and future."
Against lefty, Drew not automatic to take turn at bat
BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell drew some second-guessing on the talk radio circuit after Stephen Drew batted against Orioles lefty T.J. McFarland in the 11th inning of Wednesday's loss and hit into a double play.
Highly touted righty Xander Bogaerts, who has been impressive when he's played, was available on the bench.
Hitting a top prospect for an experienced veteran can be a slippery slope for a manager. However, Farrell indicated that it could happen once the games start to intensify.
"Well, last night was what it was," said Farrell. "Going forward, when there's maybe more of a sense of urgency with postseason situations, I'm sure that's something that Stephen and I will talk to well in advance when that situation may come up again. I'm well aware of what Stephen is doing against left-handed pitching, but there might be a time for that."
Drew is dramatically better against righties (.278 average, .852 OPS) than against southpaws (.183 average, .568 OPS).
• There was a light moment during Farrell's pregame press conference on Thursday when David Ortiz busted through the door and mockingly criticized the official scorer. Ortiz was making fun of his impromptu visit to Terry Francona's media session two years ago in which he complained about a scorer taking an RBI away from him. This time, Ortiz made it clear he was kidding. "I'm just [messing] with y'all," Ortiz bellowed, as Farrell and the assembled media laughed.
• Farrell made a slight tweak to his pitching order for the weekend series against the Blue Jays, flip-flopping Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront. Buchholz will now pitch on Saturday, while Doubront will start the final home game of the regular season on Sunday. Jake Peavy is starting the first game in Colorado on Tuesday. Farrell hasn't decided who will pitch Wednesday's game against the Rockies.
• The Red sox revealed more plans for the statue unveiling for Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski prior to Sunday's game against the Blue Jays. The ceremony will take place at the entrance of Gate B at 11 a.m. ET. Yaz will have some familiar faces at the event with him, including Jim Rice and Dwight Evans. Red Sox PA announcer Dick Flavin will also be there, as will statue sculptor Toby Mendez. Other Red Sox alumni and club officials will be present.