The latest on Morales' back, Ortiz's Achilles, and the status of Stephen Drew's concussion
Franklin Morales went to Boston earlier this week in order to see a specialist about his ailing back, and it turns out that he does have something more than just inflammation going on there. Morales is dealing with a bulging disc in his back, and had an epidural shot. As you can likely surmise given the combination of those two items, there is no current timetable for his return, meaning it's even more likely Morales will be starting the year on the disabled list.
This cuts into the starting pitching depth of the Red Sox a bit, as Morales was the first expected to take the mound should one of the five starters not be ready. However, all five starting pitchers are healthy at the moment, and ready to begin the season. Plus, Boston is not without additional options, should something occur shortly into the season: both Steven Wright and Allen Webster are on the 40-man roster already and could be sent back to Triple-A without a hitch following a start or two. There is also Alfredo Aceves, who, despite not being much of a starter, could certainly fill in for a couple of innings to begin the game, Scott Atchison style, should Boston just need the assist for one start.
Between Morales and fellow southpaw Craig Breslow, it's pretty clear at this point that Andrew Miller will make the Opening Day roster as the lone lefty out of the bullpen. That shouldn't be the case for very long, but thanks to depth, Boston is easily able to find room for a dude who struck out over 11 batters per nine last season.
There isn't much to report on David Ortiz, but we'll let Sean McAdam of CSNNE bring you what there is:
Plan is for David Ortiz to start taking batting practice Monday, increase activity from there. #redsoxtalk— Sean McAdam(@Sean_McAdam) March 15, 2013
Ortiz was shut down due to inflammation in his heels -- likely a side-effect of going easy on his injured Achilles -- but still is not expected to miss much time to begin the year. We'll see, of course, but hopefully getting back in the cages and seeing increased activity afterward will give us a better idea of that timetable.
Rob Bradford has the latest on Stephen Drew, with manager John Farrell saying it's still going to be "a few days" before Drew is even able to return to the field. Of course, since it's a concussion Drew is dealing with, what that really means is "we'll know in a few days if we still have to wait a few more days."
If Drew does need to miss time and start the season on the disabled list, at least the Red Sox have options for shortstop. Jose Iglesias won't hit much, but he fields like no other, and the pitchers will surely appreciate that. Pedro Ciriaco could step in if it's just for a couple of days, likely with slightly better hitting but inferior defense. Iglesias is going to burn an option, his last, either way this year, so it's not really a problem if he has to come up to begin the year and then be sent back down once Drew is back, however.