The Red Sox are missing their backup catcher and an important left-handed piece of the bullpen, but the two are both on rehab assignments in the minors, and just so happened to have them line up in Double-A Portland's Thursday game. David Ross caught Franklin Morales, who was starting the contest, and both made strides towards returning to the Red Sox sooner than later.
Morales was making his final rehab start in what has been a somewhat tumultuous delay to the start of his 2013 season. He missed most of spring training thanks to a back injury, and then his initial rehab assignment was interrupted by a strained pectoral muscle. The Red Sox kept him stretched out as a starter rather than push him back in relief, though, and he's now accumulated 17 innings over five starts, with Thursday's effort going five innings while allowing an unearned run, striking out three, and walking a pair.
Ross contributed to the Sea Dogs win as well with a 1-for-3 day that included an RBI double. The news that matters with him, more than his performance, is that there were no reports of recurring concussion symptoms -- as we've already been reminded of with Stephen Drew this year, you never quite know a concussion is gone until the symptoms have vanished for a while.
Ross will slot back in as the backup catcher, with Ryan Lavarnway heading back to Triple-A Pawtucket whenever that time comes. As for Morales, though, things are a bit more up in the air. Is he going to take the rotation spot of Felix Doubront, or slide into the bullpen? At this point, there is no obvious answer, as manager John Farrell had said that they wanted to keep him stretched out as a starter in case there was a need, and that if they felt his role was in the bullpen, they would have brought him along to the majors faster than the plan they went with has worked out. The decision might come down to how Doubront performs on Sunday, but even a decent start then might not do it: he's been keeping runs off the board of late, but given his absurd walk rate, the homers, and his inability to work deep into games, there is a lot to be concerned about.