BOSTON -- Red Sox right-hander Andrew Bailey reached a significant step on the comeback trail, throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday.
Bailey underwent right thumb surgery on April 4, the day before the season started.
"It's obviously a big step," Bailey said. "I was down in Florida and threw some flat-grounds and stuff like that and it was going well and progressing the way we want to, so yesterday was working on mechanics and getting the arm ready."
Bailey will throw another bullpen session before Friday's game against the Braves.
He will head back to Fort Myers, Fla., once the Red Sox leave for the West Coast trip in the middle of next week.
Projected to be Boston's closer after the December trade from the Athletics, Bailey has instead watched Alfredo Aceves assume that role.
"He's done great," Bailey said. "Nothing wrong with what he's doing. He's shutting the door down. It's fun to watch that. It's a hard situation to jump into with me going down at the end of Spring Training, and him fighting for that starting job and then having to go into the closer's mentality right away. He's done a fantastic job. You can't ask for anything better from him."
Crawford may play in Minors game Saturday
BOSTON -- Left fielder Carl Crawford is hoping to play in a Gulf Coast League game on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla., signifying that his return to the Red Sox could finally be in sight.
"Carl might play in a game [Saturday]," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "If he felt as good today and in Florida as he did [Wednesday], he's going to DH [Saturday]."
Crawford hasn't played a game in the Majors in 2012. He underwent left wrist surgery over the winter, but was expected to return to the Red Sox by late April or early May. But during the course of rehabbing his wrist, Crawford developed a UCL sprain in his left elbow.
Not only have the Red Sox been without Crawford, but also center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who suffered a subluxation of his right shoulder on April 13.
Ellsbury might not be that far behind Crawford in starting a Minor League rehab.
"He's progressing," said Valentine. "He's really progressing. He progressed in the weight room as we came by. When I talked to him [Wednesday] night, he was feeling great."
Youkilis sits, Middlebrooks starts at third
BOSTON -- The daily logjam that Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine faces given his current roster alignment left Kevin Youkilis as the odd man out for Thursday night's game against the Marlins.
Adrian Gonzalez got the start at first base, while Will Middlebrooks played third. Cody Ross was the right fielder, with Daniel Nava in center.
Now that Ross is back and Nava seems to be recovered from his thumb injury, Valentine sounded as if he won't be as inclined to play Gonzalez in the outfield.
That could leave him with a frequent decision of whether to sit Youkilis or Middlebrooks.
"It's a real humid night like last night, running a lot, [Youkilis] playing his butt off," said Valentine. "It's tough. I'm not going to put Adrian in the outfield when I have enough outfielders, that's for sure."