BALTIMORE -- Though he didn't have a spectacular stat line, Red Sox lefty Felix Doubront got the work he needed in his second Minor League rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday. Doubront, whose next start on Sunday will probably be his last before coming back to the Red Sox, went 4 2/3 innings and gave up six hits and two runs, walking one and striking out three. He threw 75 pitches, 44 for strikes.
"The more important thing is watching him in his bullpens between the two outings and leading up to it, and hearing him talk about how he feels the ball is coming out of his hand," said manager John Farrell. "Clearly, there's improvement being made. But we know our plan is to have him go one more start with Pawtucket to have him get up and down six different times, and that will be five days from now."
Doubront has been on the disabled list since May 21 with a left shoulder strain.
Clay Buchholz (hyperextended left knee) will start his Minor League rehab assignment for Pawtucket on Friday.
"Physically, [Buchholz] says he feels good, and we were able to identify a couple of things in the delivery that he thinks and we think can help him," said general manager Ben Cherington. "Typically, players don't go from struggling to lights-out overnight, but there are some tangible things that he's identified that will help him, and he's been doing that. He's been working on that. He'll pitch in the Minor Leagues a little bit to start, and we'll see where we are."
Cherington hopes to renew contract talks with Lester
BALTIMORE -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was taken aback on Tuesday when a media member asked him if he would consider trading Jon Lester if the Red Sox fall further out of contention.
Cherington's focus is still for the Red Sox to get back on track, and he hopes to renegotiate a new contract with Lester before the lefty gets to free agency at the end of the season.
"We haven't even thought about [trading Lester]," said Cherington. "Jon's focus is to go out and pitch every five days and help us win, and he's done a very good job of that this year. We're trying to support him in any way we can.
"Our position hasn't changed. We hope to have a conversation again about his contract. We'd love to find a way to keep him here. But right now we're just trying to win games and stay in this thing. I believe we will. When we do, we're going to want Jon Lester pitching for us down the stretch."
Though the All-Star break -- or thereabouts -- is particularly a time when the Red Sox talk to agents about extending their own players, Cherington didn't want to get into specifics.
"We don't have a plan, and we don't have a date," Cherington said. "I wouldn't read anything to it other than that it hasn't happened yet, and there's probably a time that makes sense for both parties, and we just haven't gotten to that."
Cherington confident core can lead turnaround
BALTIMORE -- Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has been at the job long enough to know that when the team is underachieving, all eyes are going to be on him to make the type of transactions that can fix the malaise.
Cherington, however, doesn't believe a blockbuster trade would be the cure-all for the defending World Series champions, who entered Tuesday with a 28-35 record and a 10-game deficit in the American League East.
"I don't know about moves," said Cherington. "We're obviously not happy with where we are. Ultimately, we're [28-25]. That's not up to our standards. That's not where we want to be, ultimately. It's up to me to find a way to make it better. We still believe it's gonna get better. We believe we've got a very good team ahead of us this year."
Cherington would like to see an uptick in his team's level of consistency and performance before the trade season gets into full swing.
"Most of that is still going to come from within with guys here performing, getting back to a level they're accustomed to, and then if we can do that and start playing a little better and win some games and hang in there, we'll try to find any way we can to make improvements to the team as the summer goes on," said Cherington. "At this point -- this early in the season -- we're still just mostly focused on the guys that are here and finding a way to play better with the guys that are here."
Various factors have impacted the Red Sox, including disappointing individual performances and far more injuries than the club had last year.
"I think there's a need to play better and there's the need to find ways to get better in all sorts of ways -- and again, that's my responsibility," said Cherington. "I'm not saying we wouldn't consider moves. It's just that this early in the season, typically, you're sort of talking other teams into doing things and that doesn't always leave you in the best position to make deals. I wouldn't rule it out but, we'll see."
Mike Napoli returned from the disabled list on Sunday, and the hope is that Shane Victorino will return from his second DL stint in the next couple of weeks.
"We're gonna get Victorino back, we're going to get hopefully our core lineup out there more consistently moving forward -- and we believe in that core lineup and that core group of players, and we believe we have a lot of wins in us with that core, without adding to it," said Cherington. "If we can add to it, whether it's sooner or later or toward the Deadline in a way that makes sense, of course we're going to work to do it in a way that makes sense. Again, that's up to me. But we're just mostly focused still on the guys who are here."
Drew, Bradley remain out of lineup in Baltimore
BALTIMORE -- For the second straight night, the Red Sox played the Orioles with a starting lineup that didn't include shortstop Stephen Drew or center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
The absences were for very different reasons. Drew is sidelined with a right oblique issue after playing just four Major League games in his return to the Red Sox.
With lefty Wei-Yin Chen pitching for the Orioles on Wednesday, manager John Farrell might take a conservative approach and get Drew one more day off, with an eye toward a return to action Thursday against the Indians.
"There's still a little bit of tightness, and it's one of those we all feel -- it's one of those situations where if we were to push this, it could aggravate it and we could be looking at certainly more time than we're dealing with a day-to-day situation right now," said Farrell.
For Bradley, the break comes at a time when the outfielder is slumping mightily at the plate. The two days off were Bradley's first two games out of the lineup since May 21 against the Blue Jays.
How has Bradley spent the down time?
"He is continuing to work on some of the swing mechanics that he's been going through with [assistant hitting coach] Victor [Rodriguez]. I would expect this is a couple of days for him to kind of catch his breath a little bit," said Farrell. "Look at him being back in the lineup tomorrow against Chen, who he's had some success against. Realize he's also done OK against Tillman, but felt like he needed a couple of days just to kind of regroup."