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05/23/12 6:45 PM ET

McDonald tests oblique with dry swings in cage

BALTIMORE -- With the Red Sox's outfield depleted beyond belief, the rehab schedule of the players on the disabled list bears watching.

The man closest to returning could be Darnell McDonald, who is eligible to be activated on Sunday. McDonald has a right oblique strain.

According to manager Bobby Valentine, McDonald was expected to take dry swings in the batting cage before Wednesday's game.

Ryan Sweeney, who is on the seven-day disabled list as he recovers from a concussion, is eligible to return for Monday afternoon's game against the Tigers.

However, Sweeney hasn't been cleared to do anything yet.

"Sweeney has no activity," Valentine said. "[We need to] allow [his] symptoms to subside."

General manager Ben Cherington said earlier this week that Jacoby Ellsbury (subluxed right shoulder) could return by the first week in July at the earliest.

Left fielder Carl Crawford, who has a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, might be able to ramp up his activities soon, but he probably won't return until some point in July either.

Crawford could start swinging the bat when the Red Sox return to Fenway this weekend. There's no word yet on when he'll be permitted to throw.

As for closer Andrew Bailey, who is recovering from right thumb surgery, has started throwing from a distance of 60 feet at the club's facility in Fort Myers, Fla.

Adrian unlikely to start in right field at Fenway

BALTIMORE -- Even with a day game after a night game, manager Bobby Valentine had no hesitation about playing Adrian Gonzalez in right field for the second consecutive day, and fourth time in the past five games.

And unlike on Tuesday, when Gonzalez didn't have anything hit to him, he got some action in this one and made all the plays.

In the fourth, Gonzalez made a fine running catch in the corner -- in foul territory -- against Chris Davis.

"Totally impressed," Valentine said. "He had to stride to the wall, and he knew to roll. He backhanded it, had one stride to stop and roll to cushion his contact."

Gonzalez takes pride in being able to help the team, even when playing a different position.

"I had time to slow down," Gonzalez said. "When you've got to slow down, I had time to guard myself a little bit and I kind of spun into the wall, so I didn't have to go head on."

The real question is what will happen when the Red Sox return home on Friday night for the start of a seven-game homestand. Gonzalez has never played right field in Fenway, which is notorious for having a ton of ground to cover.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Gonzalez said.

Playing left field at Fenway doesn't sound like an option for Gonzalez, mainly because he has no experience reading the ball off the bat in left.

"I don't think so. I don't know," Valentine said. "I mean, there has been some thought. There might be continuing conversation. For the most part, when you're on one side of the diamond and you see the ball off the bat, and get your reaction and then try to change that perspective, it becomes more challenging from what I've experienced -- not only personally, but talking to players. I've even seen the infield transition difficult for some guys."

With Gonzalez in right, Kevin Youkilis once again got the start at first, with Will Middlebrooks remaining at third.

Podsednik homers in first start since 2010

BALTIMORE -- The depleted numbers in the Red Sox's outfield have provided an opportunity for Scott Podsednik, who played center field on Wednesday afternoon in his first Major League start since Sept. 9, 2010.

And before the game, manager Bobby Valentine was kind enough to share all of Podsednik's attributes in his scouting report from Triple-A Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler. One thing not mentioned was Podsednik's power, which has never been one of his strengths.

But there Podsednik was on Wednesday, belting a solo homer to right in the eighth that provided crucial insurance in a 6-5 win over the Orioles.

It was just his 42nd career homer in 1,018 games.

"It felt real good," said Podsednik. "It's good to be back in the big leagues. I got a pitch up, an offspeed pitch up, and I put a pretty good swing on it."

How does Podsednik's speed compare now at the age of 36 to a couple of years ago, when he stole 35 bases?

"Good enough, yeah," Valentine said. "Again, we're going to find out. He got down to first all right [Tuesday night]. Yep. I did not have the stopwatch on."

Valentine is comfortable enough from the scouting report he got from Beyeler that he thinks Podsednik can contribute.

"Well, Arnie gave me a good report on his availability, what he can do and what he should do here at the Major Leagues, and it sounds like exactly what we need," Valentine said. "He'll work the count. If he gets on base, he'll cause a little havoc and maybe give us a little dimension we haven't had for a while."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.