8/25/2013 9:50 P.M. ET
Thornton returns, gives Sox four lefties in 'pen
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- The Red Sox added Matt Thornton back to their bullpen for Sunday night's finale of this three-game series against the Dodgers, activating the lefty from the disabled list.
Thornton had been out since Aug. 5 with a right oblique strain.
His presence gives the Red Sox an odd bullpen dynamic in which they have four lefties and three righties.
Thornton and Craig Breslow can be used more on a situational basis, while Franklin Morales and Drake Britton offer length.
"It'll be a first to have that number of guys with still just a seven-man 'pen. If it was an eight-man 'pen, it'd be different. But we feel like we have length with Franklin," said manager John Farrell. "Just the fact that we get Thornton back active to us, that's the biggest bonus in this right now. He threw the ball well in the [simulated] game the other day. The ball is getting out of his hand good. Yesterday, there was no lingering effects or soreness. He's ready to go."
To make room for Thornton on the roster, the Red Sox optioned right-hander Brayan Villarreal back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
After being traded to the Red Sox just before the All-Star break, the last thing Thornton wanted was to have to miss time due to an injury.
"I've been a glorified cheerleader on the bench," said Thornton. "It's hard for me to be on the disabled list. I don't enjoy it. I was disappointed when it happened, but I'm very excited now that I'm going to be available tonight and hopefully available for the rest of the season."
Thornton no longer feels any effects of the injury.
"Great, I feel good," Thornton said. "I threw a simulated game on Friday and had no limitations, no problems afterward, no problem the next day. That was the big test -- amping up the intensity and repetitions and then how I felt the next day. I cleared both of those hurdles."
Red Sox give Papi a rare extended break
LOS ANGELES -- Though the Red Sox would rather play under American League rules and not be a man short in their starting lineup, manager John Farrell is trying to turn the situation into a positive.
David Ortiz was out of the lineup for the second consecutive game Sunday, this time against lefty Chris Capuano.
Mike Napoli, who belted three hits on Saturday in his first start in eight days, was back in there at first.
Given Ortiz's age (37) and importance to the team, the rest probably came at a good time as the Red Sox gear up for the stretch run.
"I looked at this portion of the schedule this trip through the National League parks as a chance to get as many of our position players a number of days of rest, David being one of them," Farrell said. "Obviously, he was available yesterday, and he's available today. Mike coming off the week in which he was getting over the foot thing still allowed him to regroup."
Shortstop Stephen Drew also got a blow Sunday, as top prospect Xander Bogaerts made his second Major League start.
"Going forward, our main guys are going to be leaned on daily as we get through the rest of the schedule," said Farrell. "There was a chance to balance that out through this trip."
Dempster making the most of his suspension
LOS ANGELES -- Red Sox right-hander Ryan Dempster served the final game of his five-game suspension on Sunday, and he is looking forward to taking the ball against the White Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park.
Considering that Dempster has struggled of late, he hopes that down time will help him get ready for a strong finish.
"My arm is probably benefiting from it," Dempster said. "There's a silver lining in everything. I'm not 26 anymore, I'm 36, so this little bit of a rest is probably good for my arm."
In the meantime, Dempster is still staying sharp. He threw what he estimated to be an 80-pitch bullpen session on Saturday.
"I did everything like I would to warm up before the game, pregame, all that kind of stuff," said Dempster. "I'll just keep throwing good bullpens or flatground and stay sharp."
Over his last seven starts, Dempster is 1-1 with a 6.81 ERA. He said that health has not been an issue.
"Just experiencing poor location of my pitcher's arm. Been working on trying to fix that," quipped Dempster. "I have to do my job and I have to do a better job than I've done the last few times out, other than the start in Toronto."
Dempster was suspended for hitting Alex Rodriguez after three other pitches that were inside to the Yankees slugger.
David Ortiz was critical of Dempster because he felt the incident gave the Yankees added motivation in a comeback win.
Dempster said he has no issue with Ortiz.
"He has his opinion and it's his right to have every part of his opinion. This is his team," Dempster said. "I'm sure he was probably a little frustrated with how everything happened, and that's OK. We joked about it. We're totally cool."
• Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy turned his 300th start into a good cause on Sunday night. Peavy pledged to donate $300 to the cancer-fighting Jimmy Fund for every strikeout (both teams) in Sunday's game. Peavy set up the donation in tribute to his grandmother, Dama Lolley, and former Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, who both lost battles with cancer.
• With the Red Sox short on righties in the bullpen, Farrell said he had no hesitation to use rookie Brandon Workman in crucial setup situations.
"In a short amount of time, he's earned that trust and yet there's trust in a number of guys down there," Farrell said. "He's looked upon not as a multi-inning guy just to bridge to a setup guy. There's trust to have in some tight spots."
• It was only fitting that the Red Sox and Dodgers were facing off on Sunday night, considering it was the one-year anniversary of the blockbuster trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to Los Angeles. That trade enabled the Red Sox to unload nearly $260 million of salary, helping the team set up its turnaround for both this season and perhaps the future.