Elbow woes send Hill to DL
Melancon back in the bullpen
The Red Sox placed lefthanded reliever Rich Hill on the 15-day disabled list before Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Nationals because of an elbow strain, prompting the call-up of righthander Mark Melancon from Triple A Pawtucket.
The move came just over a year to the day of Hill’s Tommy John surgery. Hill is 1-0 this season with a 2.63 ERA in 17 appearances.
Manager Bobby Valentine said Hill, 32, who underwent an MRI in Boston, was expected to travel to Pensacola, Fla., to be examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews.
“We’re going to have him go back to Dr. Andrews, the doctor who performed the operation, to get his opinion on why he has that tightness,’’ Valentine said. “He just doesn’t feel good throwing his curveball. Hopefully, it’ll come back that it’s a [standard operating procedure], that this is the way things happen as you recover from Tommy John.’’
Approached in the clubhouse before Sunday’s game, Hill said he was unable to provide any information.
Valentine said Hill first reported an issue with his elbow “about three weeks ago.’’
“It bothered him a little and then it went away and it was no problem,’’ Valentine added. “First I heard of it was one of those days I didn’t use him for three days or so, and then he said he was fine.’’
Hill last pitched on Friday, going a scoreless inning and allowing a pair of hits with recording one strikeout in a 7-4 loss.
“He threw those four curveballs to [Bryce] Harper and just didn’t feel great about it,’’ Valentine said of Hill. “I didn’t think he was throwing much differently. His curveball just didn’t have the same late break, but I don’t know if that’s elbow related or not.’’
Melancon, 27, was optioned to Pawtucket April 18 after an 0-2 start in four relief appearances. He allowed 11 runs on five hits, including three home runs, over two innings, resulting in an ERA of 49.50.
“It’s tough to go down there after you’ve had a couple bad outings, but you’ve got to make the best of it,’’ Melancon said. “That’s what I was trying to do.’’
Melancon accomplished that objective, collecting 11 saves while posting a 0.83 ERA over 21 1/3 innings with 27 strikeouts and three walks.
“A lot of people ask me, ‘Was it confidence?’ No, it wasn’t confidence,’’ Melancon said of his initial struggles. “I really didn’t think it was, and I still don’t think that’s what it was. Simply, [it was] aggressiveness and approach.’’
Reminded of how he pitched a scoreless inning in his first Pawtucket appearance, Melancon said, “It just felt good to get out of an inning.’’
Asked what he liked about what Melancon did in Pawtucket, Valentine said, “Every report was excellent. From about the third day that he got there, he regained command of his fastball, his curveball. I’m not sure if it got sharper, but it became a much more functional pitch, and he started throwing his changeup also.
“He threw to both sides of the plate. He maintained his velocity. He pitched one and two innings. He did everything. He would have been back sooner if our bullpen wasn’t doing as well as it has been.’’
Ross up and running
Cody Ross, on the 15-day DL since May 22 with a navicular bone fracture of his left foot, began running Sunday.
“The whole time I was in the boot, my foot felt great,’’ said Ross, who on Monday shed the boot and began engaging in baseball activities. “I wasn’t running, I wasn’t doing anything, but once I got out of that [boot], leading up to today, getting out there and running at the end of the day was huge for me.’’
Ross said he engaged in several drills, running at 75-80 percent effort.
“I knew I was going to feel good, but you never know until you actually do it,’’ said Ross, who will join the team in Miami for a three-game set starting Monday night against the Marlins, then begin a rehab assignment with the PawSox he hopes results in being activated for the next homestand, which starts June 19.
Valentine said Aaron Cook, who threw two innings Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla., would join the team along with rehabbing teammates Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford, and throw a bullpen session in Miami. When the team departs for Chicago for a three-game set against the Cubs, Cook, Ellsbury, and Crawford will return to Fort Myers to continue to rehab.
Nava late scratch
Daniel Nava, who was scheduled to start in left field and hit leadoff, was a late scratch because of a sore left hand. Nava said he had a cortisone injection.
Asked if he had ever dealt with such an issue, Nava said, “It’s the first time.’’
Nava indicated his hand began bothering before Saturday’s 4-2 loss. “Then during the game was when it got worse,’’ he said.
Valentine, as a result, was forced to make some late alterations to his lineup. Center fielder Scott Podsednik, who was penciled in as the No. 8 hitter, was moved to the leadoff spot and went 2 for 5 with a double, an RBI, and a strikeout for the second out in the ninth.
Darnell McDonald, who went 0 for 3 with a sacrifice bunt, started the game in left and batted No. 9 before Kevin Youkilis hit for him in the ninth. Shortstop Nick Punto, who went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run, batted eighth.
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.