FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lefthander Felix Doubront was named the No. 4 starter of the Red Sox and righthander Daniel Bard the No. 5 this morning.
Doubront will start the first game in Toronto and Bard the second. Alfredo Aceves will pitch out of the bullpen.
Manager Bobby Valentine said part of the reason Aceves will remain in the bullpen is that he's not comfortable with his late-inning options. Pressed, he said there was a health issue involved but refused to name the player.
But sources have since told the Globe that closer Andrew Bailey is dealing with a thumb injury.
Bailey, who has a history of health concerns, has not pitched in a major league game since March 25. He was listed as one of the pitchers to throw against the Rays on Saturday and did not.
Bailey threw 26 pitches in a minor league game on Wednesday. But he is not listed to pitch on Sunday or Monday. That would be eight days in a row without getting in a major league game and five days in a row without getting into any kind of game.
Bailey strained his forearm in spring training last season and did not come off the disabled list until May 29. Bailey also an elbow procedure in September of 2010 and offseason knee surgery in 2009.
Bailey's situation seems directly related to Aceves returning to the bullpen.
Aceves said a few days ago that it was his dream to be a starter. Outside of one game, he pitched very well this spring. But the determination was made that the versatile righthander needs to be in the bullpen.
“I like to be a dream maker, not a dream breaker. He wasn’t happy about it, obviously. I told him he has very, very important role on this team." Valentine said. "I think he’s one the best pitchers in camp and trying to figure out where it is we need him the most is very difficult, perplexing problem."
Valentine was asked if he would use Aceves at the end of games.
“I could see him pitching at the end of the game very easily,” he said. “When we look at the situation with this team, it seems he has incredible value, not being locked down one day [as a starter].”
Is Aceves pitching in relief related to any concerns Valentine has about the back end of the bullpen?
“A little,” he said. “If I answer that the way I should answer it, then you’ll be confused because you don’t have all the information. I don’t know that I can give you all the information. The answer is yes but don’t be confused by that answer.
“I think there might be a health situation. Might be. There might be some health situations."
Is the injured player a candidate for the disabled list?
"Yes," Valentine said.
Because of Bailey's injury, Valentine said the final spot on the roster could well go to an extra reliever and not a position player. The Red Sox have not announced the fate of Vicente Padilla, Michael Bowden, Scott Atchison or Justin Thomas.
Aaron Cook, Valentine indicated, would be going to Pawtucket as a starter.
Along with Aceves, the Red Sox also have Mark Melancon available as a closer. He had 20 saves for the Astros last season.
Because Bailey has not pitched in a major league game since March 26, he could he placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactively to March 27. That would make him eligible to return on April 10. He would have missed only four regular season games at that point.