ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — There was, for a change, some good news on the medical front for the Red Sox Thursday night. Let's review:
• Jacoby Ellsbury is set to rejoin the team for Friday night’s game against the Rays after missing three months with a shoulder injury. At least that's what Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington said.
• Will Middlebrooks went through a full workout tonight and said is ready to play, too. He was out for seven games with a left hamstring strain.
• Carl Crawford was 2 for 3 for Triple A Pawtucket and the plan is for him to him to come off the disabled list on Monday. That would be his first game of the season.
• Dustin Pedroia, on the disabled list with a thumb injury, got the cast off his right hand, took batting practice and should return when eligible on July 19. That's only a week away.
The 43-43 Red Sox will soon have the kind of roster they envisioned at the start of spring training but have yet to see. For Cherington, there are no more excuses.
“We’ve been saying for a while that we feel like we have a good team here. But at some point you’ve got to show it on the field and the reality is we’re at .500 at the All-Star break,” Cherington said tonight after the team worked out at Tropicana Field.
“We have good players who have been playing and we have good players on the way back. But at some point you have to stop talking about the cavalry coming back and just start winning games. We’re going to do that.”
With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaching, Cherington said the Red Sox have no plans to break up their roster.
“I don’t envision a scenario where we’re sellers in the traditional sense of the word,” he said. “We have some potential surplus in areas that we’ve been talking to teams about; if there’s a way to help us now and in the future. Every year in Boston is too important. We’re focused on winning this year and still believe we can.”
But Cherington also made it clear he’s not eager to dip into a farm system to deal for short-term rental players.
“You never say never to anything. You’ve got to keep an open mind,” he said. “But we feel really good about our farm system. It’s come a long way even in the last 12 months. We feel like that next generation of Red Sox players is coming.”
How the team plays over the next two weeks will determine whether Cherington leans one way or the other.
“It has to,” he said. “We’re always going to do everything we can to give ourselves a chance to win. There’s no such thing as taking a year off in Boston. We feel like we’re right in it and have as good a chance as most teams to be there at the end.
“We’ve got to play well and give ourselves that chance We’ll do everything we can to improve the team in the meantime. We’ll see where we are at the later part of July.”
There be no starting over.
"I don't think blowing it up makes sense for where we are," Cherington said. "There's a lot of talent on the team. We're right in the thick of the wild-card chase. We've played very well since the beginning of May, aside from the last week."
Cherington said the Red Sox would like to add to their depth of their rotation via trade. But that's the case for most teams. With the extra wild card this season, a larger number of teams are in contention and the number of available starters figures to be small.