OAKLAND, Calif. — The Red Sox needed a lefthanded reliever once Andrew Miller was lost for the season with an injury. But the upcoming schedule also played a role in the team’s acquisition of Matt Thornton from the White Sox on Friday night.
The Red Sox play 10 consecutive games against American League East foes after the All-Star break. Thornton has considerable experience against those teams and their lefthanded hitters.
The Yankees arrive at Fenway Park on Friday for a three-game series. Their best player, Robinson Cano, is 1 for 12 against Thornton. Ichiro Suzuki is 5 of 19 and Travis Hafner 5 of 24.
Having Thornton around will allow Red Sox manager John Farrell to match up against those hitters in the sixth or seventh inning and save Craig Breslow for later in the game.
“I don’t know that it was driven by the lefthanded hitters we’re going to face,” Farrell said Saturday. “But it gives us that second lefty and it definitely helps. It was clear when Andrew went down, the desire to strike early. The sense of urgency became a little bit greater.”
Thornton, who was scheduled to join the team during batting practice in Saturday, was given No. 38, the first Red Sox player to get that number since Curt Schilling retired. He wore 37 in Chicago but Mike Carp has that number with the Sox.
The Red Sox were interested in Thornton before Miller was lost for the season with a torn ligament in his left foot. But that interest picked up in recent days.
The Sox had several scouts in Detroit on Thursday and saw Thornton throw a perfect inning against the Tigers. That led to the Sox sending Chicago Double A outfielder Brandon Jacobs.
The White Sox have high hopes for Jacobs, a 22-year-old with many physical tools. General manager Rich Hahn believes he will become a corner outfielder in the majors.
But Jacobs was blocked by several outfielders in the Red Sox system — Jackie Bradley and Bryce Brentz in particular. The Red Sox would have had to place Jacobs on the 40-man roster after the season or risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft.
Trading him eased a roster crunch.
The Red Sox may not be finished adding to their relief depth.
“Additional changes that might take place remain to be seen,” Farrell said. “I know that [general manager Ben Cherington] is still finding way possible to improve this team,” Farrell said.
• Farrell has not announced the rotation out of the break. But he did say the Sox would use lefties Jon Lester and Felix Doubront against the Yankees with John Lackey in the middle. Ryan Dempster would start the fourth game against Tampa Bay with the fifth starter to be determined.
• Shane Victorino was back in the lineup after taking a fastball off the base of his right thumb on Friday.
• Stephen Drew, out since June 29 with a strained right hamstring, went through a full workout before the game that including running the bases. Drew is eligible to be activated off the disabled list on Sunday but that will wait until next weekend. “Like to get him some at-bats on a very, very brief [minor league rehabilitation assignment]. He’s going to be rejoining us shortly after the All-Star break.”
• Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes practiced for Monday’s Home Run Derby before the game and sent baseballs deep into the stands in left field. Several Red Sox players and coaches watched the show.
• Xander Bogaerts will hit third for the World Team in the Futures Game at Citi Field in New York on Sunday. Righthander Anthony Ranaudo is scheduled to pitch an inning of relief for the United States team and infielder Garin Cecchini will play off the bench.
• Double A Portland beat Binghamton 8-5 in 15 innings on Friday. Infielder Ryan Dent pitched two scoreless innings to get the win. He allowed two hits, walked two and struck out one. Dent, 24, is a former supplemental first-round pick who has hit .223 over seven seasons.