Red Sox righty Carson Smith will return to the mound for work on Sunday, MLB.com’s Ian Browne reports. Smith, who is on the DL with a strained flexor mass muscle, seems to be on track to avoid a lengthy absence. Manager John Farrell said that Smith has had an “encouraging” week and is “progressing at a good rate right now.” The club plans to handle Smith’s build-up with care, as you’d expect with a young pitcher who is both an important future and near-term asset, but his return will be important for the Red Sox relief corps.
Here’s more from the eastern divisions:
- Though he’s not in line for much playing time at present, Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo will remain with the major league club for the time being, Farrell tells Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. “I won’t rule out that it might come up in conversation as we go forward,” said Farrell, “but we’re not there yet.” The Boston manager acknowledged that it’s “a tough spot” for the 28-year-old, who lost a chance to seize upon a significant role this spring. At some point, if he’s stuck to the bench, the Sox will presumably need to consider a minor league assignment to give Castillo some consistent plate appearances.
- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is staying positive despite his own part-time role, Ryan Lawrence of the Philly Voice writes. The veteran slugger says that he understands the team’s position, explaining that “the only thing you can do is stay positive and take advantage of your opportunities when you get them.” Manager Pete Mackanin says that the club will open the year with a traditional platoon of the left-handed-hitting Howard and righty Darin Ruf, but plans to remain flexible in allowing performance to dictate things as the season progresses.
- Though it’s early, the Phillies are already moving through the line of possible closers, with Jeanmar Gomez likely next up for a chance, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Dalier Hinojosa and David Hernandez have both failed to hold late-inning leads in the early action, leaving Gomez as the next man up — at least for now. “We’re auditioning,” Mackanin said. “We’ve got to find out. It’s a daily question. Why not Gomez? Let’s see what he can do.”
- The Braves plan to add righty Jhoulys Chacin to the active and 40-man roster in time to make a start on Tuesday, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. As expected, Atlanta had been carrying an extra reliever while waiting for the fifth starter’s spot to come due.