The Red Sox are moving pitcher Franklin Morales back into the bullpen, after the lefty had turned in a 3.42 ERA in five starts.
The decision, according to Red Sox pitching coach Bob McClure, was a combination of factors, including the fact the 26-year-old Morales provides more versatility out of the bullpen than Aaron Cook, who has limited experience pitching in relief.
"The thinking kind of behind this is, one, he's left-handed and it's always better to have two or three left-handers down there. Two, he can come out of the 'pen and spot start in case somebody needs a breather. Not saying you want to do that very much, but it's kind of what the team needs right now," McClure said.
"I was in the exact same situation [with Milwaukee], and I understand exactly how he feels. Yet, he still has a job to do and he's good with that. He's a competitive and confident kid, and he's going to do whatever he can to help the team. I understand his position because he wants to start, and I did, too."
Moving Morales puts an end to the six-man rotation the Red Sox were utilizing coming out of the All-Star break. Since entering the rotation in mid-June, the lefty had pitched 26 1/3 innings, throwing as many as 109 pitches (June 28 in Seattle), while limiting opponents to a .220 batting average. He struck struck out 31 and walked eight with the team going 3-2 in his starts.
"It's a hard decision," McClure said. "That's the way baseball is sometimes. He's 26 and has a long career ahead of him. He's good with it. He wants to start, we know that. He's 26 and we think he has a future in him.
"It's so hard, not for the starting pitchers as much as it is for the bullpen, not having that other guy down there. You have one screwy or extra-inning game, you're screwed, and screwed for a while, too."
The Red Sox hope to keep Morales somewhat stretched out in case he needs to re-enter the rotation, with McClure suggesting appearances against lineups with a grouping of key left-handed hitters.
"I think you may have to in periods," he said. "You hope it's a little later in the game where there might be some left-handers coming up and say you're facing Minnesota and you're in the sixth and [Joe] Mauer, [Justin] Morneau and those guys are coming through and he can get you to the seventh or eighth. I think if you did that he could go right back into spot starting."
Morales said he is prepared to return to the bullpen, understanding the situation the Red Sox find themselves in.
"I feel fine," he said. "I have to do my thing [in the bullpen] and that's it. It's fine."
For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.
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