Prospect Johnson won't pitch again this year

Red Sox lefty working way back from UCL injury

Prospect Johnson won't pitch again this year

BOSTON -- The Red Sox had hoped to get lefty pitching prospect Brian Johnson some starts in September, but that won't happen.

A month ago, Johnson suffered a UCL injury. Though there was no ligament damage, the Red Sox have the lefty on a conservative path -- one that interim manager Torey Lovullo confirmed Friday will prevent him from pitching again this season.

"Brian Johnson is in Florida," said Lovullo. "He's on a return to baseball program. Based on what I have understood, I don't think he would be a consideration [to pitch]."

Johnson made his Major League debut for the Red Sox on July 21, giving up three runs over 4 1/3 innings. He made two starts for Pawtucket after that, and then the elbow injury cropped up.

The Red Sox are lacking depth beyond the five pitchers in their rotation. Matt Barnes has been bothered by elbow tightness. Clay Buchholz hasn't pitched since July due to a strained right flexor. Steven Wright is sidelined with a concussion.

With two young lefties in Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez being monitored with innings limits, the Red Sox would like to go to a six-man rotation at some point.

Could lefty Rich Hill, who is trying to make a comeback as a starting pitcher, be an option? Hill, who pitched for the Red Sox as a reliever from 2010-12 and was invited to Spring Training with Boston in '14, recently signed a Minor League deal with the Red Sox and has been starting for Triple-A Pawtucket.

"I've seen that Rich is throwing the ball really, really well," said Lovullo. "I know there have been two consecutive outings where he's been very, very effective. When we see things like that, as with any player that's throwing the ball well, they're always in consideration."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.