Vazquez may return to Sox earlier than expected

Club weighing depth options as defensive catcher nears activation

Vazquez may return to Sox earlier than expected

BOSTON -- It once seemed that the Red Sox would use the duration of Christian Vazquez's 20-day Minor League rehab assignment before activating him, but the club now seems more open-minded to bringing the cannon-armed catcher back sooner.

"We've taken the two-games-on, one-game-off approach, so he's getting closer," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Nothing to announce as far as when we might see him here, but he's doing a very good job in getting closer."

The way Boston's starting rotation struggled through the first week of the season has put more attention on when Vazquez might return. The catcher, who underwent Tommy John surgery a year ago, is known for his exceptional ability to handle a pitching staff.

The Red Sox currently have Blake Swihart starting behind the plate, with Ryan Hanigan serving as the backup.

To make room for Vazquez, the Red Sox would either have to option Swihart to Triple-A Pawtucket or trade Hanigan. Another option would be to carry three catchers.

"I'm not going to rule it out," Farrell said of the third option. "It does have its limitations. There is an ongoing discussion of, 'What's the best alignment? What's the best combination of guys on our roster?'"

Swihart has made a couple of misplays on popups early in the season and has had trouble blocking balls at times.

Swihart misjudges popup

"There have been some times that balls have gotten away from him," said Farrell. "There have been a couple of recent occasions where popups have not been completed. One didn't hurt us, and one did. But I will say this -- we're a team, and when things aren't executed on the field, we as a team need to pick one another up. And I think that's the truest sign of a team picking one another up. And we can do a little bit better at that."

Swihart misplays foul ball

Worth noting

• Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez's first start since injuring his right knee early in Spring Training took place on Wednesday in Fort Myers, Fla. Rodriguez threw 50 pitches and three innings in an extended spring game. He also tested his knee with some pitchers' fielding practice drills. Rodriguez will make one more start in Florida before starting a rehab assignment with a Minor League affiliate.

• Righty reliever Carson Smith is also making good progress from the flexor mass strain in his right elbow he sustained on March 21. The side-winder threw a 35-pitch bullpen session in Fort Myers, throwing fastballs and sliders.

• Following Thursday's off-day, the Red Sox will keep Rick Porcello on line and have him open the four-game series against the Blue Jays. David Price will vault ahead of Steven Wright and pitch on Saturday on regular rest. Wright will pitch on Sunday on six days of rest. Clay Buchholz will pitch the annual Patriots' Day game (11:05 a.m. ET first pitch) to close out the series.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.