Red Sox have limited options for fifth starter

Young's MRI indicates hamstring injury worse than thought; Holt, Hanigan nearing return

Red Sox have limited options for fifth starter

ST. PETERSBURG -- Due to an off-day on Thursday, Red Sox manager John Farrell could have waited until Tuesday to deploy a fifth starter on the heels of Eduardo Rodriguez getting optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier this week.

Instead, Farrell will insert his fifth starter on Sunday so the other starters can get an extra day of rest. However, the Red Sox aren't ready to say who that starter will be.

Lefty Roenis Elias is pitching on Wednesday for Pawtucket, all but eliminating him from consideration. Henry Owens, once deemed one of the organization's top pitching prospects, remains plagued by control problems.

This could create an opportunity for 27-year-old righty Aaron Wilkerson, a former Independent League pitcher who is 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA in eight starts for Pawtucket. Wilkerson is not on the 40-man roster.

There's always a chance president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski could acquire another starter. With another off-day on July 7, the Red Sox only need to use a fifth starter once before the All-Star break.

Worth noting

• Red Sox slugger David Ortiz hasn't participated in a Home Run Derby since 2011, and he doesn't sound inclined to join the festivities in his final season, either. Ortiz has been bothered by discomfort in his heels of late, and he has often complained that the Home Run Derby has caused him fatigue in the second half of the season.

"He's in a unique spot. So, certainly, his time there [at the All-Star Game] is justified," said Farrell. "If it turns out he doesn't participate in the Home Run Derby, I think that's probably music to all of our ears. But at the same time he's earned the right to enjoy and experience that opportunity in San Diego as much as anyone."

• Left fielder Chris Young's right hamstring injury is worse than the Red Sox originally thought, according to a recent MRI.

"The MRI that he went back to Boston for on Monday showed probably maybe a little bit more injury to the hamstring than the physical exam in the training room," said Farrell. "What that means in terms of duration for the DL at this point is still unknown."

• With nine players currently on the disabled list, the Red Sox could use some reinforcements. They could well get a couple on Friday. Brock Holt and Ryan Hanigan are in the final stages of their Minor League rehab assignment with Pawtucket, and they will check in with Farrell and the medical staff during Thursday's off-day.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.