Worth noting

• Third baseman Will Middlebrooks returned to the lineup for Wednesday night's game after being bothered for several days by soreness in his right middle finger. The injury was never considered to be serious, and Middlebrooks hoped to keep building on what had been a solid spring so far.

"He went through a full day of activity yesterday, threw quite a bit, both in terms of his throwing program and taking ground balls," Farrell said. "He's back in tonight. We'll probably go tonight, and then both games on the road Friday and Saturday with him. We might take a look at [Jonathan] Herrera at third base a little bit more tomorrow night."

• Veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski has always been an aggressive hitter, which contrasts slightly with Boston's organizational philosophy of working the count. But Farrell would not be surprised if just being around Boston's other hitters leads Pierzynski to alter his approach a little.

"He's had a long career of very good bat-to-ball ability, and because he can hit for a very good average, I think there's been a willingness on his part to be more aggressive in the count," Farrell said. "We've seen at-bats here where he's shown some tendencies to see a few more pitches. I know the conversation in the dugout from guys coming back that have that in their track record for a long time that continues to take place.

"And I think when you see our regular lineup repeatedly, I'm of the mindset that it will start to filter into his game somewhat. He'll see the benefits. I have to counter that with the fact we don't want him to change wholesale. We still want him to take advantage of his strengths, but I think he'll understand a little more readily when he sees guys building up pitch counts and grinding at-bats to get the starter out of the game a little earlier."

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