By landing Craig Breslow in a trade with Arizona, Boston’s bullpen now boasts three lefties –– Breslow, Morales and Andrew Miller. And Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine hinted that Tuesday’s acquisition improves Morales’ chances at returning to the starting rotation.
“I think that’s always been an option,” Valentine said. “Maybe that makes it a little easier.”
When Josh Beckett experienced shoulder inflammation in June, Morales was initially tabbed as a spot starter. But in five starts, the southpaw showed glimpses of long-term potential as a member of the rotation, posting a 2-1 record with 33 strikeouts.
Despite pulling off the deal, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington wouldn’t express a preference for Morales’ future role, praising both the lefty and starter Aaron Cook for their contributions.
The thinking behind the trade, Cherington said, was to provide Valentine with a versatile pitching staff. Whether Morales stays in the bullpen or the rotation, Cherington is glad they can capitalize off his versatility.
“I think we go back and look at how our bullpen was rolling when we had three lefties out there and what that did to our team helping us dig out of that hole early in the season,” Cherington said. “We’ve been wanting to get back to that if we could and give Bobby the flexibility to use guys in different roles if he so chooses. So that was the motivation more than a specific matchup.”
Either way, Morales is a safe bet to start when needed.