Morales has been battling inflammation in his lower back since the start of camp, and the pitcher’s progress hasn’t exactly been encouraging. The Sox ultimately decided to send him back to Boston to see specialists about the injury.
“He’s been undergoing treatment here, but hasn’t really made the improvements that we had hoped for. So we just had him checked,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Fort Myers before Thursday’s game. “He’ll be back here [Thursday] and we’ll have more of a detailed update once he returns. I don’t have any findings or specific reports coming from that exam.”
Morales was 3-4 with a 3.77 ERA in 37 games last season. Of those 37 appearances, nine were starts. The lefty went 3-3 with a 4.14 ERA in those nine outings, and he figured to enter the 2013 season as a stretched-out reliever capable of making spot starts. Now, with Morales’ back still ailing, the Red Sox will be forced to turn elsewhere if they need a spot start.
“If you’re looking at a sixth starter, Alfredo [Aceves] would be the guy we’d stretch out first,” Farrell said.
The club could also stretch out Clayton Mortensen if Morales’ status doesn’t improve, although it remains unclear whether Farrell has any plans to pursue such.