BOSTON -- The Red Sox bullpen has thrown 113 1/3 innings this season, the second most in the Major Leagues, behind the Royals. The club also has several relievers in the Minors ready to answer the call if needed.
Right-handers Junichi Tazawa, Clayton Mortensen and Mark Melancon are with Triple-A Pawtucket after brief stints in the Majors this year, but they could be back in Boston soon if the bullpen becomes overtaxed.
"I think Tazawa, [Mortensen] and Melancon obviously could pitch in winning games at the end also," manager Bobby Valentine said.
Since April 23, Red Sox relievers lead the Majors in ERA (1.53) and innings (70.2). With so much work thrown the relief corps' way, Valentine believes he has a good feel for what he has.
"I think our depth in that middle is very good," he said. "Middle and towards the end."
But he also believes that Tazawa and Mortensen could start if needed.
"I think so," he said. "Matter of fact, Mortensen was ready to start [in Pawtucket] the day that we called him up [on May 2]. And he pitched plenty up here to not derail those ideas."
Melancon could be the first option should Boston need another reliever. Melancon was optioned to the Minors on April 18 after allowing 11 earned runs in two innings over four appearances.
"[I'm] getting great reports, and I think it's just figuring out the mix and how it is to get him back here," Valentine said. "It's not like we don't want him here, and it's not like he hasn't done what he was supposed to do to go down there. It's a roster situation, it's not a talent situation."
Valentine won't commit to Interleague plan
BOSTON -- Manager Bobby Valentine was noncommittal on Saturday about a reprise in the outfield for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
Interleague play for the Red Sox begins in six days, when they travel to Philadelphia for a three-game series. To keep David Ortiz's bat in the lineup in a National League park, he'd presumably have to play first base, with Gonzalez moving to right field.
"We'll see as it goes," Valentine said. "Adrian has said that the outfield is an option with him. We'll just decide how that's presenting itself."
Both players made two starts at their less-familiar positions last season.
Red Sox pitchers, meanwhile, have started to work with hitting coach Dave Magadan in preparation for their plate appearances.
"They've been hitting in the cage, and Dave has a program for them to take their swings, getting ready for a little Philadelphia action," Valentine said. "They have a whole session of bunting, and from what I gather, we have some guys who not only like to swing but can swing. There's nothing wrong with getting a hit if they go up there."
Boston went 10-8 in Interleague Play in 2011. Red Sox pitchers went 1-for-21 at the plate, which is one more hit than the Royals, Yankees and A's pitchers had. Orioles arms led the American League with a 9-for-22 performance.
Interleague Play always brings out varying opinions, and Valentine on Saturday said that he might alter the DH implementation if he could.
"The only way I thought that there should be an adjustment is to flip-flop it and have the DH in the National League city and the pitcher hit in the American League city, just for the fans, so that the fans of the different cities could see the different play. But I don't know how you really adjust it. I'm not smart enough for that stuff."
Public memorial for Beane set for Wednesday
BOSTON -- Fans can pay their final respects to Carl Beane, the Fenway Park public address announcer who died on May 9, at a public memorial service on Wednesday.
Beane, the "Voice of Fenway Park" since 2003, died after suffering a heart attack and crashing his car in Sturbridge, Mass. He was 59.
Beane's family will hold the service at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Convention Center at 7 p.m. ET The hotel is located at 366 Main Street in Sturbridge.
The Red Sox paid tribute to Beane on Thursday night during the series opener against Cleveland. Before the game, the video board in center field displayed a photo slideshow of Beane's career, and the park's PA system remained silent throughout the night.
Beane's final game was on May 6, when Boston lost to Baltimore in 17 innings.
Nava wastes no time making an impact
BOSTON -- Daniel Nava was not invited to Spring Training in 2012, two years removed from his Major League debut. On Thursday he was brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket to give the Sox another left-handed bat in the outfield, and in just two games, he's already stood out.
On Friday the 29-year-old threw out a runner at the plate and made a pair of other fine plays in the field, one on a ball down the line and another off the Green Monster. He's had nine plate appearances and reached six times, four times on walks. Both of his hits have been doubles.
"Pretty consistent. Seems like ... he had one at-bat where he got outside of himself, but he's been pretty consistent," manager Bobby Valentine said of Nava, with whom he's had barely any experience, though Nava played eight games on daily assignment with the big league team this spring.
At Triple-A Pawtucket last season, Nava hit .268. This year he was hitting .310.
"I tried to learn from what happened last year," Nava said. "I really struggled out of the gate in Pawtucket, put a lot of pressure on myself and was pressing, and now I try to do the exact opposite -- just relax and I'm grateful for the opportunities I have."
Defense gained an added emphasis for Nava in Spring Training of 2011, a year he was invited to big league camp.
With Nava, a switch-hitter, playing well, others could lose playing time. On Saturday, for the first time since joining the Red Sox on April 23, outfielder Marlon Byrd was not in the lineup for a second consecutive game. Byrd has a five-game hitting streak.
Asked before the game about the lineup and if there were any health concerns that might be keeping him out, Byrd turned his back and did not reply.
Valentine said before batting practice that he had not had a discussion with Byrd.
"I didn't see him yet," Valentine said. "I went out for the early hitting and he wasn't out there."
Asked about Byrd's defense on Thursday, Valentine said, "He's gotten really good jumps on a lot of balls."
Offensively, Byrd has a .281 average with a .299 on-base percentage in 17 games with the Sox.
"On one ball hit over his head, I thought he did [take a wrong first step] straight back, but I thought he got to it," Valentine said. "And then the ball missed his glove. I'm not sure what to attribute that to. He's playing very hard, though, he's giving us everything he has."
Sore heel doesn't keep Papi from playing
BOSTON -- David Ortiz was back in the starting lineup on Saturday against Cleveland after leaving Friday's game early with soreness in his left heel.
Ortiz exited the contest in the seventh inning when his spot in the batting order came up. He'd bruised the heel while legging out an infield single in the fifth inning.
"Just running down the line, I took a hard step right when I got to the bag, and my heel got sore," Ortiz said. "It wasn't sore before. I just felt it then."
Ortiz has not missed a start in 33 games this season, and he leads the Red Sox with seven home runs and 23 RBIs. He iced the heel after Friday's game.
"I'm OK. It's still a little sore, but I'll try [tonight]," he said.
Manager Bobby Valentine said that Ortiz's health will be closely monitored going forward.
"We have an understanding [that] if he feels anything, if he feels like maybe he should not be swinging, even if it's in the middle of an at-bat, he'll let us know," Valentine said. "But he says he's OK to go, and the training room thinks he's OK to go."
In other injury news, third baseman Kevin Youkilis continues to progress from a strained lower back, and he played catch from 90 feet before Saturday's game.
"He's on the proper schedule, no setbacks," Valentine said. "There is a plan in action."
Youkilis is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list on Monday, when Boston opens a two-game series against Seattle. Youkilis, who has not played since April 28, was batting .219 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 18 games before the injury.
Thomas lands with rival Yankees
NEW YORK -- Left-handed reliever Justin Thomas, whom the Red Sox designated for assignment on Thursday, was claimed by the Yankees on Saturday.
Through seven appearances with the Red Sox, Thomas posted a 7.71 ERA in 4 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out two. Two of those appearances (and one of those runs) came against the Yankees.
Thomas is the second player the Red Sox have lost to an American League East team this season. The Orioles claimed Luis Exposito on April 17.
Thomas also pitched for the Mariners in 2008 and the Pirates in 2010. He has a career ERA of 6.65 in 21 2/3 innings across 27 appearances.
Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.