With Lenny DiNardo on the disabled list and David Wells suffering a painful blow to his surgically repaired knee, what are the chances that we'll see Jon Lester or Craig Hansen before the All-Star break?
-- Lisa F., Martinsburg, West Virginia
The chances are very good. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see Lester make the start in the second game of the doubleheader on June 10 against the Rangers. It would be his normal turn in the rotation. If Wells stays on the DL much longer, you might also see Hansen at some point. I know that fans are very intrigued by both of these young pitchers, and I don't blame them. We are talking about two electric arms here.
Just out of curiosity, while Wells is on the DL, why don't the Sox put Jonathan Papelbon in the rotation? I love the fantastic job he is doing as the closer, but I thought our long-term goal for him was to be a starter? And hypothetically speaking, if the Sox do insert him into the rotation, would they bring Hansen up to get more experience?
-- James H., Weymouth, Mass.
That would be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Papelbon is probably the best closer in baseball right now. There's no way you could take him out of that role unless you had someone comparable to put in there. I know your e-mail was sent before Mike Timlin went on the disabled list, but it's still hard to find a scenario at this point where the Red Sox would be a better team with Papelbon in the rotation.
Before the season started, many around the Red Sox camp were saying that Hansen would make a push for the closer's role during the season. Now, with Papelbon firmly entrenched in that role, and Wells hurting and Clement struggling, do you think we will see Hansen get a shot at starting?
-- Evan S., Milwaukee
My sense is that the Red Sox are going to take a few more weeks and gauge just how Hansen can be most beneficial to the team. If they continue to get inconsistent performances from the middle relief crew, perhaps Hansen will join the bullpen. If they keep having problems in the 4-5 slots of the rotation, Hansen could be more useful as a starter. They are under no rush to make the decision. But when the time is right, you will see this man getting key outs for the Red Sox.
Why during the stretch of injuries to the Sox outfield, have we never heard Adam Stern's name as an option? I'm not saying that would be the best path to take, but I'm just surprised it never came up.
-- Dann T., Los Angeles
The Red Sox were very sincere when they said that the best thing for Adam Stern's development is for him to play every day at the Triple-A level. Just because Wily Mo Pena is injured, they aren't going to make a knee-jerk reaction and change their mind on that. Stern remains a work in progress. This year is pivotal for his development, so the Red Sox don't want to mess with that.
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I've noticed that Mike Lowell is still toward the bottom of the lineup. With him hitting so well and Jason Varitek off to a slow start, has there been any talk about putting Lowell higher up in the order?
-- Travis G., Rowley, Mass.
I don't see that there would be much of a cause and effect if they made that move. Having Lowell's productive bat in the lower third of the order has been extremely beneficial to this point, so I don't see why you would alter that.
Is there any hope of the Red Sox making a move to get Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins this year?
-- Tom F., Canton, Mass.
Just look at the time Theo Epstein has been the general manager, beginning with 2003. It's hard to remember any time that a major pitcher was on the market and Epstein didn't at least explore the possibility of bringing him to Boston. As always, Epstein will weigh the long- and short-term benefits to making such a deal and, if the balance is right, I'm sure he would do all he could to bring Willis on board. At this point, it's not even a certainty that the D-Train will go on the market.
Why not deal J.T. Snow to the Angels for Scot Shields or Kelvim Escobar?
-- Geraldo S., Puerto Rico
Mainly because it's generally not regarded as good baseball business to deal live arms for an aging first baseman. Snow is a true professional, but he is also nearing the end of his career and he is, at best, a platoon player at this stage of the game.
On the All-Star voting, why can't people vote for pitchers?
-- Patrick D., Greenfield, Mass.
That is an outstanding question. I'm surprised that debate hasn't been raised more. One thing is that I know it's harder to line up the pitchers for the actual All-Star Game because you have to plan things out based on their recent usage, etc. I think that at least the starting pitcher could be voted on by the fans. If the starting team is the choice of the fans, then why not the starting pitcher? Great point. Maybe you will see that some day.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.