DETROIT -- A depleted Red Sox bench could have two significant pieces back real soon.
Injured infielders Alex Cora and Sean Casey will begin Minor League rehab assignments later this week at Triple-A Pawtucket. Cora (right elbow sprain) will begin his stint on Wednesday against Durham, while Casey (right hip sprain) will start his the following night.
"We want to get those guys going," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Francona said Cora will play second base or shortstop on Wednesday, then designated hitter on Thursday, and one of the middle infield positions again on Friday. The team will wait to see how Cora's elbow feels before choosing which position in the field he will play.
Casey, on the other hand, will start at first base on Friday and then move to DH on Saturday.
The Red Sox will evaluate both players in their scheduled starts and then decide whether to continue their rehab assignments or recall them to the big league club. All indications point toward their return sometime next week.
On Tuesday, Casey took a solid round of batting practice before the Red Sox took on the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Cora worked out in the afternoon, but then landed a ticket to the Boston Celtics' Eastern Conference semifinal Game 1 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Boston, so he took advantage -- with his manager's blessing.
"The only thing I'm mad about is that I'm not with him," said Francona, a devoted Celtics fan.
Cora has appeared in three games this season, going 3-for-3 with a walk. Casey has played in 17 games and owns a .346 average with eight RBIs.
Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.