Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie to ‘split’ shortstop for Red Sox

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Jed Lowrie is set to return from the disabled list after missing six weeks with a shoulder injury, so manager Terry Francona explained that Marco Scutaro no longer has a lock on the everyday shortstop job.

“Now that we will have Jed back, we can kind of split it up,” Francona told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “Because Jed’s not ready to be out there every day, we can look at day game/night game, matchups and hopefully get the most out of both of them.”

Prior to the injury Lowrie had moved past Scutaro on the depth chart, but Scutaro has started 41 of 45 games there since Lowrie went down.

However, prior to last night’s four-hit effort against the Yankees Scutaro batted just .250 with a .668 OPS during that time and Francona made it pretty clear that he’s willing play whichever shortstop emerges with the hottest bat down the stretch. If healthy, Lowrie should have the upper hand. But that’s a pretty huge if and Scutaro’s big night might buy him a little time initially.

Adrian Beltre cleared for extended spring training

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Adrian Beltre has been on the disabled list all year because of nagging right calf strain, but he’s about to take a big step toward getting back to action.

Beltre has been cleared to begin playing in extended spring training games. He’ll commence them tomorrow at the Rangers facility in Surprise, Arizona. After three games the team’s doctors will reevaluate him. If things go well, he’ll likely be sent off for a full minor league rehab assignment.

Joey Gallo has filled in for Beltre all season, bringing a lot of power but not much else to the table. While Beltre is 38, his all-around game would be welcomed back on the field and his leadership would be welcomed back in the Rangers clubhouse. On a personal note, Beltre is only 58 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.

Barring a setback, he’ll be back with the big club in early June and will hit the milestone eventually.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.