BOSTON -- After a strong start to the season, Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster has strung together a trio of rough outings.
Dempster recorded a 2.93 ERA through his first seven starts, but the right-hander hasn't lasted more than five innings in his previous three and has posted a 10.66 ERA in that span.
Manager John Farrell credited the rough patch to some issues in Dempster's throwing motion, but said he saw signs of improvement in his latest throwing session.
"He's been pushing the ball, and from a timing standpoint in his delivery, he's just been out of sync somewhat," Farrell said. "His side session the other day was encouraging from the standpoint of being able to repeat that delivery, and that's what we'll need from him tomorrow."
Dempster, who is scheduled to start Tuesday against the Phillies, has also been dealing with what Farrell described as a "cramping sensation in his groin."
"The fact is he's not only not worked downhill, it's taken away the shape and execution of his secondary pitches," Farrell said. "When he was right or when he was throwing well he'd be able to go to the slider or that cutter at any time in the count, or particularly on 3-2 for a number of strikeouts."
Buchholz improves, could start on Thursday
BOSTON -- Clay Buchholz was scratched from his scheduled Monday start due to irritation in his collarbone, but Red Sox manager John Farrell said his ace could retake the mound as early as Thursday.
Buchholz, who has been among the league's best pitchers this season with a 7-0 record and a 1.73 ERA, had a successful throwing session Monday.
"He feels improved over yesterday," Farrell said. "We don't anticipate this being more than a couple days extended before he's back on the mound for us. We haven't yet set the rotation where he slots back in, but we obviously had to wait for his throwing session today to work out that, so obviously a positive day for him."
Alfredo Aceves started in place of Buchholz on Monday against Philadelphia. In Buchholz's last start, the right-hander gave up one run over seven innings in a victory against the White Sox. He noticed something was wrong the next day.
"I slept on my shoulder," Buchholz said. "I normally don't do that. For some reason I did. The night we got back from the road trip, got back in bed, had my little girl with me, and I fell asleep like that instead of on my back like I usually do. I could pitch [Monday] if I had to, but I don't have to. I'll take my time and get it all the way out."
Farrell has spaced Buchholz and Jon Lester out in the starting rotation this season in an attempt to lessen the strain on his bullpen. When Buchholz is ready to return, Farrell could ideally employ the same tactic, but it's less of a priority with the progression of starters John Lackey and Felix Doubront.
"That innings need hopefully is less of a demand for us, so maybe there's some flexibility on our part this time through than was the case two terms ago," he said.
Ortiz to play first base for Red Sox in Philadelphia
BOSTON -- Red Sox manager John Farrell plans to use slugger David Ortiz at first base during Boston's upcoming road trip to Philadelphia.
The Red Sox begin a two-game Interleague series in Philadelphia on Wednesday, and since the games will be in a National League park, there will be no designated hitter.
Farrell said he'll use the trip to give both Ortiz and starting first baseman Mike Napoli a day off.
"We plan to give each guy a day at first and a day off and be available to pinch-hit," Farrell said. "It's yet to be determined which day it will be, but we'll be able to use it to our advantage as far as a rest day for either guy."
Ortiz has not started a game at first base this season and has only started nine games at the position since 2011. The 37-year-old took some ground balls on Monday to prepare, and Farrell said he has no concerns.
"I think the one thing people overlook is that he's a pretty darn good first baseman and we have no issue at all with putting him at first base," he said.
The Red Sox have certainly relied on their designated hitter this season. Ortiz is hitting .341 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 32 games. The only guy on the team who has knocked in more runs is Napoli, who will have to sit out if Ortiz plays first.
An American League team playing in an NL park is a disadvantage, Farrell said.
"Our team isn't built like a National League team," he said. "While we've used our bench in certain matchups, we certainly don't use it to any extent to which a National League team does. That's not to make an excuse, that's just to know that there's two different style of play and teams are built to reflect that style."
Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on twitter @MichaelPeriatt. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.