Michael Bowden was sent back to the minors Friday, but he will be back to the majors.

For good.

Bowden, 23, was promoted last Sunday and Manager Terry Francona used him in three of his first four games with the team.

Bowden pitched a total of 2 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and no runs and striking out two.

When Josh Beckett returned to the Red Sox on Friday, the bullpen already was getting crowded with the addition of Tim Wakefield. The only relievers with options to go back to the minors were Bowden and Scott Atchison, who has become effective in the middle innings.

So Bowden had to go, for now.

At the latest, Bowden will be back Sept. 1, when major league rosters can be expanded.

Bowden’s move to the bullpen was a no-brainer for two reasons. The first is obvious. The Red Sox need relief help, and Bowden’s ability to get ground balls, his deceptive delivery and his tenacity seem a good fit.

“The transition has been extremely smooth,” Bowden said. “I’ve taken to the role very well. Every day I come to the ballpark prepared to pitch. I think that’s awesome.

“Coming in later in the games, the adrenaline, it’s exciting. You can be a lot more aggressive on the mound. I’m just having a blast with it.”

The second reason for the move is that the Red Sox have to make a decision on Bowden after this year. He can no longer go back to the minors.

Bowden pitched for the Sea Dogs in 2007 and ’08, later making his major league debut in ’08.

Once a player is put on the 40-man roster, he generally has three years of options available to the minors. (The same is true for catcher Dusty Brown, who has been on the 40-man roster for three years.)

Bowden’s immediate future with Boston is not as a starter. The Red Sox have six major league starters under contract through at least next year.

And with Felix Doubront’s development as a starter at Pawtucket, Bowden was watching his future in Boston pass by.

Now he has a new role, one he is still tweaking, and he will get time to work on it in Pawtucket.

Then Boston will call him up again — to stay.

 

THE 2005 DRAFT class will be complete when Bowden becomes a full-time major leaguer.

That group included five first-round draft picks, three in the supplementary round.

Boston got all those first-rounders as compensation for losing three Class A free agents after the 2004 season: Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Orlando Cabrera. Boston had a sixth pick in the first round, but lost it when it signed free agent Edgar Renteria.

With those five picks, Boston drafted, in order, Jacoby Ellsbury, Craig Hansen, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie and Bowden.

Remember when Hansen seemed to be the prize of the bunch? The reliever was rushed through the system and was a September call-up in ’04.

But Hansen never worked out and was traded to Pittsburgh in 2008 in a three-way deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers and has been injured for most of his time with Pittsburgh.

Buchholz and Lowrie are on the major league roster and Ellsbury will be back there once he’s recovered from his broken ribs.

 

A COUPLE of former Sea Dogs were in Boston last weekend when the Texas Rangers played the Red Sox.

Outfielder David Murphy (Sea Dogs class of ’05-06) has stayed in the majors since being traded in 2007 in the Eric Gagne deal. Murphy, 28, is not an everyday player, but has played in 83 games. He’s batting .259 with four home runs and 26 RBI.

“I wish the numbers were better,” Murphy said. “But it’s fun being on a winning team.”

Murphy, who has a World Series ring from the ’07 Red Sox, appears headed to the playoffs with Texas.

Catcher Matt Treanor (’02) was traded to Texas during spring training. He had signed as a free agent with Milwaukee, but the Brewers picked up another player off waivers — former Sea Dogs catcher George Kottaras (’06), who was released by Boston.

Treanor, who played with Detroit last year after five years with the Marlins, is now the Rangers’ No. 2 catcher, batting .225 in 64 games.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

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