Monday June 11, 2012 | 08:28 AM

A few quick thoughts before I close the laptop for a week (Sox & Dogs are on the road, so it's a good time for backyard camping; watching my favorite 10-year-old, left-handed third baseman; and reading something other than baseball tweets & blogs).

The Red Sox, currently 29-31, have been hovering around .500 which has been OK since no one is the AL East was taking off. But now Boston is six games behind Tampa Bay and 5.5 behind the Yankees.

Boston's best starting pitching, in terms of Josh Beckett (4.04). Only two other starters are in the 4's - Felix Doubront (4.34) and Jon Lester (4.57). Simply put, that has to improve.

I know everyone is waiting for the return of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford (although who knows what Crawford will do), but the Red Sox could also use the power of Cody Ross back in the lineup.

And speaking of anticipated returns from the DL, a healthy Andrew Bailey would be appreciated.

Drake Britton put in a second straight scoreless outing since his promotion to Double-A (this time with only two walks, instead of six).

Got to like the way Portland's starting rotation looks. All would appear to have a future in the majors.

After Britton, another lefty, Chris Hernandez (2.88) has the next-best ERA. Anthony Ranaudo is improving with each start, and Stolmy Pimentel looks lights out at times. Other times, Pimentel struggles, which may suggest an eventual move to the bullpen. Would love to see him enter late in the game and uncork that lively fastball of his.

Chris Balcom-Miller may also hit the bullpen someday. He gets a lot of ground-outs, and enough strikeouts to be an effective reliever.

Juan Carlos Linares, 27, needs to be in Triple-A, even if Pawtucket is crowded with outfielders. Given his age and his .337 average (.948 OPS), Linares needs to move on.

An opening in the outfield could easily be filled by Salem's Jackie Bradley (.377 avg/1.050 OPS). The Carolina League All-Star Game is next week. After that game might be a good time to bring him up.

Check back next week.


About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

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