Friday July 13, 2012 | 06:31 AM

Jacoby Ellsbury is expected to return to the Boston Red Sox tonight, when they resume their season after the All-Star break.

At the moment, Boston has only three outfielders and a surplus of infielders, so the move seems to be an easy one (with corner infielder Mauro Gomez likely going back to Pawtucket - especially with third baseman Will Middlebrooks feeling better).

But Ellsbury will also be "re-joining" the 40-man roster (after being on the 60-day DL), so someone will have to be removed.

The first big decision for the major league roster could be Saturday when starter Clay Buchholz is expected to be activated. That will give Boston six starters. None of the pitchers on Boston's staff have minor league options, so someone will have to go, maybe by phantom injury or by trade.

Another pitching move will come down the road when closer Andrew Bailey comes off the 60-day disabled list. (And, possibly, another move will come if the Red Sox decide to give Daisuke Matsuzaka another try).

Outfielder Carl Crawford, who went 2-for-3 for Pawtucket on Thursday, is expected to re-join the Red Sox on Monday. That makes for another decision for the major league and 40-man roster.

There is also the possibly that Boston will trade an outfielder (Ryan Sweeney's name has come up, but that leaves Cody Ross as the only right fielder). Daniel Nava could be sent down (or traded) and Scott Podsednik, a 40-man outfielder currently in Pawtucket, could be traded or designated for assignment.

On July 19, second baseman Dustin Pedroia is eligible to come off the DL. Pedroa Ciriaco could go down, or the Sox could gamble and trade Mike Aviles (putting Ciriaco or Jose Iglesias at shortstop).

It will be interesting to watch.

The Sox go with Franklin Morales tonight in St. Petersburg, vs. the Rays' Jeremy Hellickson.

In Portland, the Sea Dogs play a doubleheader, starting at 6 p.m. Chris Carpenter, on a rehab assignment, will pitch Game 1.


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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