Notes: Timlin close to return
Reliever could be activated before D-backs series on June 8
BOSTON -- The Red Sox have targeted the desert -- well, actually Chase Field -- for Mike Timlin's return from the disabled list. If all goes well for the right-hander over the next few days, he'll be activated during the Red Sox-Diamondbacks series, which starts on June 8 in Phoenix.
"I think when you're in rehab, the word 'tentative' always needs to be used, just until you activate a guy," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's [going to] go throw Sunday in Norfolk, maybe two innings, at least an inning-plus. [He'll] throw a lot of pitches. He's been going every other day for two weeks. Then he'll come back Wednesday and throw an inning. Then the tentative plan would be to bring him back with us in Arizona. Again, that's assuming everything goes according to plan, which we think it will."
Timlin threw a scoreless inning at Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday with Francona and pitching coach John Farrell watching from the stands.
"I thought he threw the ball pretty well," Francona said. "And I think he felt the same way."
As much as Timlin would like to already be on the active roster, the Red Sox want to make sure he's fully ready -- both from a health and pitching standpoint -- before bringing him back.
"And we like Mike, we want him back. We just want to do it the correct way," said Francona. "I'd be kind of surprised if a guy said, 'Hey, rehab me as much as you want.' That's not the way guys work. We understand that."
Timlin started the season on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain. He was on the active roster from April 10 to May 2 before going back to the DL with shoulder tendinitis.
Drew still searching: J.D. Drew, who started the homestand by going 1-for-10, has been in a prolonged funk. The right fielder is hitting .159 over his last 31 games, a span which has seen his average go from .375 to .226.
"He stayed through the ball so well this spring, and his career," Francona said. "He's had to fight it the last month. He's not staying back and offspeed [stuff] is really bothering him. He's going to be OK. He's too good a hitter. Sometimes you have to be patient to get results and be rewarded."
There is no better example of that than Dustin Pedroia, who has batted .415 in May after hitting .188 in April.
The one surprising thing about Drew is that he hasn't been able to take advantage of the Green Monster with his typically smooth opposite-field stroke.
"I think right now, sometimes you get a little mechanically in a funk where that plate looks like you can't get to that outside pitch," Francona said. "I bet there's going to be periods where he [thinks], 'I can spit on that wall.' But it's not there at the moment. But with his swing, when correct, I agree, this place is made for him."
Road weary: The Red Sox will experience an unkind part of the schedule when they play a Sunday night game against the Yankees, then spend the wee hours of the night flying to Oakland, where a series opens up Monday night.
Originally, Sunday was supposed to be a day game. But ESPN exercised its right to make it a night game.
"We have no say-so," Francona said. "The Players Association OKd it in their agreement and sometimes you've just got to wear it, because it's not going to help us [to complain]. Because we're playing the Yankees and they want to televise it, we're going to get to Oakland at probably six in the morning. Just put your Southern League hat on and remember what it was like."
Francona will send Monday night's starter, Julian Tavarez -- and perhaps even Tuesday starter Daisuke Matsuzaka -- ahead to Oakland one day ahead of the team.
Impossible Dream still true: In their year-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Impossible Dream, the Red Sox trotted out several members of the 1967 pennant winners prior to Friday's game with the Yankees.
The Red Sox also honored the Impossible Dreamers during ceremonies at the Home Opener vs. the Mariners. The one key addition to Friday's presentation was Jim Lonborg, the 1967 American League Cy Young Award winner, who couldn't make the Opening Day ceremony because of a prior obligation.
On deck: Curt Schilling (5-2, 3.68) takes on Mike Mussina (2-3, 5.86) in Saturday's matchup of battle-tested veterans. First pitch is scheduled for 3:55 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.