BOSTON -- J.J. Putz has made a good living and carved out quite a successful niche as a Major League reliever.
But in the matter of his recent bout with tendinitis in his right kneecap, being a starter might have helped him avoid any game inactivity.
"At the time, with [Matt] Thornton being banged up, there wasn't the luxury of getting two or three days to let everything calm down," said Putz prior to the start of Saturday's day-night doubleheader between the White Sox and Red Sox at Fenway Park.
"That's all it really needed," he said. "If I was a starter, with four days in between, I probably would not have even gone to the disabled list. It's one of those things where the medicine had to run its course, and three, four or five days after I started with it, the medicine made it feel a lot better."
Putz was placed on the DL on Aug. 25 but fully expects to return when he is eligible, on Thursday in Detroit. The right-handed setup man threw a "fairly aggressive bullpen" session on Friday and felt "really good."
"We are definitely moving in the right direction," said Putz, who has a 2.68 ERA over 50 games.
Bullpen getting back in order
BOSTON -- Having Matt Thornton officially back in play after a stint on the disabled list due to left elbow inflammation doesn't necessarily mean that Thornton immediately resumes his role as the team's late-inning left-hander.
"Right now we've got to figure out how he's throwing," said manager Ozzie Guillen of his All-Star reliever, who has not pitched since giving up a walk-off home run to Jim Thome on Aug. 17 in Minnesota. "I don't know exactly how he is, but I have the privilege to use him in the seventh and the kid [Chris Sale] in the ninth or the eighth, because I have confidence in Sale.
"I'm not afraid to put him out there. He knows what he's doing. And hopefully he's throwing the ball well, and we'll see what happens. I have to see him first, [and] I'll have a guy who can back him up in late innings."
Sale's emergence as a late-inning force turned out to be one positive offshoot of the injuries sustained by Thornton and J.J. Putz. But having the bullpen back in full force for the season's final month could provide an extra boost for the White Sox as they try to catch the Twins in the American League Central, especially with three games remaining against the division leaders.
"Our guys in the 'pen have picked up their game and done a good job of getting innings when they needed to," Putz said. "Sale has been outstanding. Sergio [Santos] has been pretty good. [Tony] Pena again picked us up the other day. Hopefully, getting Thornton back today, it should be a big boost."
Ozzie lets Manny be Manny -- to a point
BOSTON -- Word from ESPNBoston is that Manny Ramirez had his dreadlocks cut exactly 99 millimeters by his personal barber, Angel Pena, whom he brought to Boston to do the job, in reference to his jersey number. Ramirez's hair didn't appear to be much different on Saturday, length-wise, compared with when he joined the White Sox earlier this week.
Manager Ozzie Guillen admitted that he has been contacted by White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and general manager Ken Williams concerning the organizational policy for players having neat and trim haircuts, but Guillen has elected not to get involved in this particular battle.
"I try to stay away the most I can," Guillen said. "I talked to Manny about helping us do that. But the last thing I worry about right now is Manny's hair. I don't. I can't. I said a long time ago, it's not my department. We talked to him and gave him the message. I don't want to get involved with something ... I don't want to say [something] I can't control.
"I'm not afraid of [telling Manny] what to do. I'm not afraid of any of my players. I don't say 'afraid.' It's being worried about what his reaction will be."
Guillen certainly doesn't need to prove any point in the clubhouse to back up his authority, but prior to Saturday's batting practice, when Ramirez sported a T-shirt chopped too high for Guillen's liking. Guillen immediately requested he put on a longer shirt.
"That's my job, and he went and changed it," Guillen said. "I don't think Manny has any problems. I don't know why people create [issues]. I don't let the cat run away, because when you put him back in the cage, it's going to be hard.
"Right away, I tell him. [If] we have any problem -- with not just Manny but everybody -- we talk."
As far as Ramirez being fined if he doesn't cut his hair, Guillen is staying away from that particular question. Ramirez simply needs to follow Guillen's rules of being on time for stretching and the national anthem, and playing hard on every play, to avoid any sort of issue.
"Manny is a great guy," he said. "I only have Manny for one or two days. I've known him for a long time. He just wants to play the game and doesn't want to be bothered."
Morel could get defensive soon
BOSTON -- Mark Teahen's errant throw on a potential game-ending double play on Wednesday in Cleveland did not hasten Brent Morel's callup from Triple-A Charlotte on Friday.
"I wanted this kid because this kid is our future, and I want to see what he can do," said manager Ozzie Guillen of the 23-year-old third baseman.
Morel has proven that he can hit at every Minor League stop, but he will be used primarily as a defensive replacement late in games, giving the 43-year-old Omar Vizquel a chance to rest from time to time.
"Vizquel has been used a lot," Guillen said. "You saw Omar in Cleveland; he couldn't move two steps to his right and two steps to his left. I don't blame him. It's different playing third than second.
"We've been very lucky to have Omar doing what he's doing right now, and then we have to protect him. The only reason we can do that is to have Morel here. And he's a guy I have more confidence in than anyone else.
"I might use him for Omar because I think he's got better range. We'll see. People will say, 'You're going to take 10 Gold Gloves to put in a kid?' Well, that 10 Gold Gloves was 10 years ago."
Third to first
Omar Vizquel tied Ken Griffey Jr. for 47th on the all-time hits list with a sixth-inning single in Saturday's first game, giving him 2,781. ... Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, the colorful White Sox television play-by-play man, celebrated his 69th birthday on Saturday. ... A.J. Pierzynski extended his hitting streak to 11 games with two hits in the 3-1 afternoon victory over the Red Sox. Pierzynski is hitting .404 over that stretch. ... Andruw Jones is batting .533 over his last six games.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.