Workman lined up for return

BOSTON -- With outfielder Daniel Nava expected to miss this week’s series against the Houston Astros on paternity leave, Red Sox manager John Farrell hinted at the return of pitcher Brandon Workman to take Nava’s place on the roster.

“We can [bring someone up to replace him] and it doesn’t have to be a position player,” Farrell said. “Probably a pitcher.”

Hours after Workman pitched six strong innings against the Seattle Mariners on July 30 to earn his first career win, the Red Sox acquired starting pitcher Jake Peavy, a move that forced Workman to the bullpen.

With the Red Sox taxing their bullpen in a 15-inning win the next night and Workman unable to pitch until Sunday, the right-hander was optioned to Pawtucket Aug. 1.

Despite the rule that a player must spend at least 10 days in the minors upon being optioned before being allowed to return to the majors, Farrell said that Nava’s placement on paternity leave would represent an exemption to that rule.

“There you have it,” Farrell said with a smirk.

Workman was scheduled to pitch in relief for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday, with Farrell mapping out a loose plan for the 24-year-old’s transition from starter to reliever.

“It’s not a scripted out, ‘OK, it’s two innings today,’” Farrell said. “Hopefully it’s a clean inning that he comes in to start with, but if not we’re not going to hold him to that.”

In other pregame news, reliever Franklin Morales took another step forward in his rehab Saturday night, throwing 4 1/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Pawtucket. Morales hasn’t allowed a hit and has struck out six in three rehab appearances.

“The overall strike throwing, his comments coming out of it, how well he feels physically,” Farrell said of Morales. “Hopefully now that he has the three outings under his belt -- one being multiple innings -- hopefully we’re getting out the woods so to speak with what he’s been dealing with.”

Morales was placed on the disabled list June 25 with a pectoral injury.