Bowden joins 'pen; other moves looming

BOSTON -- The three-catcher alignment lasted for one game. Reliever Michael Bowden was recalled from Pawtucket before Sunday’s game against the Rangers and catcher Gustavo Molina was designated for assignment.

Bowden would have been here Saturday, but he had pitched the night before for Pawtucket, the reason the Sox waited one day to summon him.

The 23-year-old right-hander, who made spot starts for the Red Sox in each of the last two seasons, was in the Pawtucket rotation before being moved to the bullpen 10 days ago by the Red Sox after a start in which he allowed just one hit in 7 2/3 innings. In six starts just before he was converted to reliever, Bowden allowed just 10 runs in 35 2/3 innings, a 2.52 ERA.

But with the Sox bullpen in disarray, Bowden became a reliever and responded well, allowing just one hit and no runs over six innings spanning four appearances.

“The kid’s been on the radar for the last couple of years,’’ Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He made a couple of spot starts. He was frustrated in spring training, where he was used as a starter but knew there were a couple of spots in the bullpen. Now he has a chance to contribute.’’

Roster moves coming

The Sox will have a number of roster decisions to make this week. Clay Buchholz is scheduled to be activated for a start Wednesday in Oakland, and Josh Beckett almost certainly will be activated at some point during the upcoming road trip, either Thursday in Seattle or a week from Tuesday in Anaheim. Francona said he planned to meet with Beckett, pitching coach John Farrell and GM Theo Epstein, and said a final decision might have to wait until Beckett throws a side session, which would come Monday.

Also, outfielder Jeremy Hermida, who doubled, scored and had two RBIs for Portland on Saturday night, is scheduled to play Monday and Tuesday for Pawtucket, once in the outfield, once as DH, before he joins the Sox on the West Coast swing. Francona said he expects Hermida to be activated for the Seattle series.

So who goes when these three return? It would seem that either Bowden or lefty Dustin Richardson would go back to Pawtucket. If Richardson goes, that would leave Francona with just one lefty, Hideki Okajima, but lefties are hitting .333 (5-for-15) against Richardson, and in Thursday night’s loss to Texas, he walked three batters in a third of an inning. So his spot is not a lock.

Ryan Shealy has had just four at-bats, so he could return as well. And then there is Daniel Nava, whose promotion to the big leagues came when Hermida went on the DL on June 11. Nava has done a terrific job, batting .294 and reaching base in 23 of 26 games, but he can’t play center field, which would seem to give the edge to Eric Patterson, who is batting just .207 but is needed to back up to Mike Cameron.

Progress for Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury is running, taking ground balls and fly balls and making throws in the outfield and bunting on the field in Fort Myers as he works his way toward a rehab assignment. No word on whether he is hitting in the cage.

“He needs to play,’’ Cameron said, expressing his hope that Ellsbury will be back soon, “and we need him to play.’’