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."
Bowden said the switch in roles has gone well.
"It's actually been a very, very smooth transition becoming a reliever. Last year I was up here in September in the bullpen. Just being around these guys and being able to prepare every day I learned a lot. So I feel very comfortable in that role. The transition was smooth, I'm definitely excited to be here, and hopefully I'll be able to help these guys out."
The Sox will have a number of other roster decisions to make this week. Clay Buchholz is scheduled to be activated for a start Wednesday in Oakland, and Josh Beckett will come off the disabled list for a start Friday in Seattle, Francona said after Sunday's loss to Texas.
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.
Ryan Shealy has had just four at-bats since joining the big league team earlier this month, 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.
Gordon Edes is ESPNBoston.com's Red Sox reporter. He has covered the Red Sox for 12 years and has reported on baseball for 25 years. Ask a question for his next mailbag here. Daniel Pesquera contributed to this report.