BOSTON -- With Boston Red Sox concerns mounting over pitcher Clay Buchholz, despite manager Terry Francona's statements to the contrary, the team's search for pitching help has expanded to include a left-hander who hasn't pitched in a month because of a sprained left knee.
And given what the Colorado Rockies want for right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, Seattle left-hander Erik Bedard may be the most likely candidate, according to a major league source familiar with talks between the Mariners and Red Sox.
Bedard is scheduled to pitch Friday night in Seattle against the Tampa Bay Rays, his first start since June 27, when he went seven innings against the Atlanta Braves, allowing four hits and three runs. The next day, Bedard went on the disabled list because of his injured knee.
If the Red Sox are satisfied that Bedard is healthy, they are expected to be aggressive in attempting to strike a deal for the lefty, who is well-acquainted with the American League East, having pitched five seasons for the Baltimore Orioles.
Bedard was considered one of the top young left-handers in the league until he injured his left shoulder and underwent surgery in both 2008 and '09, missing all of the 2010 season.
The 31-year-old Bedard returned this season, has made 15 starts for the Mariners and pitched well. His record was just 4-6, but he had a 3.00 ERA with 85 strikeouts and 26 walks in 90 innings. In his next-to-last start before going on the DL, against Washington, Bedard struck out 10 while allowing just two runs, both unearned, in six innings.
With Bedard eligible for free agency after the season, and because of the numerous health issues he has had, Bedard should be available for a reasonable price, although, as with other starting pitchers the Red Sox are pursuing -- Jimenez and Hiroki Kuroda of the Dodgers -- other AL contenders are in the mix, including the Yankees.
The source, asked to handicap which starter the Red Sox were most likely to acquire, listed Bedard first, followed by Kuroda and Jimenez.
Boston's interest in Bedard was first reported by FoxSports.com.
Meanwhile, as of Thursday afternoon, the Red Sox had not made a call on veteran utilityman Bill Hall, who was designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants to make room for newly acquired Carlos Beltran.
Hall hit 18 home runs for the Red Sox and played seven different positions (including pitcher) last season, parlaying that success into a nice free-agent deal with Houston, but he has struggled in 2011, batting just .211 with two home runs and 14 RBIs.
The Giants had acquired Hall from the Astros after an injury to regular second baseman Freddy Sanchez, but Hall went on the DL with a spike wound in his left leg and appeared in just 16 games for the Giants.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.