Farrell quick hits: Morales has bulging disc

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Quick hits from Red Sox manager John Farrell Friday morning:

* The MRI performed on left-hander Franklin Morales revealed a slight bulge in one of the discs in his lower back, according to Farrell. Morales was given an epidural injection as treatment. Farrell said the symptoms have already begun to subside due to the injection and that Morales will be able to begin some type of activity in the weight room over the next few days. Still, his return date is unclear.

“There’s no target date for his return,” Farrell said.

Morales was being considered for a rotation spot, and now the picture becomes cloudy, at best.

“It removes someone who we had plans to stretch out,” Farrell said. “Until we get him back on the mound, in what role, we don’t know.”

Farrell said that Morales would pitch out of the bullpen initially when he does return, whenever that is.

“Hard to project right now,” Farrell said when asked if his return could be within weeks.

* Stephen Drew will undergo more impact testing today to gauge his recovery from a concussion suffered last week, according to Farrell. The testing involves Drew riding on a stationary bike for a pre-determined amount of time to get his heart rate elevated, resting for five minutes, and then repeating the cycle to see how he responds.

“The recovery time to that exertion is what we’re trying to monitor,” Farrell said.

His chance for starting Opening Day on the roster diminishes each day he misses in camp.

“Time down is not good,” Farrell said when asked about Opening Day. “It’s going to be determined on how much time he misses, getting his body back into game shape, the bat speed, the timing.”

Farrell said Drew feels fine in everyday situations but he is affected most in loud areas and with quick movements. When Boston Globe reporter Peter Abraham commented that those two elements are “basically baseball,” Farrell said, “That’s why he’s not in uniform.”

* Farrell said David Ortiz possibly could begin taking batting practice on Monday. The symptoms from the inflammation in his right heel have decreased and the anti-inflammatory medicine seems to have taken effect.

* With catcher David Ross starting today's game against the Orioles, Ryan Lavarnway was slotted in at the designated hitter spot so he could get at-bats.

“We’re rotating three catchers through now so we’re trying to catch up the number of at-bats,” Farrell said.

* Farrell said he is excited to see outfielder Bryce Brentz in action today. Brentz would have been invited to his first big-league camp had it not been for a self-inflicted gunshot wound suffered while cleaning a handgun back in January.

“There’s a lot of positive talk surrounding him,” Farrell said. “He’s very strong, headstrong. A strong competitor. You like that directness about him. You like that he speaks his mind.”

Farrell said Brentz will also make the trip to Port Charlotte on Saturday when the Red Sox face the Rays.

Brentz said his teammates have turned the unfortunate circumstance into a jocular moment.

“Yeah, I’ve been taking some ribbing,” said Brentz, who had the bullet pass through his left hip. “We have some handshakes going on, some nicknames, a whole lot of fun.”

On the more serious side, Brentz said he was fortunate and he definitely learned from the incident.

“I know I got lucky,” said Brentz, the Red Sox selection in the first round of the 2010 draft. “My strength and flexibility is back. I know it’s an opportunity I missed with (big-league camp), but I’ve been working on getting my swing back together. I’m looking forward to playing today in front of (Farrell and his staff)."

* There will be cuts later today. Farrell said he doesn’t know if they will occur before the game in Fort Myers against the Twins or after the contest.

“We’ll fit them in sometime before midnight,” Farrell said.