Red Sox

Red Sox

BOSTON - After recently experiencing elbow soreness, Matt Barnes pitched an inning for the PawSox on Monday, was cleared to play by Red Sox medical staff on Tuesday, and re-joined the team.

But it's where he'll head - to the bullpen - that raises some eyebrows.

The Red Sox had recently stretched Barnes out to be a starting pitcher. He had a handful of starts with the PawSox before being called up to make two starts for the Red Sox.

The results weren't great - in two starts, Barnes finished 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA in 10 1/3 innings - but Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo stood by his pitcher, telling reporters the team still felt he was a starting pitcher in the majors.

Now, it sounds like the Sox may be backtracking just a bit, as Barnes, who, according to Lovullo "checked out fine" on Tuesday, will once again flip-flop back to the bullpen. Rich Hill, who is 35 years old, appears to be the team's frontrunner to take the sixth spot in the rotation.

Hill is a great story, but there's certainly no starting pitcher role for him in Boston after this season. That may also be the case with Barnes, but at least using him as a starter the rest of the way could possibly generate some sort of value in the trade market - more than he'd have as a bullpen arm, anyway.

But a bullpen role is Barnes' only chance at cracking the team's 25-man roster next year, as the Red Sox will surely look for more starting-caliber talent outside of the organization. They also need to rebuild a horrendous bullpen. Where Barnes fits in - if at all - remains to be seen. The elbow soreness has indicated it's the bullpen, for now.

"A lot of us are unsure about what he will be best at, whether it's a starter or reliever," Lovullo said. "Those are discussions that are ongoing and we talk about that as a group very often. Stretched out as a starter, came here as as a starter the last time, but I think the elbow discomfort has made us pull back from that."