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Rich Hill to remain in Boston Red Sox rotation for now, will pitch Wednesday with Josh Winckowski available in relief

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Written by highergroundintl

BOSTON — Red Sox lefty Rich Hill volunteered to spend the weekend in the team’s bullpen but will return to the starting rotation — at least for one more outing.

Hill will start Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, manager Alex Cora said Sunday. Nick Pivetta will start Tuesday’s series opener against the Pirates and Nathan Eovaldi will pitch in Thursday’s finale. That sets up Kutter Crawford and Michael Wacha to start in Baltimore next weekend with Pivetta starting the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa., on Sunday night.

Hill seemed to be in danger of losing his rotation spot after allowing eight earned runs in seven innings (10.29 ERA) in his two starts since being activated off the injured list. But he’ll stay starting with rookie righty Josh Winckowski going to the bullpen for now. Winckowski is expected to piggyback Hill out of the bullpen Wednesday night at PNC Park.

“That Wednesday game, we’re going to, I don’t want to say piggyback, but we’ve got to find a way we can use the bullpen aggressively today and Tuesday, then kind of reset,” Cora said. “We’re going that route on Wednesday with Rich starting that game and bringing Josh out of the bullpen.”

With Wacha back, the Red Sox rotation is at full strength for the first time in a while. Three spots for Wacha, Pivetta and Eovaldi are locked in and Kutter Crawford has certainly done enough to remain in the big league rotation with an excellent six-week stretch. That leaves one spot for Hill, Winckowski and Brian Bello, who is close to returning from the injured list. As of now, it appears Hill will remain in the rotation, Winckowski will be a long reliever and Bello is either ticketed for the bullpen or a return to Triple-A. Cora said the team had not yet decided what to do with Bello, who made a rehab start at Double-A Portland on Sunday.

Still, Hill might be on a short leash with his rotation spot. The 42-year-old lefty, who missed a month with a knee sprain, has a 4-5 record and 4.75 ERA in 17 starts this season. He has largely kept the Red Sox in games (Boston is 8-9 when he starts) but the Sox have lost his last three outings.

Winckowski, who has a 4.69 ERA in 11 starts in the majors this season, last pitched Thursday, allowing only three earned runs on six hits in 5⅔ innings in a win over Baltimore. He has barely pitched as a reliever in his minor league career, making just five relief appearances in 86 games throughout his minor league career.

Related links:

Michael Wacha returns to start for Boston Red Sox on Sunday night; Andrew Benintendi leading off for Yankees in rubber game

Red Sox roster moves: Darwinzon Hernandez (21.60 ERA in majors) sent down to WooSox to make room for Michael Wacha

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