FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The idea of beginning a season with four regular pitchers unavailable could be anywhere from daunting to devastating for many teams.

But that is what the Boston Red Sox could be facing.

The Red Sox have four pitchers who might be out for opening day. Three potential starters -- left-handers Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez and knuckleballer Steven Wright -- could start the season on the disabled list for the AL East champions.

Closer Craig Kimbrel has been in Boston since Feb. 28, when 4-month-old daughter Lydia, who was born with heart ailments, underwent her second surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Kimbrel has been working out in the Boston area but has not been able to pitch to hitters, and there's no timetable for his return.

New manager Alex Cora and the organization have been completely supportive of Kimbrel staying with his family. But with opening day little more than two weeks away, they might have to get creative.

"We've got a few things set up for him up there," Cora said Monday before his team beat Toronto 6-4 in Dunedin, Fla. "It's hard for me to tell him he has to come here. There's ways for him to face quality hitting. We just took a 21/2-hour drive here, and what's that for a flight, 21/2 hours?"

Perhaps the Red Sox could fly hitters to Boston to face Kimbrel. "I don't know," Cora said. "We'll see."

Carson Smith, Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly are potential closers in Kimbrel's absence.

Pomeranz, Rodriguez and Wright have all been delayed by injuries this spring.


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And, the Red Sox have been bringing along left-handers Chris Sale and David Price -- the top two pitchers in the rotation -- slowly this season in an effort to monitor their workloads and keep them healthy and strong throughout the season.

Rodriguez and Wright, both coming back from knee surgeries, have yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game. Pomeranz left his only start of the spring after one inning with a mild flexor tendon strain in his arm.

Cora has said Pomeranz is progressing. He threw a short bullpen session Monday and could throw live batting practice later this week. He would likely need several more sessions before pitching in a game.

"We have to wait and see," Cora said, on whether Pomeranz could be ready for opening day. "I'm not going to push him just to push him."

Cora is encouraged by Wright's progress. The knuckleballer is scheduled to throw a two-inning bullpen session on Wednesday.

The Red Sox are taking a more cautious approach with Rodriguez.

"Eddie threw two innings today," Cora said. "That was huge for him. He's been amazing in the training room and weight room."

Right-hander Hector Velazquez and left-hander Brian Johnson are the top candidates to take a spot in the rotation if a starter is not available.

"I understand there are 162 games and I hear people say that the games count just as much in April (as in) late September," Cora said. "But we want them healthy for the majority of the season."