Do you think A.J. gets a new contract offer for next year? John, Antioch

If the Sox don't move quickly, I can see a Mark Buehrle-like situation where the offers are too great for the Sox to match. There aren't many productive catchers on the market with A.J.'s durability.

I was curious who you might think the Sox will call up from the minors in September. I was thinking that Brent Morel, Dan Johnson, and Dylan Axelrod were likely, plus any healthy, veteran relief pitchers that may be stirring around at Charlotte. Ed Sikora, Auburn, Ala.

I think they'll need Josh Phegley, especially since Flowers is being lifted for a pinch-hitter with more regularity. I also can see left-handers Hector Santiago and Donnie Veal returning, along with Conor Jackson and the players you mentioned.

If the playoffs start today, who is the third starter: Gavin Floyd, Francisco Liriano, Jose Quintana or Phil Humber? I like Quintana. John B., Flemington N.J.

I'll take Liriano, followed by Quintana. A lot could depend on matchups -- assuming the Sox reach the playoffs and know their first-round opponent so they can set their rotation. They didn't have this luxury in 2008.

Thornton now has a 4.63 era since the begining of May and leads all major league relievers with seven losses. The Yankees seem to have a mandate that their whole roster needs to be filled by guys 34 and older. Can't we ship him off for a beer vendor or a Bob Sheppard bobblehead or something? Brian, Lemont

Even Brian Cashman, the Yankees' general manager, said before the 2012 season that possessing a left-handed power reliever of Thornton's caliber was more of a luxury.

Why has Thornton been using so much off-speed stuff lately? Hendricks didn't come close to his high heat, but got the game-winning hit off of a "junk" pitch. Dave K., Rockville Centre, NY

I know of at least one talent observer in the organization who was baffled that Thornton got beat with his second-best pitch.

Do you have any concerns that the Sox are going to "burn out" their starters by not giving them regular rest? I understand that the bench is very weak but, Rios, Ramirez, Viciedo, De Aza and Youkilis never get any days off. I am especially concerned that Youkilis may need an occasional breather. Brian L., Woodridge

Yes, I do think it's a concern in some cases. I think De Aza could use a break on occasion, and it might be time to give Viciedo a mental health break. Ramirez and Youkilis have been down this road before, so I think there's less concern. It also might be wise to give Dunn a start at first base during a night game, instead of having him play all the day games after night games at first base.