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Drew returns to duty as leading man

05.19.10 at 6:52 pm ET
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J.D. Drew has been outrageously good this year in the third spot in the lineup. He is hitting .435/.480/.783/1.263 with two homers in six games from that spot of the lineup.

Yet with shortstop and leadoff man Marco Scutaro out of the starting lineup for just the second time this year, it was Drew to whom manager Terry Francona turned to helm the top of the order for the Red Sox.

“When you lose your leadoff hitter, somebody needs to hit there. You’re always trying to have balance,” said Francona. “I don’t see J.D.’s emotions, he’s not the roller coaster of emotions. I think he’ll be fine.”

Of course, the Sox are probably happy just to have Drew in any spot of the lineup tonight. He was replaced in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Yankees by pinch-runner Jeremy Hermida (who went on to deliver the game-winning hit, a two-run double over the head of Yankees outfielder Randy Winn) after experiencing discomfort in his left calf and right hamstring.

“My left calf’s been a little bit tight so overcompensating for that kind of tightened up my right hamstring so I was able to get in here and treat it a little bit, short night of rest, but we’ll see how it all works out, kind of gauge it as the game goes along, try to keep it loose,” said Drew. “It’s nothing we can’t handle. Got some treatment. Warm it up, get it stretched before the game. … I had a good idea that I’d be ready to go. Just tried to get in here, get it treated, just didn’t want to do anything last night, it was so cold, I just couldn’t get loose, and it kept staying tight.”

With both Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron on the disabled list, Drew’s presence has been critical for the Red Sox. After a slow start to the season, he has been on a tear. Since April 30, he is hitting .406/.473/.703/1.176 with four homers and 17 RBI in his last 17 games.

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Wakefield: ‘I shouldn’t have to’ prove anything

05.19.10 at 5:36 pm ET
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Tim Wakefield

With Josh Beckett landing on the disabled list due to his lower back strain, Tim Wakefield will be slotted back into the rotation, getting a start on Sunday. It is a mixed bag for the knuckleballer, who is excited for the chance to return to the rotation, but dismayed that the reason for his opportunity is a teammate’s misfortune.

“I felt great my last start,” said Wakefield. “I’m excited I’m going to get another start, but I don’t want it to be because Josh got hurt. I’ll do my best while I’m in there and look forward to pitching on Sunday.”

Wakefield is not looking at the start as his chance to prove to team decision makers that he deserves a more permanent place in the rotation.

“I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to,” he said. “I’m not taking each start that I’m going to prove that I can pitch. I don’t make those decisions here. I can only control what I can control.”

Of course, there would appear to be few avenues into the rotation for Wakefield aside from injuries. Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey are all entrenched in the rotation. Clay Buchholz has the best ERA on the staff (3.46), and the Sox appear to have few designs on shifting him to relief. Though Daisuke Matsuzaka has had one brutal inning in three of his four outings en route to a 7.89 ERA, manager Terry Francona said on the Dale & Holley Show that the club has no designs on shifting him to the bullpen.

“Dice out of the bullpen … I don’t know how much that helps us,” Francona said before Beckett was placed on the disabled list. “I know Wake’s frustrated being down there, and if you look at things logically, you got to believe Wake is going to be starting at some point, for whatever reason. But just putting Daisuke down in the bullpen, I don’t know if that makes us a better team. He’s strong right now. There is some inconsistency in three of his innings so far, but there is a lot to like about what he’s doing. Again, I guess I come back to that old thing , you got to be a little patient. If you’re not patient, you don’t see what you have. Again, maybe sometimes the answer is not always yes, but if you bail too soon, you lose that chance.”

That sentiment, of course leaves Wakefield (0-2, 5.31) in the limbo that he’s occupied since late April. After his April 25 start, he has spent most of the nearly four weeks since then in the bullpen, save for his spot start last Wednesday.

Yet despite the fact that he has been in the undesirable role of staff swingman, the 43-year-old has been performing well. He allowed just three runs in seven innings in his start last week, and his 2.1 shutout innings of relief on Monday night in New York had his team in position to win until closer Jonathan Papelbon got pounded for four runs by the Yankees. In his last four appearances, he has a 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings.

“It is what it is. You’ve got to learn to adapt and do whatever job you’re asked to do. Hopefully I can continue to do that. I’ve been able to do a good job,” said Wakefield. “Do the best you can in the job or task that you’re given in that particular moment, whether it’s going in the other night in New York to try to keep us in the game as long as possible or if it’s to get a spot start here and there. Just trying to make the best out of everything.”

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Pregame notes: Francona, Sox ‘err on the side of caution’ with Beckett

05.19.10 at 5:32 pm ET
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The season is not two months old and the Red Sox are 8½ games behind first-place Tampa Bay in the American League East.

But Sox skipper Terry Francona is not about to gamble with the health of his ace, even if it means he has to miss a start in the process.

The Red Sox placed right-hander Josh Beckett on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lower back and called up right-handed reliever Joe Nelson from Triple-A Pawtucket to deepen the bullpen.

“We thought about bumping him back and maybe have him miss a start and we started thinking, ‘Okay, if we do that, if we put him on the disabled list, he can basically miss the one start and we can line it up the day he’s available or eligible,’” Francona said in explaining the Beckett move. “I think we all realized, as we talked through it, realized that that was certainly the safest thing to do. You don’t have a crystal ball and since you don’t, if you’re going to make a mistake, or you’re going to err, you better err on the side of caution.”

Francona said he and the team didn’t get back in Boston until 5 o’clock Wednesday morning but Beckett didn’t seem any worse for wear.

“It’s not worse,” Francona said. “When you get in at 5 in the morning, that’s not conducive to healing when you jump from a game to a plane to a bus and everything. He’s OK. The last thing we want to have happen is have him pitch with a back [issue] and then have the back turn into something else, where he feels like he’s not using his legs and he hurts his shoulder. We really want to make sure he’s OK.”

Other pre-game notes:

–Francona said that the Yankees’ protest of Tuesday’s game is not a concern. “I haven’t even given it any thought,” he said.

–Francona said that Nelson has performed well in Triple-A, where he had a 2.49 ERA for Pawtucket. He suggested that Nelson — who was the last cut of spring training for the Sox — could emerge as a meaningful option, particularly given his ability to get left-handed hitters out with his changeup.

“He should be able to help us,” said Francona.

Nelson was just happy to be back in Boston and have a chance to make his 2010 Red Sox debut after just missing the roster out of spring training.

“It’s all forgotten today,” Nelson said. “My goal was to get here. The whole time I always said, ‘It may not be on my timeline but when I show them I’m ready and go down and throw well, that’s all I can do.’ I was just hoping for the opportunity and today it came.”

Nelson was the final cut made by the Red Sox in spring training and the team kept him in mind as he was compiling a 3-2 mark with a 2.49 ERA in 16 relief appearances for the PawSox.

“I’ve been throwing the ball pretty well. I got to work on a few things in spring training,” Nelson added. “When you’re in competition, you just get out there and compete and it came down to the last day. Then I just had a chance to breathe down in Triple-A and work on a few things and it’s gone pretty well.”

–Outfielder Mike Cameron, who was scheduled to appear in a rehab game with Double-A Portland on Wednesday, has instead had that assignment pushed back to Thursday due to a poor forecast for the Sea Dogs game. Cameron will be joined in the Portland lineup by Jacoby Ellsbury, who will play on both Thursday and Friday. Cameron may or may not play another rehab game on Friday.

–Francona admitted that he does sometimes sleep in his office, but he prefers not to do so, given the presence of rodents in the recesses of Fenway Park. “Just what you want to see at 4 in the morning, some little varmin who looks like [Dustin] Pedroia scurrying through.”

Read More: disabled list, Josh Beckett, Red Sox, Terry Francona

Francona on D&H: ‘The game should be played a certain way’

05.19.10 at 2:40 pm ET
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Terry Francona

Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday and talked about what transpired the previous two days in New York, where his team split a two-game series and dealt with some on- and off-field issues.

Francona addressed David Ortiz’ failure to hustle out of the batter’s box on a key play in the eighth inning Tuesday night, and the manager talked about the Hanley Ramirez situation in Florida as well.

Francona also addressed comments from Mike Lowell Tuesday afternoon that the veteran might be better off elsewhere as he becomes more frustrated with his lack of playing time. Francona said he sympathized with Lowell — and Tim Wakefield as well — but won’t discuss it in depth publicly.

A transcript follows. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

[Umpire] Joe West might have been right. Those [Red Sox-Yankees] games seem to take forever.

I actually didn’t think about it. There was so much going on in that game, that I [couldn't] have cared less. The first time I looked [at the time] was when we were getting showered and [travling secretary] Jack McCormick told me what time the bus was, and I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. We’ve been here that long?” I didn’t care. All I wanted to do was win. I didn’t care what time it was.

How about the Yankees playing the game under protest [after Josh Beckett left with an injury and Manny Delcarmen was given extra warmups]? If you had been in their situation, would you have chosen to do the same thing?

I don’t know. Everybody’s different. John Farrell went out to the mound. And it was pretty obvious, when Johnny got there, from the conversation with Beckett, that there was a problem. So he turned to the umpire, Angel Campos, and said, “We’ve got to get a pitcher in here. He’s hurt.” And Angel said, “Yeah.” So Johnny waved [for a new pitcher].

From there, then there was a few conversations from their side. And I ended up talking both to the crew chief, Larry Vanover, and Angel. And I said, “Where’s the problem? You were standing there and you heard him say he’s hurt.” And he goes, “We really don’t really have a problem.” I said, “Well, then what’s going on?” He said, “Well, they have the right to do whatever they want.” I said, “OK.” So, it wasn’t that big a deal. Read the rest of this entry »

Ortiz to appear on The Big Show Thursday

05.19.10 at 1:06 pm ET
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David Ortiz

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz will be a guest on The Big Show Thursday at 3:30 p.m. Ortiz has rebounded from his slow start this season and came up with a number of key hits in the two-game series vs. the Yankees, although he has come under some criticism for failing to hustle on his game-tying hit to the right-center field wall in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s Red Sox win. Ortiz was thrown out at second base and later admitted he did not run hard out of the batter’s box because he thought he had hit a home run. If you miss the interview Thursday on WEEI, check The Big Show audio on demand page to hear it, and visit the Full Count blog for a recap.

Ortiz is hosting an Eat n’ Greet event to benefit the David Ortiz Children’s Fund on May 27 at Big Papi’s Grille in Framingham. Click here for more information.

Red Sox vs. Twins matchups, 5/19

05.19.10 at 10:24 am ET
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Clay Buchholz

After having to scratch and claw their way to split their two-game series with the Yankees, the Red Sox won’t have things much easier at home Wednesday night as they face the AL Central-leading Twins. Minnesota is coming off its own two-game split with the Blue Jays north of the border.

Boston’s pitching has not been at its best as of late, allowing at least five runs in each of the last four games. Manager Terry Francona will send Clay Buchholz to the mound in the hopes of bucking that recent trend. Buchholz enters Wednesday night’s contest with a 4-3 record and a 3.46 ERA that surprisingly is the lowest amongst the team’s starters. In his last start on May 14 in Detroit, Buchholz allowed just one earned run on three hits over 6-1/3 innings to earn his fourth win of the season. However, he walked five batters for the second outing in a row after not having walked more than four in any appearance before that.

The Twins will counter with Scott Baker, who has struggled in the early going to return to the form that won him 15 games last year. His ERA is a half-run higher than it was last season, and he has allowed four or more earned runs in four of his eight starts this season. This will be his first start after being hit in the leg by a Derek Jeter line drive last Friday. Baker gave up five earned runs to the Yankees on 10 hits over 6-plus innings before being lifted in that contest.

If anything though, this short two-game series at Fenway could be decided by the offenses, both of which rank in the top 10 in the majors in runs scored. The Sox rank fourth with 210 while the Twins are tied for ninth with 190. By driving in nine and seven runs in the two games against New York, the Sox offense has shown that perhaps it is not as much of a weak link as many thought coming into the season. On the Minnesota side, with former MVPs Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau headlining the lineup, the Twins always are capable of strewing together runs and could be dangerous against Buchholz.

Red Sox vs. Scott Baker

Victor Martinez (29 career plate appearances against Baker): .250 average/.276 OBP/.286 slugging, 1 double, 2 RBIs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Adrian Beltre (23): .318/.348/.591, 3 doubles, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Bill Hall (12): .250/.250/.833, 1 double, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (7): .167/.286/.667, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (6): .667/.667/1.000 4 hits, 2 doubles, 1 strikeout

Mike Lowell (6): .600/.667/1.600 3 hits, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

Dustin Pedroia (6): .167/.167/.167, 1 strikeout

Jason Varitek (4): .250/.250/1.000 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

David Ortiz is 1-3 against Baker, and Marco Scutaro is 0-1 with a walk. Jeremy Hermida, Darnell McDonald and Jonathan Van Every have not faced Baker in their careers.

Twins vs. Clay Buchholz

Jim Thome (5 career plate appearances against Buchholz): .250 average/.400 OBP/1.000 slugging, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Michael Cuddyer (3): .667/.667/.667, 1 RBI

Brendan Harris (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout

Joe Mauer (3): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 2 walks

Justin Morneau (3): .667/.667/.667, 1 RBI

Delmon Young (3): .333/.333/.333, 2 RBI, 1 strikeout

Drew Butera, Alexi Casilla, Orlando Hudson, Jason Kubel, Nick Punto and Denard Span all have not faced Buchholz.

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Red Sox, Scott Baker, Twins

Ortiz on benching Hanley: Not right thing to do

05.19.10 at 9:43 am ET
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David Ortiz believes the Marlins should have handled Hanley Ramirez' situation in a more private manner. (AP)

NEW YORK — Speaking prior to the Red Sox’ 7-6 win over the Yankees, Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, David Ortiz weighed in on the controversy surrounding his former teammate, Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez was benched by Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez after loafing after a ball Monday. The All-Star then proceeded to show little remorse, saying Tuesday, “We got a lot of people dogging after ground balls.”

“This is not about embarrassing the player that he is,” said Ortiz, who befriended Ramirez — a fellow native of the Dominican Republic — prior to the Red Sox trading the shortstop following the 2005 season. “Sometimes we might need to be reminded about things we do that we think is the right thing but it’s not. There are more eyes watching. But embarrassing you, or your embarrassing your manager or your teammates is not the right way to go.

“You say, ‘Son, let’s talk. What happened?’ That’s all it is. You’ve got people watching you. It’s not the right thing to do. Don’t do it. Slap on the hand.”

Ortiz, who said he will be calling Ramirez, doesn’t believe the 26-year-old’s actions should be ignored, but just handled in a more private manner.

“He’s a young kid who is very talented. Sometimes you sit down players who make a mistake and then people start pointing a finger at you. That doesn’t help,” Ortiz said. “He’s a great player. He might have done something wrong but you’re talking about the franchise kid. Why embarrass him? ‘Let’s talk. I don’t think what you did is right. You’re a grown-ass man. You’ve got to do your thing out there, so make sure that doesn’t happen anymore.’ ”

Ironically, Ortiz dealt with a similar situation Tuesday night when he failed to run hard out of the batter’s box after hitting a long fly ball to center field in the eighth inning. The ball dropped in for a hit, allowing the game-tying run to score, but Ortiz was thrown out at second base after attempting to stretch the hit into a double. After the game Ortiz admitted that he thought he had hit a home run.

“Oh, yeah, no question,” Ortiz said. “It was Mother Nature taking away pop from my bat.”

Asked if he was mad at himself for not running hard out of the batters box, Ortiz said, “Oh, yeah. What can you do. Turn the page.”

Red Sox manager Terry Francona chose to not comment on what was, or will be, said to Ortiz regarding the incident. “That’s kind of our business,” he said. “I don’t think that will happen anymore. It was a good swing.”

Read More: David Ortiz, hanley ramirez, Marlins, Red Sox
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