Red Sox role reversal; Ellsbury close to return; Cook gets fried


Red Sox role reversal; Ellsbury close to return; Cook gets fried

BALTIMORE - Almost exactly a year ago, the Red Sox closed out their season at Camden Yards, hoping to clinch a playoff spot against the last-place Baltimore Orioles.

This year, the situation has been completely reversed. It's the Orioles who are trying to secure a post-season bid and the Sox are trying to finish out of the cellar.

But as further evidence of how much everything has changed since last September, the lineup the Sox fielded for the opener of their weekend series here featured only two players who were in the starting lineup in Game 162 last year: second baseman Dustin Pedroia and catcher Ryan Lavarnway.

Four other starters in Friday's lineup -- Scott Podsednik, Pedro Ciriaco, Cody Ross and James Loney -- weren't in the Sox' organization at the end of 2011, and neither, for that matter, was starting pitcher Aaron Cook.

Two others -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jose Iglesias -- were on the bench in September -- and another -- Daniel Nava - was in the system, but wasn't called up when rosters expanded in September.

Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been out of the starting lineup for the last seven games, may return to action Saturday.

The Red Sox, acting on Ellsbury's request, have not disclosed what his ailment is. He missed the entire final five-game homestand at Fenway.

"He'll try everything (Friday),'' said manager Bobby Valentine. "We hope all goes well.''

With Ellsbury out, the Sox had Scott Podsednik in center field.

Alfredo Aceves relieved starter Aaron Cook in the second inning, his 68th appearance of the season.

Aceves has a 1.2 million contract, with incentive payouts of 25,000 for his 55th, 60th, 65th and 70th appearances.

The veteran righty has already earned his first three bonuses and will need two more appearances in the final five games.

Given his rocky relationship with Valentine, it will be interesting to see if he gets the final two appearances to qualify for the next bonus.