Boston Red Sox

Early notes: Francona shuffles lineup

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Early notes: Francona shuffles lineup

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

BOSTON With left-hander Brian Duensing (2-1, 2.91 ERA) starting for the Twins Saturday afternoon, Red Sox manager Terry Francona took the opportunity to shuffle his lineup and give a few players some rest.

David Ortiz gets the day off with Kevin Youkilis serving as the designated hitter. J.D. Drew is also sitting, with Mike Cameron playing right field. Jed Lowrie will play third and Marco Scutaro shortstop.

Duensing has held left-handed hitters to a .233 average (compared to .279 for righties) with just one extra-base hit, a triple.

This guys been pretty tough on lefties, Francona said. Were not going to see a lefty for a while. I think its a good time to get Cam in there and it gives Youk a chance to rest; day game after night game, being a little beat up, we use his bat and he won't have to play third. Get Scoot in there.

Left-handed hitting Adrian Gonzalez has appeared in all 32 of the Sox games. But he was not in consideration for serving as the DH today.

Gonzie wants no part of being a DH, Francona said. A lot of guys are like that.

Francona moved Carl Crawford down in the lineup, where he remains, hoping to get the left fielder out of his offensive morass. But with Dustin Pedroia, who is also struggling at the plate, Francona prefers to leave him at the top.

Ive been around him long enough to know that Pedroia will get every bit as hot as he got cold, Francona said. I think you guys probably all would agree. I know my job is to remain positive, but this is an easy one.

"With Carl being new, I thought he was feeling a little bit kind of pressured. I understand that. Its human nature. I thought it would help him. And Carls going to really get going. I know hes starting to show some signs already and then well get him up towards the top of the lineup. But I bounced him around enough early, so well try to let him stay put for a while and get going.

Figuring out Pedeys mechanics is hard. He does some things you wouldnt teach a lot of people, but hes a great player. He's chasing balls out of the zone, especially breaking balls and once you do that all of a sudden a fastball beats you because you're trying to play off the breaking ball. Its easy as a hitter to get caught in between and hes been doing it now for a little bit. Hell snap out of it. Weve all witnessed it: as cold as he is hell get every bit as hot. Its just the way he is.

Francona has yet not heard anything from Major League Baseball regarding his ejection in the second inning Friday night, as he attempted to get an explanation from home plate umpire Angel Hernandez on a balk call. Hes trying to put the incident behind him as quickly as possible. Hes learned from past experience that dwelling on such situations does him no good.

Theres probably two or three times a year where I dont, and it ends up bogging me down for a day or so, he said. I know its happened maybe with the media from time to time or something that happened on the field, and then maybe after the second day I kind of realize, 'Okay, better put this in the rear-view mirror because the only thing its hurting is you.' And I get over it. I think you have to. When you see the hitters throwing their helmets after the first at-bat, you know that theyre still thinking about the night before. It happens. Its human nature, but its a hard way to be productive.

Jason Varitek is scheduled to catch both Daisuke Matsuzaka on Sunday and Josh Beckett on Monday. Normally, the 39-year-old Varitek would not be catching on back-to-back days. But with a day game Sunday followed by a night game Monday, Franconas decisions becomes easier. Varitek caught the entire 13-inning game that began Wednesday night and ended at 2:45 Thursday morning in a loss to the Angels.

I think he felt like he caught a long day, Francona said. Hes doing okay. If things go according to plan, well catch him maybe tomorrow and Monday, day game and night game. As we go through the rotation again well split those guys up a little bit.

The Sox were scheduled to face left-hander Francisco Liriano in the series finale Monday. But Liriano, who no-hit the White Sox on Wednesday, has been pushed back. He threw 123 pitches in the no-hitter, well above his previous high of 97 on April 7, and also has a sore throat. The Sox are expected to face right-hander Nick Blackburn (2-4, 4.41) instead.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Drellich: Injuries for Betts, Pedroia, Nunez, unnerving in final week

Drellich: Injuries for Betts, Pedroia, Nunez, unnerving in final week

BOSTON — Even before Mookie Betts wrist flared up and Eduardo Nunez re-aggravated his knee Monday, the Red Sox’ health situation looked tenuous heading into the final week of the regular season. Particularly when it came to position players. Dustin Pedroia was out of the lineup Monday after a 1-for-26 road trip.

Now the scene turns scary. Consider that every other American League team that has clinched a postseason spot (or in the case of the Twins, is expected to) is one of the majors’ top five teams in runs scored per game: the Astros, Yankees, Indians and Twins. The Sox are 10th. 

The Sox lineup lacks firepower to begin with. Losing any more at this time of year is a recipe for a rough October.

"It sucks. It sucks," Nunez said. "Especially this time of year when it's close to the playoffs. It sucks."

The regular-season results show the Sox have adapted well overall when guys like Pedroia and Nunez have missed time. But that’s the regular season, and adding Betts to the mix is just disquieting.

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Nunez on Monday returned to the lineup for the first time in 16 days. Now he isn’t expected back until during the Astros series, his right knee injury re-aggravated

But there’s room for good news yet. Betts is to get his left wrist examined Tuesday. A positive prognosis there, and there should be a sense of a crisis averted. On Monday night, he expected to be fine, but he also didn't know what was going on. 

Farrell before the game made clear Nunez wasn’t exactly full go yet.

“[His return is] quicker than what it possibly could have been. You’re talking about a ligament damage to the PCL [posterior cruciate ligament] and I know it’s less severe than an ACL/MCL, but still it’s about pain tolerance,” Farrell said. “It’s about managing it. His body has to recondition to take care of that. His muscles have to respond in a different way. … If he feels a little bit of a zinger, that’s going to go away. He’s not putting himself at further risk.”

Farrell said after the game the feeling is Nunez didn’t do any new damage, but nonetheless, it’s easy to think now the Sox should have waited longer

Meanwhile, Pedroia’s been managing a left knee injury all season and didn’t play.

“When the knee starts to talk back to him a little bit, we’ve all got to listen to it and give him a down day,” Farrell said. “I would expect him to be back on the  field tomorrow.”

Farrell thought it reasonable to connect the knee to Pedroia’s recent poor performance hitting wise.

All year, resiliency has been a buzzword for Sox because of their propensity for late-inning comebacks. Sunday’s eighth-inning rally against the Reds was the latest example, leading to the Sox’ 42nd come-from-behind win. 

How they’ve dealt with a variety of health situations adds another layer to their reputation for handling adversity. Per spotrac.com, the Sox have had the fifth most disabled list days this season, 1,601. 

The Indians were doubted going into last year’s postseason because of health situations with their pitching. They did pretty well. But it’d also be foolish to minimize the importance of injuries to Pedroia, Nunez and Betts, and how they look heading into October.

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Mookie Betts to get left wrist examined Tuesday

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Mookie Betts to get left wrist examined Tuesday

BOSTON — First Mookie Betts right hand was bothering him. Now his left wrist is acting up to the point he was pulled from Monday's 6-4 loss to the Blue Jays in the eighth inning and is headed for an exam to find out what's going on Monday.

"I’m not really that concerned. I think I’m  going to be fine," Betts said. "Just a couple days ago. I just took a swing and felt it. It’s just been kind of painful for swings, but that’s just the part of the season."

Betts felt it again on a swing Monday.

Betts, who's always a calm guy, didn't seem to be particularly worried. But when he was asked to describe the sensation, it sounded far from pleasant.

"Just like a sharp pain," Betts said. "I can’t really move my hand for a little bit, but I think, again, I don’t really know what’s going on. We’ll find out tomorrow."

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