BOSTON Returning to the lineup for the first time since suffering a mild concussion diving to make an out on a fly ball in Philadelphia on May 19, Ryan Sweeney went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and RBI.
Sweeney started the game in center field, then moved over to right to replace Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth. He dove for Danny Worths single leading off third a play he said before the game hed have no hesitancy to make, despite the results of his last diving play. And Sweeney made the first out of the ninth on a difficult play as a Miguel Cabrera flyball got into the sun.
Amen, said manager Bobby Valentine. Three hits, playing center, playing right, trying to dive for a ball first day back, hitting the ball off the wall. I think that was a big lift.
Batting seventh, Sweeney raised his average to .325. The three hits a double and two singles -- are one fewer than his season high of four, in a 17-inning loss to the Orioles on May 6.
I felt good surprisingly up there, Sweeney said after the Red Sox 7-4 win over the Tigers at Fenway Park Monday afternoon.
I was watching the scouting stuff on what Detroit starter, right-hander Doug Fister tries to do before the game and tried to stay with the game plan and try to not get away from that even though I havent been in there for a week.
Sweeney, the first Sox player to go on the 7-day concussion DL since its inception before the 2011 season, could not take part in baseball activities until he passed mandatory testing. He passed the final test Sunday morning. But he showed no evidence of rust from the down time.
I just got right back into it, he said. My bodys a little tired right now just because I havent played in a week. Other than that everything feels great.
The left-handed hitting Sweeney is now batting .358 (39-for-109) with a .505 slugging percentage against right-handed pitching this season. The second-inning double, in his first plate appearance, was his 15th of the season, tied for second-most on the team after Adrian Gonzalezs 16.
I just wasnt trying to do too much up there at the plate, Sweeney said. I was trying to go up there and I said to myself if I could just have good at-bats today and try to get on base for those other guys and luckily it worked out.
On Worths single in the second, Sweeney was sprinting in to make the play, when he dove. Although he didnt make the catch, he recovered to throw Worth out at second, with shortstop Mike Aviles making the tag.
I was just trying to find it as quickly as possible because I knew he was going to try to go to second, Sweeney said. So it kind of popped up in the air a little bit. It was just five feet away from me so I just turned and instinctiveness threw it to second right away.
Hes a good ballplayer, Aviles said. Plays everywhere in the outfield and he goes out there and he plays hard. Seems like hes always on second base. I dont know why but it feels like every time he swings the bat hes on second base. Its always a good thing when you have someone like that in your lineup. Hopefully we all carry his momentum into tomorrow.