BALTIMORE — Jacoby Ellsbury was penciled in as the designated hitter for Thursday night’s game, becoming the 10th Red Sox player to be deployed at the DH spot this season.
“I guess it’s my turn,’’ he said.
Ellsbury has been nursing an unspecified leg injury and was able to rest it a little without being out of the lineup, thus giving him the opportunity to extend his personal hitting streak vs. the Orioles. He had hit in 38 straight games against Baltimore — the second-longest hitting streak in MLB history by one player against one team since 1900. Vlad Guerrero’s 44-game streak vs. the Rangers from 2004-06 is the longest.
“The last couple of days, we’ve just been concerned about a little leg situation,’’ said manager Bobby Valentine. “This is just being a little overcautious and aware of the situation. I asked him if he wanted a day off and he said, ‘Absolutely not. No, no, no, no, no — a hundred times no. I want to play.’ So he’s DHing tonight.’’
Valentine declined to clarify the nature of Ellsbury’s “leg situation.”
“I don’t know if he likes that,’’ the manager said. “I don’t know if guys like any of that stuff. Some guys don’t like to talk about it. We don’t want it to be a big thing in talking about it or having it become a big thing.’’
Ellsbury started the first seven games of the season before suffering a subluxation of his right shoulder April 13. He was placed on the disabled list the next day and missed 79 games before returning July 13.
Going into Thursday night, Ellsbury had hits in 21 of 30 games since returning, batting .286 with 12 doubles, a home run, 8 RBIs, 19 runs, and 6 stolen bases.
“I’m really glad that he’s back,’’ Valentine said. “His presence is very important on the team, and his production, again, I’m very satisfied with what he’s doing.
“You guys have had a vision of what he did last year and how excellent he was in every facet, every minute of the game. He’s not quite there yet, but he’s plenty good for me.’’
A quick review
Before the game, Valentine seemed amused while watching highlights of Pittsburgh’s 10-6 victory over the Dodgers in which Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly and his star center fielder, Matt Kemp, were ejected by plate umpire Angel Campos.
It came 24 hours after Valentine and his star first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez, were tossed by plate umpire Mike Everitt in a 5-3 loss to the Orioles. Gonzalez was upset at having to take an evasive swing to protect himself from a quick-pitch from Pedro Strop, resulting in a ground out.
Valentine said he would not invite an MLB inquiry.
“Nah,’’ he said. “I’ll bet there’ll be a review of the situation sometime, somewhere — probably wintertime, but I just hope somebody doesn’t have to get hit in the head for them to understand the intent of the rule. It’s a pretty simple thing.’’
Gonzalez produced a photocopy of the MLB rule (8.05 [e]), which states, “A quick pitch is an illegal pitch.’’
If a quick pitch is called, the umpire is supposed to call a ball and, if there are any runners, charge the pitcher with a balk. The rule is to protect batters from receiving a pitch before they are ready, and it further states, “The quick pitch is considered dangerous and shall not be permitted.’’
“It’s just for the safety,’’ Valentine said. “I didn’t like the outs, either, but as I said, my guy [Franklin Morales] tried to get away with it, too. If you get away with it, fine. But [the rule] should be reviewed.’’
Who’s on first?
Gonzalez’s ejection Wednesday prompted Valentine to deploy Nick Punto as a first baseman. Asked if the situation gave him pause to evaluate who will serve as Gonzalez’s backup in the event of such an emergency in the future, Valentine said, “Well, I guess Nick has been there and so has Dan Valencia and so has [Jarrod Saltalamacchia], in a spot. “We’ve kind of visited that.” Five players have started at first this season: Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Brent Lillibridge, and Mauro Gomez. Two of those players (Youkilis and Lillibridge) are no longer with the team, a third (Gomez) is in Pawtucket, and the fourth (Ortiz) is on the DL. Asked if catcher Ryan Lavarnway was ever considered an option there, Valentine replied, “He says he hasn’t taken ground balls there this year. He’s more of an emergency option in the outfield.”
When he struck out the side on nine pitches in the sixth inning, Clay Buchholz became the 47th pitcher in major league history to accomplish the feat. “It doesn’t happen often, especially against a good-hitting team like they were,’’ said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “He was just spotting [his pitches] and throwing hard. He was just mixing. He had his command going that inning and went after them.’’ . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka had an interesting outing in his fourth rehab start with Pawtucket, a 5-1 loss Wednesday to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Matsuzaka allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts in 5⅔ . He threw four scoreless innings before getting into a jam in the fifth. “I’m very encouraged by what I heard,’’ Valentine said. “I didn’t see it, but Arnie [Beyeler, Pawtucket manager] and Rich [Sauveur, pitching coach] said it was his best stuff that he’s had in a while.” Valentine said Matsuzaka will make a fifth rehab start in five days . . . Valentine was pleased with reports on Rich Hill’s second rehab start with the Gulf Coast Sox. Hill, on the 60-day DL with a left elbow strain, threw a scoreless inning with a pair of strikeouts. He is expected to make his third rehab outing with Double A Portland Friday night vs. New Britain. “He threw the ball well,’’ Valentine said. “He still needs some time, but he had no negative aftereffects from what I gather.’’ . . . The Red Sox acquired righthander Pedro Beato, 25, from the Mets as the player to be named later in the Kelly Shoppach deal. Beato was optioned to Pawtucket, and righty Scott Atchison, who was on the 15-day DL with right elbow tightness, was transferred to the 60-day DL . . . The family of the late Johnny Pesky will have a public visitation at the Solimine, Landergan and Richardson Funeral Home, 67 Ocean Street, Route 1A in Lynn, Sunday from 2 to 8 p.m.