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Kim will get ball tomorrow

Rain forces rotation shift

After rain caused the postponement of last night's game, the Red Sox are expected to skip Byung Hyun Kim's final rehab start in Portland, Maine, and instead pitch him in the first game of tomorrow's day-night doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Last night's starter, Tim Wakefield, said he will pitch out of the bullpen tomorrow and then resume his regular turn in Texas Sunday.

The last time the Sox had postponements -- April 13 and 14 -- Derek Lowe was the odd man out of the rotation and had 10 days between starts, showing rust in his next outing, April 18 against the Yankees. This time Wakefield said he volunteered to be skipped.

"It's better for us as a team," Wakefield said. "It's better to let Schilly [Curt Schilling] and Derek Lowe stay on their regular turns. It doesn't make sense to back everyone else up. I can pitch out of the pen."

Kim is scheduled to become the Sox' fifth starter anyway, supplanting Bronson Arroyo, who will start Friday in Arlington, Texas.

Sox manager Terry Francona said he wants Kim to throw 75 pitches.

"He got to 60 and he's pitching pretty good," Francona said before the rainout last night. "We want to make sure he can get us deep into a game." Kim is expected to go the 75 pitches and Wakefield then will come in to start an inning.

Francona said Kim replacing Arroyo, "is not a knock on Bronson. He knows that. As far as our ball club goes, it fits. Bronson is going to impact our bullpen in many ways, all for the positive."

Asked whether he thought Arroyo's performance of late tempted him to leave him as the No. 5 starter, Francona said, "I think we thought Arroyo was going to pitch good no matter what role we had him in. I'm not surprised by his starting success at all. We made these decisions based on what we feel is best for our ball club and it's important for us to follow through on them."

With Schilling scheduled to pitch tonight, Lowe will stay as the pitcher in the nightcap tomorrow. Arroyo, Pedro Martinez, and Wakefield will start against the Rangers in a three-game series. With Kim joining the team, a roster move will be forthcoming.

The Devil Rays are staying with their rotation, with Paul Abbott going tonight and Victor Zambrano and Damian Moss pitching the doubleheader tomorrow.

Nixon gets in a game

In addition to another optimistic day for Nomar Garciaparra, it appears Trot Nixon's long rehabilitation stint is closer to an end.

The Sox right fielder played in yesterday's extended spring training game for Single A Fort Myers against the Orioles. He had five plate appearances, starting the game as a designated hitter, and then played three innings in right field (with one putout). He was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat, and then singled to center, grounded into fielder's choice, flied to left, and walked.

It was a major step for Nixon, who is recovering from a herniated disk in his back and has stayed in Florida to receive treatment. Francona said Nixon was expected to DH again today. Asked whether Nixon will work his way up through the organization, Francona said it was not necessary for the outfielder to play at every level before coming up to Boston.

"You have to understand this was like the first game of spring training for Trot," Francona said. "When he's ready to move up, we'll do it. He'll have to play in some games. He'll have to take a day here and there. We don't want to hurt him."

Upon returning, Francona said Nixon won't necessarily play every day until he's completely comfortable. There'll always be tough lefthanded pitchers that Nixon will not face.

Meanwhile, Garciaparra took 10 minutes of ground balls.

"It wasn't like all over the field, but enough that he was breathing a little bit," Francona said. "He did some side to side on a few ground balls, but not where you're pushing off trying to make a play."

Garciaparra is scheduled to follow it up today with his normal running program.

"He's getting better," said Francona, who watched Garciaparra's movement. "I guess I didn't expect him to look as good as he did. I know it's going slow for him, but I still thought he looked pretty good. He's making progress."

Burks has surgery

Ellis Burks underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee yesterday. The procedure was performed by Dr. Joseph Chase with Red Sox medical director Dr. William Morgan at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center. The team issued a statement that Burks underwent a debridement (removal of torn cartilage) of a medial meniscus tear in his left knee. Burks was scheduled to leave the hospital late yesterday and then begin a "range-of-motion" program after the swelling subsides, normally a week.

Burks, who is expected to be out six weeks, had the procedure done after rethinking his knee ailment during the Yankees-Red Sox series.

"He'd be OK and then the next day he'd be swollen or hurting," said Francona. "He couldn't bounce back. In New York, he got frustrated and I think he made the decision to go get this thing fixed."

Burks, who was hitting .133 in 30 at-bats, became the ninth Sox player to be placed on the 15-day disabled list, the most of any team in the majors. The Sox had only 10 players on the disabled list the entire 2003 season.

Burks's at-bats should be taken by the first base combo of Brian Daubach-Dave McCarty. "We know Ellis is a real good hitter, but he hadn't been productive yet," Francona said. "It's not like we're gonna miss a guy who was hitting .400. I know he would have started to swing better had he been healthy. I think we'll be OK."

Daubach hit .350 with five homers and 11 RBIs in 10 games in Pawtucket. Francona said Daubach likely will play first base tonight. McCarty, who has been used mostly as a defensive replacement at first base, is hitting .077 (1 for 13).

Sick day for Reese

Pokey Reese would have been a late scratch from last night's game because he had a 101-degree temperature before the game. He'll be reevaluated today . . . Theo Epstein confirmed the Red Sox have made their normal inquiries and evaluations on Aaron Boone, the former Yankee third baseman who beat the Sox in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series last October. Boone, who had surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, is not expected to be able to play until August or September . . . Sox groundskeeper Dave Mellor did a fine job re-sodding the infield and parts of foul territory around the third base area and patches in right field. Because of the cold temperatures, Mellor, who normally does not re-sod during the season, had to bring in new sod while the Sox were in Toronto. Now he's hoping for a few warmer days. Principal owner John W. Henry took a walk on the new stuff before the game . . . Sox pitchers began some hitting practice yesterday. The Sox begin their interleague play until June 15 at Colorado . . . Sox DH David Ortiz reiterated his desire to stay in Boston for the long term and said the sides have been talking about a new deal. Ortiz said there was nothing substantial to report, but don't be surprised if Ortiz's deal is done before any of the Big Four -- Martinez, Lowe, Jason Varitek, and Garciaparra . . . The Players Association visited the Sox before the game and requested a vote of players that would allow any player traded to a different league to remain as a player representative. 

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