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Meredith the odd man out

Pitcher sent to Pawtucket

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Red Sox optioned sinkerballer Cla Meredith to Triple A Pawtucket yesterday to open a roster spot for pitcher David Wells. Meredith's first stint in the major leagues -- three appearances, 2 1/3 innings, seven runs, and a grand slam -- was traumatic, but neither he nor his manager viewed it that way.

''It's a good perspective," Meredith said. ''I pitched in the major leagues when I was 21 years old, and I learned a lot. That's only going to help me down the road. I was exposed to everything. Exposed to the clubhouse, exposed to being around veterans, exposed to being around the crowd at Fenway Park, exposed to being around umpires."

Coming in, he said, the message he received was: ''Do everything that got you here."

''Unfortunately, I wasn't quite able to do that for some reason," he said. ''When I come here the next time it will be the next time, not the first time."

Terry Francona said he has no concerns about Meredith's ability to handle the demotion.

''He would not have been here if we had concerns," Francona said. ''What's going to happen in August in Boston, when there's 37,000 people booing?"

As an organization, the Sox like to have an answer to that question, and with Meredith, Francona said, ''We think he's one of the right guys. I think the next time he comes here he'll be better because of it. And I think he does, too."

Francona wasn't sure whether Meredith would close for the PawSox, a role he occupied in Double A Portland this season and in college last year.

''I don't think it's important," Francona said. ''What's more important is him getting outs and facing some hitters, and not just one or two, like he did here. To face some lefties, and learn how to throw his changeup, to throw his breaking ball, to hold runners. To get saves I don't think is important.

''We've got a guy here to get saves, and we told that to Cla when he got here. He's not used to pitching in the sixth inning. He's used to getting the ball in the end."

Sticking around

By optioning Meredith to Pawtucket the Sox were able to retain Jeremi Gonzalez, who lost his spot in the starting rotation to Wells.

''He has length, which is good," Francona said of Gonzalez's ability to give the Sox multiple innings in relief. ''[John] Halama is the only guy out there [in the bullpen who can do that]. We've had a couple games where he's thrown a lot of pitches and if you happen to come back the next day and get shortened you're in trouble. Jeremi can do that.

''But we could use him in the fifth, sixth inning if we need to get a couple righthanders out. He could do both."

Gonzalez found himself pitching in the second inning yesterday, when Wells was lifted after recording only four outs. For Gonzalez, that marked his 83d career appearance but only his fourth in relief.

He's 0-0 with a 7.30 ERA in 12 2/3 innings pitched in relief in his career, while he's 25-33 with a 4.74 ERA as a starter. He's been hit at a .333 clip as a reliever, compared with just .258 as a starter.

Leader in clubhouse

Scott Hatteberg's eighth-inning error Tuesday night on Johnny Damon's grounder was Hatteberg's sixth, giving the former Sox catcher the major league lead in errors by a first baseman . . . Jay Payton's average may be down to .203, but he hit a ball about as square as one possibly can while lining out to center leading off the seventh inning yesterday. In his only other at-bat, in the eighth, Payton delivered an RBI single. He has knocked in 14 runs in only 69 at-bats over 29 games . . . The seven-run loss matched the Sox' most lopsided defeat this season. Previously, the Sox lost three times by seven runs: 9-2 at New York Opening Night, 12-5 at Toronto April 9, and 14-7 at Seattle last Friday night . . . Oakland hadn't scored more than nine runs this season and hadn't scored 13 in a game since Aug. 3, 2004, at Yankee Stadium. The 19 hits the A's compiled were the second most by a Sox opponent this season, one shy of the 20 pounded out by Baltimore April 26 at Fenway Park in an 11-8 Sox loss . . . Stat of the day: Oakland sent 19 men to the plate through two innings. At the end of the second inning, Oakland leadoff hitter Mark Kotsay was 1 for 3 with a bunt single, a line out to second base, and a ground out to second. The Sox didn't send their 19th batter to the plate until there were two outs in the sixth . . . Yet another result of the World Series: The Sox received the inaugural Spirit of Sport Award Monday during the Laureus World Sports Awards. Soccer star David Beckham of Real Madrid, along with Olympian Edwin Moses, presented the award in Portugal. Sox vice chairman Phillip Morse, chief operating officer Mike Dee, and former slugger Jim Rice made the trip to accept the award on the club's behalf.


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