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Latest dispute? It's got to be the shoes

With ``the ball" dispute over, it seems it's time to turn back to ``the shoes."

Having given his footwear over to the Cooperstown folks after inducing Edgar Renteria to ground into the final out of the 2004 World Series, Keith Foulke seemed to be a little confused as to why the memorabilia hadn't been returned to him. So, after expressing his displeasure with the situation earlier in the year, it appeared a resolution might be forthcoming when a representative of the Hall of Fame spoke with Foulke in the clubhouse before yesterday's 8-1 loss to Oakland.

``The Hall of Fame and I have come to an agreement and we're both satisfied and we're going to walk away happy," Foulke said.

Not so fast.

Though Foulke seemed to be positive about the situation -- saying he hypothetically had designed a space for size 12 Nikes into a trophy case being built for World Series loot -- the shoes are still on display in Cooperstown.

And the message from the Hall of Fame wasn't quite so definitive.

``There's a misunderstanding in what Keith thought he was donating and what we thought we were accepting as a donation," said Jeff Idelson, vice president for communications and education at the Hall of Fame, in the Sox clubhouse yesterday afternoon. ``He thought he was giving up his shoes for a year, whereas our modus operandi in World Series is to collect things as donations. He expressed interest in having the shoes back.

``It was clearly a misunderstanding, an honest misunderstanding. I'll go back to Cooperstown and talk to my colleagues and we'll see what we can do."

Which leaves that controversy ongoing, it seems.

But with Doug Mientkiewicz returning to Boston for the first time since the World Series today, the subject turned from shoes to ``the ball," the one whose ownership has been the topic of hot debate for nearly 18 months. After initially saying he would be keeping his opinion on the subject to himself, Foulke allowed that, given his near-MVP performance during that Series, he deserved to keep the baseball and, in the end, even the team had more claim to it than Mientkiewicz with the Red Sox ``paying the checks."

``If you were to take it to a panel or a court of unbiased people and you went down a list of team and players and people that deserve certain things, [like] the ball, I think maybe Mr. Mientkiewicz may be down the totem pole a bit, but that's just me," Foulke said. ``Of course I think I deserve the ball. Josh Beckett's got the ball [from the 2003 Series with the Marlins]. Mike Timlin's got the ball [from the 1992 Series with the Blue Jays]. I think I did some pretty good things to deserve that thing. But maybe I'm wrong."

Tough times
These days, it seems the only time Rudy Seanez checks into a game, the score already is out of hand.

Other than the desperation appearance in the 19-inning game in Chicago before the All-Star break, when Seanez became the last available pitcher to enter the game, the veteran righthander has pitched just twice since June 30, both outings in games that were clearly decided, Friday night's 15-3 game and yesterday's loss.

Though he rang up a 7-1 record with a 2.69 ERA last season with San Diego, his current 4.46 ERA in just 36 1/3 innings might lead another, younger pitcher to question his future with a team that needs to keep pace in a competitive American League East.

``I've been around too long to worry about [my place on the team]," Seanez said. ``Whatever happens, happens. It doesn't bother me one way or another."

Seanez, who came on in the fifth to relieve Kyle Snyder yesterday, allowed another inherited runner to score, giving up an RBI single to Jay Payton that brought Seanez's totals to 11 inherited runners allowed to score in 16 chances.

His arrival also, as usual, brought the boos, something that has become a staple of Seanez's Fenway existence.

``I just hope I can keep getting back out there, help in some way or another," said Seanez. ``Hopefully this month will go a little bit better for us. There was a stretch that was good, then it went [bad]. Hopefully it comes back, hopefully this is the beginning of another 20 innings or so."

Peña back soon
Manager Terry Francona didn't have a timetable in mind, given Wily Mo Peña's recent illness that forced him to miss a start in Pawtucket, but he said the outfielder would be back with the team ``definitely soon." . . . David Wells, who threw a side session Saturday, plans to throw off a bullpen mound again today. Francona said Wells likely would go on the upcoming West Coast trip . . . Both Nick Swisher and Milton Bradley, the primary instigators in the Saturday flare-up between the teams, began the afternoon on the bench, though Swisher entered in the fourth inning as a pinch hitter when Frank Thomas left because of a heat-related illness . . . Coco Crisp fouled a ball off his right foot, which necessitated a check with Francona after he ran to first on a seventh-inning fielder's choice. Crisp said the foot likely would just be a little black and blue . . . Snyder matched his career high with six strikeouts for the second time this season, having reached that number in both of his starts for the Red Sox since coming from the Royals. He struck out four straight in the second and third innings . . . Over the last 25 games, Alex Gonzalez, whose fifth-inning home run into the Monster seats provided the Sox with all their scoring, has gone 37 for his last 98 (.378) . . . Oakland seems to be beginning its traditional hot second half, with a 24-15 record since June 1 . . . Of the A's 15 hits, just two went for extra bases, both after the five-run fifth.

IMAGES AND INFO. For a gallery of photos from yesterday's game and news updates heading into tonight's Red Sox-Royals contest, go to www.boston.com/redsox

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