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Outfield options in flux

On a 2-1 count, Trot Nixon reached for a John Lackey pitch, winced as his he finished his swing, and immediately grabbed his right biceps. Terry Francona left the dugout and quickly returned with Nixon at his side, perhaps thinking what most people were -- not again.

The injury-prone Nixon was replaced by Wily Mo Peña, who struck out swinging (the whiff was credited to Nixon) on the first pitch he saw after having little time to prepare. Peña said he left his batting gloves and bat in the batting cage between the dugout and the clubhouse and had to run back to retrieve them, giving him no time to warm up.

Shortly after he left the game, Nixon was listed as day-to-day, his injury labeled an upper arm strain. Francona said Nixon will have an MRI today. Depending on the results, Peña and Gabe Kapler could manning right field for the foreseeable future.

It wouldn't be anything new for Kapler, who spent significant time filling in last season when Nixon spent almost a month on the disabled list for a left oblique strain. Since returning from his own injury -- a torn Achilles' suffered last season -- Kapler has played in 27 games with 11 starts. In 48 at-bats, he's hitting .271 with 3 doubles, 2 home runs, and 7 RBIs.

With Nixon not yet on the DL, Kapler said he didn't feel right speculating about an increase in playing time.

``First and foremost, the first thing is to see how Trot is," he said. ``And you know, who knows, maybe he comes back ready to play tomorrow, and he just took a funny swing. First and foremost we have to see how he's doing before we make any wild predictions.

``I'd prefer not to [talk about hypothetical situations]. I prefer just to wait to see how he's doing. I care for Trot, and I think it's more important for me to be concerned about his health and hope for him to be prepared to play tomorrow than to speculate about what might be."

Peña, who, like Kapler, has had a shortened season after having the hamate bone in his left hand removed in June, has also spent time filling in. He played a significant amount of center field when Coco Crisp was out with a broken finger. Peña has appeared in 42 games, including 33 starts. He's hitting .320 in 122 at-bats with 8 doubles, 4 home runs, and 21 RBIs.

Like Kapler, Peña said his concern is centered on Nixon's health.

``I don't think about [playing more]," Peña said. ``I only think if he was all right or if he was hurt."

Peña also might have other things on his mind, as trade rumors have been circulating. Asked whether he thinks the need for him to stay in Boston might increase if Nixon lands on the DL, Peña offered few answers.

``I don't know," he said. ``I don't know nothing yet. People said my name was in the paper but I [haven't seen it]. I just have to come here everyday. If that happens, it happens. You have to get ready for everything. I just have to wait.

``It's not up to me. It's up to them. Those guys [in the front office]. What's going on here? Who's going to get traded? . . . I don't know. You never know."

As for Nixon, who is batting .294 in 92 games this season, his place in Boston is perhaps more secure today than before he left. An injury decreases his trade value, and with Gold Glove right fielder Bobby Abreu leaving Philadelphia for the Bronx, there's one less man on the radar for Theo Epstein and his front office.

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