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Scout's report: Hesitation by Ramírez

Johnny Damon slides in safely to second in the first inning; the throw was taken by third baseman Mike Lowell because of a shift on Hideki Matsui. Johnny Damon slides in safely to second in the first inning; the throw was taken by third baseman Mike Lowell because of a shift on Hideki Matsui. (KATHY WILLENS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

NEW YORK -- Manny Ramírez had a pregame visitor in the clubhouse: Joe DeLuca, the scout who signed Ramírez to his first professional contract after he was drafted No. 1 by the Indians in 1991.

DeLuca expressed surprise at the "hesitation" he has seen in Ramírez at the plate this season. With two strikeouts last night, Ramírez has fanned 32 times this season -- 19 times looking. He is just 7 for 35 (.200) in his last nine games, with two RBIs in that stretch. He has gone 12 games without a home run, and has three extra-base hits in his last 14 games.

Ramírez began the day batting just .229 with runners in scoring position, and was even more apt to make an out when leading off an inning: He was batting .194 (6 for 31) in such situations. Righthanders have been a particular problem: He was batting .212 (25 for 118) against righthanders before his first-inning single off Chien-Ming Wang.

But the man behind Ramírez in the Sox order, J.D. Drew, has struggled even more. Drew has not hit a home run since April 22, against the Yankees, a span of 22 games.

He is batting .160 (12 for 75) in that stretch, with two doubles, a triple, and just five RBIs -- and more whiffs (17) than hits (12). And yet the Sox are 15-7 in that stretch.

Rested and ready
It's startling to compare the number of innings thrown by Sox relievers and their Yankee counterparts. Hideki Okajima has been the workhorse of the Boston bullpen, appearing in 20 games and throwing 21 2/3 innings. But everyone else is still in the teens in innings: Jonathan Papelbon (15 1/3), Kyle Snyder (15 2/3), J.C. Romero (14 2/3), Brendan Donnelly (13), and Joel Piñeiro (17 1/3).

Contrast that to the Yankees: Brian Bruney has thrown 21 1/3 innings, Mike Myers 21, Luis Vizcaino 22 1/3, Scott Proctor 23 2/3, and Mariano Rivera 14 2/3.

"There's only one guy here who has really worked," Donnelly said. "That's Okajima, for obvious reasons. He's real good, and he's durable.

"None of the rest of us have been overworked. If you looked at our numbers last year at the same time, we probably were close to double what we are now.

"That's a good thing, because in September none of us will be tapped out. Instead of 70-80 innings, we may be at 40-60 innings. Hopefully we'll have that extra month [October] without worrying about any of us being taxed."

Donnelly mentioned Javier Lopez -- "he bailed me out twice with double play balls, four outs on three pitches, which is worth a cold Pepsi" -- and Snyder, who is 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 14 appearances. "He's gone from pitching in 13-run games to closer games to tougher situations," Donnelly said. "He's throwing the ball real well."

And now the Sox have added Manny Delcarmen, who arrived here around 4:30 from Ottawa, where Pawtucket had been playing.

"I was a little surprised," said Delcarmen, who was informed of his callup by manager Ron Johnson after Pawtucket's game Sunday. "I also was wondering why I hadn't thrown in four days. RJ was telling me something may be going on up here."

Delcarmen, who pitched an inning in last night's loss, met briefly with manager Terry Francona before the pitchers' meeting.

"He told me it could be for four days, a week, a month," Delcarmen said. "He said, 'Don't expect anything, but come prepared.' I'll be ready for anything."

Roller coaster ride
The Lancaster JetHawks, Boston's affiliate in the Single A California League, finished an astonishing weekend series against Lake Elsinore with a 21-6 loss Sunday. Friday's series opener was even more lopsided -- 30-0 -- but in between, Lancaster overcame a 9-1 deficit to win, 14-12, as first baseman Aaron Bates homered four times. Bates, a sixth-round draft choice in 2006 out of North Carolina State, became the first Sox minor leaguer to hit four home runs in a game since Aug. 15, 1949, when shortstop Jack Littrell of the Hornell Maple Leafs in the Class D Pony League hit four against the Orlean Oilers. Littrell played parts of five big-league seasons with the A's and Cubs.

Strong week
Daisuke Matsuzaka was named American League Player of the Week; such an honor, he told reporters, does not exist where he's from. "In Japan, we only have a player of the month," said Matsuzaka, who was 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA, no walks, and 11 strikeouts, in wins over Detroit and Atlanta. How is Matsuzaka's Japanese team, the Seibu Lions, faring in his absence? They were 22-20-2, four games out of first place in the Japan Pacific League, even though Jason Johnson, the former Sox pitcher they signed for $3 million, started the season on the DL with severe inflammation in his right elbow. Matsuzaka beat out countryman Ichiro Suzuki despite Ichiro's eye-popping stats for the week: a .577 average and eight stolen bases. Matsuzaka got a free watch out of the deal.

Wrong turn
A few TV cameras and the indefatigable Duke Castiglione were parked outside the players' entrance before the game, awaiting the arrival of Roger Clemens. A white stretch limo pulled up, and the cameras pointed in expectation. Out popped Country Joe West, the umpiring crew chief. Told that the crowd was expecting the Rocket, he said, "Roger who?" Unlike the day he appeared in the owner's box to announce his signing, Clemens did not surface publicly last night. He reportedly plans to attend tonight's game . . . Kevin Youkilis extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a fifth-inning double . . . Mike Timlin's sister, Tracy Schach, stopped here while on her 2,000-mile charity walk from Austin, Texas, to Boston. The Timlins lost their mother, Sharon, to ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and "Tracy's Austin to Boston ALS Awareness Walk" is benefiting The Angel Fund.

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