|Mike Lowell gets a hug from teammate Julio Lugo after scoring during the Red Sox' five-run seventh inning. (MATTHEW J. LEE/GLOBE STAFF)|
Hamstring keeps Drew out
Injury had been a lingering issue
J.D. Drew did not play yesterday against the Yankees because of what manager Terry Francona described as hamstring "tendinitis," though Francona said there was a chance the right fielder would play tonight.
Francona said the injury had been bothering Drew for a couple of days; Drew said it's been bothering him for "a week and a half, two weeks" and had gotten worse. Drew said he has not had a similar injury in the past.
"This is completely different. It's where the hamstring actually attaches a little below the knee, right here," he said. "So I've got radiating pain when I sprint or do anything like that.
"It's getting really -- I guess, kind of a tendinitis kind of deal -- but really irritated. I thought it would be something that would just kind of go away. I've never really felt anything like that.
"We've done some treatment, things like that, but I've really got to kind of get it calmed down to try to not jeopardize injuring it real bad."
Drew said he felt it going down the line on his first at-bat Friday.
"As soon as I hit that ground ball and ran to first, I could feel that it was probably as bad as it's been," he said. "Then, as the game went along, it calms down if I just stand around, but if I have to go full-speed sprint, I kind of feel it start grabbing again.
"I just mentioned it to [trainer] Paul [Lessard] on the bench, and Tito didn't want to take any chances with it. Today's a day of just trying to get everything really, some ice, some heat, try to flush it out and see what happens with it."
Drew is batting just .222 with two home runs and 17 RBIs. After a fast start, he is batting just .155 (17 for 110) in his last 32 games to drop from .375. He has failed to get the ball out of the infield in his last 11 at-bats. He said the hamstring has not affected him at the plate.
"I don't notice that it has," he said. "It's just coming out of the box and running sprints."
At the end of the Sox' 11-6 victory over the Yankees yesterday, Okajima's translator, Jeff Yamaguchi, went in search of the game ball. First, he said, he went to closer Jonathan Papelbon, who finished the game. No one, it seemed, had remembered to keep it.
Yamaguchi said he then went to one of the clubhouse attendants and asked to see the bag with the game balls. "I took the one at the top," Yamaguchi said. "That had to be it -- didn't it?"
Either way, he said, he figured that was the best he could do. He wrapped it in paper and stuck it in Okajima's locker. Someone also gave Okajima the lineup card.
Okajima entered with the Sox down, 6-5, in the seventh, and retired Jorge Posada on a fly ball to end the inning. It was the first time in 19 appearances that he'd come into a game with Boston trailing. The Sox scored five times in the bottom of the inning. Then, after Okajima went three-up, three-down in the eighth, Mike Lowell doubled home another run.
And what did Okajima say when Yamaguchi presented him with the ball? "Nothing," he said. "He's always the same."
On his last plate appearance, he laid off a 3-and-1 pitch from Yankees reliever Luis Vizcaino.
"I don't swing at balls," Youkilis said. "I was looking fastball. He threw me a slider. I don't chase."
The crowd of 36,294, which needed no cue, rose and gave Youkilis an ovation, aware that his streak was over.
"It was great," he said. "It shows how much they're into games, and understand the game. They've been very supportive of me the whole year."
Francona also paid tribute to the Sox first baseman. "He's playing the game correctly, and he doesn't need to leave the strike zone," said Francona. "Winning the game and playing the game right is ultimately more important than hitting streaks."
But in his last 30 games, including Friday night, Lugo has gone 0 for 5 seven times, three times in the last seven games. His on-base average in that span is a ghastly .245; he has a .204 batting average in that time, and has drawn just eight walks in 148 plate appearances.
He began yesterday with 18 walks in 228 plate appearances, an average of one per 12.7, and his on-base average of .284 was by far the worst in the AL among leadoff men with at least 125 plate appearances.
Coco Crisp, meanwhile, dropped to the No. 9 hole. Crisp had just one hit in his last 16 at-bats, all on the homestand, and his overall on-base percentage was .291. Crisp's OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) was .609, which ranked 30th among 31 center fielders who have at least 167 plate appearances.
Crisp's 11 stolen bases and a series of outstanding catches have helped deflect criticism of his production, but with Drew also struggling in right, if the Sox' offense stagnates, general manager Theo Epstein may have to contemplate other options.
Down on the farm, David Murphy is batting .301 in Pawtucket, while top prospect Jacoby Ellsbury batted .287 with 11 stolen bases in his first 23 games in Triple A.