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Francona is uniformly upset

MLB exercises pull over him

NEW YORK - When Terry Francona exploded out of the dugout in the seventh inning for an argument over whether Kevin Youkilis had gone out of the basepath on a J.D. Drew grounder to third, he did more than get ejected for the fifth time this season. He also gave the 55,067 fans at Yankee Stadium (and those watching at home) a good view of his attire, namely his long-sleeve blue pullover.

It is an article that has become a point of contention for Francona and Major League Baseball. So much so that the fashion police invaded the Red Sox dugout in the bottom of the second inning Wednesday night.

With Francona focused on the Yankees' Derek Jeter at second base, an MLB resident security agent entered the dugout to check whether the manager was wearing his uniform top underneath the pullover. The issue had already come up that day when baseball's vice president for discipline, Bob Watson, spoke with Francona about the policy, written into the collective bargaining agreement but also pertaining to managers and coaches.

"Unless that [expletive] RSA can keep Jeter close, he needs to stay out of the dugout," Francona said. "That was about as embarrassed as I've been in a long time for baseball."

The issue was first raised with Francona when the Sox were in Cleveland in July, when he wasn't complying. The manager had started wearing his No. 47 jersey under his pullover, which he demonstrated to Watson before Wednesday's game. Francona said he has not been fined by MLB, but he's worried that he will be, given the major league-wide crackdown regarding the policy, ignored in the past by some managers.

"We just wanted to enforce what is stipulated in the uniform regulations that apply to players, managers, and coaches," MLB spokesman Mike Teevan wrote in an e-mail. "The regulations state that the jersey has to be worn at all times during a game. We try to enforce the rule across the board, so the issue has not been limited to Terry, although we have discussed it with him before.

"The timing was an issue, and it's something we will avoid going forward."

Francona did not seem upset at being asked about his pullover, which he wears so as not to feel constricted by extra clothing because of circulation issues. He was instead "perturbed" by the timing of the dugout questioning.

"I've never seen anything like that before in my life," he said. "Middle of the game you've got the fashion police. This is incredible. He made me show him [the jersey]. I was sort of in a hurry because I thought Jeter was going to steal third. I was trying to do my job.

"I didn't ask to appeal. I think the cursing I did to the guy going up the tunnel was probably appeal enough."

Kielty relieved

While Bobby Kielty's back still isn't quite right, just learning that an MRI and X-rays had come back negative was a balm to the injured outfielder, who added that the pain had been unbearable the last few days. "I've never had a back spasm before and I've always heard about people getting them," he said. "I was like, that doesn't seem like it would be that big of a deal. It seriously felt like something was structurally wrong." Kielty took about 50 swings in the batting cage before yesterday's game and pronounced himself available to come off the bench, though he did not play. He also said he probably could play tonight. With Manny Ramírez out indefinitely because of a strained left oblique, Kielty's righthanded bat in the outfield becomes even more important. "I don't know what their plans are," Kielty said. "I basically come in and I'm ready to go. I'll be ready to play every day. Just I've got a freer mind knowing that nothing's structurally wrong. Like I said, it felt like there was something, a disk or a bone. I haven't been able to play a lot in the last two years, so absolutely, I definitely would like to play as much as possible."

It looks like Tavarez

Julian Tavarez, who didn't pitch yesterday, should be the starter tomorrow against the Orioles at Fenway Park. Tavarez has allowed just two hits in each of his last two outings, both six innings . . . Coco Crisp, who went 0 for 4 yesterday, has hit an offensive snag, going 26 for 122 (.213) in his last 33 games. "He's taken some good, aggressive swings on fastballs and fouled them back," Francona said. "I think he's a little fatigued." . . . Mike Mussina spoke yesterday about being taken out of the Yankees rotation, to be replaced by rookie Ian Kennedy tomorrow against Tampa Bay. "For someone who has been in a rotation for 17 years, it took me a little bit off guard," he said, adding that he has been bothered by a hamstring injury this season. "I needed a couple of days to simmer down. I was mad. I'm still not excited about it. It bothered me quite a bit. I'm just mad at the whole thing." . . . Youkilis and Mike Lowell were flip-flopped in the batting order. Youkilis hit fourth, Lowell fifth, because of their numbers against Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang. Lowell came in 3 for 19 (.158) against Wang; Youkilis was 7 for 18 (.389). Youkilis got on base four times (three walks and an error). Lowell was 1 for 4 . . . Alex Cora played shortstop for another lefthanded bat against Wang . . . Robinson Cano's two-homer game was the third of his career, his second this season . . . Jeter matched his season high with four hits . . . Lowell extended his hitting streak to 12 games with the single that broke up Wang's no-hit bid in the seventh. He is batting .455 (20 for 44) in that span . . . Curt Schilling lost for the first time this season when pitching after a Red Sox loss, according to the Elias Sports Bureau . . . The Yankees observed a moment of silence for the firefighters killed in the West Roxbury blaze Wednesday, Paul J. Cahill and Warren J. Payne, along with two New York firefighters killed Aug. 18 in a fire at the former Deutsche Bank office building next to Ground Zero in Manhattan.

Nick Cafardo of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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