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Francona still awaiting contract extension

Terry Francona was not oblivious to the news that Ozzie Guillen, who guided the White Sox to the World Series title in 2005, a year after Francona did the same with the Red Sox, had been given a contract extension through 2012.

According to one major league source, on Tuesday Guillen received in the neighborhood of $12 million for the next five seasons, even though the White Sox have been major disappointments this season.

Francona also was aware that Joe Maddon, who was in the opposing dugout last night, recently had the two-year option on his deal picked up by the Devil Rays, taking him through the 2009 season.

Francona is going into the final year of the two-year contract extension he signed in March 2006, one reportedly worth $1.65 million this season and $1.75 million in 2008. (He also received a $650,000 signing bonus that made the total value of the deal $4 million.) Customarily, teams satisfied with their managers don't let them enter the last year of their contracts, essentially placing them in lame-duck status. In 2006, the Sox acted even though they held an option year on Francona for 2007, in part because Francona was paid in the lowest quadrant of big league managers.

Yesterday, Francona spoke carefully when asked whether his contractual future had been discussed. "I think my answer is, I refer you to [general manager] Theo [ Epstein] in this," Francona said.

Epstein last night did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Back in the swing?

Francona was still hedging on when Manny Ramírez would be back in the lineup, although anyone watching Ramírez take batting practice yesterday afternoon probably didn't need further persuading that he will face the Yankees tomorrow night.

Ramírez, who appeared to be in high spirits, exchanging greetings with numerous Devil Rays while they were stretching, showed no ill effects from the strained oblique muscle that has sidelined him since Aug. 28.

Ramírez took three rounds of nine swings apiece, and by the third round was taking full cuts, sending two balls into the seats. He took another round of four swings, then finished with three, and on the last hit a ball off the back wall in center field, to the right of the flagpole. Ramírez had taken what Francona called "dry swings" Tuesday, followed by a little soft toss. "He'll stay in a controlled environment," Francona said, "until he's pain-free at the point of tenderness."

Hard to imagine a player could swing like Ramírez did yesterday while still feeling sore, but David Ortiz cautioned that he is.

"He's still hurting a little bit," Ortiz said. "It seems like after he warms up, he starts feeling better.

"We're playing good, but that doesn't mean we don't need Manny."

Tough to stomach
A day after enjoying his sixth four-hit game of the season - no player in the majors has had more - Mike Lowell was not in the starting lineup. An ill-conceived day off? No, an ill player needing a day off. "Intestinal turmoil" was how Francona described Lowell's condition. "He wants to get in," Francona said, "but that to me makes no sense. Let the trainers work on him; maybe he'll get it out of his system by Friday." Kevin Youkilis moved across the diamond to third base and batted in the cleanup spot Lowell had filled since Ramírez got hurt; Eric Hinske played first base and batted ninth . . . Jacoby Ellsbury, who had hit in all 11 games since his Sept. 1 recall, also was missing from the lineup. Ellsbury's right wrist was sore, Francona said, after banging against the wall making a catch two nights earlier, and because he has had wrist issues in the past, he was kept out of the lineup for precautionary reasons. Brandon Moss played left field and doubled in his first at-bat . . . Members of the Japanese media, in a gesture largely unknown to their Western counterparts, presented a birthday cake to Daisuke Matsuzaka, who turns 27 today. They did so even though Matsuzaka has curtailed his accessibility in recent weeks, as has Hideki Okajima.

How he drew it up
Could J.D. Drew be emerging from his funk? Tuesday night, he hit his first home run at Fenway Park since he was one of four Sox to take Yankees rookie Chase Wright deep April 22. He singled and doubled in his first two trips last night after getting three hits and scoring four times Tuesday night and now has hit safely in his last five games, a modest number, to be sure, but a start. He also made a hustling decision on the basepaths last night, electing to stretch his bad-hop grounder over the head of first baseman Carlos Peña into a double in the third . . . With his 30th and 31st home runs last night, Ortiz now has five straight seasons of at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. Less than a month ago, it appeared Ortiz might become just the fourth player ever to finish with fewer than 30 home runs a year after hitting 50, joining Hack Wilson, Brady Anderson, and Luis Gonzalez. But beginning with a home run in the first game of a day-night doubleheader against the Angels Aug. 17, followed the next day by a grand slam, Ortiz has hit 12 home runs in 94 at-bats, a ratio of 1 every 7.8 at-bats. In short, he has become Ortiz again, even though he recently resumed taking anti-inflammatory medication for his right knee that upsets his stomach . . . Coco Crisp's stolen base in the sixth inning was his 25th of the season. Combined with Julio Lugo (29), it's the first time the Sox have had two players with at least 25 stolen bases in a season since 1914, when Tris Speaker had 42 and Hal Janvrin 29 . . . Last night was the 15th game Ramírez has missed with his oblique injury. The Sox are 9-6 in his absence, averaging 5.7 runs a game.

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