Young incident may swing votes Pedroia's way
With the season winding down, there appear to be only two candidates for AL Rookie of the Year: Dustin Pedroia and Tampa Bay's Delmon Young. But, without picking up a bat or running down a ball ticketed for center field, Pedroia's chances might have been boosted this weekend with an incident that could have a profound impact on the race.
Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon removed Young from yesterday's game for not running out a ground ball in the sixth inning. And apparently it wasn't Young's first time doing it.
"That was a blatant disrespect for the game and what we're about," Maddon told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. "I've had several conversations regarding that, and that was it. I didn't want to do it, I don't like doing that, but it's to the point where you're made to do it. And the word for me is disappointing."
The situation apparently has happened at least three times. And the punishment prompted Young to say, in a profanity-laced vow, he would refuse to show up for the game today in Toronto, though Maddon said he hadn't decided whether the right fielder would play in the season finale. Young threw his bat at an umpire in a minor league game April 26, 2006, at Pawtucket, R.I., earning him a 50-game suspension.
That means Young, younger brother of the Nationals' Dmitri Young, likely will finish his rookie campaign with a .289 batting average, 13 home runs, 93 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases.
Pedroia, meanwhile, is hitting .317 with eight home runs, 50 RBIs, and a stellar defensive record. He has helped himself lately with a .324 average and nine doubles in his last 24 games. He is 10th in the league in average, which leads all rookies. He also leads AL rookies in runs (86) and is tied in doubles (38). He ranks second in four other categories (on-base percentage, hits, multihit games, and total bases).
Voting for Rookie of the Year is done by two members of the Baseball Writers Association of America from each city, and ballots must be sent in by the final day of the regular season.
A Schilling shift
With the postseason approaching, manager Terry Francona said Curt Schilling's scheduled start today would change.
Julian Tavarez will start instead in the last game of the regular season against the Twins at Fenway Park. Tavarez has pitched sparingly of late, after being in the rotation for most of the early season. He last started Aug. 31 against Baltimore, a game in which he went 3 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits.
In September, Tavarez pitched four times in relief, covering 5 2/3 innings. He has a 6.35 ERA for the month.
Looking Crisp again
During his champagne soaking Friday night, Coco Crisp looked well on the way to recovery. When he arrived at the park yesterday holding a bag of fast food, his expression had brightened, and his name was written in the leadoff spot in the lineup.
"Feeling a lot better now, today," said Crisp before going 2 for 4 with a double and a stolen base in the Sox' 6-4 win. "I'm still a little off, but I think the worst has gone by. I was real lightheaded and couldn't focus. It was like a weird feeling, more so than sickness. It was a virus of some sort."
Crisp said he began to feel ill when the team was in Tampa last weekend. It combined with his previously injured hip to drag him out of the lineup. He had missed four games before returning last night against the Twins.
"It's almost like an All-Star break of some sort where you get your body kind of relaxed," Crisp said. "It gave that time to kind of cool off and flare down, so that's good. Now I can let my body recoup. The time at the end of the season is actually priceless, precious, to gain your strength back."
DH role for Ramírez
The starting lineup last night got a reworking. David Ortiz ceded his designated hitter spot to Manny Ramírez. Both members of the middle infield, Julio Lugo and Pedroia, took seats on the bench, which gave Royce Clayton a chance at shortstop. "David really needs a day," Francona said. "He's swinging the bat great, but he needs it." . . . With two more RBIs last night, Mike Lowell reached 120 on the season. It's the most by a Red Sox infielder since Nomar Garciaparra in 2002. Lowell also tied Garciaparra for the second-highest RBI total ever for a player with fewer than 25 home runs. (Buck Freeman had 11 homers and 121 RBIs in 1902.) Lowell hit No. 21 last night . . . Kevin Youkilis matched his career high with three hits. It was the sixth time this season he had three hits and the first since May 20 . . . Twins center fielder Torii Hunter spent Friday at Ortiz's house, napping and getting a good look at a slugger of the future (Ortiz's 3-year-old son, D'Angelo). "I'm so scared of this place," Hunter said of Fenway Park. "I love it, though. That's what kills me. I love Boston. I love Boston fans. It kills me about that outfield. The fans are great. Big market. Kevin Garnett is here right now." Hunter hits free agency this offseason.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.