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Red Sox notebook

Ortiz may not face glove test in Philly

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 10, 2009
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It might not be a given that David Ortiz will break out his first baseman's glove over the weekend. When the Red Sox travel to Philadelphia for an interleague series, Ortiz could get a game at first, if the Sox choose to give Mike Lowell a rest and move Kevin Youkilis to third. But it's not assured.

And it certainly wouldn't be as a way to take Ortiz's mind off hitting, as has been suggested as a remedy for a slump that might just be lifting. With Ortiz's third homer of the season coming in the second inning last night, he now has a seven-game hitting streak, and two homers in his last three games.

"We're trying to win games," manager Terry Francona said. "We want to put our best hitters, our best defense [on the field]. What do you do with Youk? We've got a guy that's won the Gold Glove that I would have a hard time saying, 'Well, we're not going to play our Gold Glove first baseman 'cause I wanted to take David's mind off of his struggles.' That doesn't make a lot of sense to me."

Ortiz said only, "I'm not talking anymore. Not for a while."

That might change, with Ortiz's bat getting a bit hotter, but his .198 average doesn't exactly call out for a need to sit either Lowell, who's hovering around .300, or Youkilis, who's batting above that.

Though Francona emphasized that he didn't know the pitching matchups for the weekend, and didn't know what he would do about Ortiz, he did say, "To get his mind off [hitting] wouldn't be the reason. Whether we're trying to rest somebody, day game after night game, who's pitching, we'll have a chance to look at all that."

"It's hard to make out a lineup about five days ahead of time."

Lowrie gets closer
Jed Lowrie could be only a week away from a rehab start in the minors. The Sox, while checking on shortstop options around baseball, appear to be waiting for Lowrie to return as a way to fix their hole at the position.

"I bet you that's a pretty good timetable," Francona said. "We need to certainly look at him the next three days, let him have the next three days before we contemplate anything. See where his strength is.

"The one thing we don't want to do is send him out to play while he still has some rehabbing to do. I don't know if that's fair to him. But he's doing terrific."

Francona said there would be an update on Lowrie by the end of this series. Lowrie began taking batting practice Friday.

"I went down there and I hit off [Tim Bogar] in the cage," said Lowrie. "I took some good swings. I made solid contact. It felt strong. It really didn't fatigue until the last couple swings, which is good.

"I guess I reference it back to last year a lot. I think I'm referencing more to when it was the peak of the injury. This game, it's so mental.

"I think last year I was convincing myself that I wasn't injured. I played hurt, but I was convincing myself that I wasn't injured. I was concentrating more on how my wrist felt. Now I think I'm a little frustrated, because I taught myself to do that."

Hard math
For those watching the radar gun readings in center field as Daniel Bard pitched to Robinson Cano in the ninth inning, there was a three-digit reward. On the third pitch, Bard hit 100 miles per hour.

"I peeked up at it [the readings] a couple times," Bard said. "I use it kind of just to gauge where I am that day . . . . I reared back on that one. Pretty much all I've got. So I kind of wanted to see where I was at with that pitch."

More important was the way he pitched to the meat of the Yankee order. Bard got Mark Teixeira on a fly to left, Alex Rodriguez on a ground ball to second base, and Cano on a swinging strikeout.

Bard started Cano out with three fastballs. Then he got him flailing at a slider to end the game, a mark of how Bard's slider has improved with the grip change he instituted during the last road trip.

"I was finally able to bury one, which I was happy about," Bard said. "I've thrown some good ones, especially since I switched to that new grip. That was the first one that I really buried, especially in an 0-2 count."

Bard lowered his ERA to 0.82. "It's a good situation to get him in, let him get his feet wet," said Francona. "He threw the ball well. You can't always pick the situations, but tonight we could and I think it was good for him. He's done everything we've asked."

Ellsbury is held out
Jacoby Ellsbury was out of the lineup after injuring his right shoulder in Sunday's game against the Rangers. He was replaced in center field by Mark Kotsay, and Francona said he didn't know how long Ellsbury would be out. "He's a little sore," Francona said. "He got examined yesterday, and I think everybody concluded it was just a bruise, which is good. When I talked to him last night, I think he really thought, 'I'll go ahead and play tomorrow.' I said, 'Eh, let's give it a day.' Then he showed up today, he took some dry swings. I think he's kind of sore." Francona labeled Ellsbury day-to-day . . . J.D. Drew was back after two games out of the lineup. With a two-run double in the second inning, he has reached base in all six games in which he's batted second . . . Teixeira passed Youkilis by 1,209 votes in the latest American League All-Star voting totals. Jason Bay continues to lead all outfielders.

Drilling machine
With Bay getting hit by a Jose Veras pitch in the sixth inning, a Red Sox batter has been plunked in all six games against the Yankees this season. Since 1954, the rivals have only had one longer streak, when the Sox hit a Yankee in seven straight games from July 24 to September 25, 2004. Eleven batters have been hit in the series this year, nine Sox and two Yankees . . . The Sox passed 1 million in attendance, in their 27th home game . . . Lowell was caught stealing on a hit-and-run play in the third inning. Francona blamed himself for calling the play. "That was me getting in the way," Francona said. "That was a bad move on my part. Trying to overdo it." . . . The Yankees were shut out for the first time since August 11, 2008.

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com.

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