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Red Sox notebook

Weekend respite a break for Lowell

By Adam Kilgore
Globe Staff / June 24, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Mike Lowell often talked his way into the lineup during his first three seasons with the Red Sox. On days when manager Terry Francona thought his third baseman might need a day off, Lowell persuaded him otherwise and gritted through a game. This year, after major offseason hip surgery, Lowell has taken a different tack.

“Just because I can grind out a day doesn’t mean, if he wants to give me the day off, that I should talk him out of it,’’ Lowell said.

Last night, Lowell returned from two games and three days of rest, his longest break this year. Lowell had played in 65 of the first 67 games before receiving Saturday and Sunday off. But by Friday, his hip had grown stiff and sore, and when Francona offered him an extended break, Lowell agreed.

“I hope it helped a lot,’’ Francona said. “I think he was pretty sore. That’s my fault, because he’s willing to go out there and doesn’t complain. I probably should have made him sit a few times and I didn’t and I need to do better in that area.’’

The wear had seemingly taken a toll on Lowell at the plate. After the first week of June, Lowell was batting .302. Over the past two weeks, he was 8 for 38 (.211) with two extra-base hits. Settling into his position every pitch gradually wore him down. The pain was not constant, but some days his hip would feel “locked up,’’ Lowell said.

The days off helped.

“I feel rested,’’ Lowell said before going 1 for 5 in Boston’s 11-3 rout. “It’s better, but I kind of want to find out if it’s something about the preparation or the routine. I don’t like to feel tight going into a game.’’

No dice for Matsuzaka
Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was placed on the disabled list Monday, will remain in Boston during the team’s nine-day road trip. Matsuzaka will work out but will not throw. When the Red Sox return from Baltimore, Francona, trainer Mike Reinold, team doctors, pitching coach John Farrell, and Matsuzaka will map out a schedule. “We’ll have an update after that,’’ Francona said . . . The Red Sox climbed back above .500 on the road (18-17). The Sox have won seven of their last eight road games . . . Shortstop Nick Green ended the third inning with a memorable double play. Green fielded the ball and tagged Cristian Guzman in one motion, tumbling over the sliding National. Green somersaulted onto his feet, using the momentum to whip his arm forward and fire a strike to Kevin Youkilis at first base. Dustin Pedroia and Youkilis both pointed at Green as they streamed off the field, affirmation of a remarkably athletic play.

A short stop for Lowrie?
Jed Lowrie went 1 for 1 and was hit by a pitch last night in his second rehab game in Pawtucket. He’ll take today off. Lowrie became “a little fatigued’’ during his first game Monday night, according to Francona . . . In the latest All-Star voting results released yesterday, Youkilis had fallen behind Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, the latest flip-flop between the players. Youkilis trailed, 1,525,660 to 1,561,292, a margin of 35,632 votes. Jason Bay continues to lead AL outfielders with 2,077,504 votes . . . Julio Lugo continues to be left out of the shortstop equation. “He’s been going out with [coach Tim Bogar] like all the infielders do,’’ Francona said. “He’s been hitting in the cage. I’ll go down some nights between innings and he’s in there hitting. He’s not pouting. He’s doing his best to stay ready. It shows, because when he gets into the game, he gets hits.’’ . . . Senator John Kerry was in attendance.

Varitek tweaks shoulder
NESN cameras showed trainers working on catcher Jason Varitek's shoulder between innings. After the game, Varitek had an extended conversation with trainers Mike Reinold and Paul Lessard, then went with Lessard into the trainer's room. Once he emerged, Varitek declined to comment through a team spokesperson. Dusty Brown replaced Varitek in the ninth inning, giving Brown, 27, his major league debut. ... Brad Penny has walked three batters per nine innings this season, slightly worse than league average, but he has kept any wildness sporadic. Before last night, Penny had not walked consecutive batters since an April 17 start against the Baltimore Orioles, his second outing of the season. Penny earned a no-decision last night, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. "The way I pitched tonight would have been disappointing had we lost," Penny said. The walks stood out most. With one out in the fourth and Ryan Zimmerman on first, Penny's control evaporated. He walked Josh Willingham and Josh Bard, to load the bases, then unleashed a wild pitch, bringing home a run. For good measure, he also walked Willie Harris, juicing the bases again. "My hand was wet," Penny said. "I was sweating so much, when I tried to dry my hand off, my pants were wet. I didn't have the grip."

Adam Kilgore can be reached at akilgore@globe.com

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