Red Sox Notebook

No shortage of news at the shortstop position

By Amalie Benjamin and Adam Kilgore
Globe Staff / September 22, 2009

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - At the position that has been hardest to figure all season - from the Jed Lowrie vs. Julio Lugo spring training battle to the Nick Green explosion to the Alex Gonzalez acquisition - the Red Sox shortstop picture got slightly murkier yesterday. Though Gonzalez has had a stranglehold on the position since coming to the Sox in August, Green has continued to serve in the main backup role, even with Lowrie finally rejoining the team after the Triple A season was over.

Yet Green headed back to Boston Sunday after the Baltimore series to have his “dead leg’’ checked out, so things have been scrambled again.

And that doesn’t necessarily put Lowrie back into the No. 2 shortstop position, either. To fill the void, the Sox yesterday placed Junichi Tazawa on the 60-day disabled list and brought back infielder Chris Woodward, who had been designated for assignment Sept. 15.

“The stuff we talked about last week with [Green’s] dead leg, it was actually responding very well,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “He went over to swing in the cage, took a swing, and it kind of gave out on him. This was Sunday. We got together, sent him back to Boston. I think the doctors think it might be disk-related. So now he’ll stay in Boston the next couple days, he’ll work out with [rehabilitation coordinator] Scott Waugh, and we’ll try to get a little better handle on where to go with him.’’

Green was examined yesterday by Dr. Thomas Gill.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think anybody thought it was back-related ’til this morning,’’ Francona said. “He didn’t. All the symptoms were that he had hit too much in the cage. We set up this machine we’ve got working back downstairs so you can hit by yourself. He hit for so long I think he felt like he fatigued it, and that’s kind of what we were going on.’’

Tazawa did his part
Back in the spring, when the unassuming Tazawa was still a curiosity, Francona maintained a vigilant watch on the 22-year-old from Japan. Francona worried about him. He wondered how Tazawa would handle his world - a superior level of baseball and a different culture amid the stir he sparked.

From the start, Tazawa amazed the Red Sox manager. The pitcher went about his business with nonchalance, like he had done it before. He asked some questions, but mostly he just blended in.

“He never seemed to waver,’’ Francona said.

And Tazawa never would in his first year in America, from his initial anxious days in Fort Myers, Fla., to his surreal major league debut in Yankee Stadium to yesterday, when the Sox placed him on the DL because of a mild left groin strain, ending his remarkable first season in the United States with the Sox.

Tazawa tweaked his left groin Sept. 4 while covering first base against the White Sox. He has not pitched since, and “he’s in that time of year where, with everything he’s gone through, we really wanted to keep an eye on him,’’ Francona said. “This is the right thing to do for him. He’s had a lot thrown at him this year.’’

Tazawa, who debuted in relief Aug. 7 in Yankee Stadium and allowed a game-winning homer to Alex Rodriguez in the 15th inning, made four starts for the Sox, including six innings of shutout ball against the Yankees, and gave up 14 earned runs in 20 innings.

Forecast: Keep playing
By the fifth inning last night, more than a few members of the Sox looked around to see when the umpires might put the game on hold. It was pouring, the drops getting caught in the wind, causing havoc with a few fly balls, and getting in the faces of the players. On a night that Francona referred to as having “miserable conditions,’’ that call from the umpires never came. The Sox and Royals played all nine innings, despite the weather issues.

“At one point, when we were bringing in [Billy] Wagner, we said, ‘What do you do think here?’ because Victor [Martinez] had slipped coming out of the box,’’ Francona said of a conversation with umpire Tim McClelland. “He was looking up and everything . . . It’s one of those nights. They kept putting the stuff on the field, you keep playing. I don’t think that’s why we lost.’’

Jason Bay said, “It almost an atmosphere that you were trying to hurry up to get five in because it was impending doom coming.’’ Though Bay also added, “I grew up in Canada. I’ve played in worse.’’

Important date
While Woodward was more than happy to be back in the majors after having been designated for assignment, he also has an important date coming up. His wife, Erin, is due with the couple’s third child on Oct. 5, the day after the regular season ends.

Woodward spent the last week in Tampa with his family, and was shocked when he got the call. He wasn’t aware that Green had been hurt, even though he watched the comeback win in which Green’s injury first became evident.

Manny being Manny
Francona on Manny Delcarmen, whose ERA is 7.13 over his last 13 games since July 28 and who struggled again last night: “He’s got to get his rear end under him. Just when he gets that balance point, he’s got to go this way instead of running away from his arm. It’s a lot easier said than done. It’s been that way for a while. It’s something that he’s aware of, John [Farrell’s] been aware of.’’ . . . Bay hit his 36th homer of the season, a career high . . . Bay is hitting .379 over his eight-game hitting streak . . . Dustin Pedroia has a 13-game hitting streak, which included two singles in the third inning.

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