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Drew’s injury puts OF in pinch

McDonald fields bench call again

By Nate Taylor
Globe Correspondent / June 19, 2010

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Red Sox outfielders have struggled to stay on the field this season. Now J.D. Drew is among the group.

In the first inning of the Red Sox’ 10-6 win over the Dodgers last night, Drew hit his eighth home run of the season to provide a 3-0 lead. In the third, he denied Manny Ramirez of a hit by making a shoe-top catch to end the inning.

But that’s when Drew’s night ended. Following the catch, Drew took two steps before he limped off the field with a right hamstring strain. He needed to sprint to catch Ramirez’s sinking liner, and once he reached the dugout, manager Terry Francona knew Drew could not return.

“The right hammy is pretty sore,’’ Francona said. “He said initially he felt it pop.’’

Drew is expected to have an MRI today. It’s just another setback for a team that has dealt with injuries all season, especially in the outfield. Jacoby Ellsbury (ribs) and Jeremy Hermida (ribs) are on the disabled list, and Mike Cameron, who recently returned to the lineup, is still limited by a lower abdominal tear.

Drew has suffered hamstring injuries in previous years, but has never been placed on the disabled list because of one. Francona is hoping this won’t be the first time.

“He has pretty good range of motion,’’ Francona said. “Certainly, the hope would be it’ll be a couple days. We don’t know until we have a lot better look or feel tomorrow when the guy shows up [today].’’

Drew was replaced by Darnell McDonald. Whenever Francona has needed McDonald the outfielder has produced, and he did again last night. He singled in his first at-bat and delivered an RBI single during the Sox’ seven-run fifth.

“Any time you’re on the bench, you have to be ready,’’ said McDonald. “I really just came in and tried to be aggressive because you really don’t have a feel for the game.’’

In 50 games this season, McDonald is hitting .284 with 17 RBIs. There have been times when McDonald has struggled to adapt to his changing role, but he said he learned a lot playing in the National League last year, talking to veterans such as Tony Clark about what it takes to be a solid bench player.

“Coming off the bench was beneficial for what I’m doing now,’’ McDonald said. “I try to prepare every day like I’m going to play. Unfortunately, J.D. got hurt and I had to go in.’’

With all the injuries Francona has seen this year, he expects McDonald to keep contributing.

“Mac comes in the game and helps us out,’’ Francona said. “We’re a little bit beat up and I’m not saying that’s fun, but it’s a fun way to play when everybody’s helping, everybody feels like they’re doing something.’’

Nate Taylor can be reached at ntaylor@globe.com.

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