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Red Sox Notebook

Outfield has been getting tougher to cover

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 20, 2010

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With the Red Sox forced to go with a patchwork outfield yesterday — Daniel Nava in left, Darnell McDonald in center, Bill Hall in right — there was good news and bad news as it regards the team’s right fielders.

For Hall, it was a tough day defensively with two errors. For J.D. Drew, there were good results from his MRI yesterday morning.

Drew had managed to stay healthy for much of the season until he came up lame while catching a sinking liner Friday. He limped off the field, ceding his spot to McDonald. But before yesterday’s game, Drew said he was “very hopeful’’ that his right hamstring strain would not land him on the disabled list. And according to the MRI results, it appears that he won’t.

“Everything came back pretty good,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “Best-case scenario would be Tuesday, but it’s not a DL. We were really pleased with the report that came back.’’

Said Drew, “Just one of those plays where it was kind of a perfect-storm scenario. I had to lean in, the leg came forward, and the hamstring grabbed really good. I don’t think I’ve done an extreme amount of damage.

“It’s a little tight today, a little bit more sore than it was when I left the game. It gives me an opportunity, at least a couple of days, to get things under wraps and let it calm down. The reason we took pictures is just to make sure it’s not something I’m dealing with for a week and a half, two weeks, and would really limit Tito and what he can do with bench players.’’

While Francona has been limited in his outfield options for much of the season, the Sox are hoping that Drew’s hamstring issue won’t hinder the manager for long.

“We’ve gotten so used to J.D. being out there every day and it’s very calm out there,’’ Francona said. “It’s a hard place to play. Because he’s so good, rarely are we ever talking about that. Most of the time it’s the visiting team. That’s a real difficult place to play.’’

It was Hall who had the difficult time yesterday. He committed two errors, one on a single by Garret Anderson in the second inning when he couldn’t decide how to approach the ball. Anderson took an extra base on the miscue. The other came on a double by Blake DeWitt in the seventh, which Hall misplayed as it was coming around the wall in the corner.

“Sometimes you’re going to make mistakes,’’ Hall said. “The first one, coming in, thinking about making a diving play, but thought otherwise, and tried to keep the ball in front of me.

“Just a tough day, some tough plays. Ball down the line, went over there and was in good position. Can hit that ball in batting practice and work on it a million times, you’re not going to get the same ball every time. I was in perfect position for it.

“Sometimes that wall is going to bite you. J.D. told me he asks the wall not to hurt him every day, so I don’t feel that bad.’’

Matsuzaka ready
As scheduled, Daisuke Matsuzaka threw a 49-pitch simulated game against the Brockton Rox. The pitcher, who was placed on the disabled list June 12 with a right forearm strain, was examined after the outing and was deemed fine. Matsuzaka will make his scheduled start Thursday in Colorado. His replacement Friday, lefthander Felix Doubront, was returned to Pawtucket yesterday.

“I was able to pitch normally, so I think overall it was pretty good,’’ Matsuzaka said through interpreter Masa Hoshino.

There is some question as to whether the Sox acted rashly in placing Matsuzaka on the DL. The starter seemed fine with the DL stint.

“I guess I’ll treat it as a brief rest that I’ve been granted, and I think all I can do is to be physically ready for my next start,’’ Matsuzaka said. “That’s what I’m focusing on. I think if I had to pitch I could have, but I also think that the decision that came from the coaching staff, or our decision came with my best interests in mind, and for that I am very appreciative to the coaching staff. I think that’s all the more reason that I’d really like to do well in my next outing.’’

Matsuzaka said he has experienced similar tightness in his forearm before, but he pitched through it. “I think I just have to be conscientious about taking good care of myself,’’ he said. “That’s about all I can do.’’

Manuel driven
With Doubront sent down, the Sox selected the contract of righthanded reliever Robert Manuel from Pawtucket. Manuel was 4-1 and 0.98 ERA in Triple A, with 31 strikeouts and eight walks in 36 2/3 innings. The Sox claimed Manuel off waivers from Seattle in November. “His numbers are out of sight,’’ Francona said. “He is locating his fastball to both sides of the plate, keeping it down, and he’s been tremendous, not overpowering. He’s a kid where you have that last meeting in spring training, say, ‘Hey kid, go down and do good and if there’s a need, we’ll call you up.’ Well, there’s a need and he gets called up. It’s happened a lot. But everybody that’s come has helped us. Now it’ll be his turn.’’ . . . Francona gave a nod to the Sox’ development system for Doubront’s performance Friday, in which he allowed five runs (three earned) over five-plus innings. “There’s probably a lot more appropriate people that should have been talking about Felix last night than me,’’ Francona said. “There’s a lot of people who spent a lot of time and effort to ensure that when guys like him get here that they know how to act, they know how to pitch, they know how to play. And our organization’s done a really good job with that. We’re really fortunate.’’

Crash avoidance
Dustin Pedroia, who has dealt with a right knee injury since May 15, had a near miss in the eighth inning on a pop by Manny Ramirez. “I think Scoot [Marco Scutaro] might have stepped on his paw or something,’’ Francona said. Well, not quite. Pedroia said that the infielders bumped knees while both called for the pop at the same time. As it was loud in the ballpark, the message didn’t come across. Pedroia clarified that it was his left knee and not his right. “No big deal. We’re both OK. It was my other one. Lucked out.’’ . . . Pedroia’s walkoff single was the first by a Sox second baseman since Mark Loretta’s ninth-inning double Aug. 2, 2006, against Cleveland . . . The Sox’ four errors were their most since July 30, 2008, against the Angels at Fenway Park . . . Tim Wakefield has not won at home since last July 8 . . . With the homer he gave up to Ramirez, Wakefield has allowed at least one homer to all 11 members of the 500-home run club that have overlapped his major league career — Ramirez, Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, Gary Sheffield, and Eddie Murray . . . It was Pan-Massachusetts Challenge Day at Fenway Park. Thirty-one cancer survivors, who are also PMC cyclists, biked around the warning track before the national anthem. The anthem was sung by five-year PMC cyclist Pauline Wells, and the first pitch was thrown by cancer patient Hannah Lowe.

Peter Abraham of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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