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Confusion over, Sox’ 3B likely available to AL

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / July 13, 2010

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — When American League manager Joe Girardi was asked about Adrian Beltre’s availability for the All-Star Game at a news conference yesterday, he didn’t hesitate. “He was replaced by Michael Young,’’ Girardi said. That was probably news to the Rangers third baseman, who was not in Anaheim, Calif., for the festivities, nor had he been told he was joining the team.

It was certainly news to Beltre. That’s because the Red Sox third baseman was still a member of the AL’s active roster. Beltre, who sustained a hamstring injury Sunday in Toronto, was shocked to learn from a reporter that Girardi had made the announcement, correctly believing he was still in the game.

“Already?’’ he said. “Who replaced me? And why did they replace me? Nobody told me I was getting replaced. Who makes this decision?’’

Ultimately it was Beltre’s call. And, after working out and taking batting practice in the afternoon at Angel Stadium before last night’s Home Run Derby, Beltre pronounced himself ready to play — though whether he gets an at-bat or an inning in the field is still Girardi’s call. Evan Longoria is the AL starter at third base, with Alex Rodriguez the other reserve at the position.

Still, there was a significant amount of confusion yesterday, all stemming from Girardi’s incorrect assertion in front of dozens of media that Beltre was out.

“I don’t know about the communication,’’ Beltre’s agent, Scott Boras said. “I just know that obviously this is Adrian’s decision. If he wants to, right now he feels he’s going to play. If he gets out there and there’s something that’s complicating this any further, then he would let them know. Obviously I think he’s going to manage this conservatively. But as he feels today, he feels like he can go play.’’

That was backed up by Phyllis Merhige, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president for club relations, who had a conversation with Boras to clear up the situation. Merhige said Young would have been the replacement had Beltre not been able to play.

“I don’t know how it was miscommunicated to Joe,’’ Merhige said. “Adrian had told us [Sunday] that he would see how he felt today and let me know. We’re going to see. He still wants to see how he feels. He can’t, standing here, tell whether he’s good. We’ve expressed to him that we don’t want him to hurt himself any further. He’s welcome to play. It’s up to him, really.’’

When reporters returned to Beltre, he greeted them with a triumphant smile, rather than the resigned expression he had worn when he briefly believed himself out of the game. “I was surprised when you guys said that I wasn’t going to play because I thought I was making the decision,’’ he said.

“I’m happy in the sense that I’m going to be available,’’ added Beltre, who will have an MRI on the hamstring Thursday upon returning to Boston. “I’m more excited to find out how my hamstring is going to be. ’Cause now it’s not a big deal about here, playing here. I want to make sure I’m good to play for the Red Sox in the second half, and I don’t want to risk that.’’

Beltre strained his left hamstring running out a ground ball in the fifth inning against the Blue Jays. He said it’s not the first time he has had hamstring issues, but that this one felt different than the others. As he said, “It felt like it was going to pop, and it just felt like a cramp going through my leg.’’

He played the bottom of the inning, then came out. Dustin Pedroia, who saw Beltre when he came off the field, said it didn’t look good at the time.

“That was tough,’’ said Pedroia, one of three Red Sox All-Stars missing the game because of injury. “I saw Adrian when he walked in. He looked like he was hurting. When he comes out of a game, something’s up. Hopefully he heals fast and is back in there, because we definitely need him.’’

That’s especially true with all of the other injuries on the team, a run the players are beginning to think is contagious.

“I’m starting to believe that,’’ Beltre said. “I think everybody should be walking, seeing where they’re stepping. It’s been something kind of freaky. Hopefully it will stop with this one, and then everybody can start getting healthy because we need to get those guys back in the lineup, and finish what we start.’’

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

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