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Aceves continues to impress

Alfredo Aceves held the Tigers to one run over six innings, five days after limiting the Cubs to one run in a five-inning start. Alfredo Aceves held the Tigers to one run over six innings, five days after limiting the Cubs to one run in a five-inning start. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 27, 2011

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DETROIT — Alfredo Aceves wears No. 91, the highest number in Red Sox history, as a tribute to former NBA star Dennis Rodman.

As a child growing up in Mexico, Aceves enjoyed basketball more than baseball. He also enjoyed Rodman’s antics and how they gave him an edge, even if just a little, in the game.

In the city where Rodman became famous as a member of the Pistons, Aceves had one of the most satisfying games of his career yesterday. The righthander allowed one run over six innings as the Red Sox beat the Tigers, 14-1.

For the Red Sox, Aceves is a bit of an overnight sensation. He was signed just before the start of spring training to a modest $650,000 contract and started the season in the minors. Now he is in the rotation, getting a chance because Daisuke Matsuzaka tore a ligament in his elbow.

He has allowed two runs over 11 innings in two starts and will get the ball again Tuesday against the White Sox.

A 28-year-old veteran of the Mexican League who spent three years with the Yankees, Aceves believes he has earned his spot, and the two strong starts are not a surprise.

“It’s a lot of work,’’ he said. “It’s not only two starts. I’ve been working in baseball for 11 years. You can see it like that; I don’t see it like that.’’

Like his hero Rodman, Aceves is a little quirky. He occasionally does yoga in the clubhouse, runs long distances by himself in the outfield early in the afternoon, and hasn’t been averse to arguing pitch selection with team captain and resident sage Jason Varitek.

But the two worked in harmony yesterday. Varitek smiled when asked who gave ground.

“Both,’’ he said. “It was a combo. He’s been successful for a reason — because of his stuff. The guy can pitch.’’

Aceves is 16-1 with a 3.03 ERA in parts of four seasons in the majors. The Sox signed him hoping he would be ready when a rotation spot came open, as invariably happens.

“You never know what’s going to happen,’’ said manager Terry Francona. “It has kind of come to fruition. He can pitch, and fortunately he’s stretched out enough that he can stay out there and give us two in a row now. That’s important.’’

Aceves was asked whether the two starts have made him happy.

“I’m happy every day,’’ he said. “If I’m alive, I’m happy.’’

Reddick adjusts The Sox preach the merits of on-base percentage to their prospects, drilling into them the need to be patient at the plate, work counts, and swing only at good pitches.

Josh Reddick has been a grudging convert. The 24-year-old outfielder from Georgia had success in high school and junior college with an aggressive approach, and modifying that has been difficult. But Reddick also has the kind of physical tools that can’t be ignored.

Reddick, summoned from Pawtucket yesterday, started in right field and had three hits and three RBIs. He was hitting .248 with 12 home runs at Pawtucket, but he did have a .344 on-base percentage.

Reddick has drawn 26 walks in 195 plate appearances this season, one more than he had in 481 plate appearances for Pawtucket last season.

“Hopefully they’ve taken notice of that,’’ Reddick said.

They have.

“Sounds like he’s seeing a lot more pitches per at-bat, which is exciting,’’ said Francona. “The reports are actually pretty good. Sounds like he’s starting to understand his swing a little bit.’’

For Reddick, it has always been about pitch selection.

“It’s just been going up there and getting good pitches and not swinging at the bad ones anymore,’’ he said. “I’m trying to stay back and stay on top of the ball. It’s working out for me right now.’’

Reddick had been a little stubborn in the past when it came to changing his style. But seeing other players move past him last year, particularly Ryan Kalish and Daniel Nava, changed that.

“It kind of gave me a wake-up call, to figure out I need to step it up about five more notches and get it going,’’ he said. “The biggest part is realizing that they’re going to find somebody to do it if I can’t do it.

“Now that I know that for sure, I’m trying to keep my game and adjust as much as possible.’’

McDonald on DL The Sox called up Reddick after placing Darnell McDonald on the disabled list with what they said was a strained left quadriceps. According to Francona, McDonald suffered the injury pinch running Tuesday and aggravated it when he played left field for three innings Wednesday.

With J.D. Drew having missed the last two games with a sore right hamstring, the Sox didn’t want to get caught short in the outfield.

McDonald was a surprise contributor last season, hitting .270 with nine home runs. But he is 3 for 21 this season with eight strikeouts and has played sporadically.

His spot on the roster may be in danger.

“We’ll get back to where he’s feeling real good and get him down [in the minors] playing a few games and then make some decisions,’’ Francona said.

Asked about his injury, McDonald declined comment other than to say that he felt fine.

Jenks to Pawtucket Righthanded reliever Bobby Jenks, on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, is scheduled to pitch an inning for Pawtucket at McCoy Stadium tonight against Indianapolis. He will stay with the PawSox and pitch again Sunday. John Lackey, out with an elbow strain, is set for a simulated game today, then will start for Pawtucket Tuesday against Indianapolis. The Sox have tentative plans for him to rejoin the rotation June 5 against Oakland . . . Marco Scutaro has started to take some swings in the batting cage. But the Sox want to be cautious, given that strained oblique muscles tend to heal slowly.

Hot Papi David Ortiz has hit safely in eight straight games, going 16 for 35 (.457), and is up to .309 . . . Nava, who was designated for assignment Friday, cleared waivers and was sent outright to Pawtucket . . . The Sox released Ryan Harvey out of extended spring training. The sixth overall pick of the 2003 draft, Harvey spent eight seasons in the minors as an outfielder and is trying to convert to pitching . . . Francona and his wife, Jacque, will host a gala evening at Fenway Park June 15 to launch the Brookline Community Mental Health Center Kids’ Fund. The event will run from 6:30-9 p.m. at the EMC Club and include live and silent auctions, including the opportunity to have lunch with the manager or use his seats for a game. Tickets are on sale at believeinbrooklinekids.org.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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