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Red Sox notebook

Hill seeks second opinion on elbow

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 3, 2011

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The news that Daisuke Matsuzaka is electing to have Tommy John elbow surgery is of little consequence to the Red Sox, who have become accustomed to not having the righthander around.

But the likelihood that lefthanded reliever Rich Hill will undergo the same procedure is a serious blow.

No decision has been made, but team sources said yesterday that Hill tore a ligament in his elbow Wednesday and surgery is a distinct possibility. Hill is seeking a second opinion.

Hill, 31, is the only lefthanded reliever in the Sox bullpen and had become a reliable choice for manager Terry Francona. Called up from Triple A Pawtucket May 5, Hill had appeared in nine games and did not allow a run. The Milton native struck out 12 over eight innings with three hits and three walks.

Lefthanded batters were 1 for 14 against Hill and righthanders 2 for 12. Going back to last season, Hill went 15 appearances without giving up a run since joining the team.

He was injured in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s game against the White Sox while throwing a pitch to Adam Dunn. Hill clutched his elbow after releasing a pitch, doubled over in pain, and staggered off the mound.

Hill could try rehabilitation, but the odds of him returning to pitch this season are long. He is expected to be placed on the disabled list before tonight’s game against Oakland. There are three lefthanders available in Pawtucket: Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller, and Hideki Okajima.

Doubront, who appeared in three games earlier this season, is the likely choice. He is also on the 40-man roster.

Miller has a 2.47 ERA in Pawtucket as a starter and has struck out 39 in 47 1/3 innings. He is still working on control issues, however, and the Sox view him as a long-term project. Miller does have the right to opt out of his contract June 15, which could complicate the issue.

Okajima has a 4.32 ERA in seven appearances with the big club this season. The Sox designated him for assignment May 19 and found no takers via trade or waiver claim.

The Sox could open a spot on the 40-man roster by placing Matsuzaka or Hill on the 60-day disabled list. That would enable them to add Miller or Okajima without another roster move.

Athletics next The Sox, who have lost four straight for the first time since their 0-6 start, open a three-game series with Oakland tonight at Fenway Park. The Athletics will start lefthander Josh Outman, who was called up from Triple A Sacramento May 23. He held the Angels and Orioles to three earned runs over 13 innings in his two starts. Carl Crawford (0 for 3), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (0 for 3), and Adrian Gonzalez (0 for 1) are the only Sox to have faced Outman. The Sox will start Clay Buchholz, who was 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in six starts last month . . . Kevin Youkilis is hosting a Night at the Harpoon Brewery Sunday to benefit his charity, Youk’s Kids. The event runs from 6-9 p.m. Call (617) 946-9685 for more information or go to www.youkskids.org.

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

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