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Rizzo’s prospects look bright

Gonzalez praises his replacement

San Diego’s Anthony Rizzo, who was traded by the Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, triples in his major league debut. San Diego’s Anthony Rizzo, who was traded by the Sox in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, triples in his major league debut. (Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 11, 2011

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TORONTO — Anthony Rizzo had one of the best players in the game rooting for him from afar Thursday night when he made his major league debut with the Padres.

Rizzo was one of the three blue-chip prospects the Red Sox traded to the Padres in December to obtain Adrian Gonzalez. The two players met for the first time several weeks later when they crossed paths at Petco Park, and Gonzalez came away impressed.

Gonzalez was there doing rehabilitation work after undergoing shoulder surgery, while Rizzo was invited to a minicamp for San Diego prospects.

“He heard I was there and he asked the trainers to make sure we had a chance to meet,’’ Gonzalez said. “He came up and said how much he enjoyed watching me play and asked me for some advice. I told him everything that I could. It was a great conversation.’’

Rizzo was 1 for 2 with a triple and two walks and played first base in his first game, helping the host Padres to a 7-3 victory against the Nationals.

“I heard that triple was a home run anywhere other than Petco Park,’’ Gonzalez said. “Good for him. I really hope he does well. He’s a great kid.’’

Rizzo hit .365 with a 1.159 OPS for Triple A Tucson, banging on the door so loudly that the Padres had no choice but to call him up.

“I hope the kid has a great season, I really do,’’ Gonzalez said. “The Red Sox guys told me how much they liked him personally and I could see why. Everything I have heard is positive.’’

Rizzo spent four seasons in the Sox organization, overcoming cancer in 2008 to become a top prospect.

“He’s a nice kid,’’ said Sox manager Terry Francona. “That’s great. It’s kind of a win-win for them and for us.’’

The Sox also traded righthander Casey Kelly and outfielder Rey Fuentes to the Padres. Kelly is 4-2 with a 4.07 earned run average for Double A San Antonio. Fuentes is hitting .302 and has 25 stolen bases for Single A Lake Elsinore.

The Sox certainly have no complaints about Gonzalez, who is hitting .338 with 12 home runs and 57 RBIs. He drove in two runs in last night’s 5-1 victory against Toronto.

Salty shaken Jarrod Saltalamacchia looked worn out before the game, but was behind the plate to catch Clay Buchholz last night.

Saltalamacchia spent Wednesday night in a New York hospital with a severe illness that required intravenous treatments and painkillers. After ruling out appendicitis, doctors speculated that he had food poisoning or some sort of stomach infection.

Saltalamacchia said it was “by far the worse’’ he had ever been sick in his life. But he was cleared after missing two games. He went 1 for 4 and scored a run.

“He might not be his most energetic self. But sometimes you have to play,’’ Francona said before the game.

Saltalamacchia usually handles the onerous task of catching Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball. That fell to Jason Varitek Wednesday and he acquitted himself well.

“I told him, ‘I owe you a steak dinner,’ ’’ Saltalamacchia said.

When Varitek caught Wakefield, they became the oldest battery to start a game in team history at a combined 84 years, 3 days old. The old record for old guys was Varitek and John Smoltz in 2009, a combined 79 years, 188 days.

Ortiz rips media David Ortiz had gone 696 plate appearances and 160 games without being hit by a pitch against the Yankees, a streak that was snapped when CC Sabathia drilled him in the hip with a fastball Thursday.

The idea that Ortiz was too comfortable at the plate against the Yankees was a theme in some media coverage. Afterward, Ortiz blamed the attention for his getting hit.

“I just want to thank you guys. Not all of you, but some of you, for the stat today about me not being hit,’’ he said. “I finally got hit. I hope you [expletive] are happy.’’

Earlier in the game, Sox starter Josh Beckett hit Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira with fastballs.

“I’m still trying to figure out if David got hit for something I did or if it was something ESPN stirred up,’’ Beckett said.

After being hit, Ortiz had a single and a two-run double to help the Sox to an 8-3 victory.

A day later, Francona said he didn’t appreciate some media members acting as instigators.

“I didn’t think that was real cool,’’ the manager said. “You ever pick up one of those balls? They’re hard and they hurt.’’

Road to recovery Lefthanded reliever Rich Hill sent a text message to Francona after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery Thursday. “He’s doing very well,’’ said Francona. “I have no doubt that he’ll fly through [the rehab]. He has a really good work ethic. I bet you he’ll come back and be really good.’’ Daisuke Matsuzaka also had Tommy John surgery, his coming yesterday. . . . The Sox will not use their day off Monday to change their rotation.

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

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