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Red Sox Notebook

Some rest for Pedroia

Aviles gets start at second base

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / August 11, 2011

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MINNEAPOLIS - Dustin Pedroia was out of the Red Sox starting lineup last night for the first time in two months.

“He needed it,’’ manager Terry Francona said before the Sox lost, 5-2, to the Twins with Mike Aviles starting at second base. “I kept telling him the last couple of days that I was going to check with him. He was fighting me on it the last two days.

“Then last night after the game, he said, ‘Yeah I’m tired.’ This will be good for him. He doesn’t have the game hanging over his head and he can relax a little bit.’’

Pedroia certainly earned the break. After missing a game against the Yankees June 9 to get his sore right knee checked out, he has hit .376 with a 1.071 OPS. Pedroia had 30 extra-base hits, 45 runs, and 38 RBIs over 53 games as the Sox went 36-17 and surged into first place in the American League East.

“I feel pretty good, actually,’’ said Pedroia, who earlier in the season was also dealing with pain in his left foot. “But it’s good that he watches out for us.’’

Pedroia pinch hit with a runner on in the eighth inning and grounded out. He finished the game at second base.

Aviles was 2 for 3 with a double and a walk.

With the Sox off today, Francona originally was hoping to give Pedroia an extended break.

Drew getting closer J.D. Drew hit in the cage yesterday, taking 35 swings, and was cleared to take batting practice on the field in Seattle tomorrow. He is likely to repeat that Saturday.

Drew has been out since July 20 because of a sore left shoulder. Typically, hitting on the field is the final step for a player before he is either activated or starts a minor league assignment.

Francona has suggested that Drew will need to play a few games in the minors. Drew said Tuesday he wasn’t sure that was necessary. The situation will be evaluated when the Sox return from the road trip.

Drew was hitting .219 with just 11 extra-base hits and 21 RBIs in 233 at-bats when he went on the DL. Reddick has taken over right field in his place.

If Drew returns before Sept. 1, the Red Sox would have to make a roster move to activate him.

What type of impact could Drew make?

“I don’t know,’’ Francona said. “I hope it’s great. You just don’t know.’’

Bump in the road Matt Albers has been one of the surprises of the season. He is third on the team with 39 appearances and has struck out 49 in 47 2/3 innings. With Bobby Jenks missing much of the season due to injury, Albers has become Francona’s go-to reliever in the seventh inning.

But the righthander has hit a rough patch. He has allowed three runs on six hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. Albers gave up a double to light-hitting Tsuyoshi Nishioka on Tuesday that tied the game in the sixth inning.

“He just left a fastball up,’’ Francona said. “I don’t think you’re going to go all year and not give up runs. Sometimes you need somebody to foul one back.’’

As Albers fades a bit, Dan Wheeler is coming on. The righthander has a 1.63 ERA over 25 appearances since coming off the disabled list in May.

“He’s been much better,’’ Francona said.

Mr. Clutch David Ortiz’s infield single in the seventh inning Tuesday marked the 37th time he has had a game-winning single in the seventh inning or later during the regular season since he signed with the Sox for the 2003 season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only active players with more are Chipper Jones (52), Albert Pujols (45), and Derek Jeter (38) . . . The Sox have 11 home runs from the ninth spot in the batting order. That was second-most in the majors behind Toronto, which had 12. Darnell McDonald had the latest one, a two-run shot in the fifth inning Tuesday. Jarrod Saltalamacchia (4), Jacoby Ellsbury (2), Marco Scutaro (2), and Jason Varitek (2) have the others.

Postseason plans Major League Baseball announced a postseason schedule that will not include any extra days off other than for travel. The American League Division Series will start Sept. 30, with the American League Championship Series getting underway Oct. 8. The World Series is set to start Oct. 19 and end no later than Oct. 27, weather permitting . . . Andrew Miller faced two batters in the eighth inning, walking one and striking out the other. It was his first action since Aug. 4. The lefty is still scheduled to pitch one of the games against Tampa Bay next week . . . Francona heard from MLB vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre regarding the slow pace of Sunday’s game against the Yankees, particularly Josh Beckett’s part in it. It was more of a friendly request to have Beckett speed it up, and not an official reprimand . . . The Sox finished 5-2 against the Twins despite outscoring them by two runs . . . The Sox are 23-28 when their opponent scores first.

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

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