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Red Sox Notebook

Varitek gets up to speed

He records first triple since 2007

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / August 22, 2011

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Red Sox were desperate for a run when Jason Varitek stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on second in the fifth inning yesterday.

They had put only four runners on base against Kansas City rookie Danny Duffy, who to that point was matching Jon Lester pitch for pitch in a scoreless game.

Varitek delivered a run, driving a curveball deep into right-center field. Jed Lowrie scored easily as Varitek chugged into second base, turning his head to see where the ball was.

Then a funny thing happened: He kept going.

By the time the Royals relayed the ball to third base, Varitek had his first triple since June 24, 2007.

“Just spacing them out,’’ he said.

Usually stoic, Varitek was cracking jokes after a 6-1 victory as he described his tour around the bases.

“Not so good,’’ he said when asked how he felt. “[But] it’s much easier for me to score from third than it is from second.’’

Even manager Terry Francona joined in the fun, saying he told Varitek that good speed never takes a day off.

At 39, Varitek was the oldest catcher to record a triple since Benito Santiago had one with the Pirates on April 4, 2005.

“Oh, yeah?’’ Varitek said. “I like that.’’

Varitek is hitting a modest .228, but does have 18 extra-base hits and 26 RBIs in 184 at-bats.

“It’s what I do behind the plate that’s most important,’’ he said. “I want to contribute offensively, but I know if I don’t I can still help us win games.’’

Ellsbury out again Jacoby Ellsbury missed his second straight game with a bruise on his back and is questionable for tonight’s game against the Rangers.

“He’s pretty sore,’’ Francona said. “When he’s able to get in there and be comfortable to play, we’ll get him back in there. Getting back in too early doesn’t do anybody any good. We’ll give the medical people a chance to do their stuff.’’

Ellsbury was hit with an 88-mile-per-hour fastball by reliever Everett Teaford Friday.

“When he’s ready, he’ll get in there,’’ Francona said. “Believe me, he wants to play. He’s been playing every day.’’

Impatient Papi Based on his demeanor before the game, David Ortiz is tired of sitting out.

Ortiz missed his seventh straight game because of bursitis in his right heel. But he swung a bat for the second straight day, taking cuts at balls in the batting cage.

He also demonstrated his improved mobility to Dustin Pedroia by jogging across the clubhouse for 15 feet or so.

“Put me in!’’ Ortiz yelled.

“That’s as much as you run anyway,’’ Pedroia retorted.

For now, Ortiz will wear his walking boot at least one more day. Then the Sox will get him on the field to do some actual running.

“Because he’s a DH, there’s a little bit of wiggle room,’’ Francona said. “But we still want him to move around before he gets in the game. Going from the boot to sliding probably isn’t the best common sense.’’

According to Francona, how tender Ortiz’s heel is to the touch will be one of the factors used in determining when he can return.

“I hope I can play in Texas,’’ Ortiz said. “We’ll see. I’m getting there.’’

Heating up Darnell McDonald was 4 for 8 with two RBIs playing center field in place of Ellsbury the last two games.

McDonald had three hits yesterday, including his fifth home run. He is hitting a paltry .194 on the season, but is 9 of 31 (.290) since July 27 with four extra-base hits.

“We need that,’’ Francona said. “That righthanded bat playing that position is big for us. He hit up in the lineup and he did some things. That was a big part of us winning.

“He’s been in and out, a little inconsistent. The one thing he can do, when he gets a pitch he can hit it out of the ballpark.’’

McDonald connected against Duffy in the sixth inning, giving the Sox a 2-0 lead.

“[Kansas City] has been throwing a lot of fastballs with two strikes. I was looking for it. I put a good swing on it and it got out for me,’’ he said.

“It’s no secret, the more at-bats you get, the easier it is to get your timing. The biggest focus for me is swinging at good pitches and putting quality swings on the baseball. I feel good where I’m at right now.’’

Taking on Texas Erik Bedard has pitched well in his three starts since being acquired from Seattle July 31. The lefthander has a 3.38 earned run average with 17 strikeouts in 16 innings.

Bedard will face Texas and C.J. Wilson tonight in the opener of an important four-game series. Bedard is 4-3, 3.22 in 13 starts against the Rangers.

Given that Bedard had spent a month on the disabled list with a knee injury before the trade, the Sox have been pleased with him.

“I’m really encouraged,’’ Francona said. “I think we were prepared to see some rust when he first pitched. What you see there is the ability to spin the breaking ball, throw strikes, [control] the running game. That’s exciting. He can go through some lineups now.’’

Staying home Kevin Youkilis, who is on the disabled list with a lower-back strain, wanted to join the team in Texas, but the decision was made to have him continue his rehab in Boston. Youkilis is still recovering from a cortisone shot and is not yet ready for baseball activities . . . The Sox are 28-11 in day games. Only the Yankees, at 34-8, have a better record . . . Sox reliever Dan Wheeler pitched the ninth inning, extending his scoreless streak to 12 2/3 innings . . . Jon Lester is 5-1 in seven career starts against Kansas City with a 1.30 ERA . . . Righthanded reliever Bobby Jenks, who is in Fort Myers, Fla., is scheduled for a simulated game today . . . Former Patriots executive Scott Pioli, now the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, was in the clubhouse before the game and spent time talking to Francona and Tim Wakefield.

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

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