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Red Sox notebook

Pedroia braced - but no roster move yet

Nick Punto was holding the proof after tagging out the Tigers’ Alex Avila, who tried to stretch a single in the sixth inning. Nick Punto was holding the proof after tagging out the Tigers’ Alex Avila, who tried to stretch a single in the sixth inning. (Bill Greene/Globe Staff)
By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / May 31, 2012
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The Red Sox are in wait-and-see mode regarding Dustin Pedroia, who feels he could be ready to return by the end of the weekend series with Toronto despite a torn muscle in his right thumb.

But the Sox entered Wednesday’s game against the Tigers with no reserve infielder behind Nick Punto at second base.

Pedroia showed off a new brace - which he already has tested, against the medical staff’s wishes - that he feels might be able to absorb the impact when he bats.

In an impromptu pregame session with the media, even Pedroia conceded that he needs the swelling and discomfort to subside for a couple of days.

“Probably that’s the case where we are,’’ said Bobby Valentine. “It’s day to day.’’

Valentine said the medical staff did not want Pedroia to take dry swings just yet but “he did yesterday before we told him not to. He always obeys everything.’’

Asked how vulnerable he felt not having a reserve infielder, Valentine said, “Well, [Pedroia] can play defense, but answering that, it’s not comfortable.’’

Valentine said he would do everything he could to keep from using Pedroia on defense.

“With Adrian [Gonzalez] playing right field . . . well, whatever,’’ he said. “We’re going to get through it. If I make the move late, and take one of my infielders out of the game, I’m really going to be painted into some corner.

Kelly Shoppach came down [to the dugout] with a fielder’s glove the other night, and Salty [Jarrod Saltalamacchia] has taken some ground balls.’’

How long can the Red Sox wait?

“It’s a great question,’’ said Valentine. “At least until the end of this game. We’re going to see what it looks like. Yesterday we played against a righthander and today we’re playing against a lefthander, so we’ll see what it looks like.’’

The Red Sox could reconfigure their roster to accommodate infielder Pedro Ciriaco, who was hitting .304 at Pawtucket entering Wednesday.

Sending Pedroia to the disabled list is still an option - just not in Pedroia’s mind.

“We talked with Dustin this afternoon, and there’s an absolute situation that’s in place, and then we might start considering options, but we’re day to day,’’ Valentine said.

Isn’t it hard to evaluate Pedroia because he’ll always tell you that he’s fine?

“Part of this situation is the swelling, the actual physical appearance of the injury,’’ said Valentine. “I think we can all see that.

“Then there’s the opinions of the medical staff and then there’s Dustin’s opinion, I guess. We take everything into consideration.’’

Good stuff

Jon Lester agreed with Valentine’s assessment that he had his best stuff of the year, but the results didn’t quite show in his no-decision during the team’s 6-4 win over the Tigers Wednesday night.

“It was getting frustrating to have good stuff and get whacked around a little bit. But that being said, more importantly, try to go deep in the game. Guys gave me a chance to win, which is all you can ask for,’’ said Lester.

Lester lasted 6 2/3 innings and allowed a season-high 10 hits plus four runs. He walked none and struck out seven.

Lester, who has made only five of 11 quality starts and is hardly pitching like an ace, gave up three early runs and then retired 11 of 13.

What changed?

“Nothing,’’ he said. “They just weren’t hitting it. No adjustments. My stuff didn’t change, and my mix didn’t change. I think early on, they ambushed me a little bit. But I don’t know. I’m at a loss for words for trying to figure it out. Like I said, it’s frustrating for me because when I have stuff like that it should play a little bit different but they’re a good hitting team, too. So I got to keep making pitches and keep grinding it out, keep figuring it out every day, just keep throwing it.’’

His biggest out might have been in the seventh when he stayed in the game to face lefthanded hitting Quintin Berry and struck him out. Valentine had made a trip to the mound right before it and it appeared he would lift Lester.

Lester, who has a 4.79 ERA, claimed he didn’t hear what Valentine said.

“I don’t know,’’ he said. “I don’t hear half the stuff that goes on out there. All I know is he came out there and didn’t take the ball and walked back to the dugout. I’m so in tune to what’s going on that I usually don’t hear what’s being said. I think a lot of pitchers are like that.’’

Catching fire

Saltalamacchia left Tuesday’s game with an undisclosed illness and was out of the lineup again Wednesday, though he said he felt well enough to play.

“I’m good to go,’’ Salty said. “I just felt bad yesterday and I thought I’d be hurting the team trying to play through it. So why not let a fresh Kelly go out there and finish it off for us?’’

Valentine had interesting things to say about Saltalamacchia.

“In the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen a player turn into an All-Star, an absolute player you can count on, who gets it,’’ said the manager. “He understands what’s needed out of him and he’s delivering it.’’

Voices to be heard

Sox senior adviser Charles Steinberg said the team will use a host of celebrity and non-celebrity public-address announcers, including women, who will compete for the full-time gig. The process is by invitation only. WEEI’s Jon Meterparel will do the honors Thursday night . . . Alfredo Aceves pitched his fourth consecutive day and saved his 13th game. According to Valentine, Aceves had his best velocity of the four-day stretch . . . Andrew Miller collected his sixth hold with a strong eighth inning. Miller has set back 33 of the 42 batters he’s faced with 15 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings . . . Marlon Byrd made a nice diving catch to end the eighth inning to rob Gerald Laird. “Go get it and hope for the best,’’ said Byrd . . . Outfielder Darnell McDonald is close to returning after being on the disabled list with an oblique strain. “He took batting practice and looked pretty good,’’ said Valentine. “He’s pretty close.’’

Park it here

2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr., now a driver for Penske Racing’s Nationwide team, took in Wednesday night’s game with his crew chief, Chad Walter. Hornish, a native of Defiance, Ohio, who became a Tigers fan after being in the employ of Detroit-based car owner Roger Penske, was making his first visit to Fenway Park. “There’s only a few things any sports fan should experience,’’ said Hornish, who was in town to advance the F.W. Webb 200 Nationwide Series race July 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “Going to the Indianapolis 500 and coming to Fenway Park.’’

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo. Michael Vega of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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