Manny Ramirez's name was missing from the lineup card this afternoon, Terry Francona mocked the speculation that he might return to the lineup, then the manager asked if there were any questions about the Chargers.
Just kidding about the last part, of course, but Bobby Kielty is in left field tonight against lefthander Andy Pettitte. Mike Lowell is back from his bout with an intestinal condition and batting cleanup, while Julio Lugo is hitting in the leadoff spot, even though he has done little against the Bombers this season, batting .193 (11 for 57).
"He came out yesterday and did a good job swinging the bat,'' Francona said of Ramirez. "But he's not ready to play. He's doing a good job. Maybe beginning of the week, being somewhat realistic, but I just don't know. He's doing a good job.''
Manny (out with a left oblique strain) is batting a team high .392 against the Yankees this season. He took 34 swings in BP on Wednesday, hitting a ball off the back wall in center field, and took BP again on the off-day yesterday.
It's reasonable to wonder if the lead wasn't 5 1/2 games whether Manny would be playing, but Francona, who on Thursday did not give PR man John Blake an indication either way whether Manny would play tonight, was clearly irritated about the Manny speculation.
"I went to the dentist and had 12 voice messages about Manny,'' he said.
Here's the Sox lineup (the Yank lineup was not yet posted):
1. Julio Lugo, SS
2. Dustion Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Mike Lowell, 3B
5. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
6. J.D. Drew, RF
7. Jason Varitek, C
8. Bobby Kielty, LF
9. Coco Crisp, CF