Hours before the Sox wrap up their midweek series with the Yankees, Red Sox manager Terry Francona updated the statuses of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, shortstop Jed Lowrie, and closer Jonathan Papelbon.
He had targeted Friday for his return, but depending on how Ellsbury feels taking batting practice this afternoon, Francona said he would see about the center fielder’s availability for tonight’s game against the Yankees. The most likely scenario would have him holding Ellsbury until tomorrow.
“The easy thing is to think about maybe using his legs later,” Francona said of the possibility of using Ellsbury in a pinch situation. “But if we get him in a situation where he dives and he goes backwards, that’s not the ideal. So we’ll see. He is getting better though. He should play tomorrow.”
The plan for Lowrie, working his way back from his wrist injury, will have him travel with the big-league team this weekend to Philadelphia, then go join the Lowell Spinners on Monday and Tuesday, where he’ll get some live at-bats. Francona said Lowrie could take Wednesday off while the team re-evaluated where to go from there.
The options at that point would be to send Lowrie to Florida or to Pawtucket, Francona said, “but it’s all going to depend on how he feels.”
“We’re trying to get him like a ramp to the games, and this’ll work,” Francona said. “He’s OK with it, which is important, and I think it will help him.”
Francona didn’t want to think about the potential for a logjam at shortstop with Julio Lugo, Nick Green, and Lowrie, saying that now wasn’t the best time to make a decision about his lineup in July.
After fighting off dehydration and fatigue from food poising to pitch a clean ninth inning and save the Sox’s 6-5 win last night, Francona said Papelbon was feeling much better.
At one point, the Sox were considering sending him to the hospital, but Francona said, “He felt a lot better last night. I think he was a little weak. I didn’t look like it the way he threw the ball.
“There was some apprehension on our part to bring him in in the eighth although we’d have done it. It’s amazing how that apprehension will go away with Teixeira coming to the plate. He was just a little weak. He needed to stay hydrated.”
Sox to sit down with Smoltz
Scheduled to throw tonight for the Pawsox in Syracuse, Francona said John Smoltz will join the team in Philadelphia as well.
“After he pitches tonight, we’ll sit down with Smoltzy and just make sure we’re all on the same page."
The complication with adding Smoltz to the big league roster is figuring out whom to remove in order to make space.
“When you activate somebody, there has to be another move, and he understands that,” said Francona, who added that he wasn’t going to rush the decision. “We’re not going to make next Wednesday or Thursday or Friday’s pitcher before we [have to]. It just doesn’t make sense.”
On the possibility of a six-man rotation, Francona said, “We’ve had a lot of discussions. I don’t blame anybody for asking. It’s a real interesting subject. I just don’t feel the need to do it prematurely through the media. So if I’m doing nothing to stop the speculation, go ahead, we’re just not ready to make an announcement before we’re supposed to.”
7-0 means nothing
Francona didn’t want to feed the beast when it came to tackling the Sox' perfect record so far against the Yankees.
“I don’t think I feel the need to stand up here and talk about April,” Francona said. “Tampa Bay's beat us a lot this year. I don’t feel like when we play them next they're going to beat us ... What it really boils down to is that our records are almost identical, we’ve just gotten there different ways. That’s the important thing.”