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Pregame news from Baltimore

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  April 28, 2011 05:06 PM

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BALTIMORE - The weather has cleared up nicely here and according to Terry Francona's weather report the game should be played without interruption tonight at Camden Yards as the Red Sox try to avoid being swept by the Orioles.

Fairly quiet night here. Marco Scutaro has returned to shortstop, for at least a day, as Jed Lowrie got the day off after striking out three times in Wednesday night's 5-4 loss to the Birds. Lowrie is 1-for-8 against Baltimore. Scutaro is hitting .316 (6-for-19) against Orioles' starter Brad Bergeson which was another reason for the switch.

"Want to keep him productive," said Francona concerning his decision. "Got a lot of history with this guy (Bergeson). Pretty good success."

Asked how Scutaro has handled the demotion, Francona said "He's pretty professional. I don't think he's real happy. I don't think I would be. My responsibility is to put the best team out there. You hope the players can handle it professionally which he does. I'm not sure I want him to be completely happy. Everybody wants to play I don't care who you are. Guys get to this level for a reason. Some people handle it differently."

There are certainly some players who have to adjust to backup roles. Pitcher Dan Wheeler and outfielder Mike Cameron for sure.

Wheeler was signed this offseason and taken away from the Tampa Bay Rays. He had a much more important role in that bullpen. With the Sox he's essentially a mop-up man.

"We went through the one stretch when we won a bunch and close games. Guys had their roles so we went through that week. Same as Wake (Tim Wakefield) he had a good inning. Wheeler pitched twice the last six days. His role right now is when we're down a couple, keep it close against righthanded hitters. He was up last night and then it changed dramatically with Youk's homer," Francona explained. And the Red Sox went to Daniel Bard pretty quickly.

Cameron has had to adjust to the role of backup and sporadic playing time. When I talked to him the day he said, "It's really different." Not sure he meant that in a good way. Cameron is used to playing everyday and now he understands he's a backup who will play mostly against lefthanded pitching. Francona said because the team won't be facing a lot of lefties over the next week he may sit a lefthanded hitter so Cameron and Darnell McDonald can get some playing time.

Francona also said he would likely not move Carl Crawford out of the No. 8 spot until he shows he's getting hot. Crawford entered tonight's game hitting .156 with one homer and 6 RBI.

"I'm gonna move him up.... I'd like to get him hot and get him on a roll. That would be good. Don't want to play him like a ping-pong. Some guys have struggled pretty much. He's OK (not pressing). The hardest thing is you have to look at your average even when you feel good about yourself. You have to fight that," Francona said.

There's been some talk circulating that J.D. Drew was going to retire after this season, which is his final year with the Red Sox.

"That's news to me. I don't know anything about that," he said.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was in the lineup to catch Jon Lester. This is the only game of the Orioles series he's played in. He's gone 2-for-10 on this road trip and is hitting .186. Salty might find himself back on the bench when the Sox return home against Seattle with Daisuke Matsuzaka going for Boston. So far, Jason Varitek has caught Dice-K exclusively.

Lester is 13-0 with a 2.33 ERA against the Orioles in 16 starts. It's the longest streak ever against the Orioles franchise, dating back to 1901 to begin a career.

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