CLEVELAND – Armed with a 10-game winning streak and an effective Nick Green, the Red Sox aren’t going to go crazy trying to incorporate Julio Lugo into an everyday role at shortstop until he shows he can handle it physically.
That seemed to me the theme of both Lugo and Terry Francona this afternoon.
“It’s just a matter of feeling comfortable again. You start playing again and your mind and your heart start working a little faster. It’s almost like spring training again. I’ll let Tito decide (about playing time). My body is going to tell me what I’m capable of doing,” said Lugo, who underwent surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus on March 17.
“Just talked to him (Lugo) a little while ago and told him welcome back,” Francona said. “He’s not playing tonight. Lugie played two games and DH’d yesterday. Feels pretty good about himself. I think he’s still working on strength. Doing good, but a lot of it is going to be on how he feels. Now he’s coming off knee surgery and he’s got 12 at-bats. We’ll play him (in this series). Just try to use common sense. Nick’s done a really good job so there’s no sense in pushing (Lugo) just to see if he can get somewhere. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
Lugo said, “You want to play every day. I just came back and I want to get my feet wet again. That’s what we’re going to have to see. You have to get your body in shape to make sure you’re ready to play every day. We’re on a good roll right now and the end of the season is what really matters.”
J.D. Drew was not in the lineup, but will take batting practice and rest his tight left quad, which forced him out of Sunday night’s game in the eighth inning.
“I’ll know more when I go out there. More a case of dehydration and cramping issues than anything else. It feels better today,” Drew said.
“JD is OK,” Francona said. “He got concerned last night. It’s kind of hard to leave him in the game. He said ‘I can probably stay in,’ but when they voice concern it’s hard to keep him in so we took him out so it doesn’t turn into multiple weeks.”
Francona was impressed with Michael Bowden’s perfect two-inning performance Sunday night vs. the Yankees. Bowden was sent back to Pawtucket to make room for Lugo on the 25-man roster.
Francona noticed a difference in his delivery from spring training, when Bowden was really hit hard. “A little step his delivery is a little different,” said the manager. “His arm coming back is a little longer. Still has deception with his fastball. Guys don’t seem to pick up the fastball as well as they think they’re going to.”
Francona said Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is on the 15-day DL with a shoulder strain, threw long toss from 120 feet for about a half hour. Francona said Matsuzaka will throw a bullpen session Wednesday and may be ready for a rehab assignment after the nine-game road trip ends May 5.
Francona also said Rocco Baldelli’s hamstring is feeling better and he has been able to hit.