Surprising turn of events prior to today’s game. Daisuke Matsuzaka has gone on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain. Matsuzaka informed the team of his discomfort while he was warming up in the Sox bullpen before the game.
Replacing him for today’s game is Scott Atchison. The Sox have also recalled lefty reliever Dustin Richardson from Pawtucket.
The Sox are also mourning the death of Felix Maldonado, a long-time Red Sox organizational employee who died this morning after a long illness. Maldonado was a wonderful human being who helped so many of the young Latin American players make their transition to professional baseball. Earlier this week, the Sox lost Jerry Stephenson, a former player and scout, who was buried in the LA area yesterday.
“Felix was one of the best people I’ve ever been around,” said Sox special minor instructor Tommy Harper. “For so many years he did what ever this organization wanted him to do. He was a father-figure to so many of the Latin kids who came up and he gave them great guidance and taught them the right way to play the game. He always preached to them to be professional. A wonderful man. I’ll miss him.”
Daniel Nava is starting in left field hitting ninth in today’s lineup. Nava, a switch-hitter, was hitting .294 with 8 homers and 38 RBI at Pawtucket.
Darnell McDonald is in center. Victor Martinez gets the day off and Jason Varitek is catching. We’ll have more later.
Nava, one of the great baseball stories in that he was cut as a walk-on at the University of Santa Clara team and then became an equipment manager doing the team laundry. The Blue Jays failed to sign him at a tryout, played independent ball for the Chico Outlaws and started playing ball at the College of San Mateo.
“I told him it will be the most exciting day of his life,” Sox manager Terry Francona said. “He’s hit everywhere he’s been. Our development people told us he’ll help you win games.”
I asked Nava whether he would be taking care of his own laundry and he said, “I don’t do that anymore, but having done the job I’m very respectful of the people who do.”
I also asked Nava who he was. Was there a current major league player that he resembled and he couldn’t come up with one.
Nava seems to have some pop. He’s a switch-hitter but a natural lefthanded hitter. He hit 8 homers in Pawtucket. He’s a typical Sox hitter in that he sees a lot of pitches and grinds out at-bats. While he’s hitting ninth I asked Francona whether he was a top of the order hitter and Francona really didn’t answer it. “He’s a ballplayer,” the manager said.
We’ll have more on Nava in the Sunday Globe
In other news:
The news gets more encouraging on Josh Beckett (lower back strain) who threw 30 times at 60 feet. The Sox will gradually increase to 90 and then 120 before he throws off a mound. Francona was pleased with how Beckett threw and felt.
After sitting out yesterday with back spasms, Kevin Youkilis was back in the lineup.
The Phillies held about a half-hour players-only team meeting, likely to discuss last night’s horrible start in a 12-2 loss. Placido Polanco was ill and not in the Phillies’ lineup.