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Red Sox notebook

Plate collisions don’t leave them rattled

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 28, 2011

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DETROIT — When San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey broke his left leg Wednesday while blocking the plate, it renewed debate as to whether a rule change is needed to stop such collisions.

As far as Red Sox manager Terry Francona and catchers Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are concerned, injuries are an unfortunate byproduct of playing the game hard and new rules aren’t required.

“Are you going to make the runner go around him? This is baseball, just play the game,’’ Francona said before last night’s 6-3 victory over the Tigers. “Sometimes guys run into a guy and people take offense to it. That’s just the way the game is played.’’

Varitek has suffered a variety of injuries blocking the plate, including a sore neck when Carl Crawford, then with the Rays, ran him over in Game 3 of the 2008 American League Championship Series.

“It’s part of the game, there’s not much you can do,’’ Varitek said. “Catchers usually don’t come out ahead on those plays, but it’s up to you to make the play and at the same time try and avoid getting hurt.’’

The Red Sox instruct their catchers to show the runner the plate and then make the tag at the last second rather than block the plate the entire time.

“You kind of slide sideways once you have the ball,’’ Saltalamacchia said. “You want to get in there and block the plate so he doesn’t try and take you out. You want him to slide.’’

Saltalamacchia has come away with sore ribs from some collisions but doesn’t want the rules changed.

“It’s tough,’’ he said. “But if you don’t want anybody to get hurt, you have to eliminate fastballs up and in; you have to eliminate guys going into second [to break up a double play]. You’d have to eliminate a lot of things.’’

Jenks rehabs Bobby Jenks began his rehabilitation assignment with Triple A Pawtucket last night. He started against Indianapolis and pitched an inning, giving up a single and striking out the final batter he faced.

Jenks hit 95 miles per hour with his fastball, threw eight of his 14 pitches for strikes, and told reporters at McCoy Stadium that he felt good. Jenks has been on the disabled list since May 5 with biceps tendinitis.

Jenks will stay with Pawtucket and make another appearance tomorrow. He is expected to be activated early next week.

Drew expected back J.D. Drew has been out of the lineup since straining his right hamstring making a running catch in Cleveland on Tuesday. But he took batting practice and worked out in the outfield before last night’s game.

“I’m right on schedule,’’ he said. “I think I’ll be available. Everything should be good to roll for the weekend . . . I ran a little bit [Thursday] and it felt pretty good. Today is even that much better.’’

With Detroit starting lefthander Andy Oliver tonight, Mike Cameron is slated to play right field. Oliver, 23, is one of the organization’s best prospects. He was 0-4 with a 7.36 earned run average in five starts last season.

Oliver did face Pawtucket twice in the last month, including a two-inning stint Tuesday. Josh Reddick, who was called up Thursday, has been filling in his teammates on what Oliver throws.

Lackey feels good John Lackey, who is on the DL with an elbow strain, threw two simulated innings in the bullpen, 40 pitches in all. Drew Sutton stood in as a hitter.

Lackey used all his pitches and said he felt fine. He will start for Pawtucket on Tuesday.

“I was trying to tweak a few things. But I felt pretty good,’’ said Lackey, who will throw approximately 70 pitches for the PawSox. “I felt like I was locating my fastball pretty good. I was working on tightening up my cutter a little bit. It had gotten a little bit loose on me sometimes. Those were the main things I was working on.’’

If Lackey comes through the minor league game in good shape, he would start for the Sox June 5 against Oakland at Fenway.

“That’s what we’re thinking right now, for sure,’’ he said. “Definitely have to see how I feel after a real game. It’s a little different. I don’t see why I shouldn’t be ready.’’

Lackey said he was throwing “pretty close’’ to full speed and that his elbow was allowing him to finish pitches.

“It definitely feels a whole lot better than it did,’’ he said.

Tigers turn trade The Tigers obtained lefthanded reliever David Purcey from Oakland before the game in exchange for second baseman Scott Sizemore. Purcey will arrive today. He has a 3.60 ERA in 14 appearances for the Blue Jays and Athletics this season. Detroit called up infielder Danny Worth from Triple A Toledo to replace Sizemore on the roster . . . According to the Elias Sports Bureau, when the Red Sox beat the Indians, 14-2, on Wednesday and the Tigers, 14-1, on Thursday, it marked the first time in team history they won consecutive road games by 12 or more runs . . . The Sox are 13-5 on the road after an 0-7 start . . . Adrian Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to eight games.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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