DETROIT — There were two new(ish) faces in the visitor’s clubhouse this afternoon. Mark Kotsay has been activated from the disabled list, with Jeff Bailey being returned to Pawtucket. John Smoltz also is back around the team, though he is expected to return to Pawtucket for two more rehab starts. Smoltz will pitch Friday for the PawSox then probably will pitch the following Thursday for them again.
The lineup is unchanged from Sunday’s game against the Blue Jays. The most interesting spot in the lineup is actually the No. 9 spot. Nick Green is in at shortstop for the third consecutive game, even though Julio Lugo does not seem to be injured.
“I’m here,” Lugo said. “I’m ready. When he asks me to play, I’ll be ready. I ain’t going to worry about it anymore. Everything is fine. Everything is perfect. I feel good mentally, physically. That’s his choice.
“Of course, I want to be out there every day. I’m ready to be out there every day.”
But manager Terry Francona has decided that Green is closer to giving the team a win, at least today, than Lugo is.
“That’s the hard one,” Francona said. “I think Greenie’s played pretty good. I also understand that Julio needs to play. That’s just something I’m fighting. I’ve asked Julio to be patient because we’re scrambling trying to get every win we can. Greenie’s done some good things. That doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten about Julio. Just trying to do the best, what we think is right for the team. I don’t know if I always have the right answer. Try to.”
Francona praised Green’s “energy and his range at short” as being “pretty positive.” He added that “I don’t think Lugo’s probably the most thrilled.”
But with Lugo’s range still limited and Green batting .298, the last three games have belonged to the No. 3 shortstop on the depth chart to start spring training. (Who, to be honest, isn’t really a shortstop at all. He’s a second baseman.)
Francona did acknowledge that Green hasn’t been perfect, throwing away a number of balls and missing others, on his way to eight errors in 28 games at short this season. He said, too, that Lugo has been doing extra work defensively before games with first base/infield coach Tim Bogar.