The Globe’s Bob Ryan checks in with news and notes from today’s pregame meeting with Red Sox manager Terry Francona:
First, the walking wounded report…
Kevin Youkilis (back spasms) is better, but will not be in lineup tonight, “at least not to start.” So the inference is that he might be available to do his Kirk Gibson imitation, if needed.
Nick Green, a.k.a. Mr. Check Swing and Mr. Eagle Eye, has a “dead leg,” whatever that is. Tito wasn’t sure either, noting that the only dead leg he was familiar with was something you yelled after being punched in the face in junior high. It must be a Western Pennsylvania thing. Anyway, he said that Green’s leg was more a case of weakness than pain, that he was being tested and that he was actually doing well in the tests.
Tim Wakefield? He’s still scheduled to start in Kansas City on Monday, which means there will be a six-man rotation one time and for one rotation only.
He was asked about what it’s like to play with the expanded September rosters, and for that you need to read Bob Ryan.
In light of Juan Rivera’s indifferent approach to the Alex Gonzalez game-winning bloop single on Wednesday, a questioner backed into the topic by politely asking him just where a left fielder should play in that kind of situation (e.g., bases chuck, two outs, game on the line).
Predictably, he said that depends on the person, etc. And then he said, “When Manny was here, we didn’t know what our philosophy was. We tried to have one, but we didn’t know what it was. We floated a little.”
Laughter all around.
The next topic was the Red Sox rather glaring Home-Away discrepancy, which, after Wednesday’s victory was a major league-leading 52-21 here, and a disappointing 34-37 elsewhere. As a partial explanation, he pointed out that the team lost a lot of reasonably close games on the road, and were in them thanks to the bullpen, which continually came in and stopped the bleeding after a sub-par starting effort. But he wasn’t offering any “excuses,” per se.
“I do think we’re built for Fenway,” he acknowledged. “Like Mike Lowell, a perfect example. You put him in this ballpark and he gets dangerous in a hurry.”
He further noted that lack of speed is not necessarily the culprit, as it once was. “When I came here, we were slow,” he said. “We used to go to Toronto and Minnesota, and those places looked big. I don’t feel that way anymore.”
On the subject of the Angels’ contention that umpires are “intimidated” in Fenway, which helps account for the gaudy Red Sox record, he dismissed that completely.
“Every team complains everywhere,” he says. “I do it. Every team needs a call. That’s just the way it is.”
Finally, he was asked about Michael Bowden, and what his role might be. “Ambiguous,” he said, using a word seldom uttered by a Red Sox manager. “He was coming in that game last night, and he was staying in until it was over. He’s gotten lengthened out, so he could pitch those kind of innings if he had to.”