Extra Bases

Pregame notes from Fenway Park

Red Sox manager Terry Francona talked about the return of David Ortiz to the lineup after two games off with back spasms and Adrian Gonzalez being back after missing a few innings with a calf strain yesterday.

“I don’t think you’re going to see Gonzy steal a base — I don’t think you’re going to see him steal a base when he’s 100 percent — [but] he feels good enough to play, which is great,” Francona said. “David, he’s still sore, but he’s good enough to play. This time of year, I think we understand the responsibilities, so we’ll keep an eye on them.

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“Both of them wouldn’t play if they didn’t think they could be productive, or we wouldn’t let ’em play,” Francona said.

Asked if the situation in the standings were any different, and the Red Sox owned a 10-game lead over the Rays instead of four in the AL Wild Card race, Francona said Ortiz and Gonzalez would not likely be in the lineup.

“To be real honest, I haven’t been accused of being from the Ivy League,” Francona said. “But to me these are important games.”

In other items:

• Clay Buchholz threw an abbreviated bullpen session. He threw 15 from halfway up the mound and 15 from the top in the bullpen. Buccholz will throw a full-fledged bullpen on Saturday.

“They got it in at the end, it was pouring, and he felt good,” Francona said. “So that was good news still. Everything’s been terrific, actually. If there comes a point where we need to slow him down, we will. A couple of things we’re trying to accomplish is that we haven’t closed the door on the fact that he might be able to pitch, which is certainly important.

“The other thing is we want him to go home feeling good about himself, because this kid is an important part of not only our present but our future, so it’s come together pretty well. He’s done a good job.”

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Asked if there was any timetable set for Buchholz, Francona said, “We have an obligation to map some things out, but it’s going to all go on how he feels, how he throws. You’re talking about a guy who hasn’t thrown very much, so if he gets on the mound and his back feels great, he still needs to pitch, so we need to take all those things under consideration.”

• Francona said he would likely treat Josh Beckett’s return to the rotation for tomorrow night’s game as a regular start. Beckett departed last Monday’s game in Toronto with a right ankle sprain and hasn’t pitched since. But, the manager said, “He hasn’t been out very long but we reserve the right to see how he’s feeling. It’s one of those days where we’ll check with him. Just because he may look like he’s cruising, I wouldn’t want to send him back out if he was laboring inside. We’ll keep an eye on him.”

• Even with Daniel Bard’s woes of late, Francona said he didn’t expect to use him any differently down the stretch. “No, I don’t think so. I think we’d be kidding ourselves. I don’t think we can win without Bard being Bard. Last year at this time, everybody wanted Bard to be the closer. We stuck with Pap and we were OK. I think there’s certain players where we’d better figure it out as opposed to running from guys.”

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• Francona lauded the Rays, who have won nine of 14 against the Red Sox (including four of five at Fenway Park), for the job they have done this year in competing for the AL Wild Card. “They’ve done a really good job against our hitters for the most part, and they have very good pitching,” Francona said. “They’re a hard team to play, because they’re so aggressive and if you give them an opening, they make you pay for it.”

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