Jacoby Ellsbury was a late scratch from the Red Sox lineup for Saturday night’s game against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park, said manager Bobby Valentine, who indicated the move was made as a precaution to prevent “a leg issue” from becoming a larger one.
“Just being safe with Jacoby,” Valentine said. “He has a very little situation that he wanted to play through, but with a day game [Sunday], I vetoed it.”
Ryan Kalish, as a result, was penciled in as the starting center fielder and hit out of the lead-off position. It was Kalish’s 18th start of the season, 16th in center field, but first as the lead-off hitter.
Asked what specifically kept Ellsbury out of the lineup, Valentine said, “It’s a leg issue — but it’s not an issue, but it could become an issue. Now that he’s not playing, it’s an issue.”
In other related news:
* Josh Beckett, who suffered a back spasm in his last outing that limited him to 2.2 innings and 49 pitches in Tuesday night’s rain-shortened 4-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers, did some flat-ground throwing out in right field before Saturday’s game. “He really felt good today,” Valentine said. “We’re going to insert him in on Wednesday.” Valentine said Beckett would probably throw a bullpen session Monday.
* Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who sat out the last two games because of a bout of food poisoning, was back in the lineup Saturday night as the designated hitter while Kelly Shoppach drew the start at catcher. “He said he felt really good when he woke up this morning and came here and lifted some weights and got it out of his system,” Valentine said.
With three catchers on the roster, Valentine said, “I don’t know how permanent the three-catcher situation is going to be, but it’s nothing I’ve ever been comfortable with or even tried to do, I don’t think. But if they’re here the whole time, I will get ’em work behind the plate.”
* On the concept of having a staff “ace” in the starting rotation: “It’s negligible. It means nothing to me. My ace is the guy who’s pitching that day. I don’t know why it means anything to anybody. You can only pitch once every five days. He’s got to pitch 33 times during the season and if you’re really lucky, he might pitch the first game of a playoff series, but the way it usually happens, he doesn’t.”
* Will Middlebrooks was given the night off, meaning Nick Punto was penciled in as the starting third baseman. “Wanted to give him a day off two days ago, but he talked me out of it and wanted to go through the lefthander,” Valentine said. “It should’ve been two days ago. We all need days off and he’s out working every day early, so this will do him great.”
Valentine said it had nothing to do with the diving catch Middlebrooks made on Brian Dozier’s pop-up bunt in foul territory in front of the Twins’ dugout for the first out in the 10th inning of Friday night’s 6-5 loss.
“He wanted it, didn’t he?” Valentine said. “He just showed the effort that these guys have burning in their belly every night to go out there. Very big play at a big time in the game. Too bad it didn’t result in a win.”