By Joe McDonald and Paul Kenyon
Journal Sports Writers
BOSTON -- Jed Lowrie was working out at McCoy Stadium yesterday afternoon after the PawSox defeated the IronPigs when Pawtucket manager Ron Johnson called him into his office.
The skipper told the rookie shortstop that Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell’s injury to his left thumb was still questionable, so Sox management wanted Lowrie to go to Fenway just in case. So, he started his drive to Boston and 10 minutes before he arrived GM Theo Epstein called and told him he would be activated.
“On the drive up there were still a lot of questions,” Lowrie admitted. “RJ told me they wanted me to be up here just in case about 10 minutes before I got here Theo called me and told me they were going to activate me, so there were some mixed emotions driving up here because there was some uncertainty whether I was going to get the opportunity or not.”
Lowrie got to Boston just in time to put on his uniform (No. 12) and make it to the dugout for game time.
“I got my first taste today and ust watching from the dugout, it’s been a dream of mine since I’ve been playing baseball," he said. "I didn’t get a chance to be in there today, but it was still awesome just to be up here. Just the opportunity to help this team would be pretty awesome.”
Lowrie is versatile and can play second, short and third.
He was given a ton of playing time during spring training due to Julio Lugo’s back injury. Lowrie proved during camp that he can be an everyday shortstop at the big-league level, and with a couple of different options in Pawtucket – veterans Joe Thurston and Keith Ginter – Red Sox management decided to go with the rookie.
What’s interesting about Lowrie’s major-league debut is the fact that Boston’s top four selections in the 2005 draft have all reached the big leagues, including outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (23rd overall), pitcher Craig Hansen (26th overall) and pitcher Clay Buchholz (42nd overall).
Red Sox manager Terry Francona gave us an update following tonight's 12-6 victory over the Tigers.
Lowell was placed on the 15-day DL Thursday afternoon with a sprained left thumb.
“He’ll be in a splint for approximately a week,” said Francona. “He needs to keep it immobilized for about a week. The hope is when the DL stint is over he’ll be able to play. It will all be determined on how it responds. Anybody that knows him knows he plays through all kinds of bumps and bruises. He has an extremely high pain threshold.”
Lowell was in the clubhouse after the game and spoke to the media:
``I’m frustrated because I’m not going to be playing for a little while, but I think I was encouraged with the MRI that it wasn’t a complete tear of anything,’’ he said, adding that the affected ligament is not the same one he injured last season. ``I think then it would have been significant time. . . . They want me to immobilize it for like four or five days before I do anything, so I think the smart thing was to go on the disabled list and we’ll take it from there. I’m hoping the swelling goes down a lot more in the next couple days. I’m really looking forward to waking up tomorrow and hopefully feeling better than today because I was a little disappointed this morning. I thought I was going to wake up a lot better and I didn’t.’’
Following Lowelll’s injury, Kevin Youkilis was moved from first to third and Sean Casey took over at first. Both did a tremendous job in both the field and at the plate last night.
``Youk put on a show defensively and they’re both swinging a really good bat," said Lowell. "That makes you feel good that we’ve got depth on this team and guys that can produce and still help us win. I know it’s April, but there’s a lot of important games in April. It doesn’t really matter what month you’re in.’’
Red Sox manager Terry Francona just announced that the team will designate pitcher Bryan Corey for assignment on Friday.
The right-handed reliever worked in six of the team's 10 games this season and compiled a 14.54 ERA. After allowing just one run in his first four games, he has surrendered six runs over his last 2/3 of an inning of work in his last two outings.
The bottom of the Boston lineup did much of the damage as the Red Sox took the lead with four runs in the fourth, and the Sox went on to a 12-6 victory over Detroit tonight. The fourth was the first of three four-run innings for Boston.
The Tigers had just scored twice in the top of the fourth to take the lead. In the bottom of the inning, Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis drew walks off Tiger starter Nate Robertson. J.D. Drew singled, Coco Crisp doubled, Sean Casey got the go-ahead run home with a ground ball to first and Kevin Cash singled home the final run of the inning.
Boston added four more in the seventh. Manny Ramirez, in a nine-pitch at-bat, doubled in two and Casey singled in two more. Detroit scored three times in the eighth off Julian Tavarez before Jonathan Papelbon came on for the four-out save. His job was made easier when the Sox had another four-run inning in the bottom of the eighth. Kevin Youkilis doubled home two, the third scored on a sacrifice fly by J.D. Drew and the final run on another hit by Crisp.
Asked during today’s pre-game press conference if he thought a veteran team might be less affected than an inexperienced ball club by a managing change, Sox manager Terry Francona looked around with a feigned look of surprise, as if the question was posed because his job with Boston was perhaps in jeopardy.
With the inquiry obviously referring to the Yankees now being managed by Joe Girardi, Francona replied: ``We spend so much time here trying to figure out ourselves and what makes us tick and what’s going to make us tick that I don’t spend any time thinking about that. . . . I don’t need to manage both teams. I’ve got my hands full here.
Asked if he’d advise Yankees short stop Derek Jeter to take his time in returning from a strained left quadriceps, Francona – whose club heads to New York for a three-game series this weekend – said to a round of laughter: ``Always. Always. . . . You can never be too careful with those quads.’’
Mike Timlin is going to have to wait one more day before getting back on the job with the Red Sox.
The Sox reliever was at his locker at Fenway this afternoon, dressed and ready to pitch. But, since he has pitched two of the last three days on rehab assignment in Pawtucket, the Sox will wait one more day before activating him.
The 42-year-old right-hander said the same thing he spoke about in Pawtucket last night _ that is, he feels fully healthy and raring to begin his 18th year in the big leagues.
``I just enjoy the game play the game. I don’t try to overthink it,’’ he said. ``I’ve told a lot of young guys that have come up, `You can have my job, but you’ve got to take it. I’m not going to give it away. I work hard at what I do and I love to do it. God’s blessed me with a long career.’’
It is still unclear how Timlin’s return will impact the pitching staff. Obviously, someone will have to go. Bryan Corey, who has struggled in his last two appearances, and David Aardsma are the most likely casualties. Manager Terry Francona spoke this afternoon about how Corey and lefty Javier Lopez are causing some concerns on how to use them in that they are doing well against hitters from the opposite side of the plate, but struggling to retire hitters from their side of the plate.
``He’s more effective against right-handers,’’ Francona said of Lopez, ``and Corey’s the opposite.’’
On still another front, it looks as if Bartolo Colon (strained oblique), currently on the disabled list with Pawtucket, will get back to work some time this weekend.
``The medical people think that’s the road we’re on,’’ Francona said.
The Red Sox wanted to sign Sean Casey because of his veteran presence and personality. Plus, he's a pretty darn good player, too.
The veteran first baseman proved that Wednesday night when he was inserted into the lineup after third baseman Mike Lowell injured his thumb. Because of the injury, first baseman Kevin Youkilis moved to the left side of the infield, and Casey played first and provided two hits offensively.
"Hopefully I can step in and play some good baseball until Mike gets back," Casey said.
"You could tell Case in December to go hit and he could put a good swing on it," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's a good hitter. "This is why we got him. It's hard to find guys who can sit the bench, and are good enough hitters to come off the bench and get hits. He's one of them and he has the attitude to match that."
Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell had an MRI on his injured thumb this afternoon and the team should have the results at 5 p.m. He suffered the setback during the first inning on Wednesday when he made a diving play against the Tigers. He was removed from the game.
When Lowell arrived at Fenway Park this afternoon he was stiff and sore, which was expected. Dr. Thomas Gill will read the MRI in about 30 minutes before the team decides the next course of action for the veteran third baseman.
Due to Lowell's injury, utility infielder Alex Cora went out earlier this afternoon to take some ground balls at third. During his fungo work he felt a "twinge" in his right elbow and was clearly in pain. After a few moments of attempting to shake it off, he made one throw before leaving the field.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he spoke with Cora after Wednesday's game about the possibility of playing third and he agreed to it. After he felt the pain today, he went to the trainer's room and received ice treatment.
Francona said he's hoping this is nothing, but the team will pay attention to it.
There is a possibility the Red Sox will call up a player from the PawSox tonight. If that's the case, veterans Joe Thurston and Keith Ginter, along with rookie Jed Lowrie are all possibilities.
-The Red Sox, who averaged 5.4 runs per game in 2007, are averaging just 3.3 runs per game so far this season.
-If the Sox lose tonight, they will be 4-6, the first time they have had a losing record after 10 games since 1997.
-Only the Mets have more road victories than the Tigers since the start of the 2006 season. Detroit is 93-71 away from Comerica Park since then.
-Magglio Ordonez has the highest batting average off Tim Wakefield (.455) of any player with at least 30 plate appearances.
-Ivan Rodriguez last night became the 87th major leaguer in history to collect his 2,500th hit.
-Marcus Thames, who homered last night, has the sixth-highest home run-to-at-bat ratio in the American League since 2004 (minimum 900 plate appearances). He has averaged one home run every 14.50 at-bats during that span.
Tigers vs. Tim Wakefield
-Ramon Santiago, 4 for 8 (.500), HR, BB
-Magglio Ordonez, 15 for 33 (.455), 2 2B, 2 HR, 2 BB
-Ivan Rodriguez, 13 for 44 (.295), 2B, 3B, 2 HR, BB
-Brandon Inge, 6 for 22 (.273), 2B, 2 HR
-Edgar Renteria, 3 for 11 (.273), 2B
-Gary Sheffield, 9 for 34 (.265), 2B, 2 HR, 8 BB
-Carlos Guillen, 4 for 19 (.211), HR, BB
-Miguel Cabrera, 1 for 5 (.200), BB
-Marcus Thames, 3 for 16 (.188), 2B, HR, BB
-Jacque Jones, 1 for 15 (.067), 2B, BB
-Placido Polanco, 0 for 10, BB
-Wakefield is 13-10 with a 4.50 E.R.A. in 32 career appearances (20 starts) against Detroit.
Red Sox vs. Nate Robertson
-Julio Lugo, 4 for 8 (.500), HR, BB
-Kevin Youkilis, 5 for 13 (.385), 2B, 2 HR, 2 BB
-Jason Varitek, 4 for 11 (.364), 2 2B, HR, BB
-Kevin Cash, 1 for 3 (.333)
-Mike Lowell, 3 for 10 (.300), BB
-Coco Crisp, 8 for 30 (.267), 2B, 2 HR, 4 BB
-Manny Ramirez, 3 for 12 (.250), 3 BB
-Dustin Pedroia, 1 for 5 (.200), BB
-David Ortiz, 3 for 19 (.158), 2B, BB
-J.D. Drew, 0 for 6
-Robertson is 2-3 with a 6.42 E.R.A. in seven career starts against Boston.
Mike Lowell hurt his left wrist Wednesday night and was taken out of the game. Alex Cora was just working on ground balls at third and was injured when he took a grounder off the right wrist. After a few minutes of attempting to shake it off, he made one throw and walked off the field.
At this point a player from Pawtucket has not been called up. If both Lowell and Cora can not go, the Red Sox could recall either veterans Joe Thurston and Keith Ginter or rookie Jed Lowrie.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: An ugly loss to Detroit
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. He discusses last night's game, Mike Lowell's injury, possible roster replacements for Lowell, the bullpen dilemma and Edgar Renteria, who has hit .342 against the Sox since being booed out of town after the 2005 season.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Last night's game: "It was not the best showing for the Red Sox on either side. Jon Lester had control problems, walked four, and that directly cost him. And after geting Bonderman on the ropes early, the offense wasn't able to take much advantage after that; the attack was pretty nonexistent after the third inning."
On Lowell: "He was pretty uncomfortable last night. In fact he needed some help getting his jacket on over his hand and that sprained thumb. ... He'll be reevaluated today, but I think it's clear that were not going to see Mike Lowell for the next few days. I guess for the Red Sox the best case scenario at this point is to stay away from a D.L. visit early in the season, and hope that it can maybe calm down in the next four to five days."
Call-ups if Lowell goes on the DL? "It's not going to be [Chris] Carter, because they do not see him as a first base candidate -- he's had real difficulties over there. [Brandon] Moss could be a possibility to come up, and have Youkilis play third base every day. Another option would be essentially what they did last night, with Casey taking over at first, Youkilis at third and then maybe bringing in somebody like Jed Lowrie to give them some flexiblility; Lowrie can play third as well [as shortstop]."
Aardsma vs. Corey vs. Lopez: "I would have said a week ago that Corey was the guy who probably was going to be kept. ... But he's not helped himself in the last week, either with his showing Saturday in Toronto, or last night when he had a bad inning. For that matter, neither Aardsma nor Lopez have looked sharp of late. So I'm not sure what decisions are going to be made here, but it seems as though neither one of these guys is stepping up and claiming this job for himself."
Renteria, a target of Boston fans: "It seems as if he has used that as some sort of motivation in coming back here, either with Detroit, or playing pretty well against them as a member of the Atlanta Braves. I think it's more evidence that the year he had here was essentially a fluke and that ... hes been a pretty good major league shortstop for 10 years."
ENOUGH, ALREADY: We were holding an impromptu staff meeting in the back of the press box at Fenway Park in the middle of the eighth inning Tuesday afternoon, so we missed what most of you saw: Neil Diamond doing a live-on-tape version of Sweet Caroline, with Tom Werner, Wally The Green Monster and others serving as Pips to Diamond's Gladys Knight. The You Tube clip fails to show the post-song patter between Diamond and Werner:
Werner: "You know, that was great. It's so great hearing Sweet Caroline. We'd love it if you'd ever play that at Fenway Park."
Diamond: "Oh, I would love it, too. We'd have a great party."
Werner: "Would you come this summer, then?"
Diamond: "Are you inviting me?"
Diamond: "I'm there!"
Diamond: "That's a deal!"
(2:43 P.M. NOTE: Thanks to Ian Bethune of the blog Sox and Dawgs, who has the full clip -- along with Steven Tyler's version of God Bless America -- on his site.)
Right. As if the Red Sox hadn't been approaching Diamond's representatives about a Fenway Park concert for years, only to have negotiations constantly break down over availability dates and financial terms. As if after having this song played every night at Fenway since they bought the team in 2002 -- the Boston Globe even used the words "So good! So good!" as its headline after the Sox won the World Series last year -- it only just dawned on the Henry/Werner/Lucchino group that, wow, maybe it would be a good idea to have Neil Diamond perform here.
There's no question that Henry/Werner/Lucchino have accomplished far, far, far more good than bad during their going-on-seven-year stewardship of the Red Sox. But, as Sean McAdam writes today, the Neil Diamond nonsense represents the more unctious side of Red Sox Nation, a side that also showed itself in L'Affaire Buckner. (To wit: A relatively graceless guy, who whined about mistreatment from Red Sox fans for more than 20 years -- he was quoted after the Sox won the 2004 World Series as saying, "I've gone through a lot of, what I feel, undeserved bad situations for myself and my family over a long period of time, and for someone to come up to me and say, 'Hey, you're forgiven,' I mean, it just kind of brings a really bad taste in my mouth" -- and who already had been welcomed back into the fold with a rousing standing ovation on Opening Day 1990, returns in a made-for-television event that's interpreted by those with a passing knowledge of events as a cathartic moment of forgiveness on both sides.) They are, as Sean writes, "self-aggrandizing, over-the-top displays that have become a little too common of late."
Like I say, there's been more good than bad under the new regime -- lots more good than bad -- and if this excess is the price to pay, well, I suppose we can live with it. Because, as Sean also writes, "The fan experience at Fenway, by every measure, has never been more enjoyable and the product on the field never more successful."
MR. HYDE: When Jon Lester attacks the strike zone and has command of his pitches, he can be a formidable presence; witness the 6 2/3 shutout innings he tossed last week in Oakland, and the first three innings of last night's start against the Tigers. But that Jon Lester disappeared with one out in the fourth and into his place stepped the all-over-the-joint Jon Lester, who labored through a 40-pitch mess of an inning that resulted in four Detroit runs and led the way to a 7-2 Tigers victory, recounted here by Carolyn Thornton. In his Inside The Game feature, Steven Krasner examines Lester's inconsistency. Baseball Musing's David Pinto wonders if the Sox should be worried about Lester's 10 walks and 7 strikeouts so far this season, since pitchers "tend not to last long with a K/BB under 1.0."
MUSIC TO MY EARS: Edgar Renteria -- his 30-error performance in 2005 still fresh in the fans' minds -- is the target of Fenway boo-birds. But, according to the Boston Herald's Steve Buckley, he loves it.
THE BEST-LAID PLANS: Joe Girardi opened himself up to plenty of second-guessing when he held back starter Ian Kennedy because it was raining in Kansas City -- only to use Kennedy in the sixth inning as the game was played in spite of the weather -- but the New York Post's George King says the 4-0 loss can be blamed on the "Dead Bat Society," not any pitching decisions by Girardi. The good news for the Yanks is that Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada probably won't have to go on the disabled list. (New York Daily News)
ONE OR THE OTHER: Goose Gossage, who was both a starter and a reliever in his early days -- and whose Hall of Fame career didn't take off until he concentrated solely on relief pitching -- thinks the Yankees should keep Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen. (New York Post)