Shortstop Julio Lugo, who suffered a mild concussion in a baseline collision on Friday night, still isn't ready to return to action.
But manager Terry Francona said there were some encouraging signs for Lugo.
He said Lugo rode the stationary bike during Sunday night's game without any ill effects. Francona said Lugo was going to try some baseball activities today as an even stiffer test to his recovery process.
"I'd say that 'day-to-day' would be accurate," said Francona in describing Lugo's playing status. "But aren't we all?"
Boston manager Terry Francona has been mixing and matching with his starting lineup for a variety of reasons, notably injuries and a desire to keep everyone as fresh as possible over the long season.
So in tonight's lineup, Manny Ramirez (hamstring) returns to the outfield. Jacoby Ellsbury (bruised left knee) is on the bench. Julio Lugo (mild concussion) remains sidelined, so Alex Cora again is playing shortstop. And Sean Casey, activated from the disabled list today, is giving Player of the Week Kevin Youkilis a breather at first base.
Ramirez did not start Sunday but appeared as a pinch hitter, grounding out for the final out of the game. This afternoon, Ramirez was in good spirits as he rode the stationary bike in the clubhouse.
Ellsbury was hit by a pitch on the inside of his knee in the third inning Sunday night, but Francona didn't have any options but to keep him in the game.
"I walked him down all the way to first base (after he was hit) and offered him some Tylenol, but I told him there was no one behind him," said Francona.
Ellsbury didn't show any effects of the bruise in making a sensational diving catch in left field going toward the line in robbing Joe Mauer of an extra-base hit in the eighth inning.
Francona said Ellsbury could have started tonight, but with a healthy and red-hot Coco Crisp around to play in center, and with Ramirez ready to return, it made sense for him to keep Ellsbury on the bench, at least at the start of the game.
Casey has hit hit well in his career against Livan Hernandez, Minnesota's starter tonight, so he'll be at first base, which gives Francona an opportunity to rest Youkilis, a move Youkilis embraced.
"I went to him the other day and he said that would benefit him, so when he said that, it made (the move) easy," said Francona.
"It's a good day for it because playing on this turf (in the Metrodome) makes your legs a little tight, the calfs and the hamstrings," said Youkilis. "I didn't ask for the day off, but it's good for the team to have Sean get some at-bats because we're going to need him to play over the course of the season."
Francona mentioned that he'd like to give Lowell a day off, so for one of the two games in Baltimore, either tomorrow night or Wednesday, it's likely Youkilis will move to third and Casey will get another start at first.
The Sox' Kevin Youkilis was named the American League's Player of the Week for the period May 5-11.
Over that stretch, Youkilis batted .375 (12 for 32) with three doubles, five homers and 10 homers for a slugging percentage of .938. He led the league in extra-base hits and total bases for the week.
Youkilis had five multiple-hit games in the seven games for the period, with at least one extra-base hit in five of the games.
This is the first time Youkilis has been honored as a Player of the Week.
Youkilis took the award in stride.
"Things are going well so far," said Youkilis. "I've had a nice little hot streak. But I'm just trying to do the same things over and over. If you have a good week in this game you still have to put it aside and play for the day."
Youkilis has a nine-game hitting streak. Over that stretch he is batting .421 (16 for 38) with six homers, five doubles and 15 RBI, raising his average from .287 to .322.
Right-hander Julian Tavarez has been designated for assignment to make room for Sean Casey on the roster.
The Sox now have 10 days to trade Tavarez, release him or outright assign him to the minors, an assignment Tavarez can veto because of his service time. Tavarez was the forgotten man in the Boston bullpen this season, appearing in only nine games, including a 1 1/3-inning stint against the Twins on Sunday night. He was 0-1 with a 6.39 earned-run average.
The move spared Craig Hansen an option to Pawtucket. The Red Sox have been impressed by Hansen's performances in Pawtucket this season, and have seen enough good things out of him in three outings with Boston over two brief periods with the big-league club to forego the easy move -- optioning him to the PawSox.
The roster move cuts the number of Red Sox pitchers to 12, adding to a position player to the very thin bench. Casey had been on the disabled list since April 26 because of a right hip strain. Casey was hitting .346 (18 for 52) when he suffered the injury.
Boston manager Terry Francona praised Tavarez for "saving us" last year when the team needed a starter and Tavarez gave the Red Sox three solid months in the role. But Tavarez had been reduced to a mop-up man in blowouts, and Francona thought other pitchers could help in other roles to win games, so Tavarez was designated and Hansen stays.
"The way Hansen was throwing had something to do with (the move). He's pitching well," said Francona. "We have a lot of confidence in Hansen. It may not have come down to one guy (or the other), maybe more of a philosophy than one guy, but we wanted to get Hansen up here last week."
Hansen said he was sorry to see Tavarez go, and that he was a bit surprised he wasn't on his way back to Pawtucket. But he's eager to stick around and show what he can do.
"In all honesty I thought I was going to be sent down. I thought they'd just use my option," said Hansen. "I was at lunch with Manny (Delcarmen) in the hotel and I saw Julian saying good-by to everyone, so I put two and two together and figured something happened to him. That's part of the game. I can't control that.
"I just have to try to keep pitching well," said Hansen. "I'll give myself a boost of confidence if I pitch well. I feel pretty strong. All of my pitches have been working."
In past seasons, it was Tavarez who served as a spokesman for Manny Ramirez when the Sox' slugging left fielder didn't want to talk. This afternoon, Ramirez was good-naturedly bemoaning Tavarez' departure in the clubhouse.
"They got rid of Julian," said Ramirez with a twinkle in his eyes. "They didn't ask me about it. What the (heck)?"
But Bradford says that Manny was not joking when he said this:
"I think I'm the best ever to play left field in Boston."
Manny goes on in the story about the way he has revolutionized his position with his flip-throwing motion on tosses back into the infield, and he analyzes the pros and cons of playing shallow in Fenway's left field.
It all makes you wonder, in Manny's words: "How am I going to win a Gold Glove if they take me out in the eighth [inning]?"
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: The hits keep on coming
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. Today's topics: the relentless Red Sox offense, Kevin Cash the .375 hitter, doing it with speed and power, tonight's date with Livan Hernandez, and the still-hot Tampa Bay Rays.
NOT GROUNDED FOR LONG: They don't go down easy, these Red Sox. Jacoby Ellsbury looked as if his night might be finished when he was hit in the knee by a pitch in the third inning (above), but he stayed in the game, scored a run by sprinting home on a sacrifice fly, and later made a running catch in right-center field. He was sort of a symbol of his team, which found itself on the short end of 5-0, 7-1 and 9-6 scores at various points during the evening and still came this close to pulling out an improbable win over the Twins. There was no Mother's Day Miracle this time, however, as pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez grounded out with the tying run in scoring position. Steven Krasner has the details of what Terry Francona called "as exciting a game [as] you can have and not win."
ERUDITE EMPIRE: That's what Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune is calling the Red Sox, whom he admires for their skill and their intelligence. Souhan says the Sox are "a super power . . . [who have] surpassed the Yankees as the dominant franchise in baseball."
(He also makes a Chuck Knoblauch/Dustin Pedroia comparison that, I have to admit, occured to me at some point last night while Pedroia was fouling off Nick Blackburn pitch after Nick Blackburn pitch.)
CRISP AND EFFICIENT: He still wants to play every day, and he knows that -- when everyone's healthy -- it's probably not going to happen here. But for now, reports Cafardo, Coco Crisp is "going with the flow" . . . and the Sox are reaping the benefits.
NEXT! Bartolo Colon may soon hop onto the well-traveled Pawtucket-to-Boston shuttle. He pitched well Saturday night in his first appearance since suffering an oblique strain in April and Joe McDonald reports the Sox will be faced with a perplexing decision. To wit: We can assume Colon isn't going to accept an extended stay at Pawtucket, especially with so many teams -- such as the one 160 miles to the south -- in need of starting pitching. So whenever the new opt-out day in his contract arrives, the Sox will either have to promote him or let him go. And if they let him go, they'll know they rehabbed him and nursed him back to health so he could pitch against them for somebody else . . . like the Yankees.
If all that sounds to you as if One Ben Mondor Way will -- barring unexpected injury to someone else in the rotation -- be the summer address for Clay Buchholz, I'd say you've got good ears.
THE RULE: Having read the book, I can say I totally agree with Chad Finn's glowing review of Red Sox Rule by Michael Holley. (I also agree with his criticisms of Patriot Reign, for the exact reasons he states.) Holley talks about the Sox book with the Boston Globe.
ENOUGH, ALREADY: It's one thing for opponents to be irritated by Joba Chamberlain's pumping and screaming and dancing. But now Goose Gossage is telling him to knock it off and act like a Yankee. (Bergen Record)
JUST TRYIN' TO CAPTURE THE SPIRIT OF THE THING: It isn't often that a newspaper reporter will start a story with the letters "P.U.", but the New York Post's George King did in describing Kei Igawa's performance Friday night in Detroit. (New York Post)
WHERE THERE'S SMOKE . . . The Reds and Mariners have spent the better part of a week denying there's anything to these Ken Griffey Jr.-back-to-Seattle reports, but the Dayton Daily News' Hal McCoy reports the M's "desperately" want him back and have sent one of their executives to check him out. Pinto says that while Griffey would be an improvement over Seattle's current crop of DHs he's not nearly the player he used to be, and wonders why they wouldn't simply sign Barry Bonds instead.
-- The Red Sox are batting .336 with 33 doubles, 16 home runs and 70 runs scored over their last 10 games. They have scored at least five runs in each of those games and have a record of 7-3 over that stretch.
But they have had trouble hitting with men in scoring position in this series. The Red Sox are a combined 9 for 40 (.225) with RISP in the three games.
-- Hitting coach Dave Magadan was trying to get a hit for Coco Crisp on his grounder off pitcher Joe Nathan that resulted in an out on the sliding J.D. Drew at third base in the dramatic ninth inning last night. Magadan claimed, correctly, that there was no way Nathan could have thrown out Crisp on the play.
Magadan wasn't successful in his postgame mission, though. The rule states that if a ball stays in the infield and a baserunner is thrown out trying to advance a base, a fielder's choice, not a base hit, has to be ruled even if the hitter would have beaten any play on him at first base.
-- The two homers by the Twins in the second off Tim Wakefield accounted not only for the first time Minnesota had hit two round-trippers in one inning, but also, amazingly, the first time the Twins had gone deep twice in one game. Minnesota entered the game dead last in the majors with 17 homers. The last time they hit two in an inning was on Aug. 24, 2007. They added a third homer later in the game.
-- Sox reliever Mike Timlin made his 1,023rd appearance, snapping a tie with Jose Mesa and Lee Smith and moving into 8th place on the all-time list.
Alex Cora returned to the roster Sunday, activated from the disabled list.
The utility infielder went 3 for 4 Sunday night in a start at shortstop against the Twins. The performance actually lowered his batting average from 1.000 (3 for 3) to .857. He has been on base in eight of his nine trips to the plate.
Cora bounced out to the pitcher in his first at-bat, but then grounded a single up the middle, roped a double off the fence in right and slapped a single to left in his other three plate appearances against the Twins.
Kevin Youkilis will receive strong consideration for the Player of the Week Award for the period of May 5-11.
The Red Sox first baseman went 2 for 5 with an RBI in last night's 9-8 loss to the Twins, finishing the week batting .375 (12 for 32). But it won't be just his batting average that will make him a contender for the award. It will be the power he displayed.
Youkilis had three doubles five homers and knocked in 10 runs over the seven games.
Overall, Youkilis extended his hitting streak to nine games. He is batting .395 (15 for 38) with 11 runs scored, five doubles, six homers and 15 RBI over that period. The surge has boosted his average from .287 to .322.