08/11/2002 2:00 pm ET
MLBeat: Floyd's flexor is minor
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
BOSTON -- After suffering a right hip flexor on Saturday, left fielder Cliff Floyd was out of the lineup on Sunday, and manager Grady Little didn't expect to use him in the game.
"Cliff's not so good today," Little said. "We're going to treat that thing today and see if we can't get him ready to go Tuesday. It's doubtful he'll see any action."
The news was better on second baseman Rey Sanchez, who left Saturday's game with flu-like symptoms. Sanchez wasn't in the lineup, but Little said that was only because he had already planned on starting Lou Merloni at second base in the finale of the Twins' series.
Merloni came off the bench Saturday to make several fine fielding plays to help preserve a shutout performance by Pedro Martinez.
As for Floyd, Little isn't worried that it was going to be anything long-term. In fact, he was hoping to get Boston's prized new acquisition in the lineup Tuesday night in Seattle. The Red Sox are off Monday before embarking on a six-game road trip.
"It's one of those things a guy can play with," Little said. "It's not something he can make worse by playing. It's painful for him right now. We'll try and get it to where it's a little less painful."
Floyd, who is also playing with a sore right Achilles, suffered the injury trying to beat out a groundout. He stretched out a little too much on his last stride, causing the flexor in his hip.
Next three weeks critical: As Little sat in his office before Sunday's game, he was sketching out a chart of how he will use his starting pitchers all the way into early September. He feels the Red Sox are at a critical juncture that ends on Sept. 4, when they finish their season series with the Yankees.
The Yankees come to Fenway Park for a two-game series Aug. 27, and the rivals meet for three games in the Bronx, beginning with a Labor Day matinee on Sept. 2.
"It's getting late, and everything we do now has to be done the right way," Little said. "We're trying to get through the fourth of September right now. That's probably about the time we'll start wondering if we can catch the Yankees or if we're going to start looking at the Wild Card."
Part of Little's tentative plan is for Pedro Martinez to pitch the opener in both series against the Yankees. He also said he will try and set things so Derek Lowe can pitch in the series in New York.
"We're down four games now, if we can just somehow pick up one game a week, that will put us right where we want to be," Little said.
Cloninger trying to work out Castillo's kinks: With the Red Sox leading the American League in ERA, their overall pitching has been a plus. But the one major problem now is veteran Frank Castillo, who was demoted from the rotation last month, and has continued to struggle in the bullpen.
Castillo suffered the loss Friday night, and is 5-12 with a 5.56 ERA.
"The sad part of my year is seeing a guy like Frankie Castillo," said Red Sox pitching coach Tony Cloninger. "I know he's a lot better than his record. It was just some circumstances earlier in the yea where he wasn't getting many runs. The guy works so hard."
Cloninger is working hard to get the likable veteran back on track.
"Tony is working with a couple of things on his delivery to try and get him straightened out," Little said. "Tony's good at fixing things, that's why he's here. He's trying to fix him right now. He recognizes things that aren't working for someone."
Side note: Dustin Hermanson returned from Florida Sunday, and threw a side session with Cloninger watching. Hermanson will make a brief start for the PawSox on Tuesday, and start again for the Triple-A affiliate Sunday, throwing perhaps as many as 75 pitches.
Little hasn't decided yet if Hermanson will start or pitch in relief. And some of that depends on Tim Wakefield.
"Tim Wakefield is such an important factor for us. If he goes out and throws two shutouts in these next two starts we're not taking him out of the rotation," Little said. "Tim Wakefield is important to us, as he has been all season. He gives us quality outings all the time, whether it's starting or in the bullpen."
Little also didn't rule out mixing and matching Wakefield and Hermanson between starting and relief, depending on the opponent.
Fantasy edge: Despite a couple of nagging injuries, Floyd has caught fire since joining the Red Sox. He is hitting .400 (12-for-30) with seven doubles and a homer in his first nine games.
Ian Browne, who covers the Red Sox for MLB.com, can be reached at Ian.Browne@mlb.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.