Notes: Lowell gets another night off
Sprained left thumb continues to bother Sox third baseman
ATLANTA -- With the Red Sox forced to alter their lineup because they don't have the designated hitter, manager Terry Francona scrapped his original plan to have Kevin Youkilis be the odd man out on Wednesday night. Instead, it was third baseman Mike Lowell sitting out for the second straight night while Kevin Youkilis played the hot corner and David Ortiz started at first.
The reason? Lowell has been bothered by a sprained ligament in his left thumb since June 3, when he made a play down the line against the Yankees. Since that night, Lowell has just eight hits in 49 at-bats, a span which has seen his average tumble from .333 to .299.
Because the Red Sox have an off-day on Thursday, Lowell will have three days of rest when he presumably returns to the lineup on Friday night at San Diego.
"I talked to him [Tuesday]," said Francona. "I said, 'With this thumb, if we sit you a couple of days with the off-day, it's a chance to maybe give you a little jolt.' He said, 'Yeah, I think so.'
"So that's what we're doing," continued Francona. "We have to play by these rules anyway. We have to take advantage of it and have him feel closer to himself than he has been. There's been times it's affected his swing. And he'll play every day. But I'd like to give him a chance to be OK. I think he understands that. I think he's actually OK with it."
Early night for Drew: J.D. Drew led off Wednesday's game with a homer. One inning later, he doubled to right and trotted home on a two-run shot by David Ortiz. But when the Braves came to bat in the bottom of the second, Drew was replaced by Wily Mo Pena. Drew came out of the game with tightness in his right quad. According to the Red Sox, the decision to take Drew out of the game was precautionary.
Donnelly resumes throwing: Reliever Brendan Donnelly threw off of flat ground before Wednesday's game, marking the first time he's done any kind of throwing since being placed on the disabled list with a strained right forearm. The reliever is eligible to come off the disabled list on Tuesday. However, it could be a few more days.
"They have a progression type thing," said Donnelly. "I have to go kind of step by step and successfully pass that step before going onto Step 2."
So far, so good.
"It was a pass-fail type test today, and I passed," said Donnelly. "It will continue from long toss to the bullpen and back in action. That's the plan. You can't predict anything. It's not easy not being able to compete."
Reunion time: It will be a nostalgic weekend for many members of the Boston front office when the club plays in San Diego this weekend. Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino served in that same capacity with the Padres from 1995-01 and is widely regarded as the driving force in the construction of PETCO Park.
When Lucchino came to Boston, he brought a boatload of employees over with him from San Diego. Lucchino brought Theo Epstein to Boston as the assistant general manager before promoting him to general manager one year later. Others who came to Boston from San Diego? Chief operating officer Mike Dee, executive vice president/public affairs Charles Steinberg, radio broadcaster Glenn Geffner, vice president of sales/marketing Sam Kennedy and many others.
The Red Sox extended an invite to every full-time employee in the organization to make the trip to San Diego. The contingent of roughly 90 employees will leave Boston on Friday morning and take a red-eye home on Sunday night.
Roster move Friday: Because it didn't make a whole lot of sense to fly someone in to Atlanta for just one game, the Red Sox will wait until Friday to call someone up from the Minor Leagues to correspond with the move of placing Curt Schilling on the disabled list.
Francona left open the possibility that the Sox could fill Schilling's spot with either a position player or a pitcher. With the Red Sox playing under National League rules over the weekend, having an extra pinch-hitter could be an added bonus.
The Red Sox, as is their usual custom, held off on saying which pitcher will get called up to take Schilling's spot in the rotation on Tuesday in Seattle.
Sunday special: Had Schilling not been disabled, he would have pitched Sunday's game. Instead, a top pitching matchup will unfold. The Red Sox will send Josh Beckett (10-1, 3.14 ERA) to the mound against Padres ace Jake Peavy (9-1, 1.98 ERA). There's at least a chance that same pitching matchup could take place for the July 10 All-Star Game at San Francisco.
Faith in Lugo: With Alex Cora playing a productive game in place of regular shortstop Julio Lugo on Tuesday, did Francona have any thought of sticking with him in this one?
"If I said I didn't think about it, I'd probably be lying," Francona said. "I thought it would be making a mistake. I think it's so easy to look at the little picture. Sometimes it's harder to look at the bigger picture. But I think I have a responsibility to do that. The best way for us to win is Lugo needs to get hot."
On deck: Following Thursday's off-day, the Red Sox will send Daisuke Matsuzaka to the mound for Friday's 10:05 p.m. ET opener of a three-game series. The Padres counter with future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.