Notes: Lineup gets another shuffle
Pedroia leads off; Cora in for Lugo batting eighth Friday
BOSTON -- The way things used to be, a single lineup change could invite controversy. Alex Cora in for Julio Lugo? That move, made in late April or early May, might have fueled an endless talk-radio debate, just like it did when Cora spelled second baseman Dustin Pedroia during his struggles.
With minor injuries and true slumps exposing fissures in the Red Sox lineup, as elsewhere in baseball, hardly a day goes by without a new leadoff man here, a new outfielder there. These shifting sands aren't reason for worry, manager Terry Francona said. They are part of the game.
On Friday night, the most obvious difference in the lineup against Texas was the presence of Pedroia at the top of the order, where he hadn't hit since June 12 against the Rockies. The reason: With right-handed-hitting catcher Doug Mirabelli making his typical appearance in the nine hole for knuckleballer Tim Wakefield's start, and incumbent leadoff man Coco Crisp out of the lineup, Francona wanted to bump down J.D. Drew, the left-handed leadoff option.
"We were going to get a little bit right-handed dominant from four on down," Francona said. "That didn't seem to make a lot of sense."
As for Lugo, who is struggling so much that Francona pinch-hit for him late on Wednesday, "I do know that sometimes when a guy's really struggling, giving him a game or two off isn't the worst thing in the world," Francona said.
Cora batted eighth, ahead of Mirabelli. Lugo, following recent routine, spent extra time before Friday's game with hitting coach Dave Magadan.
"In my opinion," Francona added, "sitting a guy for a day or two is not giving up on him."
Crisp sits: Crisp, meanwhile, took a precautionary day off after bruising his thumb in Seattle this week. The center fielder, who has only really missed significant time in the past because of hand and wrist injuries, checked out "OK" in an evaluation by team doctors and is day-to-day, according to Francona.
"Maybe [we're] being a little overcautious," Francona said of Crisp, who was replaced by Wily Mo Pena in the seven hole. "But [we] don't want to lose him for an extended period of time. So we'll give him a night off and hope he'll be OK tomorrow."
If Crisp was in pain, he didn't show it before Friday's game. Back at Fenway Park for the first time since entering a 16-for-36 tear on the road, Crisp was open and gregarious with reporters, seemingly free of the frustrations that plagued him through a luckless first two months.
He was all smiles as he offered reporters a taste of a complimentary ice-cold, chocolate-flavored, carbonated drink that a local manufacturer had sent him. If a label were slapped on Crisp's month of June, 'Coco Fizz' might be an appropriate name for that, too. He has raised his OPS by 100 points in just two weeks.
Lowell stays: Third baseman Mike Lowell is coping with a bruised thumb of his own. After a pair of days off in Atlanta and a pair of extra-base hits in Seattle, Lowell said his health is "progressing."
More injury news: Matt Clement: remember the name? The former member of the Red Sox rotation and 2005 American League All-Star will throw a bullpen session for Francona on Saturday.
Clement has been rehabbing his right shoulder since undergoing arthroscopic surgery by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., on Sept. 26, 2006.
"When you finally get to lay some eyes on somebody after this period of time," Francona said, "it'll be fun to watch him throw."
Right-handed reliever Brendan Donnelly, sidelined since hurting his forearm in the bullpen on June 15, was scheduled to be re-evaluated after throwing on flat ground on Friday.
Starter Curt Schilling, on the disabled list since last Friday, retroactive to June 20, will be evaluated again on Monday.
On deck: On Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ET, Texas native Josh Beckett gets a shot for his Major League-leading 12th win against the Rangers. Texas entered Friday's game with a collective .327 on-base percentage, 11th in the American League, but had scored the third-most runs in baseball on the strength of its AL-leading 99 home runs. Robinson Tejeda will get the nod for the Rangers.
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.