Notes: Along with his new do, Kielty's up
To make room for veteran, Sox send Ellsbury down to Triple-A
BOSTON -- There was a redhead in the Red Sox's clubhouse before Saturday's game, a fact that will not escape headline writers for as long as Bobby Kielty's career plays out in Boston.
Kielty, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound outfielder and Boston's newest right-handed bat, was in uniform before the Red Sox took on the Angels at Fenway Park. The team purchased Kielty's contract from Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday, 12 days after it signed the former Twin and Athletic to a Minor League contract.
To make room on the roster for Kielty, the Sox sent rookie outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury back to Triple-A.
"I went short, when I got [designated for assignment] from the A's," Kielty said, referring to his new haircut.
Kielty smiled, looking like a changed man after shearing his signature carrot top, which made him a cult hero in Oakland, down to a buzzcut.
"I just figured, I wasn't really sure about bringing a really big 'fro to another team," Kielty said.
And so, just like the others before him who made the sober journey east, carrying World Series aspirations from less serious outposts, Kielty commemorated his addition to Boston's veteran roster with a haircut. In the past, that courtesy has usually been reserved by players who've joined the Yankees.
But these are different times. At 73-49 heading into Saturday's action, the Red Sox own baseball's best record; the Yankees, who pulled within 4 1/2 games in the American League East by beating the Tigers on Saturday, now represent the insurgency.
The Red Sox hope that by adding Kielty, after trading strikeout-prone reserve outfielder Wily Mo Pena to the Nationals, they've formed a better-rounded, "more functional" bench, general manager Theo Epstein said on Friday.
"They want me to hit off lefties," said Kielty, who owns a .296 average and .509 slugging percentage in 676 career at-bats against southpaws. "I've done really well in the big leagues against left-handed pitching. That's kind of my role. I know my role."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that he believed Kielty, a career reserve in the Majors, can "be kind of that professional hitter," the type of reserve who thrives only after learning how to handle frustration.
"Because there's a ton of it, especially as a bench player," Francona said. "How you handle frustration goes a long way, not only toward keeping your sanity, but helping the ballclub win."
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Kielty when he suits up against left-handers Joe Saunders on Sunday and Scott Kazmir on Monday. Kielty grew up rooting for Roger Clemens' Red Sox in Southern California. His father, Roger, originally hails from Fitchburg, Mass.
"I think anybody that plays baseball when they're a young kid, and they watch a team when they're younger, [wants] to play for [the Red Sox]," Kielty said.
Cash considerations: Kevin Cash, the second-newest Red Sox after replacing the disabled list-bound catcher Doug Mirabelli on Friday, said all the right things after joining the roster.
"If there's any place to play in baseball," Cash said, moments after Boston lost a wild nightcap in Friday's day-night doubleheader, "it's Fenway Park."
Cash, a three-year veteran of the Majors who caught a pair of knuckleballers -- Charlie Zink and John Barnes -- in the Red Sox's system, will serve in Mirabelli's old role. In addition to catching Tim Wakefield's knuckler on Monday in St. Petersburg, he'll spell regular catcher Jason Varitek on Sunday in the series finale.
Varitek caught both games of Friday's doubleheader after Mirabelli left the first inning of Game 1 with a strained right calf. Cash learned about Mirabelli's injury on the Triple-A Pawtucket assistant trainer's computer.
Two seconds later, Cash said that he got a call.
Rotation switch: Francona announced a change to the starting rotation before Saturday's game. Julian Tavarez will make a spot start against the Angels on Sunday, a decision that required the Red Sox not to use him during Friday's doubleheader as a reliever. In other words, Francona said, the announcement "wasn't sleight of hand or trickery."
The Red Sox now have a rotation that is aligned for the next three weeks of series. Among other advantages, Wakefield, who owns an 18-2 career record against the Devil Rays, 8-0 at Tropicana Field, will start on Monday.
Perhaps, most importantly, the Red Sox have a three-day rotation of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling to throw against the Yankees on Aug. 28-30.
Francona declined to address the significance of that move.
"The biggest thing is probably not where guys are pitching, but consistent rest," he said. "Not too much, not too little. And we're talking about the entire staff, not just one guy."
Sox honor Tony C: Tony Conigliaro, the late Red Sox slugger who was the youngest player in Major League history to hit 100 home runs when he did it in July 1967, was honored before Saturday's game.
It was the 40th anniversary of his beaning by the Angels' Jack Hamilton, an incident that ultimately ended his career. Conigliaro's brother, Richie; uncle, Tony; and daughter, Jessica Wheaton; were all honored on the field. Conigliaro's nephew, Tony, threw out the ceremonial first pitch, after a video montage.
Fifteen members of the 1967 Red Sox attended the ceremony.
Final Jimmy Fund figure: On Saturday, the results were in. The sixth annual WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon raised more than $3.68 million. Dodgers owner Frank McCourt gave the largest gift, a record $50,000.
On deck: The Red Sox close out their homestand at Fenway Park with a 2:05 p.m. ET tilt against the Angels on Sunday. Tavarez (6-8, 5.12 ERA), making the spot start, will take on Saunders (6-1, 3.50).
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.