TORONTO -- The man who leads the Red Sox in games and at-bats this season got a day off on Thursday, but he didn't like it. Marco Scutaro loves to play, and each time manager Terry Francona suggests a rare respite, he tries to talk him out of it.
This time, Francona won, and Scutaro was out of the lineup for the first time since July 21.
"Yeah, he's [mad]," Francona said. "But you know what, he needs it. This will be really good for him. It's a quick turnaround. Going into Texas, it's going to be hot. I just think it would be good for him. He followed me clear into the shower last night [to argue]. But sometimes he needs it. We were kind of going back and forth the last time, and he went out and played a game. I think he had a couple of errors. We said, 'There's no discussion next time.' He laughed then. But last night he was [mad]. He'll survive."
Scutaro has played in 112 games for the Sox, 110 of them starts.
With Thursday being a day game after a night game and Boston opening a three-game series in the Texas heat on Friday, this was the perfect time to give Scutaro a rest.
Scutaro's eagerness to play has been a good thing for Boston. Until shortstop Jed Lowrie opened his season on July 21 following a near four-month absence with mononucleosis, Francona didn't really have many options at shortstop.
"Billy [Hall] went over there, but that's probably the one place [that's hard for him]," Francona said. "That's a lot to ask. He's a pretty big guy. But Scoot has been out there all year. There's a lot to be said for a guy going out there. Even when you're 0-for-4, you go out there, and that's what good professionals do."
Scutaro is hitting .267 with 65 runs, seven homers and 37 RBIs. He isn't having the same year he did in Toronto last season, but Francona doesn't doubt that the shortstop has been at less than perfect health. On May 19, Scutaro had a cortisone shot to ease the pain from a pinched nerve in his neck.
Scutaro has slumped of late, with just two hits in 27 at-bats on this road trip. In August, he is hitting .143 with no homers and two RBIs.
"I think he's doing OK," Francona said. "I think [the shots] helped. Again, it's hard when you're playing every day to see a whole heck of a lot of improvement or gains in strength. That's what we were worried about a little bit -- that he was starting to lose strength. Hopefully, the shots maybe stopped that. That's what I mean [by him needing the day off]. That's what we need to stop."
Big Papi in rare company with 25th homer
TORONTO -- When David Ortiz belted his 25th homer of the season on Thursday, it marked the seventh time he has hit that many for the Red Sox. That is no small feat.
The only two players who produced that many 25-homer seasons in a Boston uniform? Ted Williams and Jim Rice, both Hall of Famers. Williams did it 14 times, while Ortiz tied Rice by doing it for the seventh time.
Big Papi laughed when asked if he would make a run at Williams.
"Man, I ain't playing that long," said Ortiz.
Ortiz said he was unaware of the milestone until a member of the media informed him of it.
"News to me," Ortiz said. "Not bad, huh?"
Ortiz just wishes his milestone came during a win. Instead, the Red Sox blew a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth and lost, 6-5, to the Blue Jays.
"You have to [shake it off]," Ortiz said. "What else can you do? I always tell [the media] -- come out with a clean mind and play your best. Texas has a good team."
The Red Sox open a three-game set with the Rangers on Friday night trailing the Rays by four games in the American League Wild Card standings.
Salty impresses on both sides in first start
TORONTO -- From an individual standpoint, Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a solid first start for the Red Sox on Thursday. At the plate, he was 2-for-4 with a run scored and two doubles. Behind it, he threw out Aaron Hill with a perfect throw.
The only thing Saltalamacchia would take back would be the end result, a crushing 6-5 walk-off loss to the Blue Jays. The Red Sox had a 5-2 lead entering the bottom of the ninth.
"I felt good, felt comfortable at the plate," Saltalamacchia said. "The biggest thing right now is just getting used to the pitchers, trying to find out what they like to throw at what time, and at the same time, getting to know the hitters as well. It's frustrating to end the game like that, obviously."
John Lackey certainly seemed comfortable throwing to Saltalamacchia, allowing eight hits and three runs over eight-plus innings.
"He was great," credited Lackey. "He was really in tune in between innings with what we were trying to do. He put together a game plan pretty easily, and we really were pretty much on the same page, so it was good."
All in all, it was an impressive crash course for Saltalamacchia, who was promoted from Triple-A on Wednesday.
"I thought he did a really good job," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "That's not the easiest circumstances coming in and running the game. I thought he did a real good job. That's probably the quickest time we've had to second base all year on his throw. I thought he handled himself real well."
Lefty Hideki Okajima, who is on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain, has felt well playing catch the last couple of days. "He got out to 120 feet yesterday," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "No complaints [or] anything like that. The one thing he expressed, 'I don't know how it will feel when I get on the mound because of the incline,' which we understand. But the hope is, by the time we get him there, he's feeling good so he can turn it loose. I don't know, I really don't know. We'll see." ... Center fielder Mike Cameron (lower abdominal strain) has done OK taking batting practice, but it's too early in his progression to know when or if he will be back this season. ... With Marco Scutaro getting the day off, Jacoby Ellsbury -- who batted ninth the previous three games -- was back in the leadoff spot. ... Dustin Pedroia flew home from Toronto during Thursday's game and will have his meeting with foot specialist Dr. George Theodore on Friday. As long as that checkup goes fine, Pedroia will start his two-game rehab assignment for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday night.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.