PHILADELPHIA -- While top prospect Will Middlebrooks is dealing with the first rough patch of his Major League career, third baseman Kevin Youkilis went 1-for-3 during his second rehab game Friday night with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Middlebrooks is batting .105 (2-for-19) over his past five games. Manager Bobby Valentine said Middlebrooks isn't getting figured out, he's just "regressing towards the mean," and change wouldn't be the best idea.
"You'll hear a lot about 'making adjustments' and all other things that I consider kind of nonsense," Valentine said of Middlebrooks. "The adjustment is ... know who you are, be who you are, stay there, and I think he's doing that."
"Guys start making adjustments and then they get back to who they are," said Middlebrooks. "I raised my hands, I opened my stance, I stride less, I'm taking the first pitch, I'm doing all these things and they're 1-for-36. Hey, what are you doing now? Hold on, just seeing the ball like I used to. I'm feeling good and I'm back to who I am."
As for Youkilis, who is out with a lower back strain, Valentine said "he seems very healthy now," and just needs to see some more pitches.
When will Youkilis return?
"Whenever he says he's ready and the training room says he's ready," Valentine said. "It seems like he played a good game the other day. ... He could be back soon."
Close play at first leads to Valentine's ejection
BOSTON -- With a few finger wags and jumps, Bobby Valentine took his first ejection as manager of the Red Sox on Friday night, on the second-to-last out of a 6-4 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Marlon Byrd hit a grounder up the middle, and according to first-base umpire Gary Darling, did not beat the throw of shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who made a ranging play to his left.
First-base coach Alex Ochoa argued the play before Valentine ran out. Valentine was animated, jumping up and down to illustrate the throw pulled first baseman Ty Wigginton off the bag. After a heated discussion, Valentine walked away from Darling.
"I thought he was off, I thought he had left the base," said Valentine, who has been ejected 38 times in his career as a big league manager.
Darling's gum fell out of his mouth as he and Valentine talked, and Valentine walked away pointing. It appeared in reaching for the gum, Darling might have made contact with Valentine, who after the game waved off a question about any contact.
Papi out of lineup, but pinch-hits in eighth
PHILADELPHIA -- David Ortiz -- or "Big Sloppy," as former closer Jonathan Papelbon referred genially to his ex-teammate Friday -- was not in the lineup for Game No. 1 of the Red Sox's Interleague schedule, against the Phillies.
Manager Bobby Valentine said he had been looking to get Ortiz a day off.
"This is a long stretch. I know he's DH'ing, but he's running around the bases every game," Valentine said. "I was looking for one of these days for him not to play anyway. Today, [Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels] is actually a little tougher against right-handers than left-thanders, and it wouldn't [be] a bad guy for him to be hitting against. But I figured, take the off-day today. You can always have a different plan for tomorrow."
Valentine said he does indeed have a plan for Ortiz's use in these Interleague games, which force Ortiz to play first base if he's to be in the starting lineup. He's still a dangerous option off the bench.
"I shared it with David," Valentine said. "He's not playing today, but he is so available."
Ortiz did make his way into Friday's game, but he grounded out while pinch-hitting for Matt Albers in the eighth inning.
Before the game, Papelbon, now the Phillies' closer, said he'd particularly relish facing Ortiz.
"Big Sloppy. That's my man," Papelbon said. "I don't think he's going to play. Is he playing tonight? I knew he wouldn't play, man. I knew he wouldn't be playing."
Ortiz, in turn, had a message for Papelbon.
"You tell him two things," Ortiz said. "He's not going to throw fastballs by me, No. 1, and he better not hang that splitter. Let him know."
Salty, Ross get banged up in loss to Phillies
PHILADELPHIA -- Two Red Sox players were hurt in a 6-4 loss to the Phillies on Friday night, when outfielder Cody Ross fouled a ball off his left foot in the eighth inning and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia suffered cuts on his left ear from a ball that ricocheted off a batter.
Ross went for X-rays at Citizens Bank Park and Saltalamacchia went to an area hospital. No roster moves were announced after the game.
"He's at the hospital," manager Bobby Valentine said of Saltalamacchia. "He has a pretty good laceration of his ear and they're checking for all that other concussion stuff."
Did Saltalamacchia need stitches?
"They might just do the butterfly [stitch]," said Valentine. "It's right on the crack."
If Boston needs a catcher, Triple-A Pawtucket backstop Ryan Lavarnway could be called up and Mauro Gomez would be a candidate to go down.
After striking out in the eighth inning, Ross was replaced by Ryan Sweeney in right field.
"It was on the top and side. I was wearing this huge shin guard, but it didn't cover any of my foot," said Ross, who was walking with a limp and added that his X-rays were being sent to Boston so they could be evaluated. "I was going to finish the at-bat. The only way I'm coming out of that if I was bleeding and I can't see. I went down in the tunnel and tried to run. It wasn't happening. [I] had to come out."
La Russa presents Punto with World Series ring
PHILADELPHIA -- Utility infielder Nick Punto received his 2011 World Series ring from his former manager, Tony La Russa, before Saturday's 6-4 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Punto hit .275 with a .388 on-base percentage in 63 games during the regular season for the Cardinals, who downed Texas in an epic seven-game World Series. La Russa retired after the season, and Punto was a free agent.
On Friday, Punto struck out for the final out of the game, against former Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. The 34-year-old is batting just .135 this season.
Results aside, Dice-K pleased with outing
PHILADELPHIA -- Daisuke Matsuzaka's fifth rehab start at Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday night brought improvement, but a line that was nonetheless far from immaculate. Neither his nor Aaron Cook's return is imminent.
"I haven't talked to [Matsuzaka], and to give a real report it would be after I hear from him," manager Bobby Valentine said Friday. "[Triple-A pitching coach Rich Sauveur] and our report was fastball command was better, got deeper into the game. Breaking stuff was so-so, he threw some curveballs, one of them got hit for a three-run homer. His cutter was a little flat. But it was an improvement."
The right-hander, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, allowed five runs (four earned) in a 5-0 loss to Triple-A Durham. Matsuzaka went 6 2/3 innings, and across all his Minor League starts, has allowed 13 earned runs in 25 1/3 innings (4.62 ERA).
"Yesterday, there was only one pitch that got away, the home run, the three-run homer," Matsuzaka said. "Other than that, I felt really good out there, felt confident out there, so that's the only pitch I would like to take back. Impression-wise, my line doesn't look as good as I felt, but going forward, it's all about the results coming together with how I feel. And with that, I should feel more comfortable out on the mound and it should give the front office more confidence in getting me up here."
Matsuzaka, who let up five runs in 5 1/3 innings in his second-to-last start, also felt he made progress with his motion.
"Yesterday, I was able to figure out my mechanics to a point where I felt very comfortable out there," Matsuzaka said. "I was experimenting a lot during my previous start. I was able to figure out what was good and what's bad. The process for last night was getting rid of all the bad stuff and keeping all the good, and it turned out to be really good. I had a good arm angle. I was able to get my arm through on most of my pitches. I'm at a good place right now."
The Red Sox have a clock to worry about with Matsuzaka, who can't pitch in a Minor League game as part of this current rehab assignment after Tuesday, the day he's next scheduled to start. Valentine indicated that further rehab starts may be possible if Matsuzaka has a physical condition that warranted them.
"If his back is stiff, not quite right or something or the elbow isn't quite good," said Valentine. "Maybe, not sure."
The Sox on Friday were planning out the next steps for Cook, who suffered a left knee laceration in his only start with the team, on May 5 against Baltimore. Valentine indicated Cook may need a bit of time, though.
"I don't have an answer, but there is a plan being discussed," Valentine said. "He threw three innings of a simulated situation yesterday in the bullpen. The one concern we have is that he hasn't done a lot of leg stuff. He hasn't run, nor done a lot of things that pitchers usually do to keep their legs under their bodies. To start pitching five innings or fielding in the fourth inning, covering first, might not be the proper thing right now."
Hill has nothing but high praise for Wood
PHILADELPHIA -- Reliever Rich Hill spent his first four big league seasons from 2005-08 with the Cubs, under the wing of Kerry Wood, who retired Friday.
Wood, 34, and one of the game's great strikeout pitchers, spent the vast majority of his career in Chicago.
"For me as a younger guy over there in Chicago, he was always great to me," Hill said in the visitor's clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park, where the Sox opened a three-game series with the Phillies, a few minutes before Wood's final Major League appearance in a game against the White Sox at Wrigley Field. "I remember in Spring Training in '08, I was struggling and he was just telling me 'To keep your head up and all that type of stuff, but really, everybody else's opinion doesn't really matter. The only thing that matters is how you go about your business on a daily basis.' I remember him telling me everybody's going to have an opinion, but the one that matters the most is the guys in the locker room and your family. Kind of like when you're struggling, reaffirming that was everybody behind me."
Hill just came back to the big leagues after Tommy John surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews, the same surgeon who performed Wood's operation.
"After I had my injury last year, he was the first guy that I called, because I knew that he had dealt with the same thing," Hill said. "And I would just ask him about Andrews, about what he thought about going to see doctor Andrews and all that. It was really, really positive about going to see him.
"He's done so many great things in Chicago and the people love him there. He's had a long career."
Things are going well for Hill, who is 0-0 with one run allowed in eight innings. He has not given up a run since his first appearance back following the operation.