04/23/07 7:30 PM ET
Notes: Crisp rests against Blue Jays
Francona wants to give outfielder time to strengthen oblique
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
"I actually thought about playing him, and then kind of talked to the trainers," said Francona. "I probably could have talked him into it. I don't know if that would have been a real smart move. Let him have one day, let them work on him. That will probably be in his best interest, which ultimately is in our best interest."
Crisp was originally supposed to start Sunday night's game against the Yankees, only to be scratched after feeling his oblique muscle tug at him a little after batting practice.
One sign that the injury isn't serious is that Francona inserted Crisp for defense for the final two innings of Sunday's game. He did not bat.
It would only be natural to wonder if the root of Crisp's injury stems from his tumble into the bullpen in Friday's unsuccessful pursuit of Alex Rodriguez's home run.
"That was first thing I asked him," Francona said. "He said his back got a little tight the next day, but I don't think this has anything to do with that."
Before getting injured, Crisp was starting to warm up with his bat. He has eight hits in his last 20 at-bats.
Once again, Wily Mo Pena got the start in Crisp's place.
Confidence booster for Pedroia: Francona's decision to give Pedroia Saturday off seemed to work wonders. The rookie second baseman responded on Sunday night with a 2-for-4 performance and a game-saving dive on defense.
"I told him early on, 'What we need to do is win games,'" Francona said. "I think he understands that. That play he made defensively was more important than any hit he got last night. Fortunately, he understands that. But it was also nice to see him get hits. That's why you show up. You want to see your guys have success, for sure. Hopefully, now he takes that and runs with it."
Bullpen usage: It was highly unlikely that lefty reliever Hideki Okajima would see action in Monday's game. Okajima pitched on three straight days against the Yankees.
"Most likely we probably wouldn't do that," Francona said. "He'll probably say he is [available]. [We] probably need to use some decent judgment there. That's three nights in a row, I don't doubt he could go pitch tonight and be just fine. But it would catch up later."
Closer Jonathan Papelbon saved the previous two games, going through the teeth of the Yankees' lineup to do it. That meant at least a chance he'd be unavailable for last call Monday.
Francona does have Mike Timlin fresh, as the veteran righty didn't pitch Sunday.
No letdown: Francona has been through enough of these Red Sox-Yankees encounters to have no concern that his team would somehow be flat against the Blue Jays. The Red Sox did sweep the Yankees at home for the first time in 17 years, but one thing Francona takes the most pride in is his team's stay-in-the-moment approach.
"That's why I say the things during the [Yankees] series about not getting rewarded more because they all do mean the same in the standings," Francona said. "Now, I understand there's a lot of electricity going on and I saw the flashbulbs going off and everything. Tonight's another day. I don't think we get too caught up in what happened yesterday."
Manny usually jumps on Jays: Sox slugger Manny Ramirez was definitely not upset about the Jays being in town. He has feasted on Toronto pitching during his career. The 52 homers Ramirez has against the Blue Jays are the most the franchise has allowed to any opposing player in its history. Ramirez, with 129 RBIs against Toronto, is just two behind Harold Baines for the most against the Jays.
On deck: Julian Tavarez will face Jays ace Roy Halladay in a rematch of last Thursday's encounter in Toronto on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Tavarez took a no-decision in that one, but the Red Sox rallied back from a 3-1 deficit to win after Halladay's exit from the game.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.