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04/20/08 1:19 PM ET

Pedroia sits, Manny may be next

Twenty-game stretch convinces Francona to rest infielder

BOSTON -- About two-thirds of the way through a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, Red Sox manager Terry Francona remains conscious of keeping his players fresh. That's why second baseman Dustin Pedroia was out of the lineup on Sunday, despite an eight-game hitting streak, not to mention a key double that sparked Saturday night's comeback.

Jed Lowrie filled in for Pedroia, both at second base and in the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

"It's fun to watch [Lowrie] play," said Francona. "He's shown his versatility in a hurry. It's his third position in three starts, and I don't think there are any qualms. He'll make the plays; he'll be fine."

With Sunday being the day game after the night game and Monday's 11:05 a.m. ET contest coming quickly, Francona felt like this was an opportune time to spell Pedroia.

"Yeah, he hasn't had [a day off] yet," said Francona. "I thought it would be to his advantage. A lot of times, when I look at days off or not starting a game, it's not so much who's pitching, because that's certainly something you try to factor in, but then it's more [a matter] of rest [and] recovery, and will it do a guy's body some good."

With that in mind, star slugger Manny Ramirez -- who is just four homers away from No. 500 -- might sit out the Patriots Day game against former Sox lefty Kason Gabbard.

"Manny's played every game," Francona said. "There are certain days that are just better than others to give a guy a day off. To me, that's the perfect day. But we've got to have Coco [Crisp] available, so I'm hopeful that will be the case."

Crisp has been sidelined since Wednesday with soreness in his right leg.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.