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07/05/08 4:04 PM ET

Casey's at-bats hamstrung by Manny

With Ortiz out of action, Ramirez has seen bulk of DH duties

NEW YORK -- Who is the person most affected by Manny Ramirez's sore right hamstring limiting him almost exclusively to designated hitter duties over the last month? Sean Casey.

When David Ortiz got hurt the night of May 31, it seemed that the person who would pick up the bulk of his at-bats would be Casey, the sweet-swinging left-handed hitter.

But with Ramirez taking over as the DH, Coco Crisp has moved into center field on a full-time basis with Jacoby Ellsbury taking over in left.

Entering Saturday, Casey had just four at-bats in the last 14 games.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona indicated that Ramirez might be able to start some games in left field in the team's upcoming homestand, which starts Monday against the Twins.

"I kind of told Manny I would like to, especially at home," Francona said. "It's nice to get him in the outfield, because it opens up some options for us. Not that he has to play out there every day, but we have the ability to maybe give Casey some at-bats. When he says he's not comfortable going out there, it's hard to tell somebody, 'Well, you're not going out there anyway.' It just doesn't make sense."

The injury has bothered Ramirez for nearly two months.

"It's lingered," Francona said. "It's one of those things where if somebody says something hurts, you can't sit there and tell them it doesn't. We don't. You start trying to look into somebody's body, it puts you in a little bit of a peculiar situation."

It is fair to wonder if the injury is impacting Ramirez at the plate. The slugger is hitting .179 over his past 11 games.

"I don't think it helped," Francona said. "But I don't think right now his hamstring is affecting his hitting."

Overall, Francona didn't think that Ramirez serving as the primary DH during Ortiz's absence has been that big of an issue.

"It gives us a little more flexibility when we have him in left field. But having Manny DH-ing and having Coco and Ellsbury out there isn't a bad alternative," Francona said.

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