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Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Red Sox quick hits

By Joe McDonald

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Boston Red Sox needed to make a few roster moves today in order to activate pitcher Clay Buchholz and infielder Jed Lowrie from the disabled list. As a result, first baseman Ryan Shealy was designated for assignment and lefty reliever Dustin Richardson was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

* Richardson impressed during his latest stint in Boston, including a big strikeout he recorded in a tie game with two runners on in the bottom of the 10th inning against the A’s on Tuesday.

“He’s not scared. He wants the ball,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “That was a big situation [Tuesday] night. We knew he was going back to Triple-A but we were still going to use him. We like him. Sometimes you have to make a move organizationally, but there’s a lot to like.”

Francona likes the finish on the southpaw’s fastball and the fact that he competes and is athletic. The only thing Richardson needs to define is repetition with his delivery.

"When John Farrell likes a guy, I keep my eyes open because he’s not wrong too often,” Francona said. “It’s nice having a second lefty because it really helps with [Hideki] Okajima, but sometimes if you try to keep a second lefty, you’ll mess something else up so we’ll go with one.”

* Lowrie’s much-needed presence will allow Francona to give shortstop Marco Scutaro a day off time and again. Plus, Lowrie can play second and was actually taking grounders at first base on Tuesday afternoon.

“He’s taken ground balls over there before, but he’s never played a game there,” Francona said. “We’re not going to pinch-hit or pinch-run for Youk, but if something happens we’ll need someone to go over there.”

With second baseman Dustin Pedroia on the DL with a fractured left foot, Bill Hall has been playing the right side of the infield. Both Lowrie and Hall can play first base, if needed.

“Jed’s a guy we would put over there, so we just want to get him some grounders and get him as comfortable as possible. He’s not going to be a first baseman, we just want to cover ourselves in case something happens.”

“When a team is banged up, having versatility is really important,” added Francona. “That’s the thing we have right now.”

* Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez (thumb) hit in the cage for the second consecutive day and the next step will be using his glove and testing how much velocity he can handle on the impact.

“That’s the next big step,” Francona said. “He’s taking big strides. Once that comes, there’s not a whole lot left. Then he’ll have to start catching pitchers, which is different, too, but once he’s able to catch the ball without a lot of concern, it shouldn’t be a whole lot longer.”

There’s a strong possibility Martinez could return to the lineup later on this three-city road trip when the club is in Anaheim, beginning Monday.

* Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has been hitting off the pitching machine in the cage in Fort Myers, Fla., but he hasn’t participated in real intense baseball activities, according to the manager.

“He’s not there, yet,” Francona said. “The intensity is not to a point where he could play in a game.”

* Outfielder Jeremy Hermida will meet the team later tonight in Seattle and the club will have to make another roster move, which means Daniel Nava could be optioned back to Pawtucket.

“Hopefully [Hermida] will be ready to go tomorrow,” Francona said.