- Gordon Edes, Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- Wednesday afternoon, when Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said he thought it unlikely the Red Sox would make a player move before the midnight deadline for waiver deals, he was asked if he was disappointed that the Red Sox did not add another right-handed bat, especially an outfielder. At the time, he expressed satisfaction with what the team had, in Darnell McDonald.
"As far as a right-handed bat, we'd stack up Darnell against the alternatives," Epstein said. "The way he's been having some pretty good at-bats against left-handed pitching. I think the batting average is not where you want it to be, but he's hit some home runs against left-handed pitching and he's a threat up there.
"Obviously we were concerned that he play better in the second half of the season than in the first, but we're satisfied with him. Satisfied generally with the team. We feel like we have all the pieces we need."
By the end of the night, however, the Sox had indeed added another piece -- a right-handed hitting outfielder-first baseman, Conor Jackson. Shortly after midnight, the Sox announced they had acquired the 29-year-old Jackson from the Oakland Athletics for minor league reliever Jason Rice and cash considerations.
Jackson, who did not play in Oakland's 4-3, 16-inning loss in Cleveland on Wednesday night, is expected to be in Boston in time for Thursday night's game in Fenway Park against the Yankees, according to a club source.
He will provide the Sox an alternative to McDonald, who was a valuable fill-in last season but is batting .195 in 53 games, has never had his average over .200 all season and was batting .220 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 82 at-bats against left-handers.
With a right-hander, Phil Hughes, starting against the Red Sox, McDonald did not play in Wednesday night's 9-5 win over the Yankees. Tuesday night, he started in right field and walked and singled against lefty CC Sabathia, but struck out against left-handed reliever Boone Logan with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a 5-2 Red Sox loss.
Jackson is a former No. 1 pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2003 who played regularly for the D-backs for three seasons, hitting a career-best .300 in 2008, before Valley Fever, caused by a fungal infection, limited him to 30 games in 2009. He was traded by Arizona to Oakland last year, and played first base and both corner outfield positions for Oakland this season, batting .249/.315/.342 in 102 games.
In 122 at-bats against left-handers, Jackson batted .254/.333/.352 with no home runs and 10 RBIs.
The Red Sox had expected the return of outfielder J.D. Drew to the lineup Thursday night after Drew missed the past six weeks with an impingement in his left shoulder. But Drew sprained the middle finger of his right hand while playing on a rehab assignment for Pawtucket, Epstein said, and was scratched from Wednesday's Pawtucket game, and his return is uncertain.
"I don't think it's anything major," Epstein said. "He was uncomfortable swinging the bat today when he tried it. They have a day off tomorrow, so he'll come back and we'll check it out."
Miller, 38, began the season with the Cardinals, was traded to the Blue Jays and was released after six games. Miller has pitched for seven teams in the course of his 13-year career and went to the postseason four times, appearing for Tampa Bay in the 2008 World Series.
Gathright, meanwhile, is another former Ray who is on his second go-round with the Red Sox. The 30-year-old outfielder, known for his speed (and fight with Sox reliever Julian Tavarez in one spring training) had 17 plate appearances for the Sox in 2009, his last season in the big leagues, when he made the postseason roster as a pinch runner. He was playing independent ball for the Yuma (Ariz.) Scorpions when he was signed by the Sox this go-round.
"This time of year," Epstein said, "you have free spots in Triple-A. You can add some experienced guys to your Triple-A roster, get a free look. You never know.
"In the case of Gathright, in the case of Miller, these are guys who can at least add depth, if not fill specialty roles. In Gathright's case, a pinch runner who can steal a base. Miller is a left-on-left guy. You get to look at these guys for a couple of weeks."
Both would be eligible for the postseason roster, if the Sox should elect to add either one.
To create a spot on the 40-man roster for Jackson, the Sox placed pitcher Bobby Jenks on the 60-day disabled list. That's a procedural move, as Jenks has been on the DL since July 8.
Epstein would not speculate on whether pitcher Clay Buchholz would recover from his back injury in time to pitch for the Sox again this season, saying that it depends on how his progression continues. At the moment, Buchholz is playing catch, but if it gets to the point where Buchholz can get back on the mound, Epstein said, the Sox will find a place for him to rehab, even though minor league seasons will be over by then.
The Florida instructional league would be a possibility.
"If health allows, we'll find a way to get him in a competitive environment," Epstein said. "Health is the No. 1 obstacle. I'll get up there and put a helmet on. He can have a simulated game with me."
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
The Boston Red Sox acquired first baseman-outfielder Conor Jackson from the Oakland Athletics to add an experienced bat to their roster.