Hurting David Ortiz out of lineup
BOSTON -- When Adrian Gonzalez was shipped to Los Angeles in the megadeal that became official Saturday afternoon, it left the Red Sox with just one big bat in the middle of its lineup, that being the imposing presence of designated hitter David Ortiz. However, a day after returning from an Achilles strain, Ortiz was out of the lineup and perhaps in need of more time off.
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"We're going to evaluate, meet and evaluate his situation again," manager Bobby Valentine said before the Red Sox lost 10-9 in 12 innings to Kansas City on Saturday night. "It bothered him (Friday night), yeah. It wasn't as pain-free as he was hoping."
Ortiz returned after a 35-game absence Friday, pouncing on the first pitch he saw for a two-run single. It was part of a 2 for 4 performance that also included some noticeable limping.
After Saturday's loss, the Red Sox clubhouse was a quiet place. One of the few discussions involved Ortiz in a closed-door meeting with general manager Ben Cherington and Valentine.
Valentine said before the game that shutting Ortiz down for the season would be considered if all parties involved felt it was the right move.
"I think what would be best for David if he's healthy is to make sure everyone knows that he's healthy for the rest of the season," Valentine said. "It wouldn't be my shutting him down. If the medical staff and David thought that was right for him this year and for his career, then that might have to happen."
The Red Sox were just three games out of the wild-card race when Ortiz was injured July 16. They went 13-22 without his bat in the lineup, all but destroying their postseason chances. Forcing Ortiz into the lineup now could have ramifications beyond the team's 2012 outlook.
For instance, a rupture of the Achilles could prove extremely difficult for a lumbering, soon-to-be 37-year-old. It would require a lengthy rehab, all while Ortiz seeks a new contract. The team and Ortiz will be mindful of not pushing the issue.
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"The medical staff has assured me, (general manager Ben Cherington) and David that the rupturing of the Achilles is highly unlikely, even though it's highly unlikely for everyone and people do tear that Achilles tendon," Valentine said. "He's in the same category basically as you are as far as it just rupturing because of his running. But there's some pain to deal with and if upon further review that chance increases, I would think we wouldn't allow that to happen."
The two follow Aaron Cook, who took Josh Beckett's start on Saturday against the Royals. Cook, who had just three days of rest between starts, allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings. Valentine said the bullpen would be "stressed" Saturday, and expects the situation to remain difficult going forward.
"With Doubront tomorrow, we can't really expect a complete game out of, and Daisuke on Monday, there's some pitching concerns right now," Valentine said.
Doubront last pitched Aug. 9 against Cleveland, allowing four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. It was part of a post-All-Star break slump that prompted talk of shutting down the young lefty. He eventually was placed on the DL with a right knee contusion, but there also had been shoulder fatigue.
Matsuzaka was placed on the DL on July 3 with a right upper trapezius strain. He managed to make just five starts after returning from Tommy John surgery before the newest injury popped up.
Matsuzaka posted a 2.82 ERA in five starts with Triple-A Pawtucket since returning from the neck issue. He has little time to show the organization much before his contract expires. The hope is he is more ready to make a contract push this time than he was when he first returned in June.
"He's a guy we're gonna continue to work with," Cherington said. "He's now toward the end of a full year off after Tommy John surgery, so it would be typical of a guy starting to feel like himself. He had a good outing in Triple-A so hoping to see more of that. Haven't talked about anything past this season."
The Red Sox also have placed outfielder Daniel Nava on the 15-day DL and recalled a trio of players from Pawtucket to fill the vacated roster spots created by the blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias, outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin and pitcher Junichi Tazawa are back with the team. Iglesias, still considered the shortstop of the future, is the most notable arrival, but he comes on more of an emergency basis this time.
"He's here kind of because we needed an extra infielder for tonight, and I don't have that (long-term) plan," Valentine said when asked how he plans to utilize Iglesias.
The slick-fielding shortstop was hitting .266 with a home run, 23 RBIs and 12 stolen bases with the PawSox. Lin, who was with Boston for a brief stint earlier in the year, was batting .247 with a pair of homers and 14 steals.
Tazawa, optioned to Pawtucket prior to Friday night's game, is in his third stint with the Red Sox this season. He has a 1.37 ERA and one save in 20 appearances with Boston.
Nava is headed to the DL with a left wrist sprain for the second time. He had been activated from the disabled list just six days earlier, appearing in only two games. Doubront had been on the disabled list since Aug. 10. He is 10-6 with a 4.70 ERA this season, but 0-2 with a 6.53 ERA in his last four starts.
Tony Lee is a regular contributor to ESPNBoston.com.
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