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Little spins rotation to his liking

With Pedro Martinez back in action, the Red Sox were able to realign their rotation with an eye toward their final six games of the season against the Yankees, three this weekend at Fenway Park and three the following weekend in the Bronx.

As it stands, Derek Lowe will face Jose Contreras Friday in the opener of the Fenway series while Martinez will square off Saturday against Andy Pettitte and Tim Wakefield will oppose his former teammate, Roger Clemens, in Sunday's finale.

"I've got the pitching lined up for the weekend the way I want it," manager Grady Little said.

Martinez also will be poised to pitch in the Bronx. Little said Martinez will receive an extra day of rest because of the off day Sept. 4, putting him on track to face the Yankees Sept. 5 in the series opener in New York. The Sox could choose from Lowe, Wakefield, and John Burkett to pitch the other two games.

In addition, Little has lined up Jeff Suppan to start Monday against the Phillies in a makeup game in Philadelphia. Little likes the fact that Suppan three-hit the Phillies over six innings in a 9-1 victory April 4 for the Pirates. Suppan also hit well this year in the National League, batting .293 (12 for 41).

To set up Suppan for Monday, Little scheduled him to follow Burkett to the mound tomorrow night against Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays. Wakefield, who yielded his turn yesterday to Martinez, will go tonight against Toronto's Mark Hendrickson.

Aftereffects The day after Martinez reacted angrily to doubts -- raised mainly by radio callers and commentators -- about whether he actually was ill last week, Little said most players generally tune out talk radio.

"But they have friends and family who listen, and maybe sometimes what they hear is not really agreeable to them," said Little. "A lot of these guys have a lot of pride in the way they're perceived, and sometimes they really get hurt."

Though Martinez has given every indication that he plans to maintain a strict code of silence after the latest episode, Little said he did not believe the team would be negatively affected. A number of players were said to be angry over Martinez's assertion that Jon Miller, a WBZ radio reporter, aired a remark he overheard Martinez privately making to another Sox employee -- an assertion Miller denied.

"I think these players have shown that not too much affects them," Little said. "If it does, it's gone the next day."

Little himself seemed irked by the issue, which he suggested was a distraction amid the pennant race. And he abruptly ended a pregame session with reporters after fielding several questions about the matter.

"This is a waste of my time and yours," he said. "It's not worth talking about, to tell you the truth. We're trying to win a baseball game and we're doing pretty good. Let's leave it at that."

As for negative feedback from fans, the manager said he gets surprisingly little via the mail.

"The other stuff that comes, if I get a piece of mail that doesn't have a return address, I don't open it," he said. "I file it right here in the garbage, I don't care where it comes from. That shows me right there what someone's made of."

A save to savor Bronson Arroyo made his Sox debut when he started the seventh inning in relief of Martinez. Arroyo, who replaced Casey Fossum as the long man in the bullpen, entered with an 8-1 lead and held the Mariners scoreless on two hits over the final three innings, picking up his first save at any level of baseball. The Sox gave him the lineup card as a souvenir after he became the team's 26th pitcher this season, matching the club record set in 1995. "To come in after [Martinez], it's unbelievable," he said. "I think it's everybody's dream to be in the same clubhouse with guys of this caliber and especially to come into a game my first time at Fenway and pitch behind him." . . . Martinez improved to 34-4 with a 1.45 ERA in 43 career appearances against AL West opponents . . . David Ortiz became the sixth Sox player with 20 homers this season, setting a club record. Only four other Sox teams had five players with 20: the 1940, '77, '79, and '84 clubs . . . Bill Mueller became the first Sox player to hit 40 doubles in his first year with the team since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997 . . . The Sox announced that six farmhands will participate in the Arizona Fall League: catcher Kelly Shoppach, outfielder Jeremy Owens, infielder Tony Schrager, and righthanders Jerome Gamble, Bryan Hebson, and Charlie Zink . . . Little said righthander Robert Person, who has been rehabbing a right hip injury since June 11, could possibly rejoin the team in September . . . The A's are seriously weighing calling up a former Sox farmhand to help replace Mark Mulder, who is sidelined indefinitely with a stress fracture in his right femur. Righthander Justin Duchscherer, 25, whom the Sox traded to the Rangers in 2001 for Doug Mirabelli, is 13-2 with 3.28 ERA for Oakland's Triple A team in Sacramento. The A's acquired Duchscherer, an eighth-round pick by the Sox in 1996, from the Rangers last year for Luis Vizcaino . . . The Sox celebrated Vermont Day, with Governor Jim Douglas tossing a ceremonial first pitch.

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