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Williamson distracted on, off field

CLEVELAND -- In the latest blow to the Red Sox bullpen, Scott Williamson is expected to undergo tests on his right shoulder as early as today. The Sox want to know whether Williamson is burdened by anything worse than tendinitis, which sidelined him for a couple of days last month. "I hope that's all it is," he said.

Williamson, 27, the former Reds closer, was expected to bolster the Sox pen after he was acquired July 29 for minor league lefties Phil Dumatrait and Tyler Pelland. He was 5-3 for the Reds with a 3.19 ERA and 21 saves, and he had held opponents to a .193 average in his career as a reliever. But he has faltered with the Sox, going 0-1 with a 7.00 ERA while allowing batters to hit .278.

It turns out Williamson has been plagued by more than physical discomfort. The day he was dealt to the Sox, his wife, Lisa, was hospitalized with complications from delivering their son, Scott Reese. Now, his son has been hospitalized since last week. "We don't know what's wrong," Williamson said. "He had to get a spinal tap two days ago."

With his son in the hospital and the condition of his shoulder in question, Williamson surrendered five runs on three hits and a pair of walks Saturday night in just two-thirds of an inning to the Indians.

"I've been struggling the whole time with all this stuff, more the personal stuff than on the field," he said. "First it was my wife. Now, it's my baby. It's screwing with me mentally on the field. I can't concentrate like I should."

Williamson underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 2001 but returned in 2002 to become one of Cincinnati's most dependable relievers. He otherwise has been healthy. Now it remains to be seen whether he can help the Sox much more this season.

"It seems like everything has come at one time," he said. "It's been a tough year for me."

Garciaparra hit

After enduring a bout of injuries to key players, the Sox dodged a scare when Cleveland reliever Danys Baez drilled Nomar Garciaparra in the back with a pitch in the eighth inning. "He took a 95-mile-an-hour fastball in the ribs," manager Grady Little said.

Garciaparra stayed in the game long enough to steal second base before Manny Ramirez struck out to end the inning. He was replaced after the inning at shortstop by Damian Jackson and underwent X-rays, which he said were negative.

Garciaparra, who has been dinged a team-leading 10 times, had never been struck by more than eight pitches in a season before this year. On the flip side, Todd Walker became the last Sox regular to get drilled by a pitch when Cliff Lee plunked him on the right arm leading off the fourth. Until then, Tim Wakefield had been hit by a pitch more often (once) than Walker.

Garciaparra batted second for the fourth time in the last six games. He has gone 2 for 13 over the four games, walking twice and getting hit twice by pitches. His steal was his 18th, four shy of his career high of 22 in his rookie year of 1997.

Arroyo in mix?

Before Mike Timlin and Byun Hyung Kim each pitched scoreless innings in relief of Pedro Martinez, Little said he has weighed using Bronson Arroyo at the end of games rather than long relief. Arroyo, the International League pitcher of the year for Triple A Pawtucket, has logged a 2.89 ERA and held opponents to a .209 average in 9 1/3 innings over three appearances. Lefties have hit only .105 against him.

"We've given that a lot of thought," Little said. "We'll keep seeing if we can find a combination that makes the bullpen more effective."

Little also was considering relying more on Todd Jones and Brandon Lyon, which would be fine with Jones, who is one of several players on the bubble for a spot on the playoff roster if the Sox get that far.

"When general managers and managers make these decisions, there is no room for feelings or loyalty," Jones wrote in his weekly column in the Birmingham News. "It's a simple question of whether a player can help the team win. I can make a difference."

Two relievers who are unlikely to make the cut are Ramiro Mendoza and Casey Fossum. Both are coping with tendinitis in their pitching shoulders. Mendoza has not pitched since Sept. 9 and Fossum has not seen action since Sept. 6. "There's some small concern but nothing major," Little said. "We've been cautious with both of them."

Consistent producer

Manny Ramirez knocked in his 100th run of the season, his sixth straight year with 100 or more RBIs. He has knocked in 100 or more runs eight of the last nine seasons. Ramirez served as the designated hitter for the first time since Aug. 26. He has hit .245 (23 for 94) with three homers and 11 RBIs as the DH, while batting .339 (155 for 457) with 32 homers and 89 RBIs as the left fielder. The Sox are 74-47 when Ramirez starts in left field, 17-17 when he doesn't. They are 12-13 with him starting as the DH . . . David Ortiz (3 for his last 20) got the day off. "I see that guy pressing a little," Little said. Ortiz is expected to start tonight against the Orioles . . . Martinez improved to 10-1 with a 1.66 ERA in his career against Cleveland. His ERA on the road (1.62) is the league's best . . . Kevin Millar (2 for 4 with an RBI) hit .421 this year against the Indians . . . Little's pick for American League Rookie of the Year: Rhode Islander Rocco Baldelli, the Tampa Bay center fielder. "He's going to be a superstar," Little said.

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