RED SOX NOTEBOOK
Minor change of plans is just fine with Kim
Pitcher prepared to start for big club
One minute, Byung Hyun Kim was scheduled to serve as the star attraction tonight when the Double A Portland Sea Dogs open their home schedule against the Binghamton Mets. A minute later, Kim learned he would make his season debut for the Red Sox this afternoon when he starts a makeup game against the Devil Rays.
Sounds like a pretty jolting switch for the 25-year-old Korean emigre.
Or maybe not.
"Whether it's Portland or Boston, pitching-wise it's the same," Kim said through assistant trainer Chang Lee. "Hopefully, I'll be able to contribute to the team."
The Sox share that hope, particularly since they invested $10 million in Kim over two years to help bolster the starting rotation. Today's debut will launch Kim's first full year as a starter after he spent the vast majority of his first five pro seasons serving as a reliever. His experience as a starter in the majors has been limited to 12 outings last year for the Diamondbacks and Sox in which he went 3-6 with a 3.38 ERA and one brief appearance for the D-Backs in 2000.
"I'm looking forward to this," manager Terry Francona said. "There may be some rust, but hopefully there won't be. I think he'll be better equipped to be better than he was last year because he feels better."
Kim went down with a strained right shoulder after he faced the Cardinals March 10 in spring training. He has since made three minor league rehab starts, allowing only one unearned run over 8 1/3 innings for Single A Sarasota and Triple A Pawtucket. He is pain-free and eager to start. He will be limited to about 75 pitches, with Tim Wakefield poised to follow him.
"I'm not going to hold back," Kim said. "I'm going to give everything I have. I can't predict what's going to happen, but if I give up a hit or a run, I'm not going to worry about it. I'm just going to go out there and do the best I can do."
Last season ended badly for Kim, who was sidelined with shoulder tendinitis throughout the playoffs. He also flipped off the crowd at Fenway Park and irked teammates by failing to wait in the dugout until the inning ended after he was pulled from a game. But he said in spring training that he had learned from the experience. He also said he was eager to prove himself as a starter.
"I feel the same way," he said. "I'm very confident I can do a good job as a starting pitcher."
Kim said he learned something else last season. At 5 feet 9 inches with a thin frame, he discovered that maintaining his strength all season, especially as a starter, would require rigorous training. So don't expect him to scale back his workload, which has struck some observers as excessive.
"In order to stay in the major leagues, I have to do extra," he said. "My body is so small that I feel I have to do more to compete against the players here."
The bottom line, he said, is that "you have to stay healthy. Pretty much, the body is the jewel."
Kim will be activated before today's game, with Phil Seibel optioned to Double A Portland.
It wouldn't be fair
Francona suggested Manny Ramirez may have deserved a mulligan last night for standing at the plate and watching a fly ball he hit down the left-field line so long that he turned a certain double into a single when the ball landed fair. "We always tell guys, `When in doubt, run,' " Francona said. "But you know what? That one got me. I watched that ball, and when it hit fair I was shocked. And I know Manny was. He also knows the first thing he has to do is be on second [base]. We understand that, but I was the most surprised guy in the ballpark." Francona said third base coach Dale Sveum believed the ball was "30 feet foul." The manager said Sveum told him: "Watch what you say to [Ramirez] because that ball was foul." David Ortiz went from first to third on the two-out single before the next batter, Jason Varitek, grounded out . . . Curt Schilling's eight strikeouts gave him 2,581 for his career, matching Bob Feller for 21st on the all-time list. Schilling is two strikeouts shy of tying Warren Spahn for 20th place . . . The Schillings, Curt and Shonda, are co-sponsoring, with the Red Sox, "Sox, Sun and Shade: A Poster Contest For Kids," to promote sun-safety awareness. Children are asked to incorporate a Red Sox theme in their design of a poster suggesting ways to protect their skin from the sun. Posters must be at least 8 1/2" by 11", and may not exceed 11" by 17" on unlined paper. All posters must be postmarked no later than tomorrow. Shonda Schilling is a skin-cancer survivor, which led her to begin SHADE, the Curt and Shonda Schilling Foundation of America. The grand prize is four tickets to the Sox game vs. the Royals on May 9. The winner also will have his or her picture taken with Curt Schilling on the field before the game and throw out the first pitch. The teacher of the winning artist will also receive tickets to the game. Contestants can send their posters to: Red Sox Poster Contest, Fan Services, Fenway Park, 4 Yawkey Way, Boston, MA 02215...With the 6-0 shutout after Pedro Martinez led the way Sunday in blanking the Yankees, 2-0, the Sox recorded consecutive shutouts for the first time since May 17, 2000, against Toronto (8-0) and May 19, 2000, against Detroit (3-0). The Sox have not allowed a run in 23 innings since the seventh inning of a 12-inning, 3-2 victory Saturday over the Yankees . . . Ortiz doubled in the seventh inning in his 2,000th career at-bat, giving him eight straight games with an extra-base hit . . . Varitek's homer snapped an 0-for-17 skid . . . Mark Bellhorn received his league-leading 20th and 21st walks. He is the first Sox batter to walk at least 20 times in a calendar month since Ramirez drew 23 walks in April 2002. Bellhorn's two-run single in the seventh was his first hit of the season in 13 at-bats against lefthanders.
Nixon has a game plan
The Sox had yet to announce the next stop on Trot Nixon's comeback trail. But Nixon was quoted in The News-Press of Fort Myers (Fla.) as saying he anticipates making his first official rehab appearance this weekend for Single A Sarasota, followed by several appearances with Pawtucket before he joins the parent club. At that pace, Nixon could be 10-14 days away from his season debut after recovering from a mildly herniated disk. But he appears determined to avoid risking a setback. "The last thing I want to do is, quote, unquote, Cowboy Up and end my career," he said. Nixon is scheduled to play tomorrow in an extended spring training game in Fort Myers . . . Nomar Garciaparra did some light running at Fenway and will take some more ground balls today. He will be reevaluated Monday as he continues to increase his workload in the hope he can avoid a recurrence of the discomfort associated with his right Achilles' tendinitis . . . Ramiro Mendoza, who went on the disabled list April 8 with right shoulder tendinitis, remains inactive as he tries to regain the range of motion he needs to throw . . . Pokey Reese sat out with an upper respiratory infection, with Cesar Crespo filling in at short and batting ninth . . . Brian Daubach is scheduled to make his first start of the season today in the afternoon game, playing first base . . . Because of exchanges, the Sox said, good seats are available for this afternoon's makeup of Tuesday's rainout.
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