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For now, silent treatment

Page 2 of 2 -- "I've never had an issue," Nixon said about his spot in the lineup. "[Terry's] probably going on what my numbers are in the 2-hole."

Nixon's placement also puts Renteria where he prefers, which is down in the order, where he can drive in runs. Despite his low home run totals -- he's never hit more than 16 -- Renteria is one of only three Red Sox to drive in 100 runs in a season. He'll hit immediately behind the other two, Ramirez and Ortiz.

"I think it's a thick lineup," Francona said.

Francona said Renteria and Millar "would go back and forth a little bit" between fifth and sixth. Batting fifth or sixth also would afford Renteria -- who has stolen 30 or more bases four times -- the opportunity to run more than if he hit ahead of Ramirez and Ortiz. Nixon, who has stolen just 27 bases in his career, is almost no threat to take off and take the bat out of Ramirez's hands.

This lineup doesn't figure to take effect until the second game of the season. Nixon, who struggles hitting lefthanders, won't start Opening Night against Randy Johnson.

Payton OK

Two X-rays taken of Jay Payton's right hand -- one done at the ballpark, another at a local hospital -- showed no breaks. Payton was hit by a Daniel Cabrera pitch in the top of the fourth inning Thursday against Baltimore and left the game. The outfielder expects to begin swinging a bat tomorrow . . . Cabrera also hit Dave McCarty March 14. "That guy's already hit two of us and thrown behind another," Payton said. "Guys felt it was time for some retribution." In the bottom of the fourth inning Thursday, Sox pitching prospect Jon Papelbon won over a dugout full of teammates by backing Sammy Sosa off the plate. "I like that," Payton said. "It was impressive." Papelbon, a fourth-round pick in 2003, is expected to begin the season in Double A Portland. The Sox think so highly of the righthander's makeup that he could help the big club out of the bullpen by midsummer . . . Matt Clement, scratched from his start so Curt Schilling could pitch, threw a Triple A game against Baltimore's top farm team. Clement struck out eight and allowed just one hit with no walks and no runs in five innings . . . Minnesota closer Joe Nathan pitched the eighth inning of the Twins' 5-1 win at City of Palms Park yesterday, punching out Bellhorn swinging, Damon swinging, and George Lombard looking . . . Minnesota third baseman Michael Cuddyer hit Keith Foulke's first pitch over the left-field wall. Before that, Foulke had yet to allow a run in 5 1/3 innings. 

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