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Francona: Ejection another missed call

Few in the Sox clubhouse are as outgoing or peaceful as Ron "Papa Jack" Jackson, the team's hitting coach. Jackson was ejected in the fourth inning last night by home plate umpire Greg Gibson following the close, two-out, bases-loaded pitch on which Bronson Arroyo walked in a run.

"The only thing I said was, `That wasn't a strike?' " Jackson said.

Then, he saw Gibson point.

"Who, me?" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, he was throwing me out of the game."

Jackson then ran on the field and yelled at Gibson. The umpiring crew soon convened at the site of the confrontation, near home plate. Jackson, increasingly animated and agitated, was held back and ushered to the dugout by bench coach Brad Mills and base coaches Lynn Jones and Dale Sveum.

Manager Terry Francona said Gibson claimed Jackson said something inappropriate, and he'd "read his lips."

"I don't care if he reads lips or not," Francona said. "He didn't say anything. When a guy misses a pitch like that, you're going to have to take a little heat."

It's unknown when the last time Jackson was ejected, but a search of newspaper archives revealed Jackson was ejected Sept. 9, 1994. He was accused of bumping an umpire in a game as the third base coach for Triple A New Orleans. Jackson, at the time, said he did not bump the ump.

Wading in
Wade Miller will make his second rehab start Monday with the Single A Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina League, he said. Miller went 4 2/3 innings Wednesday for Greenville (S.C.), the Sox' low A team in the South Atlantic League.

Miller is likely to need three to four more rehab starts, which would put him on pace to make his Sox debut May 3 vs. Toronto or May 8 at Baltimore.

However, it's become rather clear that Miller's wishes and those of the team do not match up. He wants to pitch in cold weather, meaning Double A Portland, at the least, and told trainer Chris Correnti exactly that. Francona, meanwhile, said he "wouldn't be surprised" if weather dictates where Miller makes his first few starts.

The promising developments are Miller's pitch count and velocity. He threw 73 pitches for Greenville in Savannah, Ga., in balmy weather (temperatures were in the 70s) and touched 91 miles per hour. He expects to peak between 93 and 95 when healthy.

Miller said he expects to get to 90 pitches Monday, then 100 in the start after that.

That said, Miller is getting about as much information as the media about the whereabouts of his next start and when he'll make his big league debut.

Another issue: mechanics. The Sox have delicately reworked Miller's mechanics in an attempt to take stress off the back of his shoulder, hoping that he can avoid the rotator cuff fraying that cost him half of last season. In the past, Miller threw across his body. The new approach should ease the strain, but it might take time for him to find his command.

"I've been doing it the last 10 years," he said.

Miller said his "arm feels better" but added, "I wish I was throwing the ball better. My stuff's pretty decent. It's just location."

He allowed two runs on four hits, struck out four, and walked one in Greenville.

Stitch in time
Johnny Damon stretched the stitches in his left elbow during Wednesday's game. The stitches, put in a week ago in Toronto, were expected to be needed for 7-10 days. However, Damon thinks the cut might have to be sutured again . . . Francona doesn't regret allowing Curt Schilling to go out for the sixth inning in his season debut Wednesday. The game was tied, 2-2, going into the sixth, and Schilling had thrown 94 pitches. He then allowed three runs on a single and two home runs on 14 pitches, getting two outs before he was lifted. "When you watched him come off the field in the fifth inning, that wasn't the Schilling that was ready to come out of the game," Francona said. "If he's not ready to come out of the game, I don't want him out of the game." . . . Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was signing autographs at Gate D on his way into Fenway . . . The Yankees snapped a three-game regular-season losing streak at Fenway Wednesday. They were outscored, 31-10, in the losses.

Sea Dogs must-see
The Portland Sea Dogs are loaded with talent, headlined by second baseman Hanley Ramirez, righthander Jon Papelbon, and lefthander Jon Lester. They are 6-0, the best start in team history . . . Last night marked the Sox' ninth game, all against American League East teams. The Sox do not play outside the division until April 29 at Texas, the 22d game of the season . . . Randy Johnson hadn't faced the Sox at Fenway since the opener in 1998, when he allowed two runs on two hits and struck out 15. He left that game ahead, 7-2, but the Sox scored seven runs in the ninth, winning, 9-7, on Mo Vaughn's walkoff grand slam . . . The Red Sox shift employed for Jason Giambi is so extreme, it's comical. Second baseman Mark Bellhorn, playing roughly 80 feet into right field, nearly caught a Giambi line drive that landed for a base hit in the second inning. Giambi, in his next at-bat, grounded to shortstop Edgar Renteria, who was playing halfway between first and second base . . . Alex Rodriguez's numbers this season against the Sox: .192 (5 for 26) with four singles, a home run, three RBIs, four runs, eight strikeouts, and two walks . . . A-Rod is being credited with saving a young boy from being hit by a truck on Boston's Newbury Street Wednesday. Story, Page B1 . . . Bellhorn struck out swinging in the second and fourth, giving him 15 strikeouts in 30 at-bats . . . . . . Hideki Matsui made a heck of a play that no one in the press box could recall seeing. David Ortiz hit a foul ball down the left-field line and Matsui caught the ball in the area where there is a door along the grandstand . . . Damon's eighth-inning single extended his hitting streak to seven games . . . Attention Larry Lucchino: You've already drawn 140 more people to Fenway through three games than last season (104,068 vs. 103,928) . . . Sox GM Theo Epstein missed one of the best games of the season, instead watching the low A Sox and Yankees battle in Greenville, S.C. . . . Jason Varitek's homer was his 100th as a Red Sox, making him one of only 26 players in club history with 100 home runs . . . It was 43 degrees at game time, even colder than the last two games, both played with a game-time temperature of 46 . . . Seated in the boxes along the right-field line, Doug Flutie caught a foul ball off the bat of Tino Martinez in the second inning. Flutie brought his glove to the game.


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