the early word

Damon back in Sox lineup

By Chris Snow
Globe Staff / September 6, 2005

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Johnny Damon returns to the Red Sox lineup tonight after missing one game with an injury to his left rotator cuff. Manager Terry Francona said Damon called him this morning to tell him he was OK to play.

“He’ll get (his arm) loose enough, or he wouldn’t play,” Francona said. “As the day progresses, he just gets himself ready to play, and as the game progresses, he gets into the flow of the game. And I think he somehow manages to block stuff like that out and be productive. It’s pretty amazing.”

Francona said Keith Foulke probably wouldn’t pitch tonight against the Angels, but also said his recovering closer isn’t unavailable.

Foulke pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings yesterday, and has given up just one hit in two outings since coming off the disabled list. Still, Francona isn’t planning on thrusting him back into the closer’s spot just yet.

“I don’t think it’s fair to him right now to put him in that situation,” Francona said. “We’re not ready to do that. The hope is we do, believe me.”

The Red Sox today also called up catcher Kelly Shoppach and reliever Manny Delcarmen from Pawtucket. Shoppach played five innings in Pawtucket’s season finale yesterday, his first action since spraining his left ankle blocking home plate Aug. 30.

“He played five innings yesterday and managed pretty well,” Francona said. “I don’t think he’s ready to run the 100-yard dash, but he did what he needed to do.”

Including the 2004 postseason, the Sox have won 11 of their last 14 games against the Angels…the Sox have won 10 of their last 11 at home against the Angels including the postseason.

The Red Sox tonight reach the half-way point of a stretch in which they play 30 days in a row…they are 10-4 thus far. The teams last day off was August 22; their next day off is September 22.

The Red Sox’ next win will be their 81st of 2005, assuring them a .500-or-better finish for the 33rd time in 39 seasons beginning in 1967. Since the 1967 “Impossible Dream” campaign, no major league club has finished .500-or-better more often.

Tim Wakefield takes on the Angels’ John Lackey tonight at Fenway Park.

Tonight’s Red Sox starting lineup:

1. Johnny Damon, CF
2. Edgar Renteria, SS
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Manny Ramirez, LF
5. Trot Nixon, RF
6. Bill Mueller, 3B
7. John Olerud, 1B
8. Doug Mirabelli, C
9. Tony Graffanino, 2B

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