CLEVELAND - The text message began with "dad" or "pop," Terry Francona wasn't sure which. He thought it might have been from his 14-year-old daughter, but because the number was unfamiliar, he texted back and asked whose number it was.
"It's mine, [expletive]," came the reply, much to the consternation of the manager, who then called the number to see who had the nerve to address him that way.
"I was getting ticked," Francona said. "I was all mixed up. Because the last [message] said, 'Put me in, [expletive].' "
It was David Ortiz, informing the manager in his own colorful way that he wanted to be restored to the Red Sox lineup.
"Actually, I was kind of relieved," Francona said before last night's game. "I didn't care if David gets hits or not, I won't have a 14-year-old talking like that to her dad.
"The good news was, my daughter's not speaking that way, and David wants to play."
The better news? Ortiz lined an opposite-field single to left off Cleveland's Jake Westbrook in the first inning last night, breaking an 0-for-17 string. He finished the night 2 for 5, getting his season average over the .100 mark (.104).
Until last night, he'd had one hit, an RBI single April 6 in Toronto, since hitting a home run off Alan Embree April 2 in Oakland.
Francona had been prepared to give Ortiz a second straight day off, after sitting him against the Yankees Sunday.
"I just wanted him to get what he needed to get out of it," Francona said, "and if he needed another day, I was willing to bite the bullet to do that."
On the plane ride to Cleveland, Francona talked with Ortiz, and rather than press the player for a decision then, he asked Ortiz to call him in the morning.
Then came the text messages.
"Big mental health day," Francona said of how Ortiz spent his off-day. "I thought his eyes . . . he was back to being David."
Relief for relieverWhen reliever Mike Stanton, who has 1,178 appearances in the big leagues, was designated for assignment by the Reds at the end of spring training, then released eight days later, the 42-year-old Mike Timlin became the active leader among major league pitchers, with 1,011 appearances to start the season.
His first two appearances of 2008 were disastrous, but Timlin retired the side in the eighth last night and was credited with the win when the Sox rallied for three runs in the ninth.
Timlin, who missed the first nine games of the season with a lacerated ring finger on his pitching hand, gave up home runs to the first batter he faced both Friday night and Sunday night against the Yankees. In each case, it was Jason Giambi, who had not hit a home run against anyone else this season and was 2 for 17 lifetime against the Sox righthander before the weekend.
After Giambi's home run Sunday, Jose Molina and Melky Cabrera singled, making opposing hitters 5 for 5 against Timlin.
Francona said it was a matter of Timlin overthrowing and missing with location.
Timlin said he had trouble sleeping after his distressing debut. "But if I didn't," he said, "I'd worry."
Timlin also said he was looking forward to seeing former teammate Craig Breslow, who was claimed off waivers by the Indians and had fared well so far, with opposition hitters just 2 for 14 against him.
"Real good kid," Timlin said. "Smart kid."
Third man inBarring a change in plans, Jed Lowrie will make his big-league debut tonight for the Sox, most likely at third. With Sean Casey just 3 for 21 (.143) against Cleveland's starter tonight, Paul Byrd, Francona said he was thinking of moving Kevin Youkilis back to first, with Lowrie playing third. Not a bad birthday present for Lowrie, who turns 24 Thursday. "I've been taking most of my ground balls at third," he said. "A lot of the early work I've been doing has been all at third. A few at short, just to stay fresh so I don't forget." Lowrie, who played two games at third last season for Pawtucket, said the extra work at the position with infield coach Luis Alicea is paying dividends. "The more work, the more comfortable I get over there," he said. "It's always a work in progress, but I feel pretty comfortable over there."
Options limitedKyle Snyder, who had been designated for assignment April 6, cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple A Pawtucket. Francona said he is likely to start for the PawSox. So far, Bryan Corey, designated for assignment last Friday, has elicited little interest from other clubs. Why, with pitching at such a premium, would teams not show more interest in Snyder and Corey? The simple answer is that they are viewed as fringe players by other clubs, who would be in the same position as the Sox, unable to option the pitchers out if they wanted to send them to the minors . . . Bartolo Colon, who is traveling with the club (as is Curt Schilling), still has not been cleared to throw. The longer he goes without throwing - Colon was placed on the seven-day DL by Pawtucket retroactive to April 4 - the more likely he'll have to return to square one when he does . . . The final round of the 18th Beanpot baseball tournament will be held at Fenway this afternoon. Northeastern plays Harvard in the consolation at 1. Boston College is scheduled to play the University of Massachusetts for the title at 4. All tickets are $5 for the doubleheader (general admission) and will be sold at Gate D. All proceeds benefit the Red Sox Foundation.
Amalie Benjamin of the Globe staff contributed to this report.