PHILADELPHIA - The cast has come off David Ortiz's left wrist, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said yesterday, and has been replaced with a removable splint.
"I'd say that's a very good sign," said Francona, who only a day earlier had said the Sox were considering leaving the cast on for a few extra days as a precaution. "I don't think they'd take him out of the cast unless he was pain free."
Ortiz has been on the disabled list since June 3 (retroactive to June 1) with a partial tear of the sheath covering the ECU tendon in his left wrist.
The Sox medical staff had estimated the wrist would have to be immobilized for 2-3 weeks, so the removal of the cast is on the optimal end of that forecast.
Too soon, of course, to calculate when Ortiz will begin baseball activity.
"It goes on how he feels, not just our estimated time of arrival," Francona said.
The manager said he tried calling the designated hitter. "His [mail] box was full," he said.
The Sox entered last night second in the league in stolen bases with 64, behind only Tampa Bay (80). The Sox are on pace to steal 144 bases this season, a number they've exceeded only eight times in franchise history, all before 1915.
Jacoby Ellsbury began the night with 33 steals, the most in the majors, three more than Willy Taveras of Colorado. The Sox rookie began the night on pace to steal 74 bases, which would shatter Tommy Harper's club record of 54, set in 1973.
Harper was the last Sox player to lead the league in steals. On six other occasions a Sox player has done it, the oddest case that of Dom DiMaggio, who led with just 15 steals in 1950.
Bill Werber, who turns 100 Friday, is the only Sox player to lead the league twice: in 1935, when he stole 29, and 1934, when he stole 40. Jackie Jensen led the league with 22 in 1954, and Buddy Myer did it by stealing 30 in 1928.
"He's done a very good job, he deserves our trust," Francona said, acknowledging that they give Ellsbury wide latitude on when he runs. "Ask him a question, and he gives you a very intelligent answer. He's creating havoc out there, but not just by running crazy."
Ellsbury didn't get a chance last night, going 0 for 4.
Ramírez in lineupManny Ramírez
was back in the lineup after missing the last two games with a tender hamstring. He went 0 for 4 with a strikeout . . . Curt Schilling's
rehab efforts have stalled. He last threw Friday, it didn't go well, and Francona said he planned to huddle with the veteran righthander on where they go from here. Clearly not a positive development . . . Kevin Youkilis
was a late scratch after experiencing back spasms during batting practice. Sean Casey
played first base, and appeared to injure his right foot when he struck the bag awkwardly while handling pitcher Cole Hamels's
ground ball in the third inning. Casey had hits in his first two at-bats, and has reached safely in his last 20 starts at first base. He finished 2 for 4 . . . Dustin Pedroia
has regained his batting stroke on this trip. After hitting .077 (2 for 26) on the last homestand, Pedroia had four hits in three games in Cincinnati and three more hits in four at-bats last night, including his sixth home run.
Strange but true
Elias Sports Bureau notes that two years ago yesterday, Julio Lugo
hit two home runs off Hamels. Lugo was playing for Tampa Bay; Hamel was a 22-year-old rookie for the Phillies. Lugo had not faced Hamels since then until last night. Lugo has hit two homers in a game four times in his career; the last was July 22, 2006, against the Orioles. He entered last night's game having gone 212 at-bats since his last homer, Sept. 22, 2007, off Al Reyes
of the Rays at Tropicana Field . . . Taking part in the pregame exchange of lineup cards was Jimy Williams
, who is in his second season as Charlie Manuel's
bench coach. The former Sox skipper, the American League's Manager of the Year in 1999 when he led the team to 94 wins turns 65 Oct. 4. Among his duties with the Phillies listed in his bio is this rarity: He works with the pitchers on their hitting. Apparently, some of his instruction is taking: Phillies hurlers led the majors in runs in '07, and this season lead the majors in walks with 12. Hamels stepped in last night batting a staff-best .314 and went 1 for 3 to improve to .316 . . . Backup catcher Kevin Cash
is in a prolonged slump. He is hitless in his last 16 at-bats and 2 for his last 32, dropping his average from .375 to .236.
After an 0 for 4, 3-K performance Friday night in Cincinnati, J.D. Drew
resumed his hot hitting with three extra-base hits - home run, triple, and double and four runs scored - in the next two games, and hit his 12th home run last night, one more than he had last season. Last night, he got his usual warm welcome in Philadelphia, where fans have not forgiven him for spurning the Phillies after they drafted him first in 1997 . . . Last night was the eighth time this season, and the fifth time in the last 15 games, that the Sox have hit back-to-back home runs, Pedroia and Drew doing the honors . . . Five Sox players continue to lead the voting at their respective positions for the All-Star team: Jason Varitek
, Ramírez, Ortiz, Youkilis, and Pedroia.
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