Red Sox notebook

Drew getting back on track

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / September 6, 2008
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ARLINGTON, Texas - As J.D. Drew signed autographs after taking batting practice yesterday, there was something notable about the scene - Drew was standing upright. He could still walk, and the stiffness hadn't returned to his lower back.

He reported he felt good, that there was no setback, even though it was the first time he had taken batting practice and tracked down balls in the outfield since reinjuring his back.

Earlier in the week, the back had gotten so bad Drew almost couldn't get up from the chiropractor's table, and spent one night hobbling around the clubhouse.

"It cracked, popped here and there, [the chiropractor] was like, 'get up and see how it feels,' " Drew said. "I was like, 'I can't get up, just give me a second.'

"I think he was a little concerned that he messed me up really bad. He asked me three or four times as the night went along, 'Are you feeling better? Are you OK?' I was like, it's not your fault. This happens. Any time I try to do anything to aggressively treat the injury it kind of held up on me. Fortunately when I woke up it felt better. I was able to hit the next day."

The setback occurred before a game at home earlier this week when Drew hit in the cage, then attempted batting practice. He got as far as putting on his practice jersey and, jogging from the stairs to the dugout, the back locked up on him.

"It's to the point where I'm really anxious to get out there and do baseball stuff on the field," Drew said. "I'm anxious to play in a game. I'm not super excited, as far as I've still got a little bit of stuff going on back there. Hopefully maybe doing some stuff on the field, playing through it, [it will] disappear. I hope it just doesn't flare back up."

Drew said he will try to face live batting practice today, likely off David Aardsma.

"We'll kind of see where he is," manager Terry Francona said. "He said it seems like he takes a step forward and then one back. So we'll just see where he's at. I think he's hoping that he's only maybe a couple, three days away. Until it goes away, we'll just deal with it."

Casey returns

Though Sean Casey was not in the lineup, with Mark Kotsay manning first base in Kevin Youkilis's absence, he was certainly happy to be off the disabled list. Casey joined Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett in being activated before the game. Casey had been battling a stiff neck since Aug. 19.

"As far as playing, I'm 100 percent," Casey said. "I don't feel anything right now. You just don't want anything to come back. I was going stir-crazy.

"This is what it's all about. You're playing the whole year to be in this spot in September. Being in this situation, in a pennant race down the stretch, we play Tampa Bay so many times. It's a lot of fun. I'm excited just to be a part of it."

Casey said he'd essentially been in traction in trying to come back from bulging disks, with the training staff putting him in a neck brace to rid him of the pain and stiffness.

Youkilis missed Tuesday's and Wednesday's games against the Orioles with lower back spasms. He has missed four of the last five games after having flu-like symptoms in addition to the back trouble.

He got treatment in Boston Thursday, then remained at home to attend to a personal matter. Youkilis is expected to arrive in Texas today.

Asked if Youkilis would have been in the lineup yesterday, Francona said, "I think so."

Wakefield on number

Tim Wakefield is scheduled to make his 500th appearance for the Red Sox tonight. He and Bob Stanley (637) are the only pitchers in team history to reach the mark. Wakefield is the 46th player to accomplish the feat for one team, and the seventh active player to do so. Wakefield is also the first player in team history with at least 500 appearances and 350 starts. He's the 23d player to do so and third active, joining Tom Glavine and John Smoltz . . . Coco Crisp continued his hot hitting, grabbing three more hits. Crisp singled twice and tripled in the sixth inning, as part of back-to-back stand-up triples with Jacoby Ellsbury. It was the first time the Sox had accomplished that feat since Gabe Kapler and Pokey Reese tripled in the fourth inning of a game at Kansas City June 5, 2004. Crisp is batting .467 since Aug. 17 to raise his average to .277 . . . Dustin Pedroia doubled in the first inning, tying the club record with 45 doubles by a second baseman. Jody Reed hit 45 in 1990. Pedroia has a nine-game hitting streak (.579) . . . The Sox have won four straight games . . . The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees got a strong effort from starter Kei Igawa to take a 6-4 victory over the Pawtucket Red Sox in the International League playoffs. The Yankees lead the best-of-five series, 2-1. Bartolo Colon will pitch for Pawtucket tonight against Phil Hughes . . . With the additions of three activated players, the Red Sox are up to 28 on their active roster . . . Rangers left fielder Marlon Byrd exited before the top of the second after injuring himself diving to make a play on Pedroia's first-inning double. Byrd, who sprained his left thumb, was replaced by Brandon Boggs. X-rays were negative . . . Aardsma (groin) will throw to hitters today, then the Sox will figure out the next step for the reliever depending on the session . . . The Trenton Yankees beat Portland, 5-4, to complete a three-game-sweep of the Seadogs in the Eastern League semifinals.

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