Red Sox notebook

Aardsma, Drew get to shake the rust off

Ailing pair moving closer to active duty

By Amalie Benjamin and Adam Kilgore
Globe Staff / September 7, 2008
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ARLINGTON, Texas - It was rusty vs. rustier.

David Aardsma hadn't faced hitters since being put on the disabled list Aug. 21 with a strained right groin, and J.D. Drew hadn't faced live pitching since he strained his lower back Aug. 18 - until yesterday.

While Aardsma will be in line to pitch for the Lowell Spinners tomorrow or Tuesday, and Drew hopes for a return to the lineup during the upcoming homestand, preferably against Tampa Bay, the biggest news for the Red Sox is that both players could soon be healthy and helping the team.

"He swung at a couple," Aardsma said of Drew. "It's his first time out there, too. He definitely said he was a little tentative as far as just wanting to get out there, start throwing around just like I was.

"I was a little tentative on some pitches, let it go on some pitches. He looked fine to me. He looked good taking [pitches] - that always helps me out."

Drew spent time taking balls in the outfield for a second straight day before heading in to face Aardsma. Though manager Terry Francona said Drew was still feeling a bit of discomfort on inside pitches, he is continuing to make progress.

Not that facing Aardsma was exactly an optimal scenario, but it was a step that needed to be taken.

"It's hard to judge there," Drew said. "It's a situation where you haven't had at-bats for a while. It's good to track some pitches. But it's difficult facing a guy that hasn't thrown pitches in a long time. And a guy that hasn't hit a long time. It worked out all right."

As for his return, Drew said, "I'm definitely hoping [for the homestand]. That's kind of what I'm engaging myself for, trying to get a rhythm going over the next couple days and really get good and loosened up. Get some repetition in.

"You can only do so much when your bodyguard's a little bit here and there. More than anything now, it's running full speed, getting breaks on balls. It's maybe the thing that I've got to be ready to do, standing flat-footed for two to three innings before you actually get a ball hit to you."

For his part, Aardsma threw 25 pitches to Drew, Sean Casey, and Jeff Bailey.

"The leg felt great," said Aardsma.

Back in action
Kevin Youkilis got on a 7 a.m. flight yesterday to head to Texas after staying in Boston to attend to a personal matter. Youkilis returned to the lineup last night, playing first base and batting in his customary cleanup spot in the Sox' 15-8 loss. He struck out to lead off the second, but drove a three-run homer to right in the third.

"Boy, that was a nice swing," Francona said. "I guess it shouldn't be surprising, but it's nice after a guy's had a layoff like that to see him come back and swing it like he did."

The first baseman has missed five of the last six games, two with flu-like symptoms and two with back spasms before missing Friday's victory with the personal matter.

"I think it was just from the flu, being dehydrated and laying in bed," Youkilis said of the cause for the back pain. "The doctor said it happens a lot. If it was in April it probably would have been a different story."

Warming trend
Coco Crisp went to bed Aug. 17 hitting .246. In the 20 days since, Crisp has transformed his season, adding an exclamation point in the Red Sox' 8-1 win Friday. Crisp drove in three runs and collected three hits - one of them a triple. Last night, he went 2 for 3 to boost his average to .281. Crisp has 23 hits in 48 at-bats during the streak, a .479 clip.

"I've been getting lucky," Crisp said before the game. "I got dribblers, a bunt base hit. That's how you get rolling, so hopefully I can continue being lucky and getting those balls to hit sharp, bounce back, and get little bloopers off gloves. That's some of the biggest things. That's how you get those good three or four games, unless you're like [Dustin] Pedroia and you just hit everything hard."

Crisp had a hard landing, smashing his right hip on the warning track, as he tried to reach for a ball off the bat of Josh Hamilton in the sixth inning. Hamilton ended up with a triple, and Crisp stayed in the game, saying afterward that he was fine.

A regular turn
Reliever Manny Delcarmen leads Red Sox pitchers in appearances with 64, surpassing his career high by 14 games. He has pitched 62 innings this season, over a previous career high of 53 1/3 two years ago.

Delcarmen said Francona's effort to allow him to pitch every other day has kept him fresh. The pitcher has compiled one of the most effective stretches of his season over the Sox' recent 9-3 tear.

During the span, Delcarmen has not allowed an earned run in 8 1/3 innings over seven games, allowing just one hit and walking five.

Playoff push
The PawSox were rained out in Scranton yesterday, meaning that Bartolo Colon will make his next rehab start today for Pawtucket. That would leave him on regular rest to start in the doubleheader against the Blue Jays Saturday . . . Lancaster lost its postseason opener, 12-6, to Lake Elsinore. The teams play a best-of-five series in the California League Southern Division playoffs . . . The Red Sox are batting .316 (252 for 797) over the last 22 games, getting the team batting average up to .284 from .278 . . . Tim Wakefield's start last night was short, but not the shortest of his career: He went just one inning for the Pirates June 11, 1993 . . . Casey, making his first appearance since coming off the disabled list, hit an RBI single in the ninth . . . The Rangers won for the first time in nine tries against the Sox this season. In those nine games, the teams have combined to score 134 runs, with 83 for the Sox and 51 for the Rangers.

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