Red Sox notebook

Don’t expect shakeup

Roster makeup pleases Epstein

Kevin Youkilis celebrates after hitting a two-run homer in the first inning of last night’s 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays. Kevin Youkilis celebrates after hitting a two-run homer in the first inning of last night’s 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays. (Darren Calabrese/Associated Press)
By Adam Kilgore
Globe Staff / July 18, 2009
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TORONTO - With no obvious need on his roster and no prominent problems in the clubhouse (remember last year?), general manager Theo Epstein intimated yesterday the Red Sox will have a mostly quiet trade deadline. And, without naming this season’s most high-profile potential trade chip or addressing him directly, Epstein built an argument against acquiring Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay.

The two weeks between the All-Star break and July 31 is typically the most active dealing period of the year. The Red Sox under Epstein have proven to be creative and thorough, but any moves will not likely be headline stealers. Rather, Epstein said, the Sox will try to add depth, as they did last season in acquiring Mark Kotsay in August.

“I don’t think we have one glaring weakness, which I think speaks to the great job the players on this club have been doing in the first half,’’ he said. “At the same, I think there are opportunities to get better. Exactly which opportunities we pursue or try to pursue relates probably more to health than anything else.

“We want to create as much depth and redundancy as we possibly can. If you don’t address depth before July 31 or in some cases in August, then you’re left without an opportunity to do so down the stretch and to help the team, we hope, in another postseason.’’

The biggest move the Sox could make, of course, is a trade for Halladay, whom the Blue Jays may be hesitant to move within the American League East. The Blue Jays want a bevy of prospects, and the Red Sox possess a talented reservoir of potential major leaguers, but Epstein wants to build his organization with them, not trade them away.

Epstein cannot speak publicly about another team’s player, but he responded to a question about the temptation of trying to trade for a premier starting pitcher.

“It’s always tempting, but it always comes at great cost,’’ Epstein said. “When you do it through the free agent market, it comes with tremendous risk in terms of the years and dollars you have to spend. If you do it through trade, it comes at tremendous cost - basically your best and most promising prospects, the core of your organization in a lot of ways.

“The only way to do it that seems to make the most sense is develop them from within. We’re lucky that we have a talented starting pitching corps. We’ll see what happens on the trade front. Trades are always tempting, but those temptations always come at a cost.’’

Lowell back in lineup
Third baseman Mike Lowell returned to the lineup last night after a 19-day stay on the disabled list. Lowell’s surgically repaired right hip felt better, he said, than it has at any time since last May, when he first started feeling tightness in his hip joint. The key for Lowell, and the Red Sox, is maintaining that feeling throughout the next two months.

Lowell will receive more days off in the second half than he has in the past, and Lowell planned to meet with manager Terry Francona about an immediate schedule of rest.

Lowell went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles, and his ninth error of the year, a throwing miscue in the second inning, proved harmless.

“I thought he did very well,’’ Francona said. “He swung the bat well. It’s nice to have him back.’’

Make way for Lowrie
Jed Lowrie will be activated from the 60-day disabled list today, making him eligible to play his first game since April 11. Even after an extended rehab following left wrist surgery, Lowrie is not prepared to be an everyday player. For now, Nick Green will remain the starting shortstop, and Lowrie will be a versatile backup.

“Jed’s not ready to play every single day,’’ Francona said. “If we needed him to win every single day, I don’t know that we would have called him up yet . . . We could have Lowrie play short. We could have Lowrie play third. I think it will work out.’’

A spot for Lowrie on the 40-man was created when the Sox designated shortstop Julio Lugo for assignment. Aaron Bates, sent down to Pawtucket yesterday, will remain on the 40-man roster.

Lowrie began the season 1 for 18 with two walks before admitting his wrist was causing his struggles.

Backups not handy
In the fourth inning, Green was hit by a pitch in the left hand. Plate umpire Chuck Meriwether ruled the play a foul ball, but that was a secondary concern until it became clear Green would remain in the game. The more pressing concern was who might play shortstop if Green could not play?

With Lugo out of the picutre and Lowrie a day away from returning, they had no clear backup shortstop.

“We’d have figured it out,’’ Francona said. “We could have done a couple things.’’

The Sox would have either moved Dustin Pedroia to shortstop and put Kevin Youkilis at second and Kotsay at first, or put Youkilis at short and Kotsay at first, depending on the status of the game.

Green said his hand was bruised, but fine.

Ellsbury ill, sits
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was scratched about 45 minutes before game time because he was sick. Rocco Baldelli took his place and batted eighth. “Intestinal turmoil,’’ Francona said. “He didn’t feel too good. He looked pretty bad. He wanted to play.’’ . . . The Blue Jays scratched lefthander Brian Tallet from his scheduled start today and replaced him with Marc Rzepczynski, who will make his third career start.

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