Red Sox Notebook

Lester says he is moving in right direction

Victor Martinez outraces Derek Jeter to the plate for a force that helped prevent a Yankee rally. Victor Martinez outraces Derek Jeter to the plate for a force that helped prevent a Yankee rally. (Jim Mcisaac/Getty Images)
By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / September 27, 2009

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NEW YORK - Sitting in front of his locker yesterday, with his right knee wrapped in a sleeve, Jon Lester was far enough removed from the pain and worry that he could joke about the comebacker that ended his night Friday.

Asked how his leg felt, the pitcher said, “It’s all right. It’s still attached, so we’re going in the right direction.’’

Later, when a reporter inquired about the size of the bruise on Lester’s leg, he replied, “About a baseball’s size.’’

There was comfort in his remarks, especially since Lester had shown up the day after he was hit by Melky Cabrera’s line drive without significant swelling. “I think I should be able to start one more time before the end of the season,’’ he said.

Lester is scheduled to pitch Thursday, which would give him five or six days’ rest before Game 1 of the American League Division Series. Although he’s planning on making his next start, “it’s up to them if they want to be cautious or conservative and make it a day later or two days later,’’ he said.

It is not known whether Lester will throw a side session tomorrow; pitchers don’t always throw side sessions this time of year.

For now, he is icing the knee and moving around a bit. His plan was to use the exercise bike and test the leg. Walking stairs bothered him, though his knee wasn’t as tight as he had expected. The main idea is to keep the swelling down.

Lester knows the injury could have been far worse.

“Something like that, you don’t want to break any bones or have any other damage,’’ he said. “I didn’t take any time to digest that. Grateful that it didn’t do that or hairline fracture or anything like that. I mean, it’s obviously a good thing that it hit where it did.’’

Lowrie gets a start
Though it didn’t go exactly as planned for Jed Lowrie - a pop fly fell between him and Jacoby Ellsbury in short center - the shortstop was just glad to get on the field yesterday. He has been used sparingly since returning after the end of the Triple A season, and he got his first start since Aug. 6, also at Yankee Stadium.

Lowrie was pulled from a game on that trip to New York after experiencing numbness in his surgically repaired left wrist. The issue was another in a season of pain and frustration for Lowrie, who began training camp in a battle with Julio Lugo for the starting spot at short, but has started more games in the minors than in the majors.

Lowrie has felt better of late, though he isn’t sure if it is because he has taken fewer swings or because he has changed his rehab routine. Lowrie hasn’t gotten comfortable swinging from the left side.

“Whether there is, at this point, a little bit of a mental block there, it’s because I probably played through a lot when it didn’t feel good,’’ said Lowrie.

Lowrie’s offseason plan is to rest and rehab his wrist. He won’t swing a bat until January.

Lowrie does not experience discomfort from the right side, which is why he got the start against Yankees lefthander CC Sabathia. And then there’s the question of whether he will be on the postseason roster.

“As a competitor, I have a hard time sitting on the bench,’’ Lowrie said. “But at the same time, I think deep down I might realize that this might be what’s best for me. But if they ask me to play more, I’d be willing. I just have to be honest with them.’’

Bogar remains focused
First base coach Tim Bogar, whose name surfaced as a candidate for the Houston Astros managerial position, said he has not been contacted about the job. “I’ve read what you’ve read, I’ve heard what you’ve heard,’’ he said. “But I haven’t talked to anybody about anything.’’ Bogar, who is in his first season with the Red Sox, played for the Astros from 1997-2000. He spent four years as a minor league manager, including two in Houston’s system. In 2006, Baseball America named him the best managerial prospect in the Eastern League for his work at Double A Akron. Last year, his first on a big league coaching staff, Bogar was the quality assurance coach for the Tampa Bay Rays. He showed some interest in the Houston opening, created when Cecil Cooper was fired last week, but he is focused on his role with the Sox. “Everybody has their aspirations,’’ Bogar said. “But I’m here now. I don’t even know if that’s an option at all. So I’m here, doing the job here. We’ve got business to take care of. If that’s something that comes up afterwards, then I’ll have something to think about.’’

Battery gets charge
With Victor Martinez behind the plate yesterday, it marked only the fourth time that Daisuke Matsuzaka has worked with a catcher other than Jason Varitek in his major league career. The pair appeared to communicate well, with an excellent start resulting from the combination. As manager Terry Francona said, “I thought [Martinez] did a good job. Thought he really did a good job. You didn’t see Dice stepping off, or a lot of trips to the mound. They seemed to be on the same page. Before the game, Francona had discussed the decision saying, “If something happens in the playoffs, we want to make sure we’ve covered every base, so if something does happen, it doesn’t get in the way . . . It may not be perfect. That’s why all the things we talk about with the guys with their relationships and learning each other, there’s reason for that.’’

Team player
Given the weekend off to get treatment on his sore side in Boston, Hideki Okajima left Friday but returned to the team yesterday. Okajima will not pitch in the Yankees series, but Francona said the reliever wanted to be with the team . . . Francona made multiple substitutions in his lineup, sitting Jason Bay, J.D. Drew, and Alex Gonzalez. Francona said the team was dragging Friday. Drew got the day off with Sabathia on the mound. Brian Anderson played left field, with Rocco Baldelli playing right.

Walk on wild side
Billy Wagner was pretty harsh in his assessment of the eighth inning, in which he got two outs and allowed two runs while throwing 35 pitches: “Just poor pitching,’’ Wagner said. “If you give up hits, it’s one thing. But walking [Nick] Swisher and then getting ahead of Melky and then hitting him. I had chances to get out of the inning, but pretty much deserve what I get.’’ Wagner started the inning by walking Swisher and hitting Cabrera, sandwiched around a strikeout of Robinson Cano. He then walked Jose Molina to load the bases. After Derek Jeter struck out, Johnny Damon dumped a single into right field to score two runs. Though Francona had said that the pitch to Damon was a good one, Wagner said, “I don’t think it was too good. You ever heard of a good pitch getting hit. It wasn’t that good.’’ . . . Matsuzaka is now 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA in three starts since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 15 . . . The Sox were shut out for the sixth time this season and third by the Yankees . . . The Sox have lost six straight at Yankee Stadium . . . Martinez’s 25-game hitting streak is the longest by a Venezuelan hitter in major league history, more than the White Sox’ Chico Carrasquel’s 24-gamer in 1950. The 25 games is the 11th longest in franchise history.

Adam Kilgore of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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