Red Sox notebook

Gonzalez injury could be a shortfall

More X-rays on sore hand today

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / October 3, 2009

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With the Red Sox already down two shortstops - Nick Green is still having trouble with the disk/nerve issue in his back, and Jed Lowrie isn’t yet fully recovered from the left wrist problems that have plagued him all season - it was not good news when Alex Gonzalez was removed from last night’s game after being hit by a pitch on his right hand, between the base of the pinky finger and the heel of the wrist, in the eighth inning.

“I don’t feel any pain,’’ said Gonzalez, whose hand was bandaged and iced after the game. “I feel good. I can move my fingers and hand, my wrist. I hope there’s nothing big. I can use my hand, and I can squeeze.’’

Gonzalez had preliminary X-rays at Fenway Park, which manager Terry Francona called “a little bit inconclusive.’’ It revealed what Gonzalez called “a line,’’ which will be checked further today. Gonzalez said he was scheduled for an MRI today at 10:30 a.m., though a Red Sox spokesperson maintained that he is getting a more detailed X-ray.

The shortstop was not scheduled to be in today’s lineup anyway, with Lowrie getting the start.

Since being acquired Aug. 14, Gonzalez has steadied the position defensively, and added more offense than the Sox had anticipated. He has hit .285, with an OPS of .755. He has scored 25 runs in 43 games with Boston.

Gonzalez wasn’t the only Boston player to be removed from the game. Rocco Baldelli left with a left hip flexor strain after reaching on an error in the fourth inning. Baldelli is listed as day-to-day, and did not stick around to speak with the media.

“We got him out, obviously, precautionary because we didn’t want to do something,’’ Francona said. “It’s so hard for Rocco when he feels something because he doesn’t know if it’s a pull or not. We’ve been through all that. But he exhibited very good range of motion and no weakness. So I think that’s good. You know, we’re certainly going to have to monitor this one, just because of the health history. It is a concern, but we’ll watch him and try to find out more the next couple days.’’

Drew sits again
J.D. Drew got a cortisone shot in the AC joint in his left shoulder Wednesday and missed his second straight game. He expects to be back in the lineup this weekend.

“It’s been really kind of nagging for about a month,’’ Drew said. “Trying to buy time where we had a couple days so I can get a shot in there and let it kind of calm down.’’

Drew said his shoulder was “getting pretty well irritated in there,’’ with the pain mostly coming when he was in his batting stance, and when his arm came across his body during a swing.

“It didn’t limit me doing anything,’’ Drew said. “I was actually swinging the bat well and everything. Just that nagging and I’d go home and try to sleep and sleeping on it like that - the joint would just, it was not comfortable. So this is hopefully going to make it comfortable.’’

It’s a far cry from the way Drew limped into last year’s postseason. He didn’t play most of the final six weeks of the season, sidelined with back spasms. Drew hit .263 with a .349 OBP, and slugged .474 with two home runs and six RBIs in 11 postseason games.

“J.D.’s the one guy I worry less about his at-bats,’’ Francona said. “The rest seems to do him more good and he can come out after not playing for four days and swing it better than he had before.’’

Before the shoulder issue, which had come up earlier this season, Drew had been swinging well. He hit .358 with 6 home runs, 16 RBIs, and 16 runs over his last 27 games and hit .360 with 10 homers and 23 RBIs in his last 41 games.

He has remained healthy, for the most part. Drew has played 136 games, far more than his 109 last season. His career high is 146, which he had with the Dodgers in 2006, a year before he joined the Sox.

Two strong
When he came out for the seventh inning, it marked the first time that Billy Wagner had pitched in back-to-back games since coming back from Tommy John surgery. Wagner struck out both batters he faced. “He felt good,’’ Francona said. “It worked out really well . . . It was probably beneficial to everybody, himself included.’’ Wagner hadn’t pitched in consecutive games since July 23 and 24 of last season. “I think it’s something you need to go through,’’ Wagner said. “I think it puts their mind at ease. I felt strong all along and they wanted to play it cautious. We’ve got a deep bullpen, and they didn’t want to sit there and feel like they had to use me more than they needed to.’’ . . . Daisuke Matsuzaka came through with his fourth straight solid start since coming off the disabled list. Matsuzaka is 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA and 20 strikeouts in those four starts. He also extended his streak of holding runners hitless with the bases loaded to 23 at-bats. “He threw the ball well, good slider,’’ Francona said. “I think every game he’s pitched it’s seemed like his slider has become not only maybe more consistent, but certainly more depth to it. The pitch that we’re kind of accustomed to enjoy to watch. It was a pretty good pitch.’’

Travel plans
Part of Francona’s day was spent telling some players where they might be off to once the season ends. Although the majority of the team, and certainly all on the playoff roster, will be flying to Anaheim, Calif., there are some who will be going to Fort Myers, Fla., to stay ready, and some who will be going home.

“Pretty much everybody that maybe thinks they’re on a bubble, we kind of told them where they would be going Sunday,’’ Francona said. “Cause Sunday’s going to be a madhouse around here. We have 37 bodies. If we know, we’d like to tell them where the heck they’re going. We certainly don’t know our roster, but to tell the guys who’s going where and why and then we’ll make our decisions after our meetings.’’

Francona said some of that information will be made public today, though the postseason roster won’t be finalized for a couple of days.

Green means stop
Green probably won’t play this weekend, making it very likely he will not be available for the first round of the playoffs. “To be honest with you, if he was able to get in a game the next couple days, I’d be surprised,’’ Francona said. With Green and Lowrie ailing, it’s looking more likely Chris Woodward could have a spot on the Division Series roster. “It’s a little bit of a conundrum,’’ Francona said. “There’s a lot to think about . . . There’s some decisions we need to make.’’ . . . Woodward is in Tampa with his wife, Erin, who delivered a healthy baby boy, Grady Maclean, Thursday night.

Adam Kilgore of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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