Dan Shaughnessy

Waiting game

His teammates had to hand it to Jason Varitek after he hit his third home run of the season. His teammates had to hand it to Jason Varitek after he hit his third home run of the season. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)
By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / April 17, 2010

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Random notes from wet and frosty Fenway before the grounds crew rolled out the tarp with the score tied, 1-1, in the middle of the ninth . . .

David Ortiz is due to lead off tonight at 7:10 in the bottom of the ninth. Thus far in this game, Big Papi has two strikeouts (15 Ks in eight games) and a double. This is the Red Sox’ first suspended game in 14 years.

What were the Sox thinking when they spent the winter on Run Prevention without addressing their deteriorating defense behind the plate? The Basepath Jailbreak Tour will be at Fenway again tonight and we’re wondering when Boston’s catchers will throw somebody out.

The Rays stole four bags last night, making Sox opponents 16 for 17 this season. Victor Martinez has been the victim on 11 steals. Jason Varitek was behind the plate last night. Lumbering Carlos Pena swiped second in the ninth without drawing a throw. It could be a dangerous pattern in this four-game set. The Rays stole 31 bases in 35 attempts against the Sox last year. With his theft in the third inning, Carl Crawford has been successful 28 straight times against the Sox. Mr. Penn Relays was 6 for 6 in one game against Boston last May — tying a modern-day major league record.

Robinson Cano is the only base runner who’s been thrown out by the Sox this year. Hang your head, Mr. Cano. You’re like the one guy in 500 who gets a citation for jaywalking. Martinez threw out the Yankee second baseman April 7.

Crawford’s steal last night was crucial. He reached on a brutal two-out error by shortstop Marco Scutaro, stole second, then scored when Adrian Beltre lost Ben Zobrist’s high chopper in the lights. Zobrist’s “hit’’ would have been an error in the good old days, but official scorer Charlie Scoggins was in a generous mood and explained that any ball lost in the lights is supposed to be ruled a base hit. Two innings later, the Rays got another gift when left fielder Jeremy Hermida lost sight of Reid Brignac’s routine popup. The ball landed untouched a few feet to Hermida’s left and was ruled a double.

On the plus side, Varitek homered in the fifth. That gives him three homers in two games. He’s batting .429.

Josh Beckett pitched a gem, allowing only two legitimate hits (four total) and no earned runs over seven innings. He walked only one and struck out eight. His ERA is down to 3.86.

Red Sox Nation was introduced to third base coach Tim Bogar. He elected to send Kevin Youkilis home on Ortiz’s sixth-inning double and Youk was gunned down for the first out. Bogar faced the music in the midnight hour after the game was halted.

“If he’s safe, nobody says a word to me,’’ said Bogar. “Tito patted me on the back and told me to hang with it.’’

Beltre hates to walk. He went 34 at-bats without a base on balls before he finally succumbed in the fourth inning. Overall, the Sox are way down with their beloved OBP. Boston has only 33 walks in (almost) 10 games.

J.D. Drew is a lucky man. Ortiz’s mammoth slump took eyes away from Drew, who is 4 for 31 (three singles, one homer) with 14 strikeouts. He’s batting .129.

The Sox were pretty loose in midafternoon as they prepared to start a 10-game homestand. A lot of players tried on wool hats that were last used during the NHL Winter Classic at Fenway. Jonathan Papelbon brought all activity to a halt with a staged tirade regarding his decision to wear winter headgear.

“That’s right, I’m wearing a [expletive] face mask!’’ shouted the closer. Several times.

“Medication, my man,’’ Dustin Pedroia said under his breath.

Papelbon was not wearing a mask when he pitched a hitless ninth.

Boston’s outfield featured Hermida in left, Drew in right, and Bill Hall in center. Mike Cameron spent the morning in a local hospital passing a kidney stone while Jacoby Ellsbury continues to be unavailable because of sore ribs.

“We’re gonna play Billy in center and hope nothing goes wrong,’’ said manager Terry Francona.

Hall has spent the majority of his big league career in the infield. Youkilis is the backup outfielder for the rest of this game. He doesn’t take fly balls during practice. He’s busy enough manning two infield positions. He played two games in the outfield last year, both in the long shadows of left field at Yankee Stadium.

Asked if he ever played out of position in the majors, Francona, an outfielder, referenced a game in 1985 when he played a few innings at third base for the Expos against the Mets. The image of Tito at third is particularly interesting because he is lefthanded.

“I remember Larry Bowa tried to bunt on me,’’ he said.

Francona handled three chances in the game, with three assists.

Youkilis signed a baseball for Sox vice president Sarah McKenna before the game.

“It’s the strangest thing,’’ said McKenna. “Bobby Orr asked me to have Youk sign a ball. He knows a 95-year-old woman who told him, ‘I love you, Bobby, but I really love Kevin Youkilis.’ ’’

Ortiz walked out of the clubhouse just after 11:30 last night. He was carrying a tiny water ball and complained about the clubhouse fridge stocking sawed-off water bottles.

“Who brought these in, Pedroia?’’ asked Papi. “These are Mini-Me waters.’’

The sign on the clubhouse wall read, “7:10 pick up where we left off. Red tops. Other game to follow. White tops.’’

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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