McDonald glad to be caught in rundown
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When his phone vibrated around 5:30 p.m. yesterday, outfielder Darnell McDonald was asleep, having dozed off after putting the movie “The Book of Eli’’ on pause. He was in his hotel room here, a couple of hours from the flight that would take him back to Boston after he had been designated for assignment by the Red Sox. His exhaustion was understandable.
So too was his reaction when he realized it was manager Terry Francona calling. He thought he had been traded.
“I had to make sure I wasn’t dreaming,’’ McDonald said. “[Monday] was a tough day for me. I knew what the circumstances were. Now I’m here.’’
The Sox were calling to bring him back to Tropicana Field. With the team, as usual, having delayed the roster move as long as possible, when Jacoby Ellsbury turned up with soreness and discomfort in his side after a session in the batting cage yesterday, the Sox were able to get McDonald back in time for the first pitch last night.
“Had a Superman cape in my luggage,’’ McDonald quipped.
Instead of McDonald, the Sox designated righthander Scott Atchison for assignment. That move is purely procedural, according to a team source. Atchison, who was summoned Monday from Pawtucket, will be optioned to Triple A in a couple of days, once he clears optional waivers. The team has not cut ties with the reliever with this move.
Ellsbury got an X-ray at Tropicana Field, was examined by the Rays’ doctor, and had a CT scan. There will be follow-up tests, as well. The Sox don’t know what’s wrong with the outfielder, who came off the disabled list against the Phillies this weekend after being out six weeks with four fractured ribs. As Francona said, “It was all good news. It’s still, according to their doctor, symptomatic, or how he feels.’’ But it appears clear Ellsbury will not start tonight.
The Sox needed an extra outfielder with Mike Cameron having just come off the DL himself. Cameron was activated yesterday, the reason the team needed to make a roster move in the first place. He started in center field and went 0 for 3 in the Sox’ 2-0 victory.
“It’s an hour and a half before the game,’’ Francona said. “We’re trying to cover ourselves everywhere. Thankfully guys in the front office are pretty careful about making the moves late. So we got Mac on the phone, told him we were thrilled with the adjustments he made while he was gone, [and to] come on back.’’
Ellsbury had played three games in a row before receiving a scheduled day off last night. Francona confirmed yesterday the Sox were planning on using Ellsbury as their primary center fielder even on days when Cameron is in the lineup as well. That was to lessen the impact on Cameron’s strained lower abdominal muscle and to give Ellsbury stability by playing him in center every day, and it was something Ellsbury said he believed would be for the “duration of the season.’’
But that was before the game, and before the Sox were worried enough about his health to make sure they had another outfielder on the roster.
“I think he got a little nervous,’’ Francona said of Ellsbury. “I understand that. Is it related [to his fractured ribs]? It’s hard to imagine it’s not. It was in a different area, a little bit over to the side.’’
McDonald, meanwhile, showed up just before the game. He entered in the ninth inning for Jeremy Hermida in left field, though he didn’t get the chance to hit a walkoff homer, as he had in his first appearance with the club.
One factor was key in McDonald’s return. “His flight wasn’t till 8,’’ Francona said. “Smart kid.’’