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Red Sox Notebook

Francona is put on the spot

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 25, 2011

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RED SOX NOTEBOOK

PITTSBURGH — Terry Francona wants to get David Ortiz into the lineup. But he’s not quite sure he can risk playing Adrian Gonzalez in right field.

The Red Sox started last night’s interleague game against the Pirates with Ortiz on the bench and Francona plans to do the same thing tonight. But there seems to be a possibility of Ortiz playing first base tomorrow, with Gonzalez shifting to right field.

Not having the designated hitter has forced Francona into making an uncomfortable decision. Either sit Ortiz and risk him going cold or play Gonzalez in right field and risk an injury that could derail the season.

It will be an issue throughout the nine-game trip.

“I don’t know. I really don’t know,’’ said Francona when asked what he planned to do. “I’m not happy about David sitting for nine straight games and I’m also not happy about putting Gonzy in right field. Neither choice is very appealing.’’

Ortiz pinch hit and grounded to short to end the eighth inning in last night’s 3-1 loss to the Pirates.

Tim Wakefield is a fly-ball pitcher, so Gonzalez will not play right field tonight. But with Andrew Miller on the mound tomorrow, Francona might take the chance. The lefthander struck out six and got eight ground outs over 5 2/3 innings in his first start on Monday.

“Before I would do it, I would sit down and talk to [general manager] Theo [Epstein], the coaches,’’ said Francona. “If something ever happened, I’d have to live with it. We’ll see.

“If Gonzy chases a ball down and pulls a hamstring or something, I’m going to have a hard time with that one.’’

Ortiz took grounders at first base during batting practice prior to last night’s game.

“I’ll do whatever they want,’’ he said. “I understand the situation.’’

Beckett better Josh Beckett, who is recovering from the flu, said he would be ready to pitch Tuesday in Philadelphia against Cliff Lee.

“I was pretty sick for a few days,’’ said the righthander, who was twice pushed back because the illness. “The doctors said I had the actual flu. It was bad.’’

Beckett will pitch Tuesday on 12 days of rest. But he doesn’t anticipate that being a problem.

“I’ll be able to throw a few times and get into my normal routine,’’ he said. “I’ll be fine. I’m feeling a lot better.’’

Shutting it down Shortstop Jed Lowrie has rejoined the team after having his left shoulder examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles on Wednesday. He has a bruised nerve.

“Pretty much shut down the whole area. Just got to get all those muscles activated again and get some strength back,’’ Lowrie said.

Yocum could not give Lowrie a timetable on his rehab. Nerve injuries are “finicky,’’ according to what Yocum told Lowrie. But Lowrie is not expected back for at least a few weeks.

Homecoming king Francona grew up in New Brighton, Pa., 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. He spent some time before the game entertaining family and friends.

“There’s a lot of friends that I haven’t seen for a long time. At the same time, we need to win the games,’’ he said. “I bet I’ll get to wave at some people I grew up with, which is kind of cool. But other than that, it really can’t be any different. It’s not a vacation.’’

Francona was more excited about getting to spend some time with his father. Tito Francona, 77, played 15 years in the majors before retiring in 1977.

“He’ll enjoy it. I think the Red Sox thing has been really good for him. He has gotten so into it,’’ Francona said of his father. “He watches every game. I think it’s kept him young.

“He lives and dies with what we do. I think it’s a point in his life when it’s really healthy for him. He loves it. He’ll have a ball here the next three days.’’

Francona had managed one game at PNC Park, in 2002 when he was the bench coach of the Rangers and filled in for Jerry Narron, who was attending a funeral. Texas won, 2-0.

Atchison arrives The Red Sox swapped righthanded relievers before the game, recalling Scott Atchison and optioning Michael Bowden to Pawtucket.

“We keep saying every time we send [Atchison] down that we’d like to get him back,’’ Francona said. “So when we get the opportunity, we do.’’

This is Atchison’s third stint with the Sox this season. He had appeared in seven games, posting a 4.73 earned run average. He was 2-1 with two saves and a 1.39 ERA at Pawtucket in 17 games.

Bowden pitched well this month, allowing one earned run in five innings.

Rainout rescheduled The game against Baltimore that was rained out May 17 was rescheduled for Sept. 19 as the opener of a day/night doubleheader.

Fans holding tickets for the May 17 game can use them for the Sept. 19 game that starts at 1:05 p.m.

In a press release announcing the decision, the Red Sox made it clear they preferred to make up the game during the series against Baltimore July 7-10.

“The decision to reschedule the game for this date was made collectively by the MLB Players Association, Major League Baseball, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Boston Red Sox,’’ the release said. “The Red Sox could not make the decision unilaterally.’’

Buchholz due back Clay Buchholz, who is on the disabled list with a sore back, is tentatively scheduled to return July 4 against Toronto. He is eligible to return July 2, but the Red Sox would not want him to swing a bat and possibly run the bases in Houston . . . Red Sox pitchers lead the majors with 45 hit batsmen. Toronto is second with 34. Jon Lester, who hit a batter last night, has the major league lead with 10, followed by John Lackey with nine. Beckett and Alfredo Aceves have six . . . The Sox signed three more draft picks, all righthanded pitchers. Matty Ott (13th round, LSU), Braden Kapteyn (15th round, Kentucky), and Joe Holtmeyer (22d, Nebraska) were assigned to Lowell.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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