Red Sox notebook

Bedard watch heating up

Mariners lefty a trade target

Josh Beckett searches for answers during the Royals’ four-run uprising in the fourth inning. Josh Beckett searches for answers during the Royals’ four-run uprising in the fourth inning. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / July 29, 2011

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The Red Sox will be watching closely tonight when Erik Bedard takes the mound for the Mariners against the Rays. The lefthander may be the key to the Sox’ plans for the trade deadline.

With Clay Buchholz dealing with a back injury that could keep him out for the remainder of the season, the Sox are trying to obtain a starter before Sunday’s non-waiver deadline, according to major league sources.

Bedard, 32, is 4-6 with a 3.00 earned run average in 15 starts and has only $352,000 remaining on his contract for this season. He has made just 45 starts over the last four seasons because of injuries, but has five years of experience in the American League East, having started his career with Baltimore.

Bedard has a 4.32 ERA in 13 appearances against the Yankees and a 3.22 ERA in 13 starts against the Rangers, possible playoff opponents for the Red Sox.

A free agent at the end of the season, Bedard would presumably be motivated to perform well.

Other teams that need a starter, including the Yankees, have an interest in Bedard. But the Yankees appear to have focused their efforts on Dodgers righthander Hiroki Kuroda. The Red Sox also have an interest in Kuroda.

The uncertainty surrounding Buchholz appears to have put the Sox in a position of needing to bolster their rotation. Manager Terry Francona acknowledged yesterday that the righthander’s injury could be more serious than initially thought.

“Oh, boy. The best way I think I can answer that is that it’s not been the simplest muscle strain. That’s pretty obvious,’’ he said.

Buchholz threw off a mound Monday and looked good, according to all observers. But instead of repeating that step Wednesday, he was shut down. The Sox have said Buchholz will see another specialist this week, but have provided no details beyond that.

“We want to have everything answered before we turn him loose. Because if we turn him loose, we don’t want to turn back,’’ Francona said. “At the same time, we want to take care of him. I still feel that and I think our medical people do, too.’’

Is Francona concerned that Buchholz will not pitch again this season?

“Not right now,’’ he said.

The Sox have other rotation concerns. Andrew Miller is 4-1, but has been rocked in four games against AL teams since being called up from Triple A Pawtucket. And while 44-year-old Tim Wakefield has been effective for much of the season, he has a 7.06 ERA in his last five starts.

Along with Bedard and Kuroda, other starters potentially available include Jeremy Guthrie (Orioles), Rich Harden (Athletics), and Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez.

The Sox have inquired about Jimenez, but Colorado is seeking a package of high-end prospects in return.

As they seek a pitcher, the Sox also are looking to add to their bench with a righthanded-hitting outfielder.

Shot in the arm Carl Crawford did not get just a regular day off Wednesday. The left fielder had a cortisone shot in his left elbow Tuesday night for a strain that has been bothering him for several weeks.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal, but I had to do something,’’ Crawford said. “It was bothering me throwing. Not swinging so much.’’

Crawford hopes to start tonight in Chicago. He was 1 for 11 on Monday and Tuesday, striking out six times.

“He’s been actually fighting that for a while. Rather than come back a day too early, we’ll let him have one more day and then get him back and not have him fight it,’’ Francona said. “Nothing serious or anything like that. Just take care of him.’’

Crawford pinch hit in the ninth inning of yesterday’s 4-3 loss and nearly won the game, but his fly ball to deep right field was caught.

Going into detail On Tuesday, J.D. Drew was placed on the disabled list with an impingement in his left shoulder. In his first interview since, he explained the details of his injury.

Drew has inflammation in his rotator cuff, a condition that started in spring training and grew worse. It helps to explain why he is hitting .219 with a .317 on-base percentage, 4 home runs, and 21 RBIs.

“I’ve felt it for a while. It’s one of those things that’s slowly, gradually taking strength out of that shoulder, which has caused some bad habits,’’ Drew said.

Drew has had a series of cortisone shots, the latest a week ago.

“I’m trying to let that take effect. In the meantime, I’m doing some strengthening work,’’ he said.

Drew believes that once his shoulder is stronger, he can return to the roster. For now, he is thrilled to see how well Josh Reddick is playing in right field.

“Josh has played great, man. He’s probably one of the most improved young players that I have seen,’’ Drew said. “He went from one extreme to another. It’s been fun to watch.’’

Home show Adrian Gonzalez was 2 for 4 and is hitting .397 in 51 games at Fenway Park with a .450 on-base percentage and a .593 slugging percentage. Gonzalez was 14 of 29 on the homestand with nine RBIs . . . Matt Albers pitched a scoreless ninth inning. He has not allowed a run in his last 13 1/3 innings, dropping his ERA to 2.09 . . . Eric Hosmer, Kansas City’s 21-year-old first baseman, was 8 for 19 in the series.

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

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