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Lineups, Kotsay, Dice-K and Wake

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  July 24, 2009 04:55 PM

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For the manager of a team seemingly bound for the postseason, Red Sox manager Terry Francona today had to deal more than his share of personnel issues.

With the Sox due to face the Baltimore Orioles tonight in the opener of a three-game series -- lineups are below -- Francona confirmed that the club has designated Mark Kotsay for assignment in order to make room for Adam LaRoche on the 25-man roster. Francona also gave an update on pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka and revealed that Tim Wakefield has a cortisone injection to help combat his back ailment.

"When we got Adam, [the roster] got a little redundant," Francona said of the club’s decision to part with Kotsay, who did not immediately return a call from the Globe. "It doesn’t make it a fun decision or a fun message. This is a guy who came in last year and immediately became a leader in our clubhouse."

With Kotsay gone, Nick Green will serve as the club’s fifth outfielder, behind Rocco Baldelli.

Tonight’s lineups:

Orioles
1. Brian Roberts, 2B
2. Adam Jones, CF
3. Nick Markakis, RF
4. Aubrey Huff, 1B
5. Nolan Reimold, LF
6. Luke Scott, DH
7. Melvin Mora, 3B
8. Matt Wieters, C
9. Cesar Izturis, SS
SP -- Brad Bergesen, RHP

Red Sox
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. J.D. Drew, RF
7. Mike Lowell, 3B
8. Jason Varitek, C
9. Jed Lowrie, SS
SP -- Brad Penny, RHP

Obviously, LaRoche is absent from the lineup despite the fact that Orioles righthanded starter Bergesen, though Francona indicated he merely wanted to give LaRoche time "to get his feet wet." The Sox are due to face two more righthanders against the Orioles this weekend and have a day game (Sunday) after a night game (Saturday), giving Francona the easy opportunity to get LaRoche in to the lineup.

As for Matsuzaka, the pitcher met with Francona in the manager’s office for 90 minutes today and appears to be progressing quite well in his rehabilitation/strengthening program. Matsuzaka is still throwing on flat ground -- Francona would not disclose when the pitcher might throw from a mound -- but the manager believes Matsuzaka will pitch again this season.

"He looks a lot stronger," Francona said. "His shoulder strength has improved vastly."

Wakefield, meanwhile, had a cortisone injection to help alleviate the discomfort in his back. The pitcher’s place in the rotation currently is being filled by Clay Buchholz. It is unclear whether Wakefield will need something more than the minimum 15 days on the DL.

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