Nick Green has performed admirably in his stint as starting shortstop, hitting .286 and showing off a pretty impressive throwing arm at short.
But Terry Francona had to be happy to see Julio Lugo show his face in the Fenway Park locker room on Monday morning. The veteran shortstop did some running exercises and some throwing with Red Sox coaches and team doctors; barring a setback, he'll report to Triple-A Pawtucket in time to play in tomorrow's game against Rochester.
The biggest issue now, Francona said, is making sure Lugo doesn't push himself too hard in his eagerness to get back.
"He's only played shortstop for five innings," the manager said. "There's got to be a progression even when a guy's not really coming off an injury -- and then when you add a knee injury to it, there's going to need to be a progression to build up. If you send a guy out there five days in a row, nine innings a shot, there's going to be some swelling. That's inevitable."
Lugo, for his part, sounded ready to go.
"I feel much better," he said. "I've got some mobility now. I don't have that much pain now. I feel good."
The shortstop pronounced himself at "80 percent" but said he doesn't know how long he'll stay with the PawSox before he's ready to report back to Boston. He said he only really feels any pain when he has to bend down or squat down and shift to the side -- something that does occasionally happen in the field. Batting and running, though, he's pain-free.
"I just need to play, get my ready to play every day," he said. "It's just a matter of playing a couple of games and getting some swings and seeing some pitches. I'll be fine."