Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Red Sox playing with a short bench

Nagging tightness in the hamstring of Jacoby Ellsbury and the left side of Kevin Youkilis has left the Red Sox a little shorthanded in terms of position players. Jeff Bailey (first base), Nick Green (shortstop) and Jonathan Van Every (center field) both are in the lineup; George Kottaras and Julio Lugo are the only position players who will be available off the bench today.

Terry Francona, however, was dismissive when a reporter asked if he felt limited in his ability to pinch-hit.

"Who would you pinch-hit for?" he said. "It's not like we lead the league in pinch-hits. We really don't do that a whole lot. That's not the biggest concern."

Another reporter brought up the idea of defensive substitutions.

"We really don't do that, either," he said with a chuckle. "Wej ust kind of run our guys out there and hopefully are good enough."

Youkilis will miss his second straight game with tightness in his left side he first felt a couple of weeks ago but didn't bring up until Monday night in New York. Ellsbury was removed from Tuesday night's game against the Yankees with tightness in his hamstring; he's closer to returning to the lineup than Youkilis, but he'll miss his first game of the season tonight with an eye on playing on Thursday.

In the event of an injury, it's likely that Lugo would come into the game and play shortstop to allow Nick Green to move, well, pretty much anywhere else. Green has played all four infield positions and right field in his big-league career.

Bailey is hitting .118 in 17 at-bats since his call-up. Van Every has two hits in eight at-bats, including his dramatic home run in Cleveland. Neither has a solid grasp on a roster spot; both are keeping warm spots that belong to Mark Kotsay and Rocco Baldelli, respectively.

But if the Red Sox didn't feel comfortable playing them, they wouldn't be on the roster.

"I don't want our guys to ever feel like we're afraid to use them or, 'We don't think we can win when we play you,' somebody that's not necessarily a regular," Francona said. "I don't know that that works, either."

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