Pregame notes: Gonzalez OK, in lineup

April, 11, 2011
BOSTON -- With the first week of the regular season and a series victory against the New York Yankees in the books, the Boston Red Sox can settle into some sort of normalcy.

“Yeah, sure,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before Monday night's series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays. “Nothing against the media, but there’s a lot of people you see once and they all want part of your day. It’ll be nice to go out and play. Whether you call it getting into a grind, but getting into our normal routine where we’re taking BP at the normal time and there’s not a lot of stuff going on, yeah, it does help.”

Here are a few notes from Francona’s afternoon media scrum:

* Adrian Gonzalez, who was hit on the top of his left hand with a pitch Sunday night, is fine and back in the lineup tonight, hitting third.

“He’s fine,” said Francona. “I think it probably made us more nervous, probably him, too. But by the time he ran the bases, he felt like he was OK.

* One of the glaring stats for the Red Sox this season is the club’s inability to drive in runs. Boston is hitting .180 with runners in scoring position. Francona explained what he believes is going on.

“One is you probably try to do maybe a little too much,” he said. “The other thing, like last night, CC Sabathia is a pretty smart pitcher. The things we talk about going into a series, they’re doing the same thing. He’s able to navigate around people and face who he wants to. That’s just the nature of it. With pitchers, sometimes there are guys they’ll stay away from, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

* Red Sox newcomers Carl Crawford and Dan Wheeler will face their former club, while Johnny Damon makes his Rays debut at Fenway Park.

*Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon hasn’t had much work so far this season due to the club’s slow start, but when he has pitched, the results have been good. He was brought into a non-save situation Sunday night against the Yankees and retired the side in order in the top of the ninth inning.

“It’s very encouraging,” Francona said. “The ball is coming out of his hand real well, and his split is down. In fact, everything’s been down and it’s been good.”

*Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek turns 39 today. The last member of the Red Sox to catch at age 39 or older was Elston Howard in 1968.

Joe McDonald

ESPN Staff Writer



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