Francona Ready To See Top-Notch Team in Second Half


Jul 15, 2009

Francona Ready To See Top-Notch Team in Second Half It’s time for the stretch run, and it looks like the Red Sox will
finally get their lineup back — the one they were supposed to have back
when spring training began.

Shortstop Jed Lowrie, who has missed the entire season due to wrist surgery, is due back to the big club no later than Saturday. Nick Green’s
solid play over the first half has, to some extent, downplayed the
importance of Lowrie’s return — but this is big news. Boston has played
without its starting shortstop all year. This is a time to celebrate. (Well, maybe not if you’re Julio Lugo. Or Green, for that matter.)

Also due for an imminent return is Mike Lowell, who
has missed a couple of weeks because of a hip injury. He’ll likely be
activated from the disabled list in time for Friday’s game at Toronto.

With Clay Buchholz making his 2009 major league debut on Friday night, expect a lot of roster moves for the Red Sox in the next few days.

“We certainly have some decisions
to make,” Francona told WEEI’s Dale and Holley Show on Wednesday.
“We’re going to have a couple roster moves coming out of this break.”

Even with Lowrie returning, though, Green won’t see his playing time
completely diminished. Francona indicated that Lowrie, who won’t be “at
100 percent efficiency” for a while, will need some backup at short.

“We can use our shortstops — and again, I don’t want to get too far
ahead of myself here — we can use who we have and also give Jed a day
built in in between,” Francona said. “That’s probably going to be the
best of both worlds.”

Having Lowell’s bat back in the lineup will be a huge asset as well.
After an injury-plagued 2008 campaign when he batted .274 with 17 home
runs and 73 RBIs, Lowell has seen a resurgence in 2009. He’s hitting
.282, and his offense has been difficult to replace.

“Not having Mike Lowell was tough for us,” he told Dale and Holley. “[Mark] Kotsay has filled in great, [Aaron] Bates filled in, gave us a big day the other day. But having [Kevin] Youkilis and Lowell as our corner guys and having Kotsay fill in all over the place, that gives us our best team.”

Let’s hope that’s the team we get to see for the second half.

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