Francona Finding The Sox Some Days Off

CLEVELAND—In the midst of playing 20 games in 20 days until their next off day April 28, Red Sox manager Terry Francona plans to try and give players a rest, one at a time. It was outfielder J.D. Drew's turn Tuesday.

"We'll get (Jacoby) Ellsbury in there, use his bat and legs, give J.D. some time," Francona said before taking on the Indians in the second game of a two-game series—the Sox' only trip to Cleveland this season.

Francona added that he'd like to find a spot to give Jason Varitek a breather, too—aside from his regular day off Tuesday, when knuckleballer Tim Wakefield pitched to backup Kevin Cash.

"I have to fight myself to make a move with him during a game because that's not really a full day off," Francona said. "I think Cash can get a start in here somewhere. The biggest thing there would be resting Jason on the proper day."

Francona also said that Alex Cora, who has not played since April 9 because of a sore right elbow, could be headed to the disabled list. "Alex took balls at second and short (Tuesday)," Francona said. "I want to talk to him here in a few minutes and see how he feels. He's got to be able to make a throw without worrying about it.

"My instinct tells me it could more like a week than two or three days with him. If that's the case, it could necessitate a move, maybe Wednesday. We've been OK, haven't been up against it without him. But it is better to have a full roster."

The manager said he would have no qualms about using rookie Jed Lowrie, who made his major league debut Tuesday at third base, at second base if needed. Lowrie, Diehard's fourth-ranked prospect, has split time between shortstop and second base since he was drafted by the Sox out of Stanford in 2005.

Francona also said that right-hander Bartolo Colon, sidelined with a strained right oblique muscle, "really wants to throw today, but I'm not sure we'll let him."

Colon, who enjoyed the best years of his career with the Indians, spent most of his pregame time watching video of Cleveland hitters before he went into the clubhouse and played some video games. "I feel better," he said. "I want to pitch."

Francona admitted it was a little unusual that he pinch-ran for slugger David Ortiz in the eighth inning on Monday. But in a tie game, he wanted to get somebody who may score on a base hit by Manny Ramirez, who instead blasted a two-run homer off embattled Indians closer Joe Borowski.

Said Francona: "David said, 'I could've done that [scoring easily on the homer]."

There's really nothing new with right-hander Curt Schilling's situation. Francona said the veteran right-hander returning to the mound is "completely contingent on him passing milestones, but he's not there yet.

"I get reports that he's stronger, but he's not where he needs to be."

Schilling, on the disabled list with shoulder and biceps woes, is not expected to return until at least the All-Star Break.

Chuck Murr is the managing editor of Indians Ink Magazine. Jerry Beach contributed to this story

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