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Green takes opportunities as they come

Green takes opportunities as they come


ANAHEIM, Calif. - Nick Green still has a suitcase in the trunk of his 2000 BMW, with a pile of clothes stacked in the car as well. He has so few options with him that he tends to wear the same things over and over. But it's hard to get settled in Boston when you know that Julio Lugo's impending return likely means you're heading down to Triple A - where Green assumed he'd be to start the season, anyway.

``It's not easy,'' Green said about life on the bench. ``I just think you have to come every day expecting to play, even though 90 percent of the time it isn't going to happen. It's not easy. But whenever you get in there, you see your name in the lineup, it's exciting.''

Green made his debut as a starter for the Red Sox yesterday, playing shortstop in place of the struggling Jed Lowrie. Green previously only had gotten into a game as a pinch runner for the Sox Thursday against Tampa Bay.

``I think it will be good for him,'' manager Terry Francona said about sitting Lowrie. ``I think he's OK. He drilled that ball into left field the other day pretty good. I just think sometimes a day off is good, mental, physical, just the whole [thing]. Just let him step back.''

With singles in his first two at-bats for the Sox , Green already had eclipsed the production from Lowrie in five games. Lowrie is 1 for 18 with eight strikeouts.

Green had gone to sleep between 9:30 and 10 p.m., Saturday night, knowing he wouldn't be helping anyone if he wasn't ready for yesterday's game, starting or not.

``He came in [to spring training] in great shape, and the way he played created more playing time,'' Francona said of Green, who can play three infield positions and right field. ``That's what we tell guys the first day. We're not supposed to have six, seven openings, but if you show you can play, and then there's a need - maybe it's Opening Day, maybe it's the middle of the season - but the need was on Opening Day and he competed and won that job and did a good job.''

But there was a regret for Green yesterday, even after the two hits and the run scored, which came after he was hit on the inside of the right ankle in the ninth on a pitch by Brian Fuentes. He regretted the consecutive missed bunt attempts in the seventh with Jason Varitek on second base, eventually striking out. Varitek ended up stranded on second.

``I just didn't scoot up far enough in the box,'' Green said. ``They weren't even playing me to bunt, so I didn't want to look like I was bunting, but I should have. Caught the sinker on the bottom part of my bat twice. It stinks.''

Going slow with Saito

With Jonathan Papelbon unavailable yesterday (and possibly tonight) after throwing 39 pitches Saturday, Takashi Saito became the most likely replacement in the case of a save situation. He has been there before, after all, amassing 81 career saves in three seasons in the majors.

The Sox are still moving cautiously with Saito, having stayed away from pitching him in back-to-back games this season. Saito is coming back from an elbow injury that cost him much of the 2008 season with the Dodgers. But as a fill-in closer and setup guy, the Sox think they may have stolen a player whose numbers are a bit ridiculous over his career (1.98 ERA, 245 strikeouts in 190 2/3 innings).

``That's some of the idea,'' Francona said. ``There is some comfort there. We really think we've got a good reliever, so we'll keep an eye on him.''

Lester remains upbeat

Despite starting the season with a bit of a clunker in a loss to the Rays, especially after having some difficulties in his final spring training outings, Jon Lester doesn't think things have gone poorly so far. Perhaps not as expected, but not poorly.

``I don't think I struggled,'' Lester said. ``I pounded the zone. I just made a couple mistakes in the middle of the plate and they hit them. A team like that you can't do that with. You have to pitch to both sides of the plate. When you throw a ball down the middle, it doesn't help. . . . I don't think that the line score shows - obviously it shows that if you just look at it I pitched bad, but I don't think I pitched bad at all.''

Lester, who gets the start tonight at Oakland, where he has a career 2.31 ERA in 11 2/3 innings, allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks against the Rays. Coming out of that start, he said he didn't work on anything specifically, as he was mechanically fine that night. Maybe, he said, it was just ``getting the jitters, the adrenaline, getting used to all that again.''

Back-to-back shots

The Sox hit back-to-back home runs for the first time this season, with Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew doing the honors to lead off the second off Dustin Moseley. It was the first time for the Sox since Varitek and Jeff Bailey did it Sept. 2 against Baltimore . . . After John Smoltz throws Wednesday morning in Oakland, he'll fly out to Fort Myers, Fla. Mark Kotsay will fly to Boston from Oakland Wednesday to get checked out by team doctors, then likely will head to Florida as well . . . Varitek threw out Chone Figgins in the seventh inning, the first caught stealing for the Sox this season . . . Though Francona and trainer Paul Lessard went out to visit Varitek on second base in the seventh, it was only a mixup. Francona had heard someone yell about Varitek's health, so he figured he might as well check. The catcher said he was fine . . . Youkilis had his fifth multi-hit game this season . . . Jason Bay has reached base safely in all six games.

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 13, 2009

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