When Bobby Valentine filled out his lineup card for Friday night’s game against Tampa Bay at Fenway Park, rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks was the odd man out. But it allowed Valentine to give first baseman Adrian Gonzalez a much-needed break, as well.
“I kind of gave Adrian a day off - from running out to right field,’’ Valentine said of Gonzalez, who found himself back at first base.
But it might be a brief switch, after Valentine hinted Gonzalez might draw his first start in Fenway’s expansive right field Saturday night when Middlebrooks is expected to return to third and Kevin Youkilis, who played third in Friday night’s 7-4 loss to the Rays, is expected to play first base.
Asked if he has had any qualms about Gonzalez playing right field, Valentine replied, “Not yet.’’
The Sox are 3-1 in the four games Gonzalez has started in right.
When asked what were the chances of Gonzalez starting in right Saturday, Valentine demurred. “Oh, there’s a chance of that happening, yeah,’’ he said. “But you never know what’s going to happen between now and then.’’
Although Gonzalez has expressed a willingness to play whatever position the manager wants, there seemed to be some hesitation about having the Gold Glove first baseman patrol right field at Fenway.
“Well, some people have had a hesitation and I’m not sure how to read it,’’ Valentine said. “As I told you, I think he positions himself extremely well and gets a very good jump on the ball. Does that make up for some of the foot speed? I’m not sure.
“All I know is when the ball is hit we’ve done a pretty good job of retrieving it. The opportunities he’s had has led me to believe that he can catch it if he can get to it.’’
In trying to juggle his lineup to accommodate the bats of Gonzalez, Middlebrooks, and Youkilis, Valentine was asked if there had been any consideration given to having Middlebrooks play somewhere other than third.
“I keep asking if there’s another position and I keep hearing, ‘No,’ ’’ Valentine said. “Other than DH, I’m not sure what that [position] would be. We have experimented with some things, so I wouldn’t say it’s out of the realm of possibility, but it hasn’t been discussed in a light that has inspired me.’’
Valentine said the matter had not been broached with Middlebrooks.
“No, I’m trying not to confuse the matter,’’ he said. “Trying to make sure that a young player is concentrating on what he should be concentrating on, and he’s doing a pretty good job of that.’’
Matsusaka on bump
Righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was transferred to the 60-day disabled list in his ongoing recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, will make a rehab start for Triple A Pawtucket Saturday night against Toledo at McCoy Stadium. Valentine said Matsuzaka, who went 0-2 with a 4.62 ERA, allowing 13 earned runs over 25 1/3 innings in five rehab starts, will likely be kept to 70-75 pitches. Asked what milestones Matsuzaka needed to reach in order to move on to the next level of his rehab, Valentine said, “I think it’s more hearing it from him. He’s got to know that he’s ready to do it. I don’t know when that comes with guys who are rehabbing. When the time comes, they know.’’ . . . Darnell McDonald, one of seven outfielders on the DL, made his first rehab start for Pawtucket Friday. McDonald, on the 15-day DL since May 13 with a strained right oblique, played in left field for five innings. He went 0 for 1 with a sacrifice fly . . . Andrew Bailey, who started the season on the disabled list after undergoing surgery on his right thumb, continued throwing at extended spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. . . . Carl Crawford, whose recovery from offseason wrist surgery was hampered by an issue with his left elbow, underwent an exam Friday to determine if he could be cleared to start taking swings. “Not throwing, but swinging,’’ Valentine said . . . Jim Martin - who for 19 years has served as the Bruins’ public address announcer - filled in as Fenway’s interim PA announcer.