The day after Bryce Florie’s brutal injury, the Red Sox pitching corps confronted an anxiety they usually stifle. “There’s some fear,” closer Derek Lowe said. “What happened to Bryce could happen to anybody.”
Florie, 30, suffered severe damage to his right eye when he was struck in the ninth inning Friday night by a line drive off the bat of Yankee Ryan Thompson.
Lowe and his bullpen mates didn’t have to learn from pitching coach Joe Kerrigan, who spoke with Florie after the injury, what they already knew. “You have no chance in the world of reacting in situations like that,” Lowe said. “If the ball is going to hit you, it’s going to hit you. That’s the sad thing, there’s absolutely nothing you can do.”
Lowe did not pitch yesterday. But he was anticipating his next opportunity amid concern for Florie and his own safety. “Hopefully, you can a find a way to put it behind you and go out and do your job,” he said.
With three righthanded relievers - Florie, Rich Garces, and Hipolito Pichardo - out of action, the Sox considered calling up another minor leaguer.
Trouble is, they are running out of options. They already have activated 35 members of their 40-man roster. And manager Jimy Williams could identify only three of the remaining five: first baseman Dernell Stenson, catcher Steve Lomasney, and Korean righthanded pitcher Jin Ho Cho.
A Sox publicist identified the other two as third baseman Wilton Veras and lefthander Tim Young, a member of the US Olympic baseball team.
Cho is not expected to be summoned since the Sox have already called up righthanders Paxton Crawford and Rick Croushore. In addition, the team recently sent Tim Wakefield and Jeff Fassero to the bullpen. Wakefield served as the team’s closer part of last season and Fassero started his career as a reliever. “Thank God we’re deep enough that we can maybe absorb this blow of losing a few guys,” said Kerrigan.
Florie is lost for the season, if not longer. Garces is day-to-day with a strained right groin. Pichardo is nursing a strained right forearm. If not for their injuries, Garces or Pichardo might have been summoned to relieve Martinez yesterday when he left the game after seven innings with a 3-1 deficit. Instead, Rod Beck and Wakefield were called in, and the Yankees scored two runs that proved to be decisive.
Behind the eight-ball
The Red Sox fell eight games out of first place in the American League East for the first time since Aug. 30, 1999 . . . Though Martinez is 16-5 overall, he is 6-4 at Fenway and 10-1 on the road . . . Martinez’s strikeout of Jorge Posada in the fifth inning moved him past Frank Sullivan into seventh place on the Sox’s all-time list with 821. He ended the game with 823 . . . Nomar Garciaparra, 0 for 4, went hitless in back-to-back games for only the eighth time this year, as his average dropped to .357, down from .403 on July 21 . . . Tomorrow’s matchup of Cuban defectors Rolando Arrojo and Orlando Hernandez will mark the second time this season that Cuba-born pitchers have faced off. The other matchup was Livan Hernandez of San Francisco against Vladimir Nunez of Florida April 26 in Miami . . . With the games today and tomorrow, the Red Sox and Yankees will play in Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium on consecutive days for the first time since July 8 and 9, 1959.