David Ross wore his usual goalie-style catcher’s helmet Saturday against the Indians. But in his first game back after suffering a concussion on May 11, Ross took extra precautions.
Ross wore a Kevlar skullcap under his helmet, a stretchy material fitting around his head like a beanie. The device, designed for pitchers, was an extra layer of protection.
The trainers also attached some gel padding inside his helmet in the front.
“The two balls that got me hit my mask right where forehead is and that scared me,” Ross said after a 7-4 victory by the Sox. “I was willing to do anything to get a little more protection.”
Ross sent one of his masks out to get fitted with an interior layer of Kevlar. Until it comes back, he’ll wear the black skullcap.
“I don’t like the way it looks. But it makes sense,” Ross said. “The thing doesn’t move. It made me feel a little safer. I was worried about taking another foul ball there. The mask can withstand a lot of force. But I wanted to do something more.”
Ross was 0 for 5 at the plate and struck out five times. He joined Starling Marte (Pirates) and Prince Fielder (Tigers) as the only players to do that this season.
Cody Ross struck out five times in a 17-inning game last June 5. The last Red Sox player to fan five times in a nine-inning game was Jason Bay in 2009.
“I wish I hadn’t done that,” Ross said. “But at least we won the game.”
Drew gets a day
Jose Iglesias started at shortstop and Pedro Ciriaco was at third base as Stephen Drew got a day off.
Drew is hitless in his last 17 at-bats since wrenching his back on an awkward slide in Minnesota on May 17. That dropped his batting average down to .205.
“He’s felt some soreness from it. But it hasn’t been to the point of keeping him out of the lineup once he returned,” manager John Farrell said. “Just managing it as everyone else manages what they’re banged-up with.”
The injury seems to have affected Drew’s swing.
“I can’t say it hasn’t,” Farrell said. “Whether it’s the aggressiveness in which he’s swung the bat. Just in talking with Stephen, I can’t say it’s restricted his swing or the extension to it. It might just be the overall aggressiveness.”
The Red Sox have a decision to make with Franklin Morales. The lefthander, who has been on the disabled all season, has started five minor league games and thrown 17 innings. The spring training back injury that sidelined him has fully healed.
“Either he’s activated and put in the bullpen here or he makes one more additional rehab start. Those are ongoing conversations,” Farrell said.
Because Morales had his original 30-day rehab assignment stopped and started up again, the Sox could keep him on the disabled list until June 5.
Morales went five innings Thursday, so he would not be available until Tuesday at the earliest if the Sox wait the usual four days.
Indians manager Terry Francona is in favor of Major League Baseball adding a fifth umpire to its crews. His idea would be to have an umpire in the press box to handle video reviews and act as the official scorer.
Francona also believes a fifth umpire would improve the quality of on-field decisions because of the video feedback.
“He could have monitors, the same ones we have access to, so he’s seeing exactly what we see,” Francona said. “There’s a lot of games where both dugouts are [complaining] about the plate. You could have communication on the field. It’s win-win.”
MLB is discussing expanding replay and some expansion seems inevitable.
“I’m not a proponent of slowing the game down,” Francona said. “I do like the part about humans being involved in it because I think it’s great. Adding one more human might make it better.”
Quick return sought
Will Middlebrooks, who went on the disabled list with a lower-back strain Friday, hopes to return when his 15 days are up. “That’s what I’m working toward,” he said. “It improved a lot today.” Middlebrooks is hitting .201 with a .234 on-base percentage. He believes the time away helps him reset his season. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks all around,” he said. “Happy we’re playing good baseball and that’s what it’s about. As far as I go, yeah, I’d love to restart what I’m doing and be able to help us win more games.” . . . Mike Napoli has hit in eight straight games, albeit at a modest 8 for 27 . . . The Sox are 5-1 against the Indians this season . . . The Sox are 11-5 in day games, the best record in the majors . . . The Red Sox assigned lefthanded reliever Rafael Perez to Double A Portland. The former Indians pitcher missed most of last season after shoulder surgery and was released by the Twins last week.
The Red Sox players, and a few of the Indians, spent time after the game with families from Newtown, Conn., who attended the game on Connecticut Day at Fenway. The Sox reached out to the town after the mass murder of schoolchildren and teachers there in December . . . Francona was a supporter of Mass Mentoring Partnership when he managed the Red Sox, and still is. He attended a fund-raising breakfast event at Fenway Park Friday morning to lend his support to the group, which promotes high-quality practices among youth mentoring programs across the state. Farrell was there as well . . . Indians general manager Chris Antonetti attended the first two games of the series to support Francona, who admitted he had anxiety about managing back at Fenway. “More than anybody will ever know,” Francona said when asked what that meant to him. “I know he’s getting ready for the draft. I know he’s busy and I know why he came. That meant a lot to me.”