NEW YORK -- Utility man Joe Thurston did not need to introduce himself to his teammates upon entry into the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace Alex Cora (right elbow sprain), Thurston was a fixture for the Red Sox throughout Spring Training.

In fact, manager Terry Francona thought so highly of Thurston that he invited the infielder/outfielder to fly to Los Angeles and play in exhibition games against the Dodgers after the team had returned from Japan.

"He's a terrific kid," said Francona. "When you send a kid down and you tell him, hopefully, what you believe is the truth, and you say, 'You know what, if you do things right, there may be an opportunity that presents itself and we would be thrilled to call you up.' Well, then it comes true."

For Thurston, a Minor League veteran at the age of 28, this isn't his first ticket to the Major Leagues.

He had proverbial cups of coffee with the Dodgers from 2002-04 and played 18 games for the Phillies in 2006. In all, Thurston has 55 games of Major League experience.

While he specializes at second base and the outfield, Thurston can play all over the place.

"[Francona] told me the same thing ... in Spring Training: 'Just be ready for wherever,'" said Thurston. "'Get some work everywhere, just in case to be ready.'"

Thurston thought he might get the call last week when Mike Lowell went on the disabled list, but that roster spot went to rookie infielder Jed Lowrie. Now, Thurston will join Lowrie as a Boston reserve, at least until April 25, when both Lowell and Cora will be eligible to come off the DL.

"I really think it helped me out a lot just to be able to show them that I can play every position that they need me to play, and the type of player I am as far as hustle," said Thurston. "Have fun, work hard. That was my biggest thing in Spring Training. I told them [in the spring] that my goal was to let them see that they can have confidence in me, that they can think about me when something happens and say, 'Hey, this guy is somebody we can use.'"

And, yes, this marks Thurston's first visit to historic Yankee Stadium.

"That's a little different for me," said Thurston. "I've never been to an American League park, but just to start out here against our biggest rival, that's amazing."

As for Cora, he had a precautionary MRI on Wednesday, results of which were not immediately available. The Red Sox hope he will be ready to return right around the time his DL stint expires. The roster move with Cora was made retroactive to Thursday.