Drew rests with stiff neck on Sunday
Hermida starts in right field after homering in debut
KANSAS CITY -- Jeremy Hermida, who belted a homer in his first start on Saturday night, was back in there again on Sunday, this time in right field. Why?
As it turns out, J.D. Drew has been nursing a stiff neck the last couple of days.
"Stiff as a board," Drew said on Sunday morning. "I'll be all right though."
Though Drew belted a prodigious home run on Friday night, over the third wall in center field at Kauffman Stadium, he said that was actually the day he started to feel it.
"I don't know if it was the plane right or whatever," said Drew. "I didn't wake up with it. It was just stiff, it'll be alright. I was able to push through it, stick around [the last two games]. So it'll be nice to get in there and get some treatment."
The Red Sox expect Drew will be back in there on Monday afternoon, when they help the Twins open up Target Field. In the meantime, Hermida will probably benefit from being able to stockpile some at-bats together. He also got a hit Friday night, pinch-hitting after David Ortiz was ejected.
"Well, I think it's great," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "The more at-bats guys can accumulate, the better. It all helps."
Ortiz stays mired in slump with four K's
KANSAS CITY -- Offense can be contagious, but Boston's burst on Sunday afternoon did not spread to slumping slugger David Ortiz.
The designated hitter went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts as the Red Sox beat the Royals, 8-6.
It has been a tough first week of the season for Ortiz, who is hitting .111 (2-for-19) with no homers, one RBI and nine strikeouts. Ortiz has had four strikeouts in a game eight times. The most recent before Sunday was on April 24, 2009 against the Yankees.
Ortiz's struggles at the start of this season have been more magnified because of his mammoth slump to start 2009, when he didn't hit his first homer until May 20.
"It was a tough day [for Ortiz]," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We scored a bunch of runs, so that part's good. He had a tough day. He worked hard yesterday too, I give him credit. He was in that cage all day yesterday."
The lefty has looked a little tentative in his at-bats.
"He's in between," noted Francona.
Ortiz was ejected for arguing a third strike on Friday night and got the night off on Saturday. He will try to get back on track on Monday afternoon, when the Sox open a three-game series at Minnesota.
Red Sox excited to check out Target Field
KANSAS CITY -- After Sunday afternoon's game at Kansas City, the Red Sox will pack up and head to Minneapolis. But it will be different this time going to newly-opened Target Field instead of the Metrodome. Monday afternoon's game between the Red Sox and Twins will be the first official game played at Target Field.
Temperatures are expected to be in the mid 60s, though there is a chance of some rain in the forecast.
"Well, you know, I'll be glad it's going to be decent weather," said right fielder J.D. Drew. "Everyone was anticipating snow and flurries when we looked at the schedule."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona will not miss the Metrodome, particularly the mountain of steps he had to climb to get from the dugout to the clubhouse. Francona's worst memory of the Metrodome is from 2003, the year he was the bench coach for the Oakland Athletics and coming off a winter of serious health woes, including blood clots and several surgeries.
"I had to wait, when the game was over, I'd pick up my charts and everything and I'd wait for the last person to leave, all the bullpen guys, because I couldn't get up the steps," said Francona. "I didn't want anyone to see me. So I'd go up three or four steps, I'd sit down, I'd go three or four more ... it took me 10 minutes. That's part of the reason I hated that place. I hated it."
Then, there was the time a year later, in his first season as manager of the Red Sox, when Francona was searching for good cell phone reception just as general manager Theo Epstein was trading franchise icon Nomar Garciaparra at the trade deadline.
"You've got to remember, we were in that room," Francona said. "They've got that air conditioner blowing and I've got no cell service. So I was running down the steps, out into the field far enough to where I could get reception. Like after the second trip down those steps, I was like, 'Somebody else tell Nomar. I have to go back up these steps.'"
The hope the Red Sox and other teams have is that the Twins won't have the distinct advantage at Target Field that they had at the Metrodome.
"With the way they play, I feel they play good baseball on any field," said utility man Bill Hall. "Their style of play is good for any field. I think it's a neutral field now. I don't think they've got the advantage, but I think they'll still put a good team on that field."
Hall gets first game action with Red Sox
KANSAS CITY -- With reserves Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and Jeremy Hermida all making their first starts on Saturday night, the fourth member of the bench made his debut in a Boston uniform on Sunday afternoon.
Bill Hall batted ninth for the Sox and played shortstop, with Marco Scutaro getting a breather.
Similar to Lowell, Varitek and Hermida, this is a fairly new experience for Hall, who has spent much of his career as an everyday player.
"It should be exciting," Hall said before the game. "It's kind of my debut six days in. It's a little tougher when you leave Spring Training -- those first few games are tough when you're used to being on the field."
Hall was a role player last year as well, but it was a different experience being in the National League.
"You're still going to probably go in on a double switch or something," said Hall. "This was the first time not even getting loose the first four or five games."
He joked that Varitek (two homers on Saturday night), Hermida (solo shot) and Lowell (tremendous diving stop and a hit) put a little pressure on him for Sunday.
"Those guys on the bench have held it together a little bit," Hall said. "I feel like I've got a little pressure the way those guys were swinging the bats. Geez, guys getting homers, driving in runs. I feel a lot of pressure on me to do something today."
Sunday marked Hall's first start at shortstop since 2006, though he played there several times during Spring Training. He was looking forward to the return to his original position.
"Obviously that's my favorite position so I'll just get back out there and try to have fun and be athletic," Hall said.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.