Buchholz starts Wednesday; Delcarmen back
After succcessful rehab outing, righty to face A's in Oakland
BOSTON -- Could the Red Sox at last be getting healthier? Reliever Manny Delcarmen, who has been missed in the mid to late innings, was activated from the disabled list before Saturday night's game against the Rangers. And 10-game winner Clay Buchholz will make his return to the rotation on Wednesday afternoon in Oakland.
Delcarmen had been sidelined since July 1 with a right forearm strain. He threw nine pitches in a Minor League rehab game Thursday.
His absence was felt during Friday night's loss when Fernando Cabrera, who was on the roster for one day, surrendered a grand slam to Bengie Molina in the top of the fifth inning.
"I hope it will be really good," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's a guy that, when he's going good, has the ability to go multiple innings, get lefties, righties. That's been missed a little bit the last couple of weeks. Hopefully it will be a very valuable, getting him back. The way he can pitch is important, but it should really help."
Delcarmen is encouraged by the improvement of his health.
"I feel real good," Delcarmen said. "My arm feels normal. With the All-Star break, it helped out a bunch. I just did all the treatment and my forearm feels great, my shoulder feels awesome, so go get 'em."
Buchholz strained his left hamstring running the bases at San Francisco on June 26 and had a successful rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night, throwing 60 pitches and allowing two runs over 3 2/3 innings.
"I expected to be a little bit rusty," said Buchholz. "I basically went in wanting velocity and everything to be there, and not notice that I was favoring anything, so that's what I went out there to do. Everything felt good.
"I just left a couple pitches in the middle that got hit. Release point was a little scattered. But other than that, it went well. Everything felt good. The pitches felt good coming out of my hand. Each pitch that I threw, I threw a couple good ones. Stuff's still there. I just wanted to make sure there was nothing wrong."
With Buchholz now set to return, lefty Felix Doubront, who filled in for him the last two times in the rotation, was optioned back to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Lowell to begin rehab stint Thursday
BOSTON -- Red Sox corner infielder/DH Mike Lowell is ready to start ramping up toward a return to action. That process will start when Lowell flies to New York on Monday to get a cortisone shot from his hip specialist, Dr. Brian Kelly.
The shots that Lowell gets in his surgically repaired right hip are mainly for maintenance purposes, and to clean out the joint. He last had one during Spring Training
Lowell will start a Minor League rehab assignment for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday.
"I'm actually looking forward to maybe playing three days in a row. I don't think I've done that in forever," said Lowell. "I don't know if it's three in a row, but getting consistent at-bats. I don't mind that at all. After that, we'll see. I think after four days, we're pretty much starting over. So nine [at-bats] or 19 or 29 doesn't really make a big difference to me."
The right-handed-hitting veteran has been used sparingly this season, and there is still speculation that Lowell will be moved either before or after the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Rangers, who agreed to a trade with the Sox for Lowell back in December only to have it fall through because of medical complications, have recently made inquiries.
"I think there's been rumors since the Winter Meetings of last year," said Lowell. "If something happens, I don't think that changes the way I feel about my teammates or the city or the fans. Those are all positives for me. I love Miami, too. So, I don't see why it changes, or [why a trade] is always a bad thing.
"I do know I enjoy playing baseball and I'm doing that less this year than I ever have. I don't know. I've heard talks, but I've heard talks for eight months. I have no idea. I don't know the situations other teams are in, whether it's a need or what, I don't really care to know either. I think you'll drive yourself crazy trying to break down every team. I just want to be in a position where I can play."
Though speculation always runs rampant at this time of year, Lowell knows full well a move could easily happen in August if not before then.
"I don't think I'm a [July] 31st guy," said Lowell. "I'm going to clear waivers in two seconds. That's not a fear for me. I don't think I have a deadline of that. If anything, if I'm someone who might be considered along with other people and the other people might have deadlines, so it might screw up something for me. But me personally, I don't think there's an urgency for the 31st from another team's standpoint. But it's very low on my priority list to be honest with you."
Back in April, Lowell said that he was leaning toward retirement after the 2010 season. Is that still the case?
"I don't really know what I'm thinking," said Lowell. "I'm thinking short-term."
Over the final week of the first half and through the All-Star break, Lowell spent some time in Miami with his wife and kids.
"I was rehabbing a lot. I rested a lot. I went to the gym. I threw a couple of times," said Lowell. "I didn't hit. I didn't really see a need to because I knew I was probably going to go on a rehab assignment anyways, and I was going to have a chance. It was a great little mental break.
"I got to enjoy my family a lot. It gave me a glimpse of what retirement is all about. Honestly, that's a chapter of my life I'm actually looking forward to. When it is, I don't know. But I don't fear it. I don't view that as a negative, either."
Lowell joked that he will use modern technology to keep the media posted on his offseason plans.
"I'll keep you guys posted," Lowell said. "I'll tweet it [or] whatever you guys do."
Lowell is the first to acknowledge there's not much of a fit for him on Boston's roster -- even with the recent barrage of injuries.
"Third, first and DH are our healthy positions," said Lowell.
His DL move was as much to give the Red Sox some roster flexibility as it was to rest his hip. But he thinks the break wound up being productive.
"I think the time off was really good," said Lowell. "I feel a lot better moving around. I think the cortisone will just kind of take me over that hump. I don't really have much to lose. And the doc told me it was all right. Enough time had gone by in between shots. I'm looking forward to it, I actually am. I feel good hitting and moving around, so I don't view it as a negative."
Catcher Brown joins active roster
BOSTON -- With an open roster spot until Clay Buchholz returns to the rotation Wednesday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona decided to recall catcher Dusty Brown on Saturday.
Brown, the third catcher on the active roster, had a .225 average with five home runs and 24 RBIs in 52 games at Triple-A Pawtucket.
"We have four or five days with an extra roster spot until [Buchholz] pitches, and we just wanted to use it to our advantage," said Francona.
Pitcher Fernando Cabrera was designated for assignment and pitcher Felix Dubront was optioned, making space for reliever Manny Delcarmen to be reinstated from the 15-day disabled list and Brown to be recalled.
While Brown hasn't been told what his specific role will be, Francona said he would most likely catch Sunday's finale against the Rangers.
Brown wasn't recalled sooner, even with injuries to Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek, because he was hurt as well. Brown injured his left thumb three weeks ago on a play at the plate and was in a cast for a week.
"We will see. He hasn't played a ton because of that thumb. We will see," Francona said. "The one thing [Kevin Cash] does really well is run the game, so we will try to balance that the best we can."
Since his thumb healed, Brown had caught four games. He also caught many of the Red Sox pitchers in Spring Training.
"I don't really know about how it is going to go, but I will be ready to play every day and if my name is on the card, I'll go out there and do my best," said Brown.
Sox announce fan-friendly initiatives
BOSTON -- Before Saturday's game against the Rangers, the Red Sox announced a series of fan-friendly initiatives for the second half of the season.
The initiatives include opportunities for fans to take photos with Red Sox players, for kids to run the bases and special events for fans 65 and older to enjoy Fenway Park.
"We are fortunate to see families at Fenway Park throughout the year, but the number definitely increases during the summer months, so the start of the second half of the season seemed like a perfect time to launch a series of family-friendly initiatives," said Red Sox executive vice president/COO Sam Kennedy.
The biggest initiative for the second half is a new family-friendly area for children, Wally's World at Fenway, which will be located along Yawkey Way and will be open for the middle of the second inning through the end of the seventh at every home game. Wally the Green Monster will also meet with children and take photographs during the third and fourth innings of every game.
"As we continue to solicit fan feedback in our effort to sustain a warm and hospitable atmosphere at Fenway, we heard from a number of parents and grandparents that they would like an area where they could take the littlest Red Sox fans for a few innings," Kennedy said. "The result is an exciting new kids area, Wally's World at Fenway Park, which will transform Yawkey Way into a place filled with kid-friendly games and concessions items during the game."
Also, on Aug. 25 after the Red Sox host the Mariners, kids will have the chance to run the bases.
Beginning in August, fans will also have the chance to participate in three player-fan photo sessions Aug. 3, Aug. 24 and Sept. 7. All three sessions with Red Sox players will take place from 5:30-6 p.m. ET immediately across from Gate D and adjacent to the NESN pregame stage.
For senior fans, the Red Sox will have what they are calling "Silver Sox" night. On Sept. 22, fans 65 and older with tickets will be allowed to enter the ballpark to watch Red Sox batting practice.
In addition to these events, the Red Sox will also host the Cape Cod League All-Star Game on July 28 and a Picnic in the Park on Aug. 1.
Outfielder Jeremy Hermida, on the 15-day disabled list since June 11 with fractured ribs, continued his rehab assignment with Double-A Portland on Friday night at New Britain, going 0-for-4 with an RBI. ... Shortstop Jed Lowrie, on the 60-day disabled list since March 31 with mononucleosis, continued his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, playing third base and going 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, two RBIs, two runs, a walk and a stolen base. Overall with Pawtucket and Class A Lowell, Lowrie has hit .435 with eight RBIs and has played shortstop, third base and DH. "He is doing very well. The last week has really been good. He is fighting through some of the longer games, which is good, and is swinging the bat very well," manager Terry Francona said. "He is going to play second base for the first time [Sunday], but he is really swinging the bat well and starting to feel good about himself." ... Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury continues to progress in his rehab program in Fort Myers, Fla. "He feels good about himself and is trying to be aggressive with flips and everything," Francona said. "We have not progressed yet to on-field BP, but he is throwing running and doing everything he is supposed to."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Quinn Roberts is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.