BOSTON -- So much for the plan to give Marco Scutaro the night off on Wednesday. Not only was Scutaro in the lineup, but he was back at shortstop after switching to second base on Tuesday night. And not only did Scutaro play, but he recorded four hits, including two home runs.
Scutaro made a temporary switch to second on Tuesday night to alleviate some stress on his right rotator cuff, which has been ailing him for a month. But he felt he'd be OK making the throws from short on Wednesday.
"In the first inning when I made the error, I said, 'Here we go again. I should have stayed out of the lineup.' But, you know, I can't complain," Scutaro said.
Scutaro stiffened up later in the game and manager Terry Francona took him out in the top of the eighth.
"He feels good today," Francona said before the game. "Probably the easiest explanation is when he has inflammation in there, it certainly makes him feel uncomfortable, but it creates that feeling of weakness. But he showed up today and said, 'I really feel good.' He goes, 'This is the best I've felt in a while.'"
When that message was relayed back to Scutaro through the media, he chuckled.
"Oh, OK. I lied to [Francona]," quipped Scutaro. "It feels better than those two days I didn't play for some reason. If I don't get any flow going or I don't do anything, it feels worse, but today doesn't feel as bad."
In all seriousness, the Red Sox will keep tabs on Scutaro over the next couple of days before deciding exactly how much he will play the rest of the way.
"We're going to monitor him," Francona said. "To what extent [he'll play down the stretch], we'll see how he feels the next couple of days. I've talked to him at length about this. I know [general manager] Theo [Epstein] has even talked to his agent. We'll continue to keep an eye on him. The good news is he feels good. I'm glad about that."
As much as Scutaro resists being taken out of the lineup, he vows to be smart the rest of the way.
"Like I said before, you don't want to do anything stupid," said Scutaro. "I want to be able to heal my shoulder stronger and don't do anything stupid for next year. That's pretty much what I'm going to try to do -- get on a shoulder program, get some rest, get the inflammation down a little bit and go from there."
Prospects have chance to make impact
BOSTON -- The Red Sox, who now need a mathematical miracle to qualify for the postseason, are likely to give their prospects a pretty good look down the stretch. That strategy looked pretty good on Wednesday night, as Lars Anderson and Josh Reddick -- both called up from Triple-A on Monday -- played key roles in an 11-5 victory over the Rays.
Anderson came through with the first two hits of his career and also his first RBI. For good measure, he added in a diving stop at first base.
"It was a huge sense of relief when I saw it go through," said Anderson of his first hit. "I just feel like it wasn't something I wanted to wait around for too long, you know? And I was really happy to swing at a pitch and get a knock."
Reddick, who has had several short stints with the Red Sox, came through with a career-high three hits while also playing solid defense in left.
"That feels great," said Reddick. "I'm going to keep riding that groove I'm in as long as I can. Hopefully it'll keep me going to the end of the year and get me some consistent playing time. If that doesn't work out, hopefully I can be a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner, defensive replacement, help these guys win a little bit."
How much has manager Terry Francona contemplated how playing time will be divvied up the rest of the way?
"Well, I've thought about it, but I don't know there's a reason to know who's going to play in Seattle," Francona said. "Some of that is going to depend on the health of our team, who we're playing, how we're playing. I kind of go back to the answer I gave last night. We always try to do what's right for the organization."
Despite what the standings say, Francona still expects his team to go out there with the same intensity every night.
"Regardless of who plays, we're going to try to win," Francona said. "This isn't Triple-A. I'm not crazy. We want to see some of the young guys play a little bit. That's good to see, but guys that have played all year and have given at times more than they should, you don't just sweep them to the side and say, 'Hey, thanks for the effort.'"
Wakefield oldest Sox player to notch win
BOSTON -- Tim Wakefield didn't merely earn a win in the Red Sox's 11-5 thrashing of the Rays on Wednesday night. He became the oldest pitcher in Red Sox history to win a game. At 44 years and 37 days, he surpassed Dennis Eckersley, who was fittingly taking in the game from the Legends Suite at Fenway Park.
"It means a lot, considering I've been here for 16 years," said Wakefield. "Any time you can have some kind of milestone, it's very important. I'm very proud to do it in a Red Sox uniform."
Wakefield has 193 wins in his career -- 179 of them coming in a Boston uniform. He needs another 14 wins for the Red Sox to surpass Roger Clemens and Cy Young as the team's all-time winningest pitcher.
The knuckleballer doesn't hide his desire to one day earn that record.
"Absolutely," Wakefield said. "I hope we get an opportunity to try to get that. You guys know how important that is for me. Hopefully I get some opportunities to reach that milestone."
It hasn't been an easy year for Wakefield, who is 4-10 with a 5.26 ERA. He was demoted to the bullpen at the end of April and has bounced back and forth throughout the year. Statistically speaking, he's having his worst season since 2000, when he was 6-10 with a 5.48 ERA.
"It's been difficult," said Wakefield. "I try to take it a day at a time and do the best I can when I get called upon. Tonight was the one bad inning again. All three guys that scored, I had them 0-2, 1-2, and couldn't get them out. But I was the benefactor of some great run support from our offense."
Wakefield went five innings, giving up six hits and five runs, four of which were earned. He walked two and struck out four.
Homer gives Beltre 1,001 career RBIs
BOSTON -- With yet another ferocious swing, resulting in his 27th home run of the season, Adrian Beltre reached a meaningful milestone. When his two-run missile cleared the Green Monster, that gave him 1,001 RBIs in his career.
Beltre is the 27th third baseman in Major League history to have 1,000 RBIs since the stat was tracked in 1920. Chipper Jones, Scott Rolen and Aramis Ramirez are the only other active third basemen with 1,000 RBIs.
"When I started in the big leagues, I had no goals," Beltre said after the Red Sox's 11-5 win vs. the Rays. "I just wanted to be in the big leagues. I never thought I'd have 1,000 RBIs, but of course, getting to that milestone is important. It's flattering."
It is just another nice moment in what has been a monster season for Beltre. He is hitting .323 and has 95 RBIs.
While it wasn't outlandish to suspect Beltre would have a bounce-back season moving from Seattle to Boston, few people would have predicted a .300-30-100 campaign, which is certainly within reach.
"It means a lot," Beltre said. "I think it's something that every guy who's considered to have some pop wants to get to, especially at 100 and 30. I think every guy wants to be a 100-RBI guy."
Papelbon recovers fine from extended outing
BOSTON -- Closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was last seen blowing a save Sunday and throwing 48 pitches in the process, actually recovered well from the extended outing, said manager Terry Francona.
Papelbon would have been good to go if a save situation had presented itself on Wednesday. But the Red Sox rolled to an 11-5 victory, meaning he will have at least four full days of rest before Boston plays next on Friday night in Oakland.
In fact, Papelbon might have even been able to pitch Tuesday if the occasion called for it, but instead, Boston took a 14-5 loss.
"Yeah, he was doing well," Francona said. "That's good. I think that shows that he's worked hard, because to bounce back from something like that is not easy to do. We were very encouraged by that. We didn't feel the need to pitch him [Tuesday night]."
Papelbon has been extremely dedicated to his right shoulder program since his injury in September 2006.
"Pap's been really good about telling us how he feels, but [trainer] Mikey [Reinold] will give us a holler, too," Francona said. "I don't think there's been an instance all year where they've had a disagreement where Pap's said he could pitch and Mikey said he shouldn't pitch. I don't think that's happened all year."
Improving pitchers' defense on agenda
BOSTON -- Towards the end of each season, manager Terry Francona takes stock on areas the Red Sox can improve, and an obvious one is jumping to mind these days. Boston's pitching staff has committed a Major League-high 20 errors.
"We've had some throws to the bag on pickoffs that have been into the runner, which we need to do better," Francona said. "We've had some plays where comebackers have hit off players and they've gotten flat-footed trying to rush throws. In a couple of instances, not having [Kevin Youkilis] around has probably had something to do with it, too. Like we always do, at the end of the season and going into Spring Training, we'll always try to figure out how can we do things better."
While the Red Sox certainly put a lot of time into pitchers' fielding practice during Spring Training, Francona notes that it is a balancing act.
"That's the issue. I remember my first year as a manager, I wanted to do everything right and do everything better than everybody else and show everybody that we were outworking everybody," Francona said. "And half the staff had a sore arm the first week of camp. You walk that line."
But there are other ways to get reps in.
"One thing we have done in the past, and we'll probably try to continue to do more, is on their side days is take them out by themselves and have them do the live pickoffs and the PFP, because they're already loose," Francona said. "You certainly don't want to have guys throwing max effort all the time. It won't work. But once they are loose on days they have their sides, we could try to do a little bit more."
Having staff-wide PFP sessions during the season is simply not feasible.
"No, we try to limit it," Francona said. "It's too much throwing. With guys on their side days, there's a repetition they do of a step off, getting the signs, looking over to first. If you want to go out and do it on the field and you want to do it where it helps, you're going to ask guys to throw too much. I don't think you see very many teams do it."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.