BOSTON -- The Red Sox hosted ALS night at Fenway Park on Wednesday to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig's disease.
Pete Frates, who grew up a diehard Red Sox fan and was the captain of the Boston College baseball team in 2007 before being diagnosed with ALS in March, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday's game vs. the Tigers.
Standing on the top step of Boston's dugout, Frates still recalls the thrills of facing the Sox in Spring Training and playing in the Beanpot at Fenway Park.
"It's great to be back on the field," he said. "It'll be fun to be down on the mound with the stands filled up. I've got a bunch of friends coming. It's going to be a really good time."
Frates threw out the first pitch to Kevin Youkilis as the crowd gave the local sports star a standing ovation.
May is ALS awareness month and Frates hopes his story will inspire people to join the fight against the motor neuron disease that ended Gehrig's baseball career in 1939 and cut short the life of Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter, among countless others.
Since his diagnosis on March 13, Frates says the response from the community has kept his spirits high.
"It's been overwhelming," he said. "It's a really tough way to find out how much people care about you and your family. But it's been wild to see the outpour of support; the lengths people are willing to go to help out. Hopefully I can be a voice for this thing and make some changes and get some more focus on this disease."
Frates, 27, grew up in nearby Beverly, Mass., and graduated from BC in 2007 after a successful career with the Eagles. Now he's battling ALS and joining the search for a cure.
"I made my peace with it a while ago," Frates said. "Right now we're just doing some fundraising and getting the word out there that we need help. It's events like this that raise awareness."
Sox may play shorthanded until Pedroia returns
BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia's best-case scenario would probably entail a return to the starting lineup when the Red Sox return from their short weekend road trip to Toronto and host the Orioles on Tuesday.
However, that would mean the Red Sox would have to play with what essentially amounts to a 24-man roster for the next five games, and no backup middle infielders.
Manager Bobby Valentine is in the process of seeing where this scenario is feasible. Boston did beat Detroit, 6-3, with the short-handed roster on Tuesday.
"That's a great question," Valentine said. "At least until the end of this game, [no roster move], and we're going to see what it looks like. Yesterday we played it against a right-hander, today we're playing against a left-hander. We want to just ... let's see what it looks like. I know you can imagine it. I'd rather see it, feel it."
Pedroia has a torn adductor muscle in his right thumb. As much as he doesn't want to go on the disabled list, Pedroia has always been mindful of what is best for the team.
"We talked with Dustin this afternoon," said Valentine. "There's an absolute situation that's in place, and then we might start considering options, but we're day to day."
Aceves pitches for fourth straight day, gets save
BOSTON -- Alfredo Aceves might be a pitcher, but he considers himself an everyday player.
And with the Red Sox clinging to a two-run lead over the Tigers heading into the ninth inning on Wednesday night, out came the workhorse right-hander for a fourth straight day.
He reeled off a 1-2-3 ninth for his 13th save in Boston's 6-4 victory.
It was the second time in his career he has worked four straight days.
To Aceves, it was just part of his job.
"I don't think of that," said Aceves. "You just try to let it go and make things happen. I felt good."
Perhaps manager Bobby Valentine summed up Aceves best after the game, calling him a "pitching Pedroia".
"You just wind him up and say, 'Are you OK? [He says], 'I'm great.' He [was] throwing harder tonight than he's thrown the other [days] and with more control," said Valentine.
This stretch didn't start in easy fashion for Aceves, who blew the save on Sunday afternoon against the Rays when he gave up a two-run homer. The next day against the Tigers, he gave up another two-run homer.
But the last two days, he's gotten the job done.
Now that teams have gotten a read on him as a closer, Aceves said he's gone back to the drawing board a little.
"It's early," Aceves said. "It's almost the middle of the season, but I'm still working on stuff. It's not one way. You have to make an adjustment and be able to watch things and make it through."
McDonald stays in Boston for more work
BOSTON -- Instead of returning to Triple-A Pawtucket for another Minor League rehab game on Wednesday, outfielder Darnell McDonald felt his time would be better spent in the trainer's room at Fenway Park as he tries to fully recover from the right oblique strain that landed him on the disabled list on May 12.
"Darnell is pretty close [to coming back], it looks like," manager Bobby Valentine said. "He wanted to stay and work in the trainer's room, with our trainers, to kind of get over that hump. He took batting practice, looked pretty good. He's pretty close."
Valentine said it's possible McDonald could play another game or two at Pawtucket before he comes back to the Red Sox, but it's not a necessity.
"Maybe he'll have a game or two if he feels he needs it," Valentine said.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.