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05/05/07 7:39 PM ET

Notes: Sox reconsider clubhouse policy

No word on China opener; Lester rejoins club in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Red Sox are considering changing their policy about providing beer in both clubhouses at Fenway Park in the aftermath of former Sox pitcher Josh Hancock's death in an auto accident.

Club spokesman John Blake told the Boston Herald in Saturday's editions that "obviously, recent events have helped to precipitate" a review of whether the club should provide beer at all.

Hancock, the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander, was legally drunk when he crashed his rented SUV into the back of a tow truck early last Sunday morning, according to police.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said some players and staffers occasionally consume a small amount of beer at Fenway after games, and no one is allowed to leave the clubhouse with any. Wine and hard liquor are not available. Beer and wine are served on team charters, which Francona is OK with because buses take the team to the hotel.

"We've talked to the team about it," Francona said. "If it's abused, it will be taken away."

Oakland, Pittsburgh and the Mets do not offer alcohol in their clubhouses, while St. Louis changed its policy Friday in the wake of Hancock's death. The A's stopped providing it last year after pitcher Esteban Loaiza was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. The Yankees offer it only in the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium.

Head east? Francona said he hadn't heard anything about a Major League Baseball proposal to play exhibition games in China next March and have a pair of teams open the regular season in Japan. The New York Post reported that MLB has talked to the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers and Padres about it.

All Francona could think about was the prospect of a spring road trip starting in Fort Myers and ending in Beijing.

"Then I'll stop complaining about Vero," Francona said jokingly.

Lester arrives: As expected, Jon Lester (left forearm cramp) joined the Red Sox here and immediately went to the field to work out. He will not throw this weekend. Francona said Lester, when ready, will have two throwing sessions before pitching in a game, probably for Triple-A Pawtucket. Exactly when the side sessions happen will be determined by the trainers and how Lester feels, Francona said. The Sox will not lock him into a rigid timetable.

"His schedule may not change, but it may change by a couple of days." Francona said. "We want him to not feel this all year."

Lester remains on the 15-day disabled list. Because his 30-day rehab assignment is over, he will have to be optioned to the PawSox.

Sunday shuffle: With an off-day Monday, Francona is considering also giving one or two players Sunday off as a way to recharge. Who gets the double rest depends, he said, on what Manny Ramirez chooses to do.

"I'll check with him after the game," Francona said. "If he wants a day off, we'll go from there."

Francona said he did not start Coco Crisp (stiff neck) Saturday night in order to play him on Sunday.

Noteworthy: Boston's 6 1/2-game lead in the American League East through early Saturday is the largest in club history after 28 games. The 1946 pennant-winning club -- with Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky and Bobby Doerr -- led the AL (no divisions then) by 5 1/2 games at a similar point.

Ortiz, with his home run Friday night, has at least one as a visiting player in all 14 AL parks. Ortiz's 20 previous homers at the Metrodome came in a Twins uniform.

That Eastie guy: Former Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins, who grew up in East Boston, was a pregame field guest of Minnesota's Torii Hunter. Wiggins recently signed with Jacksonville as a free agent after three seasons with the Vikings. Ramirez had a big smile for Wiggins, a diehard Sox fan who has never lost his accent.

Down on the farm: Jacoby Ellsbury, promoted from Double-A Portland on Thursday night, went 1-for-4 with two walks and two runs scored in his PawSox debut on Friday.

Up next: Curt Schilling goes for his fourth victory of the season Sunday at 2:10 p.m. ET in the series finale. Sidney Ponson is scheduled to pitch for the Twins.

Pat Borzi is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.