Nixon entered the day with a .216 career average (100-for-462) against left-handers, including eight homers and 33 RBIs. This was his third start this season against a southpaw. Nixon doubled to left in his first at-bat off Chen.
The highly competitive Nixon is never going to turn down the opportunity to get more playing time.
"It depends on what they [the Red Sox] want to do," said Nixon. "Obviously, I would hope so. When I saw [Payton's] gone, I don't know if they're going to replace him with another right-handed stick. It's not my decision. I look at it as the opportunity to play every day."
Francona, who grew tired of Payton's dissatisfaction with his role, never minds putting Nixon's name in his lineup.
"I have very little problem running him out there more than we've been doing," said Francona. "I guess my biggest concern earlier would have been health, but I think he's answered that question by not only looking healthy, but by his toughness. We all know how tough he is. I'm actually excited about running him out there."
Nixon has been around long enough to know a right-handed reserve outfielder may arrive one of these days in the near future. And if it happens to be Kapler, who has been unhappy playing for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan and was recently placed on the inactive list, all the better.
"He's a great friend of mine," Nixon said of Kapler. "I heard he's having a rough time over there right now. If he comes back, it could be a big boost in this clubhouse. We know what kind of ballplayer he is on the field, but [he's] also a big boost in the clubhouse."
Kapler would have to be released from his contract with Yomiuri to rejoin the Red Sox or any other Major League team.
Mueller holding up well: As Francona has often done in day games following a night game this season, he inserted Kevin Youkilis at third base and gave Bill Mueller the day off. Overall, Francona has been pleased with the way Mueller has held up after having right knee surgery just before Spring Training.
"He's fine. I just want to make sure he continues to be," said Francona. "Again, I originally planned on doing it the other day. The way things were breaking down, I wanted to have a left-handed bat in the lineup [Thursday night] and I explained it to him then. I think he's looking forward to this day."
Schilling on course: Curt Schilling will continue his Minor League rehab assignment on Saturday night, pitching out of the bullpen again for Triple-A Pawtucket in a game at Syracuse.
If all goes well, the Sox are hoping Schilling can pitch again on Sunday, perhaps serving as his final tuneup before he rejoins the team.
Schilling will pitch out of the bullpen for the foreseeable future, with closer Keith Foulke spending the next few weeks recovering from left knee surgery.
Rotation shaping up: Francona has a couple of different rotations mapped out for the four-game series with the Yankees following the All-Star break, but he wanted to wait and see how a few things played out before going with a definitive plan.
Memorial service for Ruth Pesky: A day after Ruth Pesky (the wife of Sox legend Johnny Pesky) died at the age of 82, funeral arrangements were announced.
There will be a memorial service (the public is invited) at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday at St. Mary's Church (8 South Common St., City Hall Square) in Lynn, Mass. The Mass and burial will be private.
Memorial contributions can be made in Ruth Pesky's memory to the Jimmy Fund, 10 Brookline Place, 6th floor, Brookline, MA 02445.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family because he's a dear man to a lot of people," said Francona.
On deck: Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will close out the first half for the Sox on Sunday, when he faces Orioles right-hander Rodrigo Lopez.