Notes: Millar hits speed bump

Notes: Millar hits speed bump

CHICAGO -- Kevin Millar has plenty of aggressiveness in him, but not a whole lot of speed. As it turns out, the latter outweighed the former in a key sixth-inning sequence on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.

With the Red Sox trailing, 5-2, Millar poked a one-out single down the line in left. From the moment he saw that the ball landed in fair territory, Millar was thinking double.

White Sox left fielder Scott Podsednik had another idea, firing a strike to second, nailing Millar by a wide margin.

Boston wound up losing, 6-4.

"I should have made a better read rounding first base, with Podsednik being as fast as he is, getting to that ball," said Millar. "I hit the ball right down the line. I was thinking two the whole time. Then he got up and the ball was in flight when I was kind of more than halfway. I should have slammed the brakes on then, knowing he had the ball that quick. But I didn't. And it was a bang-bang good play on his part."

Forgive Millar for feeling a little bittersweet when, two pitches later, Jason Varitek deposited a solo homer over the wall in left. Had Millar stayed put at first, he could have jogged home on Varitek's homer and cut Chicago's lead to one run instead of two.

"Once he hit the home run, it's kind of a bummer because it should have been a two-run homer," Millar said. "Those things sting, but it was an aggressive play."

Manager Terry Francona certainly had no qualms with Millar's effort.

"The ball was in front of him, he made a great turn and did everything you ask," Francona said. "Then he probably should have shut it down. He knows. You like the idea that they come out of the box like that. But if he shuts it down, we're probably better off."

Renteria's respite: The Red Sox were playing their 11th game in as many days and the temperature at game time sat at 100 degrees. In other words, if ever there was a day for shortstop Edgar Renteria to get a day off, Sunday was it. Well, perhaps part of the day off.

"At least a partial day off," Francona said before the game. "I don't view it as a day off. I just think it's a guy coming in and getting a blow, at least for the start of it. I think he needs it."

As it turned out, Renteria wound up getting the whole contest off, meaning he'll be fresh for Monday night's game against the Devil Rays.

While Renteria was bothered by a sore left wrist in June, Francona said that his shortstop's health is no longer an issue. This day was more about preservation.

"I think he's doing good, real good," Francona said. "In my opinion, today I think he needed to show up and not start this game. I think he was really OK with that. That's probably the hardest thing for fans to understand is players not playing every day, especially when they start making a lot of money. That's when I have to step in and say, what is in the best interest of our ballclub? You run a guy out there into the ground and he doesn't help you win. It's really not that tough sometimes."

With Renteria out of the lineup, Bill Mueller moved to the No. 2 hole. Alex Cora batted eighth and played shortstop, while Tony Graffanino played second base and hit ninth.

Hansen signed? While there has been no official announcement from the Red Sox, the Boston Globe and Boston Herald both reported on Sunday that the club has signed highly touted reliever Craig Hansen. The Red Sox selected Hansen with the 26th overall pick in the June Draft.

According to the reports, Hansen signed a Major League contract that is worth $4 million over four years. Hansen, arguably the premiere collegiate reliever in the nation for St. John's, is likely to start at Class A. There's a chance he could have a stint with the Red Sox before the end of the season.

Monitoring Schilling: Getting Curt Schilling enough work has hardly been an issue since the big right-hander took over as the closer. Entering Sunday's action, Schilling had pitched in five of the last eight days. Francona will be careful not to overuse Schilling.

"Even if he says he's available, at some point, we're going to make him not available. We'll see how that goes," said Francona. "We've been trying to piece it together where everybody is available and they're not getting overused but they're throwing the ball well."

Because the game situation never called for it, Schilling didn't pitch.

No statements in July: Francona was somewhere between bemused and perplexed when a Chicago radio reporter asked him before the game if this was a "statement game" considering that the Red Sox and White Sox might meet up again in October.

"I'm not going to touch that," Francona said. "To me, that's sort of a silly question. For me to answer that would be silly. We're just trying to win. It's July 24th. They might beat us 18-0 today. What the [heck] kind of statement would that be? We're not gonna quit. Just show up, try to win. That's a long time from now. We'll just try to win today."

Olerud's usage: First baseman John Olerud has just three hits in 31 at-bats in July. However, Francona, noting that Olerud hit the ball hard several times during Saturday's 0-for-4, isn't concerned about the veteran left-handed hitter.

"There's times where we try to get him in for a pinch-hit even [if the game is one-sided] because I think it's good for him," Francona said. "And he's smart enough to know, he doesn't just give it away. But I think his swings are fine. Again, I don't know that a guy is just going to show up and hit .400. Those things sort of take care of themselves."

Olerud grounded to second to end Sunday's loss.

On deck: Left-hander David Wells, who is 6-1 with a 3.36 ERA in his last 10 starts, takes the mound Monday night for the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field. The Devil Rays will counter with right-hander Doug Waechter.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.