Nixon connects with Foulke's elbow

Foulke is OK after scare

ANAHEIM -- They gathered under the soothing sun of Southern California roughly five hours before Friday night's game, two players looking forward to taking another step in their recovery from injuries.

But it didn't take long for something to go wrong. That something came on the third pitch Keith Foulke threw in his simulated game. Trot Nixon, showing that his bat is up to speed, leveled the offering off Foulke's right elbow.

That was the end of Foulke's afternoon. Nixon, after making sure Foulke's injury wasn't all that serious, resumed batting practice, taking roughly 50 hacks off bullpen coach Bill Haselman.

The good news is that Nixon -- who has been sidelined since July 27 with a strained left oblique muscle -- has been cleared to go on a Minor League rehab assignment. He will fly home on Saturday and play seven innings of right field for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday night. Nixon plans on being the designated hitter for Pawtucket on Monday before rejoining the Boston roster next week in Kansas City, where the Red Sox play a three-game series beginning Tuesday.

As for Foulke, the hit he took off the elbow was not as bad as it could have been. Nixon's liner got more meat than bone.

"I can move it and stuff like that," said Foulke. "It's sore as [heck]. I don't think it's going to really set us back that much. First thought was, 'That's what you get for leaving the ball over the middle of the plate.' The second thought was, 'I can't believe I didn't catch it.' And then it was like, 'Great. I don't really need this right now.' "

Despite the annoying setback, Foulke, who hopes to resume throwing on Tuesday, plans on pitching for the Red Sox before Sept. 1.

"If I'm not pitching in a ballgame by Sept. 1, there's going to be a bigger problem than my knee," said Foulke. "I suspect I should be pitching well before Sept. 1. That's just my opinion."

Foulke last pitched for the Red Sox on July 4, and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee three days later. After missing much of last season with injuries, Nixon can relate to how things have been going for Foulke.

"For both of us, [Friday] was kind of a stepping stone," said Nixon. "I think for Foulkie, kind of like I was last year, it was kind of a little more for him. It's been awhile since he's been in those type of situations, even though it wasn't much of a situation. Third pitch, I hit a line drive right back at him. Obviously, it's not season-threatening or anything. But it's just a few more days. Being on the DL as long as that, you start to pull your hair out."

Though Foulke still has a full head of hair, the layoff is indeed getting to him.

"I hate it. I absolutely hate it," Foulke said. "It was hard for me to watch baseball before. But now, not being able to help my team, I really don't like it."

The positive development of this whole day is that Nixon's days as a spectator are rapidly winding to a close.

"The good news is, Trot looks great," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He'll fly back. He'll play Sunday, Monday, and hopefully join us Tuesday. These last four or five days he's been out on the field, he's really worked hard. He's done throwing, he's done running, he's done baserunning. To get to this point, he's had to work hard. But he's obviously done a good job."

And the news wasn't all bad on Foulke. Before Nixon's screaming liner knocked him out, he could feel the strides he has made.

"I warmed up 10-12 pitches. Even at that point, I feel stronger, I feel more balanced that I used to," Foulke said. "The previous pitch to Trot, I threw a nice little sinker on the outside part of the plate. Even though it was very short, I felt comfortable. I felt strong. So that's a positive."

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