Notes: Graffanino backs ex-mates

Red Sox notes: Graffanino's return

KANSAS CITY -- If the Kansas City Royals had dropped the last two games of their weekend series in Oakland, Tony Graffanino would have taken the field on Tuesday night trying to lend a hand toward sending his former team to an American League-record 22nd consecutive defeat.

Graffanino is just glad it didn't come to that.

The second baseman, who was traded from Kansas City to Boston on July 19, had empathy for his ex-teammates as they suffered through a recent 19-game losing streak.

"I don't think there's any player, whether he played for the Royals or not, who didn't have empathy for what they were going through," Graffanino said, upon his return to Kauffman Stadium.

As the Kansas City streak ballooned into double digits, Graffanino kept hoping for a Royals victory.

"I was definitely checking up on them, either on television or through the box scores," Graffanino said. "I was hurting for those guys. I was definitely feeling for them."

Had he stayed in Kansas City, Graffanino would be playing out the string and hoping to avoid 100 losses. Instead, he finds himself at the opposite end of the spectrum with the reigning world champions.

Graffanino has certainly played like a champ with the Red Sox. Prior to Tuesday's game, he was hitting .337 in 21 games for Boston.

"There's a high level of excitement playing for this club, which won it all last year and wants to do it again," Graffanino said. "When you come into a new situation, you want to do well early because that helps you to fit in. Fortunately, I'm off to a good start here, and I just have to keep it going."

Nixon returns: The Red Sox made room for the activation of outfielder Trot Nixon on Tuesday by optioning left-hander Lenny DiNardo to Triple-A Pawtucket.

DiNardo is scheduled to start for Pawtucket on Thursday.

Manager Terry Francona said that he expects DiNardo to rejoin the Red Sox early in September.

"As early as we can," Francona said. "I think that's pretty safe to say."

The Red Sox will temporarily go with 11 pitchers, even though David Wells is facing a looming suspension and Curt Schilling is about to make his return to the starting rotation on Thursday.

"If we have to [add a pitcher], we will," Francona said.

Nixon's return from a strained left oblique came roughly four weeks after he was placed on the disabled list.

"They said four-to-six weeks was a realistic expectation," said Francona. "He's at the low end of what they thought. I think we did it right, and I think Trot did a great job."

Around the horn: The Red Sox continue to play a wait-and-see game regarding Wells' suspension appeal. "Once you go through this hearing, you are completely at their mercy timing-wise," Francona said. "All of a sudden, it just happens. We have to prepare to be flexible." ... Closer Keith Foulke, who was recently hit on the right elbow in a simulated game, played catch on Tuesday and is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Thursday. ... The Red Sox went into Tuesday's game leading the Majors with a .284 batting average. If they maintain that lead, the Red Sox would be the first club to lead the Majors in hitting three straight years since Cleveland accomplished the feat from 1994 through 1996.

Coming up: The Red Sox will go with right-hander Matt Clement on Wednesday at 8:05 p.m. ET in the middle game of their series in Kansas City. Boston is 18-6 when Clement starts. The Royals will counter with right-hander D.J. Carrasco.

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