Notes: Hansen, Ramirez get the call

Notes: Hansen, Ramirez get the call

ST. PETERSBURG -- When the day started, the story was Craig Hansen's mere arrival. Just four months removed from serving as the closer for St. John's University, Hansen officially joined the bullpen of the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

But by the end of Monday, the attention shifted to the way Hansen pitched. In his Major League debut, Hansen proved why he was summoned to the highest level of baseball after such a short apprenticeship in the Minor Leagues.

The 26th overall pick in June's First-Year Player Draft came out of the bullpen in the bottom of the fifth inning and promptly struck out Toby Hall on a 95 mph fastball. Then he broke the bat of Damon Hollins on a popup to shortstop. And he capped his first Major League outing by blowing a fastball (94 mph) by Julio Lugo.

Welcome to the Major Leagues, indeed.

"He's got unbelievable stuff," said Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz.

Hansen, who completed his season with Double-A Portland on Saturday, was hardly stunned by his callup to the Red Sox.

Nervous? Of course Hansen was. But not in a way that overwhelmed him.

"I went behind the mound, took a deep breath and calmed myself down," said Hansen. "The past few days, I visualized myself being out there for the first time. I just went out there basically the same as I've always gone out there. Aggressive approach and doing what I was doing with Portland and in college."

The Long Island, N.Y., native, who grew up cheering for the Yankees, is looking forward to playing a role in the Red Sox's quest to upend their rivals for the American League East title.

"It's very exciting to come up, especially around this time," said Hansen. "The Boston Red Sox are in a playoff race and just coming down here to be a part of this, it's tremendous."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona will try not to put too much on Hansen's plate too quickly. But he was encouraged by the first chapter.

"I thought he handled himself terrific, his stuff speaks for itself," said Francona.

Hansen is the third member of this year's draft class to join a Major League team, adding his name to a club that includes Braves right-hander Joey Devine and Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

Hanley also joins team: On any other day, the arrival of Hanley Ramirez would have been headline news. But the five-tool shortstop happened to arrive on the same day as Hansen, allowing him to slip into the background.

Ramirez was supposed to travel home to the Dominican Republic on Monday and begin his offseason. But those plans changed when Kevin Youkilis injured his right ring finger on Sunday, leaving the Red Sox short in the infield.

The 21-year-old Ramirez, whose athleticism has had Red Sox fans anticipating his arrival for a couple of years, gives the Red Sox speed off the bench.

"It's great, man," said Ramirez. "You want to be in the big leagues and when you find out you're there, you can't believe it. You know, it's great. It's unbelievable. You watch those guys on TV every night. To be with them right now, it's so exciting."

While Ramirez is a shortstop by trade, he has the tools to play anywhere.

"I told him go play everywhere [during pregame drills]," said Francona. "He's such a good athlete. I told him go take some balls in the outfield, take some balls in the infield. I really need to watch him a little bit. He's such an outgoing kid and he's got a good personality. He'll do anything."

Youk gets fracture checked: As the Red Sox prepared for Monday's game, Youkilis was back in Boston getting his right ring finger checked after a painful injury that occurred while fielding a grounder on Sunday.

"His nail got shoved back, cracked," said Francona. "He actually had to have a couple stitches put in that nail. I think it broke. Then he has a fracture at the tip. They're also doing more tests to determine how severe, how long he's going to be out. They just don't know yet."

Francona did say that Youkilis would probably be able to hit before playing the field. He'll be out at least a few days, and likely longer.

Graffanino injured: Second baseman Tony Graffanino had to leave Monday's game in the bottom of the third inning after straining his left groin. The injury occurred when Graffanino dove on the outfield turf and then spun a quick throw to first.

"When I made that play over to my left, I just felt something in my groin," said Graffanino. "I'm hoping it's maybe just a bad spasm or I jammed it making that play, and I wake up in the morning and it feels good."

In the meantime, the Sox have a solid backup in Alex Cora.

Nixon scratched: Roughly 15 minutes before game time, it was announced that Francona scratched right fielder Trot Nixon from the lineup. Nixon was feeling under the weather. Adam Hyzdu took his place in the lineup and batted ninth. Second baseman Tony Graffanino moved up one spot to the eight hole.

Miller's checkup: Right-hander Wade Miller has an appointment scheduled with Dr. Craig Morgan in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday to get his ailing shoulder looked at. Morgan is a noted shoulder specialist. Miller is all but certain to have season-ending surgery.

Coming up: Right-hander Curt Schilling (6-8, 6.20 ERA), who struggled in his last start against Oakland, looks to get back on track Tuesday. The Devil Rays counter with righty Seth McClung, who is 6-10 with a 6.61 ERA.

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