TORONTO -- The man who leads the Red Sox in games and at-bats this season got a day off on Thursday, but he didn't like it. Marco Scutaro loves to play, and each time manager Terry Francona suggests a rare respite, he tries to talk him out of it.
This time, Francona won, and Scutaro was out of the lineup for the first time since July 21.
"Yeah, he's [mad]," Francona said. "But you know what, he needs it. This will be really good for him. It's a quick turnaround. Going into Texas, it's going to be hot. I just think it would be good for him. He followed me clear into the shower last night [to argue]. But sometimes he needs it. We were kind of going back and forth the last time, and he went out and played a game. I think he had a couple of errors. We said, 'There's no discussion next time.' He laughed then. But last night he was [mad]. He'll survive."
Scutaro has played in 112 games for the Sox, 110 of them starts.
With Thursday being a day game after a night game and Boston opening a three-game series in the Texas heat on Friday, this was the perfect time to give Scutaro a rest.
Scutaro's eagerness to play has been a good thing for Boston. Until shortstop Jed Lowrie opened his season on July 21 following a near four-month absence with mononucleosis, Francona didn't really have many options at shortstop.
"Billy [Hall] went over there, but that's probably the one place [that's hard for him]," Francona said. "That's a lot to ask. He's a pretty big guy. But Scoot has been out there all year. There's a lot to be said for a guy going out there. Even when you're 0-for-4, you go out there, and that's what good professionals do."
Scutaro is hitting .267 with 65 runs, seven homers and 37 RBIs. He isn't having the same year he did in Toronto last season, but Francona doesn't doubt that the shortstop has been at less than perfect health. On May 19, Scutaro had a cortisone shot to ease the pain from a pinched nerve in his neck.
Scutaro has slumped of late, with just two hits in 27 at-bats on this road trip. In August, he is hitting .143 with no homers and two RBIs.
"I think he's doing OK," Francona said. "I think [the shots] helped. Again, it's hard when you're playing every day to see a whole heck of a lot of improvement or gains in strength. That's what we were worried about a little bit -- that he was starting to lose strength. Hopefully, the shots maybe stopped that. That's what I mean [by him needing the day off]. That's what we need to stop."