Notes: Crisp may have broken finger

Notes: Crisp may have broken finger

BALTIMORE -- As they were winging their way back to Boston following a 5-1 road trip to open the season, the Red Sox were presented with their first hurdle of the 2006 season.

WHDH-TV in Boston reported on Sunday evening that starting center fielder Coco Crisp could miss up to one month as the result of a broken knuckle in his left index finger.

Reached by phone on Sunday night, team spokesman John Blake told that the club could not confirm the report and that there was no immediate change to the original diagnosis of a jammed finger. Crisp will be examined by the team's medical staff on Monday.

Crisp, batting .333 with a .458 slugging percentage in his first five games, injured the digit while sliding awkwardly into third base during a steal attempt in the third inning of Saturday's win in Baltimore.

Adam Stern replaced him in the leadoff spot and in center field.

By the end of Boston's 2-1 victory on Saturday, Crisp had started to feel a little swelling and stiffness in the finger. Manager Terry Francona said before Sunday's game that it was believed to be a minor injury, and that his absence from the lineup was basically just a precaution.

Crisp also indicated before Sunday's 4-1 win at Baltimore that he felt an X-ray would be unnecessary.

"We have the off-day [on Monday], so it's a perfect time to let it heal," said Crisp, who also said it was his full intention to be in the starting lineup when the Red Sox take the field on Tuesday afternoon for their home opener against Toronto.

'Tek 1, wall 0: It appears that catcher Jason Varitek came out victorious after his scary collision with the wall behind home plate on Saturday while tracking a foul ball. Varitek banged up multiple parts of his body in the crash, but he appears to be no worse for the wear. He produced what proved to be a game-winning double and played for the rest of the afternoon.

Varitek was off on Sunday, but only because knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was pitching.

How hard did Varitek hit the wall?

"Real hard," said Francona. "Hard enough where it scared me."

Day of leisure: The Red Sox have an off-day on Monday, giving the newcomers a chance to get their feet wet in Boston before Tuesday's home opener.

"It feels like we've been gone for two months -- we have," said Francona. "I'm really excited."

The Red Sox will have the field for a couple of hours on Monday if anyone needs it, but Francona expects a pretty sparse turnout.

"Days off at home are so rare," he said.

Tavarez getting antsy: Reliever Julian Tavarez has three more games on the sidelines before he is eligible to pitch on Wednesday against the Blue Jays.

Tavarez was given a 10-day suspension for landing a couple of punches on Tampa Bay center fielder Joey Gathright.

"He's fine, he just wants to pitch," said Francona.

Tavarez will throw a simulated game against some Boston hitters prior to Tuesday's game.

Coming up: Josh Beckett gets the honor of pitching the home opener on Tuesday afternoon against the Blue Jays. He'll be opposed by right-hander Josh Towers.

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