Notes: Sox stay patient with Wells

Notes: Sox stay patient with Wells

BOSTON -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona can already sense that left-hander David Wells is itching to pitch again. Though that is an obvious sign that Wells, who has been battling right knee woes since late last season, is feeling better, Francona also knows that he must proceed with caution.

In other words, the medical staff is prepared to hold Wells back a bit in an effort to prevent reinjury.

"I'm not saying he's not close [to pitching]," said Francona, "but there's been a big variance of how he's felt. We need to try to make the best decisions we can, which is not real easy. You know, we don't want him back for one game.

"Some of the decisions I'm sure we're going to end up having to take out of his hands and put up with the squawking, and hopefully we'll get the pitcher back that we want."

Wells, who is fiercely competitive, will try to end his spectator status the very second he feels he is physically able to do so. But Francona is going to keep a close eye on the veteran's condition.

"I don't think it's out of the question that he's going to come back and feel good," said Francona. "There's got to be a progression though, or we're setting ourselves up to have him not to feel good. He's going to fight it every step of the way, which I understand. I almost kind of respect it because it's part of why he's good. He'll lie to pitch, which is good in a way, but we need to protect him, and at the same time, it protects ourselves."

The Boomer threw off flat ground twice earlier this week, and the next step will be progressing to a mound. Francona was in the process of trying to iron out a schedule with Wells and the training staff.

Wells started the season on a rehab assignment and returned from the disabled list for just one start (April 12) before having a setback.

In other injury news, reliever David Riske (lower back) is nearing a Minor League rehab assignment.

Choi's rehab running out: Tuesday was the 20th and final day of first baseman Hee-Seop Choi's Minor League rehab assignment. Choi, who suffered a left hamstring strain during the final days of Spring Training, will either need to be added to the Major League roster or be optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket; that's assuming the Red Sox can get him through waivers.

Choi has been swinging a hot bat during his rehab stint for Pawtucket, hitting .311 with three homers, 12 RBIs, a .967 slugging percentage and a .476 on-base percentage.

The Red Sox claimed Choi off waivers from the Dodgers on March 24.

Wily Mo settling in: After a rocky start, Wily Mo Pena has looked better at the plate and in the field since his playing time increased.

Wednesday marked the seventh consecutive game Pena was in the starting lineup. The boost in playing time came when Francona elected to give him a shot to be the main center fielder, while Coco Crisp continues his rehab.

"I think he's had good at-bats," Francona said. "He's hitting down at the bottom of the order, that was an area where we were kind of scuffling a little bit. I actually thought his at-bats the other night were really good, and he didn't have much to show for it. I just thought it was the right thing to do to try to get him untracked, because if he does get untracked, he's got some thunder in his bat and the production will be good. Hopefully, that will be the case."

Pena entered the night hitting .275 with three homers and seven RBIs.

Papelbon's streak: When was the last time closer Jonathan Papelbon allowed a run? It was Sept. 19, 2005, against the Devil Rays at Tropicana Field.

Dating back to last season, Papelbon has reeled off 21 1/3 scoreless innings over 19 appearances.

Manny mashes Jays: No opposing player has victimized the Blue Jays more than Manny Ramirez. The star slugger's 49 homers against Toronto represents the most that the franchise has allowed to one player. With 122 RBIs lifetime against the Blue Jays, Ramirez ranks fifth. The retired quartet of Harold Baines, Cal Ripken, Robin Yount and Rafael Palmeiro are the only players who have driven in more runs against Toronto than Ramirez.

Coming up: Matt Clement (2-2, 6.14 ERA) faces right-hander Josh Towers (0-5, 10.45 ERA) in the finale of the two-game series on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park. It will be the second meeting of the season between the two right-handers.

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