Notes: Setback for Crisp

Notes: Setback for Crisp

NEW YORK -- Coco Crisp was dealt an unexpected obstacle that will delay his return to the active roster by a few days. The center fielder, who was expected to make some final leaps this week in his rehab at Fenway Park, is bedridden.

"Coco has slowed down about a couple of days, three days," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He got real sick. The only thing he can do for yesterday, today and probably tomorrow is just finger exercises. He's scuffling a little bit. His finger is doing well. He just can't go out and do anything on the field. He's been really, really sick."

The Red Sox were originally hoping that Crisp could return to the lineup at some point next week. However, the week of May 22, which starts with the Yankees coming back to Fenway, could be a more likely target date.

"Hopefully he'll be feeling better in a couple of days," said Francona. "Today is Wednesday; he might not get back on the field until this weekend. It's probably throwing him back four or five days."

Before progressing to a Minor League rehab assignment, Crisp will need to take some "dry swings" and then graduate to batting practice.

He has been sidelined since April 9 with a non-displaced fracture at the base of his left index finger.

Entering Wednesday's game, the Red Sox were 16-11 in his absence.

Looking ahead: One interesting dilemma Francona will face when Crisp returns is how to adjust the lineup. Kevin Youkilis has been an on-base machine the last few weeks, but Mark Loretta has also gotten hot the last few days.

Francona, though he declared not to make the lineup out two weeks ahead of time, seems to be leaning toward returning Crisp to the leadoff hole.

"When he's ready to play, I would love for him to lead off," Francona said of Crisp. "I think one of Youkilis' strengths is he can hit anywhere. He's a good hitter. The only way, in my opinion, Coco wouldn't lead off is if he came back and he wasn't really ready to contribute as much. But I don't know that we really want him to come back until he's ready. So, I don't see that happening."

Wells getting closer: David Wells threw another side session in the bullpen -- his third in the last week -- before Wednesday's game and will graduate to a simulated game at Fenway Park on Saturday. Assuming there are no snafus there, Wells will pitch for Triple-A Pawtucket at Buffalo on May 18.

Boomer threw roughly 70 pitches on Wednesday and his right knee seems to be responding this time.

Francona isn't sure yet if Wells will make one or two Minor League starts.

"We want him to pitch for us. We want him to pitch effectively for us," Francona said. "We're treading a fine line that -- until it's over -- you don't know what was the perfect way to go about it."

Just a formality: When the Red Sox announced Theo Epstein's return as general manager on Jan. 24, they never announced the length of the pact or, for that matter, that he even had a new contract.

A good reason for that was revealed on Wednesday night.

Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe reported that Epstein is working without a signed contract.

However, Epstein wanted to make sure that people realize he does not view this as a significant issue.

"We have a verbal agreement," Epstein told the Globe. "We haven't gotten around to formalizing it. We trust each other and we have an understanding. I don't have a problem with it, [owner] John [Henry] doesn't have a problem with it and [CEO] Larry [Lucchino] doesn't have a problem with it."

"As far as I'm concerned, we have a contract," Henry told the Globe. "We shook hands. We have a number of people in baseball [operations] that have not signed contracts. I doubt that this has anything to do with anything other than the fact that they haven't gotten around to it."

Harris subs for Wily Mo: Willie Harris made his first start since April 25, playing center field and batting eighth. Meanwhile, Wily Mo Pena was out of the lineup for the first time since that same date. Why Harris instead of Pena?

For starters, Harris entered the game with a .385 hitter (5-for-13) average against Yankees right-hander Mike Mussina. But that wasn't the only reason.

"[Curt Schilling] throws so many fly balls," Francona said. "Center field is so big."

Francona also noted that Harris took some good swings after entering Tuesday's game in the late innings.

The center fielder went 0-for-4 and saw his average dip to .095.

Manny's knee is fine: Due to both the disparity in the score and the fact that Manny Ramirez's right knee was nagging him, Francona took the star slugger out of Tuesday's game in the bottom of the sixth inning.

A day later, Ramirez seemed fine and was back in his customary cleanup spot and playing left field.

"He got ice and he got checked out after the game," Francona said. "I think there was minimal effusion of swelling. He'll be fine."

Riske's rehab: Reliever David Riske, who hasn't pitched for the Sox since April 4 because of lower back woes, threw 26 pitches in a rehab outing for Pawtucket on Wednesday. Riske didn't allow a hit while walking two and striking out two.

He is tentatively slated to throw for Pawtucket again on Saturday and then rejoin the Red Sox after that.

Coming up: Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (2-4, 3.97 ERA) will face New York right-hander Shawn Chacon (4-1, 3.94) in Thursday's 7:05 p.m. ET finale of this three-game series.

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