Notes: Confidence in bullpen

Notes: Confidence in bullpen

BOSTON -- As Craig Hansen stood in front of his locker in the Red Sox clubhouse on Tuesday afternoon, he hoped this would be the last time he would have to answer questions about returning to the big-league roster.

And for the time being, he has his wish. Earlier in the day, Red Sox manager Terry Francona called Hansen, Manny Delcarmen, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Javier Lopez into his office and offered a message for the young pitchers on his staff.

"We've got a pretty young [group]," the skipper explained. "We've got Lopez, Delcarmen, Lester as a starter, Pap and Hansen. I talked to all of them. They've been a little bit on the shuttle, not a ton, but up and down and back-and-forth and I think we're getting to the point where we'd like to keep them here and have them carry some responsibility in that bullpen."

Hansen was recalled before Tuesday's game while another young right-hander, Jermaine Van Buren, was sent back to Triple-A Pawtucket. The message was clear from Francona -- the organization is not going to go out and make a move out of desperation just to put Band-Aids on the bullpen.

"I just wanted them to understand I'm actually OK with it and a little bit excited," Francona said. "They just have to pay attention to detail and show the veterans that they care about winning. As long as they do that, this has a chance to really work out well."

Francona wanted all the young hurlers to know that he's not just confident to use them but won't hesitate to pitch them with the game on the line -- something Hansen appreciates.

"I'm definitely excited to know he has the confidence, especially since we're going out and definitely trying to win it, our division, this year," Hansen said. "It definitely gives me confidence but I'm still going to be out there working hard every day."

Mistakes are expected but Francona maintains that as long as the young group keeps their collective heads on straight, things will work out for the best.

"Blending in some youth with veteran players is great, but I just want them to understand their responsibilities, and I think they'll do fine," Francona said. "Just be a professional. Sometimes doing it at a young age in this atmosphere is not the easiest thing to do. Just care about winning games, that's what we're here for."

The message apparently got through loud and clear to Hansen.

"You just have to show you want to be here, no matter what guys can rely on you," the right-hander said. "So if the game comes down to it, they can rely on you when you're out there. I think everyone he brought into that office has a great chance and their great players and to know that he has the confidence is very exciting."

It hasn't always been the case that Francona has embraced putting young players, especially pitchers, in situations with the game on the line.

"Sometimes young players are trying so hard to establish themselves in the Major Leagues, you forget about winning games," Francona recalled. "There was this kid who called his folks in Philly. He pitched in the 12th and he was awfully excited. Well, that 500-foot home run he gave up didn't help. He was on the phone to his folks, 'I pitched! I pitched!' I wanted to say, 'You [stunk]' We just lost a heartbreaker. My point is that doesn't go over real well in the clubhouse. Guys are tired. They went out there for four-and-a-half hours. That's sort of my point."

Snyder on hold: In light of his impressive Red Sox debut, Kyle Snyder had reason to feel optimistic about his future Tuesday. But whether or not the 28-year-old right-hander with options remaining stays on as a spot starter is another issue altogether.

"We've actually spoken to him about things that could happen, but not in detail," said Francona, who was waiting to see how Tim Wakefield's back holds up following Tuesday's start. "We'll see what happens. There are some things I want to see here. I want to make sure Wake gets through his start and how he gets through his start, things like that. If it sets up in good shape, we may not need that fifth starter. If we don't [need fifth starter], we could certainly use the roster spot."

Heads up: Francona acknowledged Tuesday that Manny Ramirez should've been closer to the plate instead of standing near the on-deck circle as Mark Loretta was tagged out on an awkward slide during Monday's game.

"I think Manny got caught up spectating, and that happens," the Sox skipper said. "The more communication the better. That's a tough position to put your runner in, because catcher's are [deceptive]. I think if he get up there [close to plate] and helps [signal] him to slide, he'd probably be safe."

As he likes to do, Francona offered further perspective.

"It happened to [Eric] Chavez when [Eric] Byrnes didn't touch home," said Francona, who was Oakland's bench coach during the 2003 American League Divisional Series. "Nobody ever said a word [about Chavez] and that was the biggest play of the season. That happens. So the more you communicate, the better and you try to do it better."

Wily go: Wily Mo Pena started fielding ground balls in the outfield this week and indicated he would like to take batting practice less than three weeks after his June 1 surgery on his left wrist.

"I've got to talk to the medical people," Francona said. "That might be a little ambitious. We'll see. I'd rather him be that way and we can always slow him down."

First base plans: Francona announced his back-up plan at first base should Kevin Youkilis need to come out of a game.

"We could throw [Mark] Loretta over there if we need to," Francona said. "He's played first base. We could do something. Neither one of them want a day off and I don't particularly want to [either]."

1986 Remembered: The Red Sox announced the club will honor Boston's 1986 American League Championship team on Tuesday, when the Sox host the New York Mets at 7:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park.

Players and coaches from the 1986 squad will be honored in a pregame ceremony prior to the Red Sox-Mets game that night. Many of the members of that team will arrive in Boston on Monday and will participate in several other activities as part of the celebration of the 1986 AL champs.

Invitations have been sent to all players and coaches that were members of the 1986 team at any point during the regular and/or postseason. Among those who have indicated they will tentatively participate are pitchers Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, Steve Crawford, Bruce Hurst, Tim Lollar, Al Nipper, and Joe Sambito; catcher Marc Sullivan, infielders Marty Barrett, Wade Boggs, Pat Dodson, Spike Owen, Ed Romero, and Dave Stapleton; outfielders Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Mike Stenhouse, and LaSchelle Tarver; and coaches Walt Hriniak and Joe Morgan.

Happy birthday: Billy Werber celebrated his 98th birthday on Tuesday. He is the oldest living player who appeared in a Red Sox uniform.

Coming up: The Red Sox conclude their Interleague series with Washington when Jon Lester (1-0, 3.48) makes his third big league start against Washington's Shawn Hill (1-1, 2.42).

Mike Petraglia is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.