Notes: Huckaby gets chance with Sox

Notes: Huckaby gets chance with Sox

BOSTON -- Back in those sunny days of Spring Training, Ken Huckaby had legitimate aspirations of being the backup catcher for the Red Sox. However, Huckaby had an ill-timed left knee injury during the first exhibition game and wound up losing the battle to Josh Bard, who was later sent to San Diego in exchange for old friend Doug Mirabelli.

Huckaby finally got his chance on Tuesday, as he was added to the roster to serve as Mirabelli's backup while Jason Varitek recuperates from an ailing left knee that could reportedly sideline the captain for up to six weeks.

In no way did Huckaby want to see Varitek get hurt, but he was nonetheless excited about the chance to be back in the Major Leagues.

"It just rejuvenates you," Huckaby said. "It's been a long season. You come up here and you feel like almost you haven't played one game yet this year. You feel that fresh."

In fact, Huckaby has played 68 games for Pawtucket, hitting .207 with two homers and 16 RBIs. He has 153 games of Major League experience, hitting .223 with three homers and 30 RBIs over 422 at-bats.

Huckaby, 35, knows that offense will never be his calling card.

"Like I've always said, I'm not going to light you up with the bat," Huckaby said. "But I've always known I can catch, and catch and throw. It's just nice to come up here and hopefully get an opportunity to do that."

Huckaby doesn't think it will take him much time to get acclimated with the pitchers.

"A lot of the guys in the bullpen are guys that I caught this year in Pawtucket," said Huckaby. "I was fortunate enough the games I did get to play this year in spring, I think I caught [Jonathan Papelbon] three or four of them. I got to see him quite a bit."

In addition to purchasing Huckaby's contract, the Red Sox also added Jason Johnson to the roster so he could start Tuesday's game. To make room for Johnson, Boston sent lefty specialist Javy Lopez to Pawtucket.

To open a spot for Huckaby on the 40-man roster, first baseman Hee-Seop Choi, who had spent the entire year at Pawtucket, was designated for assignment.

Ortiz's clutch ability no myth: While there can often be hyperbole centering around a player as gifted as David Ortiz, there are hard numbers to prove how clutch Big Papi has been over the last few years.

Ortiz's three-run walk-off homer against the Indians on Monday night marked the fifth time he has ended a game with a hit this season, and the 15th time he has done it (including postseason) since joining the Red Sox. But there are some even more telling numbers to chew on.

According to ESPN Research, Ortiz has strode to the plate 13 times since the start of the 2005 season with a chance to win the game with one swing. In those situations, he's made one out.

The breakdown is five homers, three singles and four walks (three of which have been intentional). The one time he made an out? On June 26, when he grounded out in the ninth inning against the Phillies. Three innings later, he ended that same game with a home run.

Author and Red Sox blogger Allan Wood ( came up with some more goodies.

This season, Ortiz is 5-for-6 in walk-off situations with three homers, 10 RBIs and two walks. Last year, he was 2-for-2 with two homers, five RBIs and two walks. In the 2004 postseason, he was 3-for-5 with two homers, five RBIs and a walk. During the '04 regular season, he was 2-for-8 with a homer and three RBIs. And in 2003, Ortiz was 2-for-5 with a homer, two RBIs and a walk.

Pena provides pop: Right fielder Wily Mo Pena has shown early glimpses that he's going to give the Red Sox more than suitable production during the absence of Trot Nixon. In Monday's game, Pena hit a mammoth homer that sailed over the Coke bottles atop the Green Monster and into a nearby parking lot. He finished a double away from the cycle.

What manager Terry Francona likes the most about Pena is his improved approach at the plate.

"It's funny, he can take a wild swing, he can hit a ball over the lights as we saw last night," Francona said. "But then with two strikes he sort of has that ability to shoot the ball to right field. That's what's been so gratifying is his ability to hit the ball the other way and with authority, to cut down on his swing and hit the ball the other way. He's doing a great job of doing that."

Snyder might swing: Though Kyle Snyder had been used as a starter until Monday's emergency relief appearance, his brilliant performance (4 1/3 innings, one hit, six K's) has given Francona something to think about.

Would Snyder serve the Red Sox better as a swingman than a mainstay in the rotation?

"There's something to that, and we kind of talked to him about that," Francona said. "On good teams, having a guy that can do that is huge. Are we going to be able to do that? I don't know. It seems like every couple of days, we're trying to fill in the spot in the rotation. Some of it might be, can we do it? We'll just have to see."

Francona isn't sure if Snyder will start the next time around the rotation.

"I really don't know yet, we'll see," Francona said. "It probably depends on Jason Johnson and how he's throwing, things like that. I told Snydes, he's gonna pitch for us, we just don't know quite sure yet where yet and how. He just said, 'Tell me where and when and I'll be there.' So that's kind of where we're at."

Foulke in holding pattern: Two days after Keith Foulke's rehab appearance for Triple-A Pawtucket was scratched because of back tightness, Francona didn't seem to have any better idea of when Foulke would next take the ball.

"He's not feeling that good," Francona said. "We're kind of on his timetable. We're certainly not going to rush him because every time we've tried to rush him in the past, it just throws him back a week. We'll wait and see. His elbow is feeling good."

Coming up: Left-hander Jon Lester (5-1, 3.49 ERA), fresh off his first Major League loss, will take the ball on Wednesday night against the Indians. He'll be opposed by Indians youngster Jeremy Sowers (3-3, 3.98 ERA).

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