Notes: Catching carousel turns again

Notes: Catching carousel turns again

ST. PETERSBURG -- The catching carousel took another spin in the Red Sox clubhouse on Saturday as Corky Miller became the third different receiver to join the roster in the last five days.

First, there was Ken Huckaby, who came up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday to replace the ailing Jason Varitek. Then came Javy Lopez in a trade from the Orioles on Friday, and his arrival forced Huckaby to be designated for assignment. And just hours after Lopez showed up, Doug Mirabelli twisted his left ankle, forcing the addition of Miller, who has 88 games of Major League experience.

Miller's contract was purchased from Pawtucket, where he was hitting .253 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs.

The good news for the Red Sox is that it appears there won't be a need to put Mirabelli on the disabled list. Manager Terry Francona is confident that Mirabelli will be able to play again in "three to four days."

In the meantime, Lopez will get most of the playing time with Miller, who has recently been on a home run binge, serving as the backup.

"I know he's been hot," said Francona. "We're kind of at the point where we're calling guys up. We're probably pretty fortunate he has Major League time. You can't foresee these things happening like they do."

It has been such a crazy time for the Red Sox that Huckaby called Francona late Friday night, wondering if he was still eligible to return to the team after learning of Mirabelli's injury.

But Huckaby must clear waivers before he is deemed the property of the Red Sox again.

The Red Sox were taking the game of musical chairs played by the catchers the last few days in stride.

"It's definitely different, but not strange," Mirabelli said. "You see guys coming in and out of the clubhouse all the time, it's just the catchers now."

The arrival of Miller forced the club to designate right-hander Bryan Corey for assignment. Corey had only pitched one inning for Boston since being acquired in a trade with the Rangers on July 30.

My left foot: Third baseman Mike Lowell (bruised and swollen left foot) was still walking gingerly around the clubhouse, but he appeared to be moving far better than 24 hours earlier. In fact, Lowell had an MRI during the sixth inning of Friday's game and was relieved that there was no fracture detected.

Lowell was hoping he might be able to play by Sunday, but Francona didn't seem to be holding his breath.

"I think that's a little ambitious," Francona said. "But he must be feeling better if he's trying to play."

Lowell sustained the injury Thursday night in Boston when he fouled a ball off his left foot. This, just two days after he suffered a contusion after fouling a ball off his right foot.

"Actually, if I lean too much on this foot, [the right] one starts hurting a little bit," Lowell said. "Honestly, I'm just happy it wasn't broken. Even a small fracture, you have to sit out for four weeks. So I'm hoping a couple of days and see if we can invent something back there. We're brainstorming so we'll see how it goes."

Lineup moves: Francona has had to adjust his lineup on the fly the last few days. For Saturday's game, Kevin Youkilis was moved across the diamond to third base while David Ortiz broke out his glove and went to first base. Manny Ramirez served as the DH, and, for the second straight day, Coco Crisp led off.

Lopez, making his first start for the Red Sox, batted sixth. Gabe Kapler started in right, with Wily Mo Pena moving to left. Some of the adjustments were due to the fact that Boston was facing a left-hander in Casey Fossum.

"We're going to try to keep the lineup somewhat in order," Francona said. "We can play everybody and keep Manny off this turf one night and keep the same bats in there. Let David go out and play a game at first."

It was the 10th start of the season at first for Ortiz, and the third in a non-Interleague situation.

Foulke fine: Reliever Keith Foulke took another step in his quest to be activated, firing two innings for Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday night. Foulke allowed a hit, a run and a walk while striking out two. He threw 30 pitches.

According to Red Sox vice president of media relations John Blake, Foulke said that he felt "fine."

The right-hander could be activated as early as the beginning of next week, when the Sox go to Kansas City for a three-game series against the Royals.

Injury reports from back home: The Red Sox have quite a presence of established players working out at Fenway while the team is on the road. The list includes Varitek, right fielder Trot Nixon and veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

Francona has been keeping tabs on the Boston chapter of the walking wounded.

"Tek is down to one crutch already and I think he was doing some throwing, simulated in a chair, which is not surprising," said Francona.

Wakefield played catch for the first time since making his last start on July 17.

"Wake threw and had a pretty good day; he'll throw again tomorrow," Francona said.

And Nixon is hoping he can be activated as soon as he's eligible to come off the disabled list on Aug. 15.

"He's doing well," Francona said. "He's actually doing some pulling exercise with the biceps. He had a good day also. He's tolerating the workload real well."

Coming up: Right-hander Jason Johnson (3-11, 6.25 ERA) will make his fourth start as a member of the Red Sox on Sunday when he closes out this three-game series against the Devil Rays. Tampa Bay will counter with left-hander J.P. Howell (0-1, 14.73).

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