Notes: Mirabelli returns to action

Notes: Mirabelli returns to action

KANSAS CITY -- There was no proof needed other than Doug Mirabelli's name on the lineup card to prove that the catcher was ready to play Thursday. Mirabelli was slated to bat ninth in his first game since leaving Friday's contest in the second inning with a sprained left ankle.

"He said he's doing OK," manager Terry Francona said. "[The] trainers said he's doing OK. Hopefully he's doing OK."

Mirabelli wasted no time making an impact in the series finale, as he launched a solo homer in the third inning.

With team captain Jason Varitek sidelined with a left knee injury, Francona said that Mirabelli and recently acquired Javy Lopez will split the duties somehow. There are several factors involved.

"It will depend on Dougie's health," Francona said. "We'll catch Javy [on Friday] just to break it because of the travel. Some of it will be a day game-night game thing. We'll see. Some of it is determined by how Javy holds up. He hasn't caught much."

Lopez was predominantly a designated hitter in Baltimore, occasionally filling in behind the plate for Ramon Hernandez.

Corky Miller remains with the Red Sox for now, though Francona has said the club probably won't keep three catchers in Varitek's absence.

Foulke close to return: Reliever Keith Foulke was given Thursday off in his rehab assignment with the PawSox. He pitched on consecutive days for the first time since landing on the disabled list in early June. Foulke has missed 51 games with tendinitis in his right (pitching) elbow.

"I think we're hoping that he'll join us tomorrow," Francona said. "I haven't talked to him today."

DiNardo update: Left-hander Lenny DiNardo is set to begin his return to the Red Sox. DiNardo, who has been on the disabled list since May 24 (retroactive to May 22) with a strained neck, will begin throwing batting practice to hitters at the team's Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., next week.

DiNardo will progress from the Gulf Coast Red Sox to Double-A, and then on to Triple-A.

"By the end of August, I would hope he would be able to throw five innings," Francona said.

Travel precautions: Some Major League clubs are taking safety measures as they travel after Thursday night's games. Earlier in the day, officials in Britain received news of a terrorist plot to sabotage commercial planes in flight.

As of game time, the only special instruction the Red Sox had received for their charter flight to Boston was to not include shaving kits in their carry-on luggage. The team is scheduled to land in Boston at approximately 4 a.m. ET on Friday.

Cans of corn: First baseman Hee-Seop Choi cleared waivers and was assigned outright to Pawtucket. Choi was designated for assignment on Aug. 1 to make room for Ken Huckaby, who was promoted when Varitek landed on the disabled list. ... Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Royals was the sixth time the Red Sox lost on the road when their opponent scored in the bottom of the ninth or later. ... David Ortiz leads the Major Leagues with 41 home runs and 110 RBIs. His 27 home runs on the road also rank first. In addition, Ortiz reached 41 home runs quicker than any player in Red Sox history, accomplishing the feat in game No. 110. Jimmie Foxx hit his 41st and 42nd home runs in game No. 128 in 1938.

Take note: Boston's game Saturday at Fenway Park is set to begin at 1:25 p.m. ET. The game was flip-flopped from day to night and now returns to an afternoon start to accommodate a national broadcast on FOX.

This time last year: The Red Sox defeated the Texas Rangers, 16-5, on Aug. 10, 2005. It was Boston's fourth straight win, giving the team a 5 1/2-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East. Manny Ramirez hit a three-run home run against Kenny Rogers and Tony Graffanino had two doubles and three RBIs.

Right-hander Bronson Arroyo, now with Cincinnati, got the win to improve to 10-7.

Down on the farm: Brandon Moss went 3-for-4 and Jeremy West drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth with a bases-loaded single as Double-A Portland beat Harrisburg, 5-4. The victory snapped a 10-game losing streak for the Sea Dogs, which tied a franchise record.

Meanwhile, at Class A Wilmington, Matt Goodson allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings but couldn't get much run support. The Blue Rocks lost their second successive game to Winston-Salem, both by 2-1 scores.

Up next: The Red Sox return home to begin a three-game series against the Orioles on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET, as Boston left-hander David Wells (0-2, 8.05 ERA) opposes Baltimore lefty Adam Loewen (2-3, 5.72 ERA).

Kevin Druley is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.