Notes: Nixon not ready to rejoin team

Notes: Nixon not ready to rejoin team

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are no longer expecting right fielder Trot Nixon to rejoin the team on the upcoming trip to the West Coast, which starts on Tuesday in Anaheim.

Instead, Nixon is likely to return during the next homestand, which begins on Aug. 31 against the Blue Jays. Nixon has been on the disabled list since July 31 with a right biceps strain.

"Sept. 1 is probably pretty realistic," said manager Terry Francona. "If he bumps it up a couple of days, good, but that's probably pretty close. The other thing was he had a little setback that was unrelated that might cost him a couple of days."

Because of HIPAA regulations, the Red Sox were not at liberty to say what that setback was, though multiple media outlets reported on Tuesday that Nixon had been taken to a nearby hospital to have an infection in his right elbow treated.

According to the Providence Journal, Nixon came down with a staph infection as a result of the protective padding he had been wearing on his elbow.

Though Wily Mo Pena has done a solid job filling in for Nixon from a production standpoint, the overall lineup balance has been affected. Switch-hitting catcher Jason Varitek went down one day after Nixon, leaving Boston without two key threats from the left side.

"The one thing that we are right now, and I think it showed [Tuesday] night, is we're very right-handed dominant," said Francona. "[Detroit's Jeremy] Bonderman got in a comfort zone -- he's a good pitcher anyway -- but he got in that comfort zone, and he went through us pretty quickly."

Consider Wednesday's lineup to prove Francona's point. After David Ortiz in the No. 3 hole, the Red Sox had five consecutive right-handed hitters.

Gonzalez rests knee: Shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who has had his right knee taped heavily the last few days, was replaced by Alex Cora in Wednesday's lineup.

"In Tampa Bay about two weeks ago, he jumped up for a line drive," Francona said. "I don't want to say he tweaked his knee, but he's been limping a little bit. With [Justin Verlander] pitching today, we'll go ahead and give him tonight and tomorrow [an off-day] because we've got a lot of baseball coming up. He could play. I know he's uncomfortable. Against [Verlander], I don't mind putting Cora out there."

Wake eyeing Seattle: For years, countless Red Sox players have pointed out just how invaluable Tim Wakefield has been to the pitching staff. The point has been proven over the last month in undesirable fashion, as Wakefield has been on the disabled list, and his team has faltered in his absence.

At a time the Red Sox need some good news, they could get some on Aug. 27 at Seattle, when Wakefield might make his return to the rotation.

"That's the hope," Francona said. "I think it's a legitimate hope. But again, if he doesn't feel right, we won't do it. I think the medical people all think that's a possibility."

Francona made one thing clear. Wakefield will not be making a Minor League rehab assignment.

"As soon as he can pitch, he's pitching. He can rehab right out there in the bullpen," quipped Francona. "I think we'd like to get him back. If his knuckleball is moving, it's gonna move here just as well as in Triple-A. He'll be fine."

Foulke for Friday: All systems appear to be go for reliever Keith Foulke to be activated on Friday against the Yankees. However, there's a strong chance that the Red Sox won't make the roster move until after Game 1 of the day-night doubleheader.

Foulke went on the DL on June 13 with right elbow tendinitis and would have been back sooner if not for a recent bout with back spasms.

Coming up: After Thursday's day off, the Red Sox will kick off a five-game series with the Yankees by playing a day-night doubleheader on Friday. The Red Sox will go with Jason Johnson in the first game and Jon Lester in the nightcap. The Yankees counter with Chien-Ming Wang in the opener but have yet to confirm who will pitch in the second game. Sidney Ponson is the leading candidate, though it's possible the Yankees will call up a pitcher from the Minor Leagues.

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