Notes: No fracture for Manny

Notes: No fracture for Manny

BOSTON -- The Red Sox got some good news Wednesday on the health of Manny Ramirez, who underwent an MRI on his sore right knee Wednesday in Boston and missed his ninth straight game.

"Everything came back very good, that was good news," said manager Terry Francona, who indicated earlier in the day the team wanted to see if the slugger was dealing with a stress fracture. "We just wanted to make sure and we didn't want to miss something. And I don't think anybody thought it was a stress fracture, but we need to rule out everything. That was good news."

Ramirez, who has been bothered by a sore right knee since just before the All-Star break, is second on the team in homers (34) and RBIs (101).

"The way it was explained to me by Dr. [Thomas] Gill, if you do it now, the stress fracture would be healing over, so you could see it now," Francona said. "You couldn't see it a month ago -- or whenever. They're just trying to cover all the bases."

"Then, if it stays at the diagnosis [of patella] tendinitis, then we know what it is, we've eliminated everything [else] and just wait until he's OK," he added.

For now, all the Red Sox can do is wait on the results and observe how Ramirez responds to continued physical therapy.

"You could do some [electronic stimulation] and ice to try and enhance the recuperative process," said Francona, "but rest is really what does him more good than anything else, unfortunately. We need to know."

Winter planning: The Red Sox, like many other teams who are likely to begin their offseason Oct. 2, are trying to make sure they are ready for what figures to be a busy winter. General manager Theo Epstein, Francona and others in the front office want to know the health of pitchers like Matt Clement and Jonathan Papelbon, who both who have sore right shoulders, so they can proceed with planning for a possible run in the free agent market.

"Some of these pitchers, [like] Clement, it would be advantageous to know where we stand," Francona said. "It's going to be a crazy winter, and if you have a pitcher you're relying on for a couple hundred innings and you don't really know where you stand, it makes Theo's job a little tougher.

"If we can answer some questions before we go home [for offseason], it will help make the winter dealings a little bit more approachable and you'll have an idea of where to go and how to get there."

Francona said the situation is different with Ramirez.

"Regardless of what [the injury] ends up being, he's going to be OK next year. He just needs rest, so I don't think that's quite the same," Francona said.

Winter break: Another part of winter preparations is sending younger players and prospects off to various leagues, such as those in the Caribbean and Arizona.

"There are some guys contemplating winter ball, [Arizona] Fall League," Francona said. "Some of the Fall League rules have changed. [Lenny] DiNardo is eligible to go to Fall League, which didn't use to be the case. Whether he goes or not, I don't know."

One player likely headed for a baseball destination at the conclusion of the regular season is David Murphy. The Red Sox's rookie outfielder made his Major League debut on Sept. 2 and connected for his first big-league homer Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

"I talked to Murph about winter ball and just wanted to get his thoughts on it," Francona said. "Murph's a good candidate for me because of where he is in his development. Going to a good winter ball situation would maybe enhance his development."

Francona also advised Murphy that if he goes to be sure to have the right attitude and find the right environment.

"If you go down with maybe not the right attitude, it ends up being not what you need," said Francona. "We visited a little while on that and tried to get his take on that and how he feels."

"I haven't talked to him yet, but a guy I feel would [benefit] would be [pitcher] Javy Lopez," the Sox skipper added. "He spent pretty much the whole season throwing to left-handed hitters. If you go down in a role where you could pitch [to more batters], it would be huge for him. I don't know if he has interest in that or not, but we'll sit down and visit about it."

Pain in the neck: Kevin Youkilis was given Wednesday night off to rest his neck, which he strained Tuesday and left in the third inning of Boston's 7-3 loss to the Twins.

"It's his neck," Francona said. "[He had] a spasm [Tuesday] night. I don't think it's something that might cost him [more] than a couple of days. It's nothing that any of us haven't had. It's kind of irritating but not much more, except when you're trying to hit and play baseball. It's not real conducive to that but he'll be all right. The best thing we can do is leave him alone for a couple of days and let it settle down."

Coming up: The Red Sox conclude their brief three-game homestand and their season series against the Twins when Josh Beckett (15-10, 5.02) opposes Minnesota ace lefty Johan Santana (18-5, 2.77) at 7:05 p.m. ET.

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