Notes: Ortiz odd Interleague man out

Notes: Ortiz odd Interleague man out

ATLANTA -- A day after pounding out two hits, the last thing Red Sox slugger David Ortiz wanted was a day off. But that's life during Interleague Play in a National League venue.

Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis will have to share two lineup spots over the next six games. With left-hander Chuck James pitching Monday for the Braves, Sox manager Terry Francona opted to keep his two right-handed bats in the lineup.

"You know what, it's hard to get yourself not to write his name in there," said Francona. "We'll take those three [guys], and one of them will sit each night. And again, if something happens, if one of them gets hit in the elbow, those things change."

Ortiz has been through this enough times not to get worked up about it.

"That's the way it is in Interleague," Ortiz said. "When they come to your place, they have an extra player. When we come here, we're not allowed to. It's a little crazy, but it's something we have to deal with. There's nothing we can do about it."

Kevin Youkilis filled in for Ortiz in the No. 3 spot in the lineup. Jason Varitek, who is hitting .316 against lefties this season, batted fifth.

Resting Okajima: Francona went into Monday's game knowing that invaluable setup man Hideki Okajima would not pitch. Okajima appeared in all three games over the weekend against the Giants.

Okajima has a 1.04 ERA and leads the Red Sox with 31 appearances. Still, Francona said the lefty is holding up well in his first Major League season.

"In talking to him, he's thrown a lot less this year than he has in Japan," Francona said. "From listening to him talk, when he pitched there, they warmed up for two innings. On a day off, they threw a complete side. That's just the culture. He's not doing this here. We're trying to maximize the innings out of really good pitchers but I don't think we've overused him. I think he feels better at this juncture of the season here than he did last year where he was."

Perhaps September for Clement: Manny Ramirez walked around the clubhouse before Monday's game with a Red Sox T-shirt that had Matt Clement's last name and number 30 on the back of it. However, Clement himself has been out of sight to his teammates since Spring Training, as he's been forced to rehab in the solitude of Fort Myers, Fla.

That will change when the Red Sox return home from this nine-game road trip. At that time, Clement will be at Fenway, where he can get checked out by the medical staff and do some throwing under the watch of Francona and pitching coach John Farrell.

Clement still has a long way to go in his comeback from rotator cuff and labrum surgery, but he continues to make progress. He recently started throwing off the mound, thought not at full intensity or velocity.

Before the Red Sox go on their next road trip, Francona said that there would be a meeting with Clement to outline the next phase of his rehab.

"I would say in September he's probably going to be getting close," Francona said. "I don't even know if I mean the beginning of September. Come the middle of September, if the time frame holds, he'll probably be getting close to getting in a game. He seems to be flying through this program. ... They have those charts, and he's at the top of every one of them as far as what he's doing. He's done a great job. You can only go so fast."

Romero released: Ten days after designating lefty reliever J.C. Romero for assignment, the Red Sox placed him on conditional release waivers. If nobody claims Romero by Wednesday, he will be free to sign with any Major League team.

Romero was 1-0 with a 3.15 ERA in 23 games for the Red Sox but walked 15 batters in 20 innings.

On deck: Right-hander Josh Beckett (9-1, 3.39 ERA), coming off his first loss of the season, will be opposed by Tim Hudson (6-4, 3.25 ERA) in a terrific pitching matchup on Tuesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. ET.

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