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Notes: Clement looking for some relief

Notes: Clement looking for some relief

BOSTON -- A starter through and through, rehabbing right-hander Matt Clement would love to add a couple of relief appearances to his resume before 2007 ends. For that would mean he pitched in 2007.

"I'm really proud of the fact to hear [assistant trainer] Mike [Reinold] say, 'Maybe we will be able to get you a couple of innings here before the season is over.' To me, that's a huge accomplishment in itself," said Clement. "Whether it happens, I have to be realistic. The club's needs are going to be first."

But Clement -- who underwent right shoulder surgery on Sept. 26, 2006, did most of his work this season in the solitude of Fort Myers, Fla., before meeting up with the Red Sox in late June -- knows how far he's come to get to this point. That's why he's not balking at the club's suggestion that he go back to Fort Myers in the very near future instead of traveling with the team.

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"The arm feels great. It's amazing," he said. "I put a lot of time in at the beginning of this rehab. Mike and I just talked about it -- I've been able to stay away from setbacks. I talk about pitching again in September, but I still have a month to go, and I've kept it a day at a time, a week at a time, instead of trying to get too far in the future and seeing what I'm doing. To be out there and throwing 80-plus percent, pain-free, I think is more than I expected right at this point."

Following Clement's surgery, the general consensus at the time was that he wouldn't pitch at all this season.

"I think when I walked out of that operating room, other than myself, I don't think there were too many people who even gave me a chance to be sitting in this situation, to have things work out as well as they've worked out to this point," he said. "I have a chance to pitch in September. Worst-case scenario, I'm completely healthy for Spring Training next year. Mike's kind of said to me already, 'Regardless of what you do this year, you're going to be 100 percent healthy next year.' "

Of course, Clement is a free agent at the end of the season. He said that he'd be open to a return to Boston and that he feels bad that he's been unable to fulfill the entirety of the three-year, $25.5 million deal he signed in December 2004.

But he also realizes that his contract situation is the last thing the Red Sox are worried about at the moment. And he isn't thinking about it all that much, either. He's more worried about finishing the rest of his rehab.

The last time Clement pitched in relief was in 1998, when he made two bullpen appearances as a September callup with the Padres. But this year, he knows, it is his only way to pitch in a game.

"Between Mike and I, we've said, 'Let's rehab me as a one- or two-inning reliever,' " he said. "Once again, if I get a chance. If it doesn't come to the culmination of getting to pitch here, I can't do anything about it.

"That's my best chance of being game-ready before it's over. And then, when the season ends, taking my time off like I normally do and then getting ready to be a starter again. Hopefully, they're not in a pennant race and have it clinched by then, where it makes it easier to throw me in some games."

Ortiz strains shoulder: Designated hitter David Ortiz had good intentions when he tried to leg out a double in the bottom of the fifth inning on Friday night, but the end result was sour on two fronts. Ortiz was thrown out at second, and he strained his left shoulder on the landing.

Manager Terry Francona indicated that Ortiz might sit on Saturday night as a precaution, but expects that the slugger will be back in the lineup by Sunday.

"He's a little sore," said Francona. "I would not be surprised if he was just a little sore [on Saturday]. We may hold him out [on Saturday], but he'll be OK the next day."

Youk gets a rest, Drew returns: Why was first baseman Kevin Youkilis out of the lineup on Friday night?

"I think he could use it," said Francona. "He's not in the midst of swinging it as well as he has. He missed about a week before the break, and then he's played every game since."

Eric Hinske played first base and batted eighth.

In other lineup news, J.D. Drew was back in the lineup, batting fifth, after missing Thursday's game with recurring right hamstring woes.

"He's ready to play, which is good news. Having him out there is good for us," said Francona.

Schilling ready for Pawtucket: Curt Schilling will begin his Minor League rehab appearance on Saturday night, when he pitches at Triple-A Pawtucket. It will be his first start since June 18.

What are the Red Sox looking for out of the big right-hander?

"[We] would like to see three nice, crisp innings and have him come back and feel real good the next day," said Francona.

Meeting time: The Red Sox -- who entered the night 20-24 since May 30 -- closed the clubhouse for roughly eight minutes after batting practice in order to have a team meeting.

On deck: Left-hander Kason Gabbard, fresh off a complete-game shutout, will take the ball on Saturday against the White Sox. Chicago counters with lefty John Danks. First pitch is set for 3:55 p.m. ET.

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

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