Defense at shortstop a concern for Sox

Defense at shortstop a concern for Sox

BOSTON -- A day after missing a chance to convert a pivotal double play in a 5-3 loss to the Mets, shortstop Julio Lugo was on the bench for Saturday night's game, with Nick Green making the start. However, manager Terry Francona didn't classify it as a "benching."

"When we brought Lugey back, we didn't want to play him a ton [of games] in a row." said Francona. "I think it's a good night. We have a day game [on Sunday], so one was going to play one or the other anyway. We need to start keeping an eye on some of those things."

Francona then mentioned how third baseman Mike Lowell, who has started in all but one game this season, would likely get a day off during the upcoming four-game series at Minnesota.

Though Lowell has been a rock at the hot corner, defense at shortstop has turned into a big source of concern for the Red Sox.

In fact, this was Green's first start since his error in Seattle six days ago contributed to a walk-off loss. Green has made eight errors, and Lugo has committed four. Jed Lowrie, who should provide a great deal of stability to the position when he returns from left wrist surgery, is still a few weeks away.

Until then, the Red Sox are looking from more consistency from Green and Lugo, the latter of whom missed the second half of last season with a left quad injury and didn't start 2009 until May because of right knee surgery.

"Evaluating our shortstops in May for public consumption, I don't know if that helps our cause," Francona said. "We're trying to win games, regardless of how bad we play on a certain night or how good we play. I watch the game. Again, it's our responsibility, if it's not good enough, to make it good enough, and always get better. I know it's not been perfect."

Lugo in particular has had a hard time getting sharp again after the time he missed. The veteran had little explanation for being out of position on the potential double play in Friday's game. Francona was reluctant to talk about it after the game because he hadn't seen the replay, but he elaborated a little before Saturday's contest.

"I actually watched it a lot [on video]," Francona said. "The last thing I want to do is, when I say something, not know what I'm talking about. I really don't. I thought he got flat-footed, and he put himself in a position where he ended up throwing the ball with not a lot on it.

"The hard thing sometimes, and Lugey and I go back and forth sometimes, he wants me to have his back, which I think I'm supposed to. I completely understand. At the same time, if I feel like I have something to say to someone, I've got to say it. We've probably gone back and forth where he's not real comfortable. You're always trying to help, and you walk a fine line where you're helping and not hindering. Again, yeah, I think we all felt we should have had a better shot to turn that."

Green, who, like Lugo, has done a fine job offensively, will try to get steadier with his glove when he gets a chance to play.

"Like I said, most of my errors have been dumb errors anyway," said Green. "It's stuff you learn from and try not to let it happen again. Obviously, I don't want to make an error and then have them feel like they can't put me back in there. Tito is good about keeping your confidence up and running me out there whenever he can. I'm just trying to do the best you can every day."

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