BOSTON -- Kevin Cash was standing in front of his locker Friday afternoon, explaining to the media his personal timetable of having been designated for assignment by the Houston Astros and then acquired by the injury-ravaged Boston Red Sox on Thursday.
Suddenly another voice drifted over the gathering.
"You'll get designated again if you keep talking," said the voice, which belonged to Boston manager Terry Francona.
Francona chuckled as he spoke.
Jokes have been few and far between in the Red Sox clubhouse lately, aside from the proverbial gallows humor that has been unavoidable since Boston players began forming a conga line of injuries, limping to the 15-day disabled list with alarming frequency.
In the space of a week, Boston has lost five starting players -- Dustin Pedroia (fractured foot), Victor Martinez (fractured thumb), Clay Buchholz (left hamstring), Manny Delcarmen (forearm strain) and Jason Varitek (fractured foot).
And while Buchholz is recovering nicely, in line to make a start Monday in Tampa, the others will be on the shelf for a while, joining right-hander Josh Beckett, who has been on the DL since May 19; and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida, both out with fractured ribs.
But don't expect Francona or the Red Sox to feel sorry for themselves. They just try to plug the holes as best as possible and shoulder on in their pursuit of the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East.
The backup catcher spent time with Boston in 2007 and 2008, serving as Tim Wakefield's personal catcher in 2008. Familiarity apparently bred a sigh of relief for the Red Sox, who dealt infielder Angel Sanchez to the Astros for Cash, who was in Triple-A Round Rock.
Cash was thrust into Friday night's starting lineup, fittingly reunited with Wakefield, the starter in the opener of a three-game series against the Orioles.
"He's the perfect guy," Francona said Friday during his daily press briefing.
"He walked through the door and he was a welcome sight. He's been here before, he's familiar with our pitchers. It's an advantage. It's a situation that happened quickly. I think it was unanimous [to acquire Cash] from the coaching staff and [general manager] Theo [Epstein]," said Francona.
For his part, Cash, was "very excited" to return.
"There's not much pressure," said Cash, who batted .207 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 73 games in his first stint with the Sox.
"It has been two years since I caught Wake, but I talked to him. I'm sure it will work out fine. I'm fairly comfortable with him," said Cash.
Cash, whose backup for the time being is Gustavo Molina, who had been plucked from Pawtucket on Tuesday, said he had talked with bullpen coach Gary Tuck in an effort to familiarize himself with the pitchers on the staff he doesn't know from his time in Boston.
While Cash, who batted .204 in 54 at-bats for Houston, was excited with his sudden change of fortunes, Varitek was more subdued. The Sox' captain, relegated to backing up Martinez this season, was looking forward to getting the lion's share of the work behind the plate with Martinez on the DL.
But the Rays' Carl Crawford fouled a ball off his right foot in Wednesday's game. The first test didn't show the damage, but as Varitek experienced increased discomfort, more tests on Thursday showed a displaced fracture of the second metatarsal on his right foot. It's a similar injury to that suffered by Pedroia last Friday, except Varitek's fracture is on the top of the foot, Pedroia's on the side.
But the net result is the same. They are on crutches, in boots and can't put weight on their injured foot for 2-3 weeks.
"I was looking forward to being healthy and playing but you can't dictate the timing of something like this happening," said Varitek. "I thought I'd be able to play Saturday."
Instead, Varitek said he would be seeking a second opinion on his injury, just to "attack it from all sides."