NEW YORK -- Red Sox slugger Jason Bay was back in the lineup Sunday night against the New York Yankees, ending the Kevin Youkilis adventure in left field and returning some pop to what's been a punchless offense.
Bay had missed the first three games of the series after re-injuring his hamstring while running out a grounder Wednesday in a 6-4 loss to Tampa Bay. The Red Sox initially thought it was a strain, but manager Terry Francona said it was a cramp caused by dehydration.
"I saw him run before the game. He looked great," Francona said. "He's running around fine. We wouldn't let him play if he wasn't."
Francona also gave struggling David Ortiz the night off, one day after Big Papi told a news conference that he never knowingly used steroids and that supplements and vitamins likely caused him to land on a list of alleged drug users circulated by the federal government.
"I think he's exhausted mentally and physically," Francona said. "It makes sense tonight."
Bay, who was hitting .251 with 21 homers and 75 RBIs, said he didn't feel any pressure to return to the lineup despite the Red Sox's recent inability to score runs.
They began the night riding a 22-inning scoreless streak, their longest against the Yankees since a 33-inning stretch from Sept. 1-24, 1952, according to STATS LLC. New York also had shut out the Red Sox in consecutive home games in one season for the first time since 1963.
"I want to get out there as fast as I can, and obviously our offense has struggled a bit, and we've faced some pretty good pitching," Bay said. "But it's another reason to get out there, not that I needed it. I'm still going on how I feel."
Youkilis should feel pretty good about Bay returning, too.
A Gold Glove first baseman, he was back in the more familiar infield after a few days teetering around left field. It was the first time he'd played the position since Sept. 26, 2006, and just about every ball hit his direction had been an adventure.
"I felt bad," Francona said, when asked about a dropped flyball hit his way Saturday night. "It didn't lead to runs, but we've got one of the premier players in the game playing out of position. I felt bad a little bit."
In other news, Boston attempted to bolster its bullpen by purchasing the contract of right-hander Fernando Cabrera from Triple-A Pawtucket. Right-hander Enrique Gonzalez was designated for assignment, one day after allowing two runs over 1 2/3 innings in a 5-0 loss -- his first big league appearance of the season.
The 27-year-old Cabrera was 0-3 with a 1.69 ERA and 20 saves in 38 games for Pawtucket.
Francona also said 23-year-old right-hander Junichi Tazawa will start Tuesday against Detroit at Fenway Park, replacing John Smoltz in the rotation. Tazawa made his major league debut Friday, getting five outs before allowing Alex Rodriguez's 15th-inning homer in a 2-0 loss. Boston's rotation is missing injured Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield.
"If he had thrown more, we wouldn't have done this," Francona said.
Wakefield, who hasn't pitched since July 8 because of a lower back strain, is to throw two simulated innings Monday. He also has nerve irritation that has caused discomfort in a calf.
"He's actually ready to pitch. He's not ready to play in a game," Francona said. "If the team that we play promises they won't bunt, we'd pitch him. It's kind of where we're at. It sort of seems a little comical, but that's just kind of what we're dealing with right now."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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