New York (56-45) at Boston (60-43)

  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri Jul 25, 2008
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The New York Yankees may try to add a left-handed slugger to their lineup prior to next week’s trade deadline. On Friday night, their arch-rivals will gain such a bat without giving up a thing in return.

David Ortiz returns to the lineup after a 47-game absence for the Boston Red Sox as they and the surging Yankees open a three-game series at Fenway Park.

Ortiz has been one of the game’s elite sluggers ever since joining Boston in 2003, batting .302 while averaging more than 40 home runs per season and driving in more than 100 runs in each of his years with the Red Sox through 2007.

This season, though, Ortiz was batting only .252 with 13 homers in 54 games before going on the disabled list June 3 with a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. After going 5-for-18 (.278) with three home runs, six RBIs and five runs scored in a six-game minor league rehab stint, the designated hitter feels well enough to return.

“I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not 100 percent, but I’m close to it,” said Ortiz, whose 53 extra-base hits versus the Yankees since the start of 2003 lead the majors. “I think I am where I would like to be.”

The Red Sox (60-43) managed to go 26-19 without Ortiz and lost no ground in the AL East race. They’re also coming off a three-game sweep of Seattle, but eagerly await their slugger’s return—100 percent or not.

“Getting him back is going to be huge,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia told the team’s official Web site. “His personality, his presence in the lineup—he changes the game just being in the lineup. We’ve tried to weather the storm long enough. It’s time to get David back and get ready for our final stretch run.”

While Ortiz will return, fellow Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez’s status is uncertain. Ramirez, who is riding an 11-game hitting streak and leads Boston with 19 homers and 62 RBIs, missed Wednesday’s 12-inning, 3-2 win over Seattle due to a sore knee.

The Yankees (56-45) have won all six of their games since the All-Star break, improving to a major league-best 57-25 in the second halves of the last two seasons. However, with regulars Hideki Matsui (knee) and Jorge Posada (shoulder) both sidelined, they may try to make a major move before the July 31 trade deadline. Another option could be adding all-time home run leader Barry Bonds—a free agent all season.

“I’ll mention it. We’ll cover everything,” Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner said Thursday before club officials began high-level meetings. “No stone will be left unturned.”

Trying to improve on their mediocre 23-23 road record after sweeping Minnesota and Oakland at home, the Yankees will send Joba Chamberlain (2-3, 2.52) to the mound.

The converted reliever is 1-1 with a 2.64 ERA in nine starts since entering New York’s rotation, although he has yet to pitch through the seventh inning in a start. He lasted six innings against the Athletics on Saturday, limiting them to one run and six hits while striking out eight before the Yankees won 4-3 in 12 innings.

Chamberlain gave up three runs over six innings without receiving a decision at home against the Red Sox on July 6. He earned the win in his only career appearance at Fenway last Sept. 16, when he allowed one run in two innings of relief.

Boston right-hander Josh Beckett (9-6, 3.98) will look for his fourth win in as many starts versus the Yankees this season. He hasn’t dominated in any of the previous three despite the outcomes—allowing three runs each time.

The right-hander lost his first outing after the All-Star break, yielding four runs and nine hits Saturday in a 4-2 defeat at Los Angeles.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Chamberlain CLE vs. J. Beckett LAD
4-3 Record 12-10
2.60 ERA 4.03
118 K 172
39 BB 34
1.26 WHIP 1.19


Friday, Jul 25