Royals-Red Sox Preview

Already with a depleted roster following their blockbuster trade

over the weekend, the Boston Red Sox also may not have David Ortiz

in the lineup for the rest of the season.

They will, however, have Daisuke Matsuzaka on the mound for the

first time in nearly two months Monday as they finish a four-game

set against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.

The team is discussing putting Ortiz back on the disabled list

after he aggravated an Achilles strain Friday in his only game

following more than a month on the DL.

The 36-year-old designated hitter, hitting .318 with a

team-leading 23 homers, sat out Saturday and Sunday and may be shut

down again Monday.

“It’s likely that if he doesn’t have a miraculous recovery

(Sunday night), we’ll have a DL situation (Monday),” manager Bobby

Valentine said. “I know David wants to be with the team and he

wants to do what he’s done all year, and that’s to be a major

contributor.”

Boston (61-67) has already moved on without Adrian Gonzalez,

Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto following Saturday’s

megadeal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which unloaded more than

$250 million worth of salary obligations.

The club won’t have to pay Matsuzaka much longer, but it will

try to get a few more starts out of the right-hander in Beckett’s

rotation spot before his contract expires at the end of the

season.

The Red Sox forked over a total of $103 million for the Japanese

right-hander – about half in a posting fee and the other half in a

six-year, $52 million deal – in a move that ended up a major

disappointment.

Matsuzaka (0-3, 6.65 ERA) has battled injuries and inconsistency

throughout his time with Boston, walking 4.3 per nine innings. He’s

made only five starts in the majors this year following Tommy John

surgery and none since July 2, when he allowed five runs and was

removed before recording an out in the second inning at

Oakland.

After that, he went on the DL again with a neck injury. He has

appeared stronger for Triple-A Pawtucket lately, allowing one hit

in seven scoreless innings Tuesday against Rochester.

The Royals (56-70) have waited out his wildness the past. In two

career home starts in the series, Matsuzaka has walked 14 in 10 1-3

innings, including eight in a 4-3 loss May 27, 2010, the last time

he faced Kansas City.

Counterpart Luke Hochevar (7-11, 4.95) has had a different

problem versus the Red Sox, who are hitting .307 against him in six

career matchups. The right-hander is 2-4 with a 6.56 ERA in those

games.

Hochevar, though, is coming off one of the most impressive

outings of his career. He allowed one hit in eight innings of the

Royals’ 1-0, 10-inning win at Tampa Bay on Tuesday, striking out a

season-high 10 in a duel with David Price.

“I felt like tonight was probably the best command that I’ve had

all year with my fastball,” Hochevar said.

Royals pitchers have allowed the Red Sox to hit .370 while

scoring 21 runs in the first three games of this series. Kansas

City rallied from a six-run deficit for a 10-9, 12-inning win

Saturday, but it squandered a two-run advantage in Sunday’s 8-6

loss.

James Loney had a game-tying RBI single in his Red Sox debut

after coming over from the Dodgers.

“I’m glad I’m here. It’s one of the best atmospheres in

baseball,” Loney said. “It felt good getting that opportunity,

having a chance to deliver. I just want to keep that up.”