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Outfielder Byrd is designated for assignment

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 10, 2012
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RED SOX NOTEBOOK

The Red Sox made an expected roster move Saturday when they designated outfielder Marlon Byrd for assignment to make room for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who started against the Washington Nationals.

More such decisions will be coming. As manager Bobby Valentine was in the interview room discussing the departure of Byrd, Cody Ross was on the field taking full batting practice for the first time since fracturing his left foot May 18.

There were a few mistimed swings, but also a ball that Ross drove into the Monster Seats.

“Felt good,’’ said Ross as he walked away from the cage.

Ross will start jogging on the field on Sunday and is hopeful of starting a minor league rehabilitation assignment June 19.

Carl Crawford was in the same group and sprayed line drives to right field. Earlier in the day he made 40 throws and then ran the bases. He is making good progress with his injured left elbow and may soon be ready to start playing in minor league games.

“He looked very good,’’ Valentine said.

Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t hit on the field but did swing at balls tossed to him in the batting cage under the stands. His return from a shoulder injury is on track, according to team officials.

“He’s in very good physical condition, and his baseball activities are going to progress in this progression that we have him on,’’ said Valentine. “He has had no setbacks.’’

Meanwhile, Ryan Kalish started in center field for Triple A Pawtucket and was 4 for 5 with a home run. He is 10 of 16 with three homers and seven RBIs in four games for the PawSox. He is 15 days into a 20-day rehabilitation assignment.

A team once desperate for outfielders will soon have a surplus once Ross, Crawford, Ellsbury, and Kalish are deemed healthy.

Byrd was more a victim of numbers than poor play. He hit .270 and started 27 of the 34 games he played after being acquired from the Cubs April 21, eight days after Ellsbury was injured.

The Sox sent the Cubs righthander Michael Bowden (since outrighted to the minors) and a player to be named later. That proved to be Single A lefthander Hunter Cervenka.

“Marlon came here, kind of saved the day,’’ Valentine said. “Now, he’ll more than likely be with another team; hopefully it’s not within our division that’s competing against us. He did a good job while he was here.’’

Valentine said the decision came down to Byrd or Darnell McDonald, another righthanded bat with positional versatility.

“He’s had a little more history here,’’ Valentine said of McDonald. “And we feel that he might be able to give us a little more extra-base power when hitting against lefthanders.’’

The Sox can activate Kalish and option him to Pawtucket once his rehabilitation assignment is finished. But Ross, Crawford, and Ellsbury will require more difficult assessments.

Daniel Nava has become a mainstay in left field. He was 0 for 4 in Saturday’s 4-2 loss but is hitting .298 with a .918 OPS since being called up on May 10. He has started all but one game and played well defensively.

Nava also is a switch hitter, giving him added appeal.

“When you’re a good switch hitter, it is an advantage,’’ said Valentine. “And it looks like he’s swinging the bat well from both sides. He’s hit the balls hard from the right side, real small sample.’’

The flip side

Dustin Pedroia did not have a good session of batting practice and flung three bats into the stands on his way back to the dugout.

When an usher went to gather them, Pedroia said to leave them for the fans.

Pedroia went 1 for 4 with an infield single and is 2 for 20 since coming back from a six-game absence because of a thumb injury.

Riders recognized

Thirty-three cancer survivors, adults and children, who are Pan-Mass Challenge cyclists were honored before the game. On Aug. 4-5, 5,500 cyclists will ride up to 190 miles across Massachusetts in the PMC bike-a-thon.

This year’s goal is to raise $36 million for adult and pediatric cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund.

South Boston’s Tim Burke, a 12-year-old leukemia patient, announced “play ball’’ after lung cancer patient and PMC cyclist Diane Legg threw out the first pitch.

Emma Zieger, a 14-year-old from Needham, was honored for raising $17,000 as one of the riders. She rides in memory of her father, Jay.

Caught in traffic

Nationals manager Davey Johnson and a few players were late getting to the park when the team bus got tied up in Back Bay traffic because of a parade . . . Josh Beckett said the hamstring cramp he had in the eighth inning of his start Wednesday was the result of being dehydrated after a bout with food poisoning. “I’m fine now,’’ said Beckett, who will start against Miami Monday, opposing Josh Johnson . . . Pitching coach Bob McClure missed his second consecutive game for family reasons.

Timlin visits

Former Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin was at the game and got a big hand from the crowd when he was introduced in the sixth inning . . . Will Middlebrooks, the youngest Red Sox player, flipped ground balls to D’Angelo Ortiz, Hudson Ross, and Justin Crawford before batting practice. The kids all wore jerseys with their fathers’ numbers.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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