At age 87, Johnny Pesky remains a Boston — and baseball — icon.
It's downright shameful that Pesky is no longer allowed to be in uniform during games at Fenway Park. MLB issued a directive this year to enforce the rule allowing only six uniformed coaches in the dugout.
Pesky, who loves interacting with Red Sox players — and vice versa — is said to be taking his ouster hard. His wife of 50-plus years, Ruth, died in 2005, and he views the ballpark as his haven.
"Why wouldn't they want people like me around?" he asked the Boston Globe.
It seems like MLB should be able to stretch the rule a bit to allow Pesky in the dugout.
Lester's recovery going well
Much happier news emanating from the Red Sox is the continuing recovery of Tacoma's Jon Lester, who hit 93 mph in another impressive rehab start Tuesday at Class A Greenville. He worked four scoreless innings.
"He's the best text-messager in the game," Boston manager Terry Francona told the Globe. "He text messaged me this morning, said he felt good. He's begging for more innings. He'll go five in his next start."
The Red Sox are reserving the No. 5 spot in their rotation for Lester, who underwent six chemotherapy treatments for large-cell lymphoma last winter. He will work twice more in Greenville, and, if all is well, move up to Class AAA Pawtucket.
Mind games behind Lidge's lapses?
When Brad Lidge was replaced by Dan Wheeler as the Astros' closer Monday, it marked the fourth time since last May Houston manager Phil Garner has removed Lidge from the job.
It seems indisputable that Lidge has never been the same since giving up a three-run homer to Albert Pujols with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series in 2005. He was 1-5 with a 5.28 earned-run average in 78 games last year, including six blown saves.
Lidge and team officials both declined to comment when asked by a Houston reporter if he was seeing a sports psychologist.
Astros general manager Tim Purpura says he has no plans to trade Lidge, but if that changes, the Devil Rays are among the teams likely to be very interested. Others include Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Toronto and the Mets.
Zambrano zips his mouth
Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano, normally a nonstop talker, is limiting his interviews after riling up the Brewers by comparing their lineup unfavorably to Cincinnati's.
"Cincinnati has better hitters than Milwaukee," Zambrano told reporters after losing to the Reds, then elaborated in detail.
"Why listen to anything that guy says?" Brewers catcher Johnny Estrada responded to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "He's one of the best pitchers in our league. But some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth I think everybody could do without, including some of his own teammates, I'm sure."
Notes and quotes
• Two things you don't see very often:
Padres shortstop Khalil Greene is skipping batting practice with the team to do his pregame hitting indoors, alone.
"You can do things in the cage by yourself you can't do in batting practice," Greene told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "In batting practice, you get into the swing, swing, swing mode. I like taking pitches, stepping back and watching the ball for my timing. There's no fences to look at. I can concentrate on what's there."
Then there's Brewers center fielder Bill Hall, a converted infielder still learning his new position.
Hall carries a sheet of paper in his pocket that he refers to during games to remind him how to play hitters.
• Orioles starter Jaret Wright, lifted from his Tuesday start with shoulder tightness, had to smile when asked the next day how he felt.
"It only hurts when I throw," he said.
• The brutal Washington Nationals scored just 21 runs in their first nine games, and began the year 0 for 30 with runners in scoring position. But outfielder Austin Kearns urges patience.
"If we hit the panic button after the first week, come August I guess you guys would expect to see guys hanging themselves," Kearns told reporters.
Actually, my money is on June.
• As Craig Biggio nears 3,000 hits — he was 61 away entering Saturday — here's another Hall of Fame-caliber milestone on his résumé: Biggio's sixth-inning double against the Phillies on Friday was the 641st of his career, breaking a tie with Honus Wagner for eighth on the all-time list.