BOSTON (AP) -Trot Nixon and the man who replaced him as Boston's right fielder will both start the AL championship series on the bench.
After spending the first 13 years of his career in the Red Sox organization, Nixon returns to Fenway Park to try to help the Cleveland Indians beat Boston out of a trip to the World Series.
But like Red Sox right fielder J.D. Drew, Nixon will be a backup when the best-of-seven series begins Friday night.
``If I'm not going to get much playing time, that's fine,'' Nixon told a crush of reporters outside the visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park on Thursday. ``I'm ready in case (they) need me.''
A former Red Sox first-round draft choice and a regular in right from 1999-2006, Nixon was a member of the team that ended the franchise's 86-year title drought in 2004. But Boston let Nixon leave as a free agent last offseason after deciding to pursue Drew, signing him to a five-year, $70 million contract.
Drew has struggled, batting .270 with 11 homers and 64 RBIs in his first season in Boston and going 2-for-11 in the first round of the playoffs. He has faced Indians Game 1 starter C.C. Sabathia three times with three strikeouts.
So Bobby Kielty, a switch-hitter who's had some success against Sabathia, will play right field in the opener instead.
``He was brought in here to give us some right-handed punch,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said Thursday.
A switch-hitter who had been designated for assignment by Oakland, Kielty is 9-for-29 with two homers and four strikeouts in his career against Sabathia.
``I've seen the ball well out of his hand,'' said Kielty, who didn't play in the first round against Los Angeles. ``There's no question when hitters have success against pitchers they always feel mentally more confident.''
Nixon was a crowd favorite in Boston whose effort and desire were appreciated even as his production tailed off. That still made him valuable for the Indians, who were molding together a young team under a young manager to try to end a championship drought of their own.
``Trot has really served in a leadership capacity for us from Day 1,'' Indians manager Eric Wedge said Thursday. ``He was a tremendous influence on our ballclub early on in the year and has continued to be that influence. Even when we went with (Franklin) Gutierrez and started playing him a little bit more ... he still stood the course.''
Nixon batted .251 with three homers and 31 RBIs this season, but he did not drive in a run after July 29 as Gutierrez took over the everyday duties. He played one game in the first-round series against the New York Yankees, facing Roger Clemens and going 2-for-4 with a homer and a double.
``He's a great competitor, as everybody up here understands,'' Wedge said. ``He understands what this time of year is all about. ... The intangibles and the toughness and the consistency which they bring to the yard every day is extremely important to us.''
Nixon was injured for most of the 2004 season, but hit three doubles in the final game of the World Series as the Red Sox swept St. Louis for its first title since 1918. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - the longest title drought in the AL.
``I want the fans in Cleveland to experience that also,'' Nixon said. ``It's been a long time.''
Nixon's contributions in Boston were recognized in May when the Indians visited Fenway Park and he received a standing ovation and an award for his charitable work with the Jimmy Fund. His wife, Kathryn, threw out the first pitch.
``It's the ALCS,'' Nixon said, ``so I don't think it's going to be like it was in May.''

Top MLB Public Bets

MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail A's Season Win Total Prediction How many games will the Oakland A's win this upcoming MLB season?
Thumbnail Padres Win Total Prediction How many games will the San Diego Padres win in the 2017 MLB regular season?
Thumbnail Cards lose Reyes, WS Odds Unchanged Earlier this week the Cardinals lost phenom Alex Reyes to season-ending Tommy John surgery but their World Series odds remain unaffected.
Thumbnail MLB Home Run Champion Odds Which player will hit the most regular season home runs in Major League Baseball in 2017? Let's take a look at the odds.
Thumbnail Middle infielder fills big hole as camp opens After using his 10-and-5 rights to veto a trade to the Braves in November, Brandon Phillips has clearly warmed to the idea of...

MLB Team Pages