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Pregame notes: Day off for Salty

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few notes before the Red Sox try to improve on the majors’ best daylight record (21-11) against Jame Shields and the Royals Sunday afternoon:

* Catcher David Ross, who served four innings as DH for Double-A Portland on Saturday night, is catching Matt Barnes, one of the team’s top pitching prospects, Sunday afternoon. Ross is expected to join Pawtucket on Tuesday and be activated next Monday in San Francisco, the first day he is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list.

Ryan Lavarnway is making his 14th start behind the plate Sunday, catching John Lackey. A good day for Jarrod Saltalamacchia to have off: He’s 0-for-14 against Shields in his career.

Serving as backup has not been the ideal step in Lavarnway’s progression; he almost certainly would have profited more from playing every day in Pawtucket, but with Ross down, he was needed in his current role. He’ll probably be sent down when Ross is activated, but almost certainly will be back when rosters are expanded Sept. 1.

* Jacoby Ellsbury’s four-hit game Saturday night was his second of the season (June 6 vs. Texas), and 10th of his career. He also stole his major-league leading 42d base.

Ellsbury is batting .353 since May 26, which leads the AL and is third in baseball, behind Yasiel Puig (.376) and Jayson Werth (.354). His on-base average of .405 since that time ranks eighth in the league, six percentage points lower than teammate David Ortiz (.411).

* My ESPNLosAngeles.com colleague Mark Saxon makes the case here that Adrian Gonzalez, and not the spectacular Puig, has been the Dodgers’ MVP this season.

* Curt Schilling told Stan Grossfeld of The Boston Globe that he had a heart attack two years ago and a stent placed in one of his arteries. In the same story, Grossfeld quotes Schilling’s wife, Shonda, as saying that she was adamantly opposed to Schilling’s launch of 38Studios, his bankrupt video game enterprise.

“I fought it, fought it, fought it, and then this happened,” she says. “So he thinks I’m going to say, ‘I told you so.’

“Had I not seen him the way he was, then I would’ve. To see somebody down that low, you can’t kick him.”

* Hopes that Mike Napoli was catching fire after he reached base four times Friday night, including a three-run double, expired quickly the next night, as he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

* Stephen Drew takes an 11-game hitting streak into Sunday’s game. The longest streak by his brother J.D. in a Red Sox uniform was 13. He’s batting .415 (17-for-41) during his streak.

* Ortiz has reached base in each of his last 23 games dating to July 13, a stretch in which he is batting .352 with a .417 on-base average. His OBP is third in the AL in that span but pales compared with leader Mike Trout, who has a stunning .505 in that time.

Ortiz is tied with Robinson Cano of the Yankees for most intentional walks this season, 16. That’s the most intentional passes he’s drawn since 2006, the season he hit 54 home runs and was walked intentionally 23 times.

* David Pinto of baseballmusings.com points out a major difference in John Lackey’s home-road splits: Lackey has allowed 13 of his 17 home runs on the road. He is 4-2 with a 2.15 ERA in Fenway, 3-7 with a 4.02 ERA on the road.

* Clay Buchholz's next bullpen session is scheduled for Tuesday.