BOSTON (AP) – Struggling Red Sox closer Keith Foulke had arthroscopic surgery to repair damaged cartilage on his left knee on Thursday, just one development on a busy day of roster shuffling for first-place Boston.

The Red Sox designated outfielder Jay Payton for assignment, activated outfielder Adam Stern from the 60-day disabled list, sent left-hander Lenny DiNardo to Triple-A Pawtucket and traded Ramon Vazquez to Cleveland for Alex Cora in a deal involving utility infielders.

Foulke will begin rehabilitation immediately, and team doctor Thomas Gill said recovery from this type of surgery typically takes about six weeks.

The moves came on the day Curt Schillingpitched in a rehabilitation assignment at Pawtucket – with an eye toward joining the Red Sox bullpen – while Boston began a four-game series at second-place Baltimore.

Schilling, on the disabled list since April 29 with an ankle injury, struggled as a starter in his last rehab outing for Pawtucket.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein has called Schilling’s move to the bullpen “short term.”

“It’s definitely the best thing for him … and it just so happens to be exactly what the team needs right now,” Epstein said Wednesday.

In Foulke’s absence, the Red Sox could use Schilling, Mike Timlin and Alan Embree as closers. Timlin got the save Tuesday in Texas, and Embree earned one Wednesday against the Rangers.

In the past week, the Red Sox recalled Abe Alvarez from Pawtucket then sent him back there when they called up Jeremi Gonzalez and DiNardo. On Wednesday, they promoted Scott Cassidy from Pawtucket. DiNardo didn’t pitch after being recalled on Sunday.

Foulke, outstanding in last year’s AL championship series and World Series, has struggled all season. He is 5-5 with a 6.23 ERA and 15 saves in 19 opportunities. In his last outing, Texas scored twice in the ninth inning for a 6-5 victory Monday, giving Foulke his second blown save in a week.

Last year, he was 5-3 with a 2.17 ERA and 32 saves in 39 chances. In the World Series sweep of St. Louis for Boston’s first championship in 86 years, Foulke pitched in all four games – earning a win and a save while allowing one run and four hits in five innings.

Payton and Vazquez were acquired last Dec. 20 from San Diego and neither was happy with his playing time. Payton, who started the past two seasons, batted .263 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 133 at-bats over 55 games. He also has played for the New York Mets and Colorado Rockies.

Vazquez had just 61 at-bats in 27 games, batting .197, before being sent to Pawtucket on Sunday.

Cora, who plays second base and shortstop, is batting .205 in 146 at bats with Cleveland. In each of the last five seasons, Cora played at least 100 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Stern, 25, has great speed and is a strong defensive player but he fractured his right thumb while sliding into second base on March 5 during a spring training game. In 18 games with Pawtucket, he hit .303 with two homers and 14 RBIs.

Under the Rule 5 draft in which the Red Sox selected Stern from Atlanta, Boston had to return him to the Braves if he wasn’t promoted to the major leagues by next Tuesday.

AP-ES-07-07-05 1726EDT

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