BOSTON – Was it the Rolling Stones or wild horses that roamed center field at Fenway Park for a couple of nights?

The Boston Red Sox delayed the start of Friday’s game against Detroit by an hour, to 8:05 p.m., to give the grounds crew time to repair the sod ripped up during two Rolling Stones concerts this week.

The crew worked through the night to repair the damage caused by the band’s massive center field stage.

Red Sox spokesman Charles Steinberg said a “significant area” of center field was affected.

The team also wants to give players time to test the field and report any uneven areas.

Steinberg said the crew has worked overnight to repair the field following shows staged at the park the last two years – Jimmy Buffett last year and Bruce Springsteen in 2003. The team almost delayed the start of the game following the Buffett show last year. Steinberg said more of the field was affected this year.

Steinberg did not have a precise figure on how much money the team made during the Rolling Stones shows Sunday and Tuesday, but said it was in the seven-figure range.

Bellhorn released after declining assignment

Mark Bellhorn’s brief up-and-down career with the Red Sox came to an almost certain end Friday when they released the second baseman after he declined an assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket.

Bellhorn hit three postseason homers last year but this season he hit .216 with 109 strikeouts in 283 at-bats before going on the disabled list with a sprained left thumb July 18.

The team designated him for assignment last Friday while he was on a rehabilitation assignment with Pawtucket, where he hit .179 in 68 at-bats. By declining the minor league assignment, he can become a free agent once he clears waivers on Tuesday.

The Red Sox are set at second base with Tony Graffanino and backup Alex Cora, and no team is likely to claim Bellhorn on waivers, obligating it to pay his current salary.

“We love the guy. He meant a lot to us,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever seen.”

Bellhorn hit .264 with 17 homers and 82 RBIs last season, his first with Boston.

He also struck out 177 times in 523 at-bats.

He was critical to Boston coming back after losing the first three games of the AL championship series to the New York Yankees.

He hit a three-run homer in a 4-2 win in Game 6 and a solo shot in a 10-3 win in Game 7.

In the first game of the World Series sweep over St. Louis, Bellhorn’s two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth gave Boston an 11-9 win.

He also had three walks in Game 4.

“At some point, we have to make decisions on what’s best for your ballclub and I don’t think it means we’re not loyal,” Francona said. “You have to be loyal to the organization. Sometimes the decisions are hard to make. They trouble us more, but we still have to make them.”

AP-ES-08-26-05 2106EDT

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