Their major contributions to the ’06 Red Sox aside, pitchers Jonathan Papelbon (no. 58), Jon Lester (no. 62) and their less heralded rookie teammates Craig Hansen (no. 56) and Manny Declarmen (no. 57) are sporting some seriously ugly digits.  From the Boston Herald’s Steve Buckley.

Of the four rookies, only Papelbon says he plans to keep his current number beyond this season.

œI™m not superstitious, he said, œbut No. 58 has been very good to me and I don™t see any reason to change now.

Papelbon says he wore No. 19 in high school, then both No. 19 and No. 41 in college. In the minor leagues, he wore No. 50.

œOriginally, I thought I™d go for a number I™d worn before, Papelbon said. œBut I™ve gotten comfortable with the one I have, so I guess I™ll keep it.

Although Lester said he, too, is œcomfortable keeping No. 62, he does admit to having his eye on a lower number. To be specific, he™d like No. 31.

œI wore No. 13 in high school, but in the big leagues that™s more or less a position player™s number, Lester said. œSo I figured I™d reverse it and wear No. 31. But it™s taken.

But perhaps not for long. No. 31 is currently being worn by Red Sox bench coach Brad Mills, who happens to not like the number very much. He™d been wearing No. 2 prior to this season but volunteered to give the choice number to utilityman Willie Harris.

But the Red Sox this week designated Harris for assignment. Would it not be easy, then, for Mills to switch back to No. 2 and hand over No. 31 to a grateful Lester?

œThe problem, said Red Sox equipment man Joe Cochran, œis that Willie could clear waivers and remain with the organization at Triple-A Pawtucket. If he does that, No. 2 is still his number and we™d hold onto it for him.

Moreover, Cochran plans to keep No. 2 in reserve for a few weeks even if Harris signs with another organization.

œI have a couple of trading deadlines to make it through, Cochran said. œNo. 2 is a veteran™s number, and I want to hold onto it for a while in case we obtain a veteran player who wants it. But if that doesn™t happen, we™ll give it back to Brad and then Jon Lester can have No. 31.

It’s been a rough year for Luis Gonzalez in Phoenix.  When his employers aren’t tainting his past accomplishments with ‘roid rumors, they’re sitting him down in favor of OF callup Carlos Quentin. Still, if Toronto can manage to show The Next Jeff Bagwell the door, I suppose everyone’s expendable.