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Red Sox notebook

Lat lands Lester on the DL

Hope is he’ll miss only 2 or 3 starts

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / July 7, 2011

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Jon Lester was placed on the 15-day disabled list yesterday with a strained latissimus muscle. The Red Sox are apparently hopeful the lefthander will miss no more than two or three starts.

Lester was injured during the fourth inning of his start against the Blue Jays Tuesday night. His examination yesterday included an MRI but the Sox were sparse with details beyond that.

“He will be treated with a period of rest from throwing, followed by progressive strengthening program,’’ said a statement attributed to team medical director Dr. Thomas Gill. “There is no specific timeframe for his return at this time. His status will be better defined following the All-Star break.’’

Manager Terry Francona called it good news but did not elaborate.

Lester is eligible to return on July 21, a scheduled day off. The team opens a homestand the next day against Seattle.

According to Francona, the Sox were considering skipping Lester’s turn in the rotation on Sunday and having him start the fifth game after the break to get him some extra rest before he was injured.

“This kind of makes this a no-brainer,’’ Francona said. “He didn’t put up much of a fight, so I think it’s the right thing to do.’’

Francona described Lester as “aggravated’’ by the situation.

“He doesn’t ever want to miss starts,’’ the manager said. “I think, though, pretty optimistic. He was reaching back [Tuesday] and firing it pretty good. He has had problems in the past when he cramped.

“Sometimes, when it happens you’re sore the next day. We’re really hoping that’s what it is. Even if that’s what it is, we need to take it easy on him and let him get better.’’

Lester, who was not made available to reporters, is 10-4 with a 3.31 earned run average. The Sox have not named a starter for Sunday’s game against Baltimore but have Alfredo Aceves (3-1, 3.74) available.

Buchholz examined Back specialist Dr. Craig Brigham examined righthander Clay Buchholz yesterday in Charlotte, N.C. According to a team press release, Brigham agreed, “that the back symptoms can be treated with rehabilitation.’’ Buchholz “will be advanced in his activities as his symptoms allow.’’

The purpose of the visit was apparently to reassure Buchholz that he had no structural damage and could pitch with discomfort. Francona would not speculate on when Buchholz might return from the disabled list.

Crawford progressing The Sox have tentative plans for Carl Crawford to start a minor league rehab assignment after the All-Star break and return for the series in Baltimore that starts July 18.

Crawford has been out since June 18 with a strained left hamstring.

“It’s not etched in stone,’’ Francona said. “As important as his legs are, I think this gives us a chance to really not mess this up. He actually wanted the at-bats [in the minors].’’

Crawford said he still feels some pain in his leg but has made progress in recent days.

“I’m able to run pretty well but we need to do that again [today] and see where I’m at then,’’ he said. “They want to make sure I’m OK before I come back.

“They want to see me explode out of the box and do everything like that. It makes sense to go somewhere and play for a few games.’’

Crawford played nine seasons on artificial turf in Tampa Bay and never experienced any sort of hamstring injury.

“I can’t figure it out,’’ he said. “Maybe I did something digging into the grass when I was running. It’s frustrating.’’

Crawford is hitting .243 with 6 home runs and 31 RBIs.

Gonzalez sits out For the first time this season, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez missed a game. He had played in 166 straight, the second-longest active streak in the majors behind Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, who has played in 292 straight.

Kevin Youkilis played first base with Yamaico Navarro starting at third.

Gonzalez has a stiff neck and is slumping a bit. He is 7 of 32 (.219) in his previous eight games with four RBIs.

“He’s come off a few pitches, swung at some balls out of the zone,’’ Francona said. “He’s gotten a few pitches and missed them. He was so locked in. I don’t know if you can do that every day, all year. That’s impossible.’’

Along with the stiff neck, Gonzalez was 1 for 6 against Ricky Romero, who started for Toronto.

“When he didn’t put up a fight, sometimes guys need a day,’’ Francona said.

Gonzalez started the first 85 games, the most consecutive starts to begin a Red Sox season since Mo Vaughn started the first 99 in 1996.

Atchison recalled Righthanded reliever Scott Atchison was recalled from Pawtucket for the fourth time this season. He was warming up in the bullpen in Rochester, N.Y., Tuesday night when he got word to head to Boston. Atchison has a 1.95 earned run average in 19 appearances for Pawtucket with 43 strikeouts and just four walks over 37 innings . . . Lefthander Franklin Morales has thrown three scoreless innings over five appearances since coming off the disabled list June 28. “He’s done very well,’’ said Francona, who has used Morales as a one-batter specialist on several occasions but had him pitch an entire inning Tuesday.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com.

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