J.D. Drew, who has not played since Aug. 17 because of a lower back strain, will be available tonight off the bench, Terry Francona said. Drew worked out with the Red Sox training staff and “did everything with no limitations, or at worst very little,” according the the Sox manager.
Drew’s return will lead to a somewhat crowded outfield, with three capable players — Coco Crisp, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Mark Kotsay — sharing time in center field while Jason Bay mans left and Drew plays right. (Francona gave a brief take on that today and explained why Crisp is sitting tonight, which will be posted here in a bit.)
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Having pitched three days in a row, Jonathan Papelbon will “probably not” pitch tonight, Francona said. Papelbon recorded two outs in 15 pitches Sunday in Texas, four outs in 18 pitches Monday, and three outs in 20 pitches last night, when he allowed two runs and suffered his fifth blown save of the season.
Papelbon said Monday night, “I feel healthy. I feel strong.” But last night, he seemed to uncharacteristically leave pitches up and over the plate. Should the Sox require a closer tonight, Francona hasn’t decided which reliever he’ll call from his bullpen. “It depends how we get there,” he said.
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The Red Sox activated reliever David Aardsma, who threw 14 pitches in a rehab outing with the Single A Lowell Spinners yesterday. Aardsma “in all likelihood” will not pitch tonight, Francona said. Aardsma last pitched for Boston Aug. 20 and has been dealing with a groin injury. His activation puts Boston’s roster up to 34 players.
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Francona is currently penciling in Paul Byrd to start Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays and Bartolo Colon for Game 2. He reserved the right to change his mind, though, because Toronto has not given the Red Sox its probable starters for the series yet.
More to come.