NEW YORK -- In Game No. 159 of the season, with playoff seeds -- not their own, of course -- on the line, the Red Sox will field one of their weaker lineups of the season.
Both Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury are out of the lineup for the first game of the final series of the season.
Manager Bobby Valentine was strangely coy about Pedroia being out, saying only that the second baseman "is not available to play.''
Pressed for details, Valentine said: "God, Id hate to give away secrets like that. The enemy will then be apprised of the situation. Hes ailing today; hopefully hell be better tomorrow. But he hurt himself in the game yesterday.''
Pedroia wasn't so secretive. The second baseman said he jammed his left ring finger while trying to steal second base Sunday in Baltimore and was set to undergo x-rays on the finger early Monday evening.
It's unclear whether Pedroia will be able to rejoin the lineup for the final two games.
Valentine was also circumspect when it came to Ellsbury being out. The outfielder missed six games last week with what is believed to be a lat strain, though Ellsbury specficially instructed the team to not reveal the nature of the injury to the media.
Valentine noted that Ellsbury had been "hasnt played in a long time. Weve got the lefthander (C.C. Sabathia) out there, a big outfield. Hell play the next two days, hopefully, if hes feeling good.
Ryan Lavarnway was 2-for-4 with a double Sunday, but that was a rare good day at the plate for the young catcher who has struggled mightily -- at least offensively -- since being promoted last month from Pawtucket.
Heading into the final series of the year, Lavarnway was hiting just .170 with two homers and 12 RBI with a .272 OBP and a .260 slugging percentage.
"He's working every day,'' said Valentine. "I saw him in spring training and he hit OK, but others said that wasn't quite his swing so I've been waiting. I'm a little surprised he hasn't hit better.
"I want him to feel good somehow, as the season ends, about his approach at the plate. I haven't drawn the picture of what kind of hitter I think he can be. I think he's going to be a major league hitter and major league player.''
Defensively, Valentine said Lavarnway "needs work, but from what I gather, he's improved an awful lot.''