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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Clay Buchholz limited the Tampa Bay Rays to a single run on two hits Thursday night. But Buchholz himself was limited, forced to leave after five innings because of recurring lower-back stiffness.
"It's the nagging back that's been the same as last year,'' said Buchholz. "My first thought was to try and get through five innings with it and give it to the bullpen. It progressively got a little bit worse after the second inning. After those first two was when it started bothering me.''
Buchholz said he felt the back "grabbing . . . it feels like a pulled muscle in there and every time I tried to get out and extend a little bit more, I felt it. The last innning, I felt like I was compensating for it in my delivery and that's how you're going to get yourself hurt in other places.''
The Red Sox have some options regarding Buchholz. They could put him on the DL and hope that 15 days will quiet the condition down.
Or, with Andrew Miller about to arrive and two off-days looming in the next 11 days, they could simply skip Buchholz, or, as they did two weeks ago, give him some extra rest before his next start.
"We can move some people around,'' he said, "so we'll get it checked out Friday and see how it feels.''
Jed Lowrie also came out of the game, also battling a nagging injury that seems to be getting worse instead of better.
For almost two weeks, Lowrie has been hampered by a sore left shoulder, the result of a collision with Mike Cameron in Detroit.
Lowrie had three days off before returning to the lineup Wednesday, but came out after a first inning at-bat Thursday when he felt the shoulder had "slipped out'' of its socket.
Asked if he thought a trip to the DL was likely, Lowrie said: "I have no idea. I've never done this before.''
Lowrie will be examined Friday.
"I certainly wasn't this sore before,'' said Lowrie, "but I don't really know what's going on yet, either. I just know what I felt.''
The Sox have two candidates to take his spot on the roster in Pawtucket. They could call back Drew Sutton, who spent time with the club recently before being optioned back to Pawtucket after Sunday's game. Ordinarily, a player being optioned out has to wait 10 days before being recalled, but there are exceptions made for injuries and this would be one of those exceptions.
Another potential solution would be Yamaico Navarro, who came off the DL at Triple A Thursday, and, like Lowrie, can play three infield positions.
Jonathan Papelbon is hopeful that his appeal of a recent three-game suspension can be heard Friday. Papelbon is waiting to hear final details from the Players Association, a representative of which will join him in the hearing.
Papelbon was suspended last week for his actions in the June 4 game in which he made physical contact with umpire Tony Randazzo.
"I'm trying to get something done,'' said Papelbon. "You know how these things are, man. I'm leaning toward hearing it out. We'll see what happens. It's getting kind of old.''
Papelbon made his first appearance Thursday night since last Friday in Toronto and the rust showed early when he allowed a double to Casey Kotchman and a single to B.J. Upton before coming back to get the next three hitters, two by strikeout.
"I don't think anybody realizes for a guy in my position to have six days off and pitch,'' said Papelbon. "That's pretty much what it came down to tonight.''
Jacoby Ellslbury wasn't in the starting lineup for just the third time in the first 68 games Thursday night.
Terry Francona wanted to load his lineup with righthanded hitters against Tampa starter David Price, who was holding opposing lefties to a .163 batting average before Thursday's game.
There were other factors, too. Francona noted that Ellsbury had played every previous game on the nine-game road trip and the Sox would be arriving in Boston early Friday morning.
Also, Ellsbury fouled a ball off his shin Wednesday night and the manager thought Ellsbury could use a night off to heal.
"I just think, overall, it's in his best interest,'' said Francona of Ellsbury.
Ellsbury entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and played the final two innings in the field.