Notes: Buchholz (back), Lowrie (shoulder) exit early

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Notes: Buchholz (back), Lowrie (shoulder) exit early

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com Red SoxInsider Follow @sean_mcadam
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.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Rick Porcello starts, Drew Pomeranz relieves in Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Twins

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Rick Porcello starts, Drew Pomeranz relieves in Red Sox' 5-3 loss to Twins

Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz combined to allow all five of the Red Sox' runs in Boston's 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

Porcello finished his start by fanning four, allowing four hits and earning two runs over four innings. Pomeranz followed in the next four innings with four strikeouts, five hits allowed and three earned runs. Pomeranz allowed ByungHo Park's eighth-inning, two-run homer, which ended up being the game-winner.

Porcello, however, was optimistic after the loss.

"The buildup was good," Porcello told reporters, via RedSox.com. "Today I felt as good as I've felt all spring. At this point, I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

While the Sox offense was able to get three runs off Ervin Santana in his 4 2/3 innings, they struggled against the Twins' next five pitchers. Xander Bogaerts (2 of 3) and Pablo Sandoval (1 of 3) managed homers. Hanley (3 of 3) Ramirez had a double, and Dustin Pedroia (2 of 3) had two singles.

Kyle Kendrick will start Thursday in the Sox' final Spring Training series against the Washington Nationals. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who's on first for Red Sox? It may be not someone you'd expect

Who’s on first? A middle infielder, maybe.

Hanley Ramirez, Josh Rutledge and Mitch Moreland aren't fully healthy. So the 25th man on the Red Sox has become a matter of corner-infield triage.

Rutledge was gearing up to play some first base with Ramirez restricted to DH because of his throwing shoulder. But Rutledge is hurt now too, likely headed to the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, Sox manager John Farrell said Wednesday morning in Florida.

Here’s the easiest way to think about who takes Rutledge's place: Who would the Red Sox like to see less against left handed pitching, third baseman Pablo Sandoval or first baseman Mitch Moreland? 

If it’s Sandoval, then you carry Marco Hernandez, who can play third base.

“He’s a very strong candidate,” manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday. “He’s one of a few that are being considered strongly right now.” 

If it’s Moreland, than you carry Steve Selsky, who has a history playing first base.

“He’s a guy we’re having discussions on,” Farrell said. “Any guy in our camp that we feel is going to make us a more complete or balanced roster, Deven Marrero, they’re all in consideration.”

The additional wrench here is that Moreland has the flu. If he's not available at all for a few days to begin the season, then the Sox probably have to carry Hernandez.

Why? Because Brock Holt can play some first base if Moreland is out. But then, you’d need another back-up middle infielder, and Hernandez gives you that. 

Hernandez is also hitting .379 in 58 at-bats this spring entering Wednesday.

Moreland isn’t the only one who has the flu.

"It’s running through our clubhouse," Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida on Wednesday, including the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. "Probably be held out for three days for a quarantine.” (LINK:http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/20170329/with-josh-rutledge-and-mitch-moreland-ailing-first-base-depth-compromised-for-red-sox)

That means the Red Sox won't have Moreland for their exhibitions against the Nationals on Friday and Saturday in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Md. Moreland could still be ready for the regular season, but would likely be at less than full strength.

Having Ramirez available would sure make things a lot simpler for the Sox.

Both Sandoval at third base and Moreland could use right-handed bats to complement them. Or more specifically, they could use people who can hit left-handed pitching to complement them.

Hernandez is a left-handed hitter who might actually be able to hit lefties. But the Sox haven't used him at first base, and there's no indication they will.

“As we look at the upcoming games, there is the potential for two left-handed starters in Detroit,” Farrell said. “So there’s a number of things being factored right now.”

Early in spring training, Farrell was asked what player had started to catch his eye.

The guy he mentioned was Selsky, an outfielder and first baseman the Red Sox feel fortunate to have picked up off waivers because he still has minor league options remaining.

Now Selsky, who has already technically been cut from major league spring training, has a chance at making the opening day roster. He's 27 and hit .356 in 45 Grapefruit League at-bats.

Chris Young isn't going to have an easy time finding at-bats as it stands now, but the Sox aren't considering moving him to first base.