Papelbon, Youkilis sit out vs. Angels

BOSTON -- As they chase a postseason spot, the Boston Red Sox are dealing with injuries to key players.

Jonathan Papelbon slipped in the bullpen on Tuesday when he was warming up to go into the game. He said he had some tightness in his back and will not be available tonight.

"I'm not just going to push it tonight," he said. "I'll take the day off...it's just tight."

Papelbon's back was wrapped in ice before Wednesday's game against the Angels. Daniel Bard would likely pitch tonight in a save situation.

Meanwhile, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is closer to taking the mound this weekend.

Manager Terry Francona held a closed-door meeting with Wakefield, Dr. Thomas Gill, pitching coach John Farrell and general manager Theo Epstein to determine whether it would be safe for Wakefield to continue to pitch.

Wakefield has a disc problem in his back, and the strength in his legs has lessened since the injury first started to bother him. Surgery will be necessary at some point.

"As of today, I can pitch," Wakefield said. "I'm throwing on the side on Friday and we'll see how I feel from there. And as of now, I'm pitching either Sunday or Monday."

If he takes the mound on Sunday it would be against the Orioles, Monday's game would be in Kansas City.

Kevin Youkilis was out of the lineup for the second straight day, with lower back spasms. He spoke to the media for the first time since going to the hospital on Monday with pain near his kidneys. Francona had told the media Youkilis thought it was maybe kidney stones.

"There [were] no kidney stones," Youkilis said. "It was one of those things -- it was in the kidney area. I never personally [thought it was kidney stones]."

Youkilis said he usually gets spasms once a year, and that it takes a few days for the discomfort to subside. He said he has the most trouble with rotating his back, using motion from side to side.

"I don't classify it as pain as much as spasms," he said. "It's just an uncomfortable feeling at times. Back spasms [are] just tightness -- it doesn't allow you to move in certain directions."

He said that there was no way he could play in Tuesday's game, and that he hopes to feel better by Thursday, but it's still day to day.

Amy K. Nelson is a reporter for ESPN Boston.