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Jacoby Ellsbury misses 3rd straight

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was not in the lineup Monday night for the third consecutive game due to a bruised back, but he's expected to return on Tuesday, according to manager Terry Francona.

Ellsbury was able to take early batting practice in the cage on Monday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and the session went well, Francona said.

"We're pushing for (Tuesday) and he's good with that," Francona said before the Red Sox lost to the Rangers 4-0 .

Ellsbury told Francona on Monday that he felt good enough to play in the first of four games against the Texas Rangers, but the manager thought it best to give it one more day for precautionary reasons.

"I thought if we did that, we'll be in good shape for tomorrow," Francona said.

Francona also admitted that Ellsbury hit Sunday in Kansas City.

"He hit (Sunday) but it wasn't really easy for him, but today he let loose a bit more and he did better," Francona said. "If he keeps improving the way he has, he'll play tomorrow. He'll be sore, but he'll play."

Designated hitter David Ortiz (bursitis in right heel) hit in the cage again Monday and he'll be re-evaluated again to see if he can get out of the walking boot he's been wearing. Ortiz said he hopes to return during this series, and believes Tuesday could be the day.

"Now, it's not so much comfort because when he hits he's good," Francona said. "But as the point of tenderness goes away enough where the medical people think he can start doing some running and not go backwards. He'll be looked at every day."

Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, who is on the disabled list with a stress fracture in his lower back, is feeling better and is scheduled to be re-evaluated at the end of the week once the team returns to Boston from its current road trip.

The right-hander said he's hoping to be cleared to start playing light catch because he feels good enough to do so, and believes he'll be able to return to the lineup this season.

"That's what I've been trying to do the whole time I've been doing this workout deal," he said. "I'm trying to prepare to be available in whatever role they want me to go out there and do. I'm looking forward to getting back home and being able to start throwing.

"I definitely feel better than I did a month ago when I started this program."

Right fielder J.D. Drew, who has been on the disabled list since July 26 with a left shoulder impingement, is slated to begin a four-game minor league rehab assignment Friday at Class A Lowell and play two games for the Spinners. He will then return to Boston and hit with the Sox on Sunday before having Monday off. He'll then play on Tuesday and Wednesday at Triple-A Pawtucket. If everything goes well, he's scheduled to be activated on Thursday.

Reliever Bobby Jenks tossed a 24-pitch simulated game on Monday in Fort Myers, Fla., and Francona said it went well.

Jenks, who has been on the disabled list with back tightness, was able to throw all of his pitches and is scheduled to throw another simulated game on Wednesday.

"He did well. Actually he did real well," Francona said.

Francona also tweaked the club's upcoming rotation a bit and will have Andrew Miller start on Thursday in Texas, with Tim Wakefield making his next start on Friday at Fenway Park.

"We really leaned on (Jon) Lester the last three starts and this way we'll back Wake up and let him pitch Friday, back up Lester (to Saturday) and this way it gives everybody a little bit of rest. We talked to (John) Lackey and (Josh) Beckett, too, to make sure we're doing the right thing and everybody feels good about it."

Even though this change wasn't made so Wakefield has a chance to win his 200th career game at home, it will help as it will be his sixth attempt at the milestone.

"There are a lot of reasons, and you can't do it for sentimental reasons, but I'm glad," Francona said.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.