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BOSTON -- The good news, if it can be called that, is an MRI of Boston Red Sox infielder Marco Scutaro's rotator cuff Tuesday did not show a full tear, according to a club source.
But Scutaro's MRI did show "inflammation of a long-standing rotator cuff injury," according to the club, which raises questions about how the issue will have to be addressed in the offseason.
"I think we probably all knew there was some damage in his shoulder," manager Terry Francona said after Boston's 14-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. "I think the bright side of that is I don't think there's anybody in our medical department who thinks he can't move forward non-operatively ...
"Saying that, it's been a pretty long month for him, so we'll see."
Scutaro, who has said that the shoulder has been bothering him for a few weeks and has gotten progressively worse, was reinstated to the starting lineup Tuesday night. He had played both games of Saturday's doubleheader, but pinch hit on Sunday and did not play Monday night.
He was originally scheduled Tuesday to play short, where he had made all 130 of his starts. But after batting practice he was moved to second, with Jed Lowrie switching to short, where he was making his third start.
The move was made, Francona said, at the suggestion of Scutaro, who has played second extensively and told Francona that the throw from that position would be much easier on his arm.
Scutaro will not play Wednesday, Francona said. How much he plays the rest of the season is to be determined, but prudence would seem to dictate that he be given some time off.
"We'll probably have to sit down and talk through what's in his best interests," Francona said.
Scutaro has played hurt all season, with a pinched nerve in his neck the source of most of his discomfort. He required three cortisone injections, one in his neck and two in his left elbow, which experienced numbness and weakness.
"I couldn't even swing the bat," Scutaro said last month. "It was frustrating. I was getting pitches to hit but I couldn't hit them because I had no strength. I constantly kept working, trying to play through it."
The triceps muscle in the arm and a muscle in his chest also became affected.
"They just shut down," he said. "I couldn't even feel them. They just went soft. I was concerned. I didn't know what I had. Then I had an MRI and knew what was going on. They told me it would take a little time get my strength back."
Doctors have recommended against surgery for the pinched nerve for Scutaro, who turns 35 on Oct. 30 and is in the first year of a two-year, $12.5 million contract that also contains club and player options for 2012.
At this point, the Sox project Scutaro to be their starting shortstop next season. Jose Iglesias, the highly regarded prospect from Cuba, missed significant time this year with a finger injury, and Lowrie, another shortstop candidate, missed months with mononucleosis.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.