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PHILADELPHIA -- While the Red Sox welcomed back two relievers, Bobby Jenks and Franklin Morales, from the disabled list on Tuesday, manager Terry Francona said starting pitcher Clay Buchholz will not be activated for this weekend's Houston series and all but ruled out outfielder Carl Crawford from playing in his hometown on Sunday, when he is eligible to come off the DL.
"We're going to be real careful with him," Francona said of Buchholz, who has been on the DL with a lower back strain since June 17. "He's not going to pitch until we're comfortable he can handle it. He's not going to pitch in Houston."
Buchholz is improving, Francona said, but added that the team needs to be satisfied that the back issues will not recur before he takes the mound again. "We're sitting on him pretty tight," Francona said. "He understands."
Buchholz is eligible to come off the DL on Saturday, when the Red Sox play the Astros in Houston in their last bit of interleague business. Crawford, who has been on the DL since June 18 with a left hamstring strain, is eligible to play on Sunday, but that's not likely, either, Francona said.
"I don't know how realistic that is," said Francona, who reported Crawford did some half-speed jogging here Tuesday.
Jenks has been on the DL since June 8 with back tightness, Morales since May 26 with a left forearm strain. Jenks pitched an inning Saturday in Double-A Portland, while Morales made six rehab appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing one earned run in six appearances while whiffing six. Francona said Morales probably could have returned sooner, but the team wanted him to get back to a point where he had no reservations about "letting it go."
Jenks entered Tuesday 2-2 with a 6.57 ERA in 15 appearances this season, Morales had a 3.86 ERA in 14 games with Boston and Colorado.
Relievers Scott Atchison and Tommy Hottonvy were sent to Pawtucket to make room for Jenks and Morales.
In other Red Sox news:
• Adrian Gonzalez remained at first base Tuesday, though David Ortiz took plenty of ground balls there Wednesday, and Francona did not rule out starting Ortiz against a right-hander, Vance Worley, on Wednesday.
There are two primary reasons why the Red Sox have not moved Gonzalez to the outfield and installed Ortiz at first base: They weaken themselves defensively at two positions and they would be increasing the risk of injury for both players.
Still, Francona joked that he'd prefer the decision be made by general manager Theo Epstein, who is with the team in Philadelphia.
"I've been banging my head over it," Francona said. "We'll see. I want Theo to say OK so I can blame him."
• Darnell McDonald was back in the No. 5 spot Tuesday against Cliff Lee despite a brutal weekend in which he stranded 13 runners on base while batting in the No. 5 hole in two games in Pittsburgh.
"Who would you have hit?" Francona said to a reporter who asked if he had contemplated a change in a spot normally occupied by Ortiz. "I thought about it a lot, but I don't think there's a better lineup."
Francona has been going with a straight lefty-righty platoon in the outfield, and Tuesday there was still some question about J.D. Drew's availability. Drew's eye remained discolored after he was hit by a batted ball in the cage during batting practice on Sunday.
McDonald, 2 for his last 25, and Mike Cameron, who played left Tuesday night despite a horrific 3-for-36 slump, have had some success against Lee. McDonald entered Tuesday 2-for-5, Cameron 2-for-6, including a home run.
Gonzalez entered Tuesday batting .700 (7-for-10) against Lee, the best average by any left-handed hitter against an active lefty in baseball. The second most dangerous hitter in the Sox lineup Tuesday may be pitcher Josh Beckett, who had homered in each of his last two starts at Citizens Bank Park.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.