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Monday, September 5, 2011
Red Sox to skip Erik Bedard start

By Allan Ryan
Special to ESPNBoston.com

TORONTO -- With 23 games to the wire, the Boston Red Sox continue to balance the division race against ongoing health issues.

Manager Terry Francona announced Monday morning that left-hander Erik Bedard will skip his scheduled start in Tampa Bay this coming Friday. That assignment could now go to young right-hander Kyle Weiland, one of three warm bodies who joined the team in Toronto.

It's a sore left knee again for Bedard, the same ailment that cost him a month when he was with the Mariners earlier this season.

"It's been sore, but there seemed to be a little more soreness the last couple of innings," Francona said of Bedard's decent six-inning effort in Saturday's win over Texas. "It just looked like he was using a lot of arm out there. This (skipping a turn) will give it time to regroup a little. The idea is to not have him limping through his last three or four starts."

Weiland, 8-10 with a 3.58 ERA in 24 starts for Pawtucket this season, was 0-1 with a 8.10 ERA for 10 innings over two starts for the Sox in July. He was in the bullpen Monday, as Francona put it, "in case something crazy happens."

Friday's start could also go to John Lackey on normal rest, meaning Weiland might then be in line for the Saturday start.

Clay Buchholz, meanwhile, on the DL since June 19 with a lower back strain, was supposed to begin stretching it out with a throwing session Monday but will put that off until Tuesday.

On a less hopeful note, it's looking like reliever Bobby Jenks' long, frustrating season is probably done. Doctors in Boston will give Jenks a final look in Boston on Wednesday, but Francona said that "it just wasn't happening" on Jenks' most recent attempt to pitch through the tightness in his back.

"It's pretty close to cut-off time," Francona said. "(Matt) Albers stepped up to save us many times but (Jenks) was a guy who'd been through it all before, could give you the seventh, eighth or ninth innings, lefties or righties. For one reason or another, the role we envisioned for him just couldn't come to fruition."

Also in uniform for the Sox on Monday were catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who hit .307 (7-for-23) in his major league debut on Boston's recent road-trip through Kansas City and Texas, and utilityman Nate Spears, whose contract was purchased from Pawtucket.

Spears, getting his first taste of the bigs, played all four infield positions as well as left and right field for Pawtucket this season, hitting .248 with eight homers and 13 steals. He totaled 958 games over nine-plus minor league seasons.

Allan Ryan is covering the Red Sox-Blue Jays series for ESPNBoston.com.