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Saturday, July 14, 2012
Adrian Gonzalez (back spasms) ailing

By Gordon Edes
ESPNBoston.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was not in the lineup for the second straight game Saturday night and is doubtful to play Sunday, according to manager Bobby Valentine.

The issue? Back spasms. They originally surfaced, Gonzalez mentioned to a couple of reporters, when he bent over Friday to greet a child in a stroller while walking through a Tampa mall in which the team's hotel was located.

Gonzalez worked out Thursday when the Red Sox gathered for their series against the Rays after the All-Star break.

"I was perfectly fine that day," he said. "(Friday), the more I did, the more it tightened up. Just locked up. Weird."

About an hour before Friday's game, a 3-1 Red Sox win, Gonzalez was scratched from the starting lineup, replaced by Mauro Gomez.

"I told Bobby (Friday), 'I can play if you want me to. I can get enough heat on my back, numbing pills I can just forget about it and gut my way through it,'" Gonzalez said. "He doesn't want me to do anything.

"It's better (Saturday). They just don't want me to do anything."

Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Rays was the third game Gonzalez has not started this season. He played in 159 games last season, his first with Boston, and played 160 games or more in his last four seasons in San Diego. He had not missed back-to-back games since becoming an every-day player in 2006.

Meanwhile, to make room for Clay Buchholz, who came off the DL for his start Saturday night, the Red Sox have optioned Gomez to Pawtucket. Gomez hit .308 in six games here, the first five of which he started at third base. He knocked in three runs and committed four errors.

With Gonzalez out, Brent Lillibridge drew the start at first base. He has made 14 big league starts at the position.

Valentine mentioned Nick Punto and Jarrod Saltalamacchia as other options there, and of course, David Ortiz can play the position.

Punto was receiving treatment Saturday on his ankle after Ben Zobrist slid hard into him in the eighth inning Friday, but said he thought he'd be fine.