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Now caught shorthanded?

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / September 27, 2011

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BALTIMORE — Jarrod Saltalamacchia winced in pain as he pulled aside the collar of his shirt to show the angry red baseball-sized lump on his right shoulder.

"I can't really move around too much right now,’’ the catcher said after the Red Sox’ 6-3 loss against the Orioles.

Saltalamacchia was injured in the eighth inning when a foul tip off the bat of Adam Jones struck him on the collarbone.

"He got hit hard, it was swelling quick," said manager Terry Francona , who helped attend to Saltalamacchia as he lay in the dirt.

X-rays were negative and Saltalamacchia hopes to play tonight. But given that he throws with his right arm, that could be a tough task.

"I’m hopeful," Saltalamacchia said. "I'll move around and try to play catch."

Saltalamacchia was not in the original lineup, but Jason Varitek was scratched about 25 minutes before the first pitch because of a badly bruised right knee.

Varitek was hit in the knee by a pitch from Ivan Nova of the Yankees in the fifth inning Sunday night and left the game in the seventh inning after limping to first base on a single.

"Right now, I can’t tell you," Varitek said when asked if he could play tonight. "I'm going to try and get ready to play."

Varitek tried jogging and playing catch with starting pitcher Josh Beckett before deciding he could not play. Beckett said he expected that would be the case all along.

With Saltalamacchia catching him for the first time since April 5, Beckett allowed six runs in six innings.

Rookie Ryan Lavarnway is the likely starter if Saltalamacchia and Varitek cannot go.

The Sox recalled catcher Luis Exposito yesterday. He had been home in Miami since the end of Pawtucket’s season Sept. 10.

"He’s on the roster just because of the late night [Sunday], Salty catching so many innings [and] Tek getting banged up," Francona said. "It seemed like it was silly not to have him here.

Buchholz nearly back

Clay Buchholz threw 18 pitches in an instructional league game in Florida and will rejoin the Sox today to be evaluated as he makes his return from a back injury.

Buchholz, according to Francona, gave up a double.

"Health-wise, really good," the manager said. "A little bit rusty facing hitters." If the Sox had clinched a playoff spot, Buchholz was set to pitch in relief tomorrow. Instead, he is slated to return to Florida for another appearance.

Happy to help

J.D. Drew was back in the lineup, going 2 for 4. He returned to action Sunday after missing two months with a sore left shoulder and a fractured knuckle on the middle finger of his right hand.

Drew was 1 for 5 in the Game 2 victory.

"He played a good game. He drove in a run, he moved in a runner. He's got a little presence in the lineup pitchers have to respect. It helps," Francona said. "We'll take help wherever we can get it."

Drew was pleased with how he swung the bat given his long stint on the disabled list.

"This season for me has been one of those seasons to forget about,’’ he said. "I think the mind-set for myself is quality ABs at a time when we need them."

Drew felt confident against closer Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning when he came up with a runner on second. But he grounded to first base, breaking his bat on a cut fastball.

"Coming back after two months of not playing, [Sunday] night was a question mark. But I saw the ball well," he said. "Now I’m trying to build up some quality at-bats, see some pitches and see what happens.’’

Drew said his shoulder feels strong and he is eager to contribute.

"It's a fun time of the year,’’ he said. "This is what you play for. We don’t want to find ourselves in the situation that we’re in. But there’s something to be said for playing to the end. We’ll do that and see what the future holds for the postseason and continue on from there."

Drew is in the final year of his contract and is contemplating retirement. He turns 36 in November.

"Any player wants to get back in there and get on the field. I was watching for a long time. It was kind of getting old," he said. "Next year is not a concern at this point. This year is the ultimate thing."

Drew would appear to have a chance to unseat Josh Reddick as the regular right fielder for however long this season lasts. Reddick has hit .208 with a .252 on-base percentage in his last 42 games.

"Red's been having a week or 10 days where he’s kind of chasing balls. So maybe let him catch his breath," Francona said.

With the Orioles scheduled to start lefthander Zach Britton tonight, Drew is not expected to stay in the lineup.

Don’t count on it

Kevin Youkilis has not played since Sept. 15 because of assorted injuries, the most painful of which is a hernia. Francona indicated that the third baseman is unlikely to return this season.

"He’s trying so damn hard but he’s pretty sore," the manager said. "He did a little light running [Sunday]. He’s pretty sore. I don’t think we’ve pulled the plug. But being realistic, though, we’re probably fighting an uphill battle."

Youkilis will undergo surgery on the hernia once the season is over.

Victors' spoils

Francona is fine with the Yankees playing reserves and using a lot of pitchers against Tampa Bay this week as the Rays battle for the wild card.

"They can do whatever they want. They played themselves into that position," he said. "That's their luxury. If they want to rest guys, they can. I wish we were in that position. I'll never have a problem with that.

"They have responsibility to do what’s in their best interest."

Leaning on Lester

The Sox are preparing Jon Lester to pitch on three days’ rest tomorrow. Francona was asked if he had any contingency plans for a possible tiebreaker playoff game Thursday. ‘‘Hell no,’’ he said. ‘‘I saved one pair of underwear. I’m serious.’’ ... By virtue of going 16-10 against the Sox and Angels, Tampa Bay had first choice of three-way tiebreaker scenarios and elected to play one road game (Friday). The Sox had the second pick and chose the option of two home games, starting with the Angels Thursday ... Scott Atchison (right groin) reported little improvement after leaving Sunday’s first game. ‘‘I’m hoping I can pitch again,’’ he said. Dan Wheeler (forearm tightness) threw and said his arm felt better. He does not seem close to getting in a game, however ... Orioles manager Buck Showalter was helped back to the clubhouse just before the game with what was described as an ankle injury. He returned before the end of the second inning ... Robert Andino’s inside-the-park homer in the sixth inning was the first by a Baltimore player at Camden Yards, which opened in 1992 ... Sox starters have a 7.91 ERA in the last 19 games ... Jacoby Ellsbury has hit safely in 34 consecutive games against Baltimore. Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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