Sox’ power supply is cut short

Myriad injuries taking their toll

J.D. Drew was one of the few Boston bright spots in Baltimore, launching his third home run of the lost weekend yesterday. J.D. Drew was one of the few Boston bright spots in Baltimore, launching his third home run of the lost weekend yesterday. (Greg Fiume/ Getty Images)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 3, 2010

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BALTIMORE — The Red Sox took the field against the Orioles yesterday with four backups in the lineup and only two healthy position players on the bench.

Mike Lowell started at first base for the first time in his career and hit cleanup for only the fifth time in the last two seasons. The heart of the batting order constructed by manager Terry Francona — J.D. Drew, Lowell, and David Ortiz — had only eight home runs.

With outfielders Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list, Kevin Youkilis and Jeremy Hermida out with minor injuries, and Victor Martinez struggling all season to find his swing, it wasn’t like Francona had many appetizing choices.

“That’s the way it goes,’’ he said after a 3-2 loss in 10 innings. “That happens to everybody sometimes.’’

It has happened often to the Sox this season. Francona used the same batting order for the first four games of the season. He has tried 18 different lineups in the 21 games since because of injuries and poor performances.

Through 25 games, the Red Sox already have used six different starters in center field and four in left. Only two players, shortstop Marco Scutaro and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, have appeared in every game. Pedroia alone has started every game.

The latest blow came two hours before the game yesterday when Youkilis was pulled from the lineup because of a groin strain on his left side.

Youkilis was injured Saturday night but expected to be ready to play and was in the original lineup.

“He thought there would be no issues this morning. Then he went out to hit and it was grabbing him a little bit and we ended up making the switch,’’ Francona said.

“We certainly want to get him checked out. I think [Youkilis] was a little surprised.’’

Youkilis didn’t care to discuss his injury at length.

“I’ll be fine,’’ he said. “I’ll be in there tomorrow.’’

Hermida missed his second game with a tight left quadriceps. But the outfielder went through a workout on the field before the game, running a series of sprints under the direction of trainer Mike Reinold.

“On [Friday] night it felt like it was going to pop. It’s a lot better now but still a little tight,’’ Hermida said.

Hermida expects to be out of the lineup only for another day or two. With the Angels starting lefthander Joe Saunders tonight at Fenway Park, Hermida would not have been in the lineup regardless.

“I can pinch hit and hopefully be back in there Tuesday,’’ he said.

The prognosis on Cameron and Ellsbury is far less clear. Cameron has not played since April 18 because of a hernia. Ellsbury has been out since April 12 with four fractured ribs on the left side of his chest. Both went on the disabled list April 20.

The initial belief was that Ellsbury would return first. But he continues to experience pain when he tries to swing a bat. He was given a day off from rehab work yesterday and spent only a short time on the field, jogging back and forth.

“I don’t want to put a timetable on it,’’ he said. “I have broken bones and they need to heal. Once I can swing and play the game the way I need to play it, running, diving, sliding, I’ll be in there.’’

Cameron was more optimistic, saying the pain in his lower abdomen has dissipated. He took batting practice on the field Saturday and shagged some fly balls in center. He plans to do that again before tonight’s game and hopes to start a minor league rehab assignment soon, perhaps by the end of the week.

“I want to make sure everybody agrees with that. But I feel good,’’ he said. “I’m moving around like my old self. The big thing is to make sure I’m good and I’m not going to reinjure it or make it worse. But I think we’re headed that way.’’

Darnell McDonald, the journeyman minor leaguer now starting most days in the outfield, has four hits in his last 21 at-bats after a hot start.

“You want to be in there and help the team. It’s frustrating,’’ said Ellsbury, whose speed was expected to be a focal point of the offense. “There’s not much you can do except wait.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe

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