DENVER -- When the Red Sox arrived at Coors Field for Tuesday night's game, there was nowhere for slugger David Ortiz to play. The Red Sox are playing under National League rules for the next six games, which means they won't have a designated hitter.

However, Ortiz is not going to fall off the map. Manager Terry Francona's plan -- at least for the three games at Denver -- is for Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Beltre to make two starts each. When Beltre gets his day off, Youkilis will move across the diamond to third, opening up first base for Ortiz.

"And that leaves Mikey Lowell out, too," said Francona. "It's hard. It's actually a little bit unfair. You do the best you can."

After these six games, the Red Sox will be done with Interleague Play for the season. However, Francona hopes he has to play under NL rules one more time this season because that would mean the Red Sox are in the World Series.

Reddick recalled; Drew eyes Thursday return

DENVER -- When Josh Reddick not only re-appeared in the Red Sox's clubhouse on Tuesday, but was in the lineup for the opener of a three-game set against the Rockies, it was a sure sign that J.D. Drew's right hamstring had not healed as quickly as originally hoped.

However, the good news is that Drew and the Red Sox still don't think the ailment will put him on the disabled list. The latest target date for a return is Thursday night for the finale of this three-game series.

Drew suffered the injury on Friday against the Dodgers, so Tuesday marked the third straight game he was not in the lineup.

While doing some running at Fenway during Monday's off-day, Drew felt some discomfort and shut it down. He felt better by Tuesday.

"Came in today, hit some in the cage," said Drew. "I'll go out and hit on the field. I ran back and hit in the cage a few times. It doesn't feel as bad, so I'm real optimistic that we're getting close. I'm going to try and play it safe. If we can buy just a little bit of time and let this thing disappear, hopefully I'll be ready to roll again.

"I'm sore from all the massage, the stretch -- all that kind of stuff -- along with the injury. That being said, just trying to let it catch up. It's headed in the right direction, so I'm very optimistic."

This was the third time the Red Sox have recalled Reddick this season from Triple-A Pawtucket. He was last sent down on June 12, when the club wanted him to get more regular at-bats and summoned Daniel Nava to take his place.

Reddick and Nava started in the same outfield on Tuesday.

To make room for Reddick on the roster, the Red Sox optioned righty reliever Robert Manuel to Triple-A Pawtucket. Boston summoned Manuel from the Minors on Saturday, but he didn't pitch in the two games he was active.

The Red Sox will again have to make a roster move on Thursday, when Daisuke Matsuzaka is activated. Reddick could be sent back down then, depending on Drew's status.

"Big outfield [at Coors Field]," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We don't know how long he'll be here. We'll see what happens. We obviously have some moving parts that we'll probably continue to keep moving because of Dice-K."

Beckett beginning to make progress

DENVER -- While most of the Red Sox enjoyed an off-day on Monday, Red Sox ace Josh Beckett continued to ramp up his program, throwing 42 fastballs off the mound at Fenway Park.

Beckett will extend himself to about 55 pitches on Tuesday at Coors Field, throwing all of his pitches. On Saturday in San Francisco, he will throw some type of simulated game, the format of which is still being determined.

After that, he will get back to a schedule of pitching every five days, though it hasn't been set in stone when he will start an official Minor League rehab assignment. Beckett last pitched for the Red Sox on May 18, leaving the Yankee Stadium mound that night with a lower back strain.

On May 28, he tweaked his lat muscle during a side session, and it's been a slow build-up since then. But Beckett is making forward progress again.

"He did real well [Monday] and he feels real well today, so that's good," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

McDonald comes home

DENVER -- Which Boston player was the focal point of the Denver media during the pregame hours on Tuesday? Believe it or not, it was not David Ortiz or Kevin Youkilis or Dustin Pedroia or Jonathan Papelbon or Jon Lester. The man of the hour was Darnell McDonald.

The outfielder, who has been a pleasant surprise for the Red Sox this season, graduated from Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colo.

There were plenty of McDonald's family and friends in attendance on Tuesday, as will be the case for the entire series.

"I've got a lot of support out here, which is good -- they've followed my career from the start," McDonald said. "I don't mind the ticket requests. They only come once a year, so it's good to have people come out and support you."

McDonald remembers how excited he was when the Rockies made their debut in the Major Leagues in 1993.

"I think we skipped school the first day when they had the inauguration of the Rockies here," McDonald said. "I think it was a 1 o'clock game, so we were able to miss school that day and go to the game. And I was able to catch a lot of games growing up when it was the Triple-A team."

Worth noting

Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who continues to work out at the Athletes Performance Institute in Tempe, Ariz., is experiencing less pain in his fractured ribs, but is still doing only controlled exercises. He will be re-evaluated at the end of the week. ... The Red Sox hope to send shortstop Jed Lowrie on a Minor League rehab assignment soon, but he continues to sometimes feel the effects of mononucleosis, which he was diagnosed with in March. Lowrie had a bad day on Monday, leaving the current plans for playing somewhat in limbo. ... Outfielder Jeremy Hermida (fractured left ribs) is doing fielding activities, but is still waiting for clearance to resume hitting.