NEW YORK -- Clay Buchholz will inch closer to a possible return to the Red Sox on Monday, when he pitches one inning of an instructional league game in Fort Myers, Fla.

Originally, the Sox had hoped to have Buchholz pitch an inning on Monday against the Orioles. But given the urgency of Boston's situation, it would be hard to have him pitch in a game for the first time since June 16.

"And the thought behind that was just that we really want him to pitch tomorrow," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Stating the obvious, [Josh] Beckett is throwing tomorrow. We're playing a huge game. I don't know how we could ensure he's going to throw an inning. That's just impossible. So he'll go down there, throw an inning, and it can be a little bit controlled, but it can be also game speed. I think it might be about perfect. Then we'll re-evaluate him on Tuesday. We'll re-evaluate where we are and go from there."

The ideal scenario would be for the Red Sox to clinch a postseason berth before Wednesday, and have Buchholz pitch that night in Baltimore in the regular-season finale. That would give the club a better reading on whether he might be able to help out of the bullpen in the postseason.

But the Red Sox, knowing how important Buchholz is to their future, won't push the envelope. In fact, Francona continues to make no guarantees that the righty will pitch for the club again this season.

Buchholz has been recovering from a stress fracture in his back.

"Well, it is imperfect," Francona said. "And again, we've said all along, he may not pitch for us. This is just another step in him attempting to do this. We'll see. We have, I think, been pretty open about it all along that we'll see how it goes."

Reliable Atchison exits with groin injury

NEW YORK -- Scott Atchison, who has emerged into one of the most dependable relievers in Boston's bullpen in September, had to leave the first game of Sunday's day-night doubleheader against the Yankees with a right groin injury.

"He tweaked his groin on the second warmup pitch, and it's a mild tweak," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona after Boston's 6-2 loss. "Certainly, we couldn't leave him out there to pitch."

Atchison certainly won't pitch in Sunday's nightcap. He hopes to be available for the final series of the regular season, which starts on Monday night in Baltimore.

"Hopefully it's nothing too bad and we caught it before it's something bad," Atchison said.

The righty, who spent a large portion of the season at Triple-A Pawtucket, has been unscored upon in his last six games, holding opponents to a .185 batting average over 9 1/3 innings.

Drew returns to Boston lineup for Game 2

NEW YORK -- Just when it seemed he was falling completely off the radar, J.D. Drew re-appeared in Boston's starting lineup for Game 2 of Sunday's day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium

It's Drew's first start -- or playing time of any kind -- for the Sox since July 19.

Drew was first placed on the disabled list on July 26 with a left shoulder impingement. Just as he was ready to return from that ailment, he fractured his right middle finger in a Triple-A rehab game at the end of August.

As recently as Sunday morning, Sox manager Terry Francona didn't think Drew would be available for Game 2.

Apparently, Drew felt enough progress from his recent work in the batting cage to get back on the field.

At this point, the Red Sox -- their lead down to a half-game in the American League Wild Card standings -- need all the healthy bodies they can get.

Though Josh Reddick initially played so well that he supplanted Drew in right even before the veteran was injured, the rookie has struggled of late. Reddick is hitting .209 with two homers and five RBIs in 115 at-bats since Aug. 8.

In Game 1 of Sunday's day-night doubleheader, Francona had Conor Jackson play right field against New York right-hander A.J. Burnett.

It will be interesting to see what the Red Sox can get from Drew down the stretch. Before going on the disabled list, he was having perhaps the worst season of his career, hitting .219 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 233 at-bats.