© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

09/11/08 1:28 AM ET

Drew's availability in question

Outfielder endures setback Wednesday with tight back

BOSTON -- J.D. Drew's tedious battle back from a strained lower back finally seemed to reach a state of at least some progression before Wednesday's game, when manager Terry Francona announced that the right fielder was "available."

Still, Drew was not in the lineup. Mark Kotsay got the start in right and Jacoby Ellsbury played center, while the red-hot Coco Crisp was on the bench.

And his availability did not last very long. Amid a 14-inning loss in which Francona surely could have found a spot for Drew's bat, the right fielder wound up being unavailable.

"He had a good workout, he went through everything full speed and then his back tightened up, so we stayed away from him," said Francona.

Originally, Francona planned on inserting Drew back into the lineup for the four-game, weekend series against the Blue Jays. But those plans could be off now.

"We have a day off tomorrow, we'll see how he does," Francona said.

Drew last played for the Red Sox on Aug. 17.

Once Drew is available, Francona is suddenly going to have multiple decisions to make in the outfield on a daily basis.

Not only will Drew be back in the mix, but Crisp, Kotsay and Ellsbury all need their playing time as well.

"We can do a lot of things," Francona said. "We're going to have a lot of games in a short span, so I don't think playing time right away is going to be a problem with anybody. We have [18] games left. That's not something I really worry about. The group we have will handle going in one direction real well."

Pulling Crisp -- who is 16-for-27 in his last seven games -- in favor of Ellsbury was a tough decision for Francona on Wednesday.

"We're not playing Coco tonight -- [we] just need to get Ellsbury in there," said Francona. "Coco handled it. I think he wanted to play really bad. If I was Coco right now, I'd want to play really bad. He's handling it and that's what we expect. But also, it helps."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.