Jon Lester ready; J.D. Drew DL bound

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox were poised to activate left-handed pitcher Jon Lester early Monday, but the move -- like the start of Monday night's game against the Kansas City Royals -- was delayed by rain.

On Monday afternoon, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said the team was activating Lester and placing right fielder J.D. Drew on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder impingement.

But during the delay, the team said it would clear a spot for Lester by optioning pitcher Kyle Weiland to the minors and that Drew would be placed on the DL on Tuesday, with infielder Drew Sutton expected to be called up.

Drew had an MRI taken last Saturday after receiving treatment for a while due to "wear and tear," according to Francona.

"Hopefully having a couple of weeks down will really do him some good," said Francona. "If he can get some strength back in that shoulder maybe we have a better chance of seeing the J.D. that we're hoping for."

Drew is hitting .219 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 77 games this season. Drew was recently replaced in right field by the hot-hitting Josh Reddick, who is hitting .358 with four homers and 19 RBIs during two separate stints with Boston (32 games) this season.

Lester had a brief stint on the DL with a lat strain he suffered on July 5 after four no-hit innings against the Toronto Blue Jays.

"It's stating the obvious that we're really excited to have him back," said Francona. "The only limitations we have tonight is probably a pitch count, and that's only because of common sense. He feels good and has no restrictions pitching and physically there are no issues there, which is really good."

The plan was to limit Lester to 80-85 pitches, depending how hard he has to work against the Royals.

"Hopefully we get him in a rhythm and get him where he was and turn him loose because our guys have done a great job filling in for him, but you need guys like Lester," Francona said. "This start is important, but there are a lot more after it, too."

Lester enters his 19th start of the season with a 10-3 record and a 3.31 ERA.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.