Penny scratched; Drew to have injection

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox pitcher Brad Penny was scratched from his first scheduled spring training start because of shoulder weakness, and right fielder J.D. Drew went to Boston for an injection in his lower back.

Penny was to have started Thursday against Puerto Rico. He stopped a bullpen session Sunday after 25 pitches.

"I don't think the shoulder strength was quite where it needed to be yet for the work load I was doing," Penny said. "It's better to take it easy right now than to get out there in the first week of April and have it flare up on me."

Penny was limited to 19 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, and just nine innings after June 14, because of the shoulder problems.

"He could pitch Thursday. I just don't know it's in everybody's long-term best interests," manager Terry Francona said Tuesday. "I think the best way I can put it is that he's still putting gas in the tank. I don't consider this a setback at all."

Clay Buchholz will start against Puerto Rico, which is preparing for the World Baseball Classic.

Drew missed most of the final six weeks of the 2008 regular season due to back stiffness caused by a herniated disk. Francona said Drew flew to Boston on Sunday, received the injection on Monday and was back in Fort Myers by Tuesday.

Francona described the injection to a facet joint as precautionary and said Drew is expected to return to spring training games by Friday. He said Drew, who has had back problems in past years, didn't reinjure it.

"It's something more for this down the road," he said. "If this sort of acts up we want to see if this [injection] is the right thing to do."

In an interview with NESN, the team's cable network, Drew described the timing of the treatment as "a win-win situation."

"After talking to everyone, we decided it was a good chance to get back early in the spring -- I've still got plenty of recovery time -- take a few days off to see how things work out. We've got an off day tomorrow. So we'll see how it goes Thursday," Drew said.