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Injury bug biting Sox


Mirabelli joins Lowell in ranks of walking wounded



ST. PETERSBURG -- The sight of third baseman Mike Lowell hobbling through the visitors' clubhouse at Tropicana Field before the game was no way to start a six-game road trip through Tampa Bay and Kansas City, especially when you consider that the Red Sox have already lost Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek to injuries this week.

Lowell belted his left foot with a foul ball on Thursday night, and there was no possible way he could play on Friday. Alex Cora filled in at third base.


By night's end, things were even worse for the walking wounded, as catcher Doug Mirabelli was forced out of the game in the third inning with a twisted left ankle. Following the game, Mirabelli limped through the room on one crutch.


"His X-ray was negative, which is good," manager Terry Francona said. "He's going to be down for a few days. I think we're real helpful it won't be a DL. His availability is going to be real questionable for a few days. I knew he was hurting, because he wanted so bad to stay in that game. He just couldn't do it."


Francona said that the Red Sox would call up another catcher from the Minors on Saturday to serve as the backup for newcomer Javy Lopez. Corky Miller is the most likely candidate to be summoned for Triple-A Pawtucket. Ken Huckaby, who caught for the Sox on Thursday, had to be designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Lopez.


As for Lowell?


"I got hit on the side [of the foot], but all the pain's right on the top," Lowell said. "I have a little more mobility, but not mobility to put pressure on it."


Lowell did undergo X-rays both on Thursday and Friday, and everything came back negative. He will play again once he can bear the pain.


"Knowing Mike, I'll bet you he'll be ready to play tomorrow," said Francona. "Maybe that's not fair to say. He's really sore today. Once we're going to the plane, watching him trying to walk to the plane, he was really having a tough time. Talking to the trainers, it sounds like sometimes if you hit a nerve there, which is probably what he did, it just gets real tender."


Lowell hopes there will be significant progress by the time he arrives at Tropicana Field on Saturday.


"It's been a lot better from day to day. I've iced it three times already, so we're doing a lot of treatment," Lowell said. "I've never gone through this. I've fouled a lot of balls off my ankles but I've never been like this the next day."


Earlier this week, Lowell suffered a contusion to his right foot after another ill-placed foul ball.


Kapler is the bench: The injuries to Lowell and Mirabelli placed focus on how thin the Red Sox are off the bench during a time in which they are carrying 13 pitchers and 12 position players, which is a highly unusual alignment. Typically, teams carry 11 pitchers and 14 position players.


With Lowell being unavailable Friday night and Mirabelli gone by the top of the third, Gabe Kapler was the only reserve at Francona's disposal for most of the night.


"In a perfect world, we don't have that," Francona said. "But it's not a perfect world. We certainly talked about it last night and tried to figure out ways to maybe not do that. But at midnight, sometimes the timing doesn't make it very easy to make changes after a game like that. I don't think we'll spend August with 13 pitchers. That's probably not going to work."

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