"He went out early to throw, and it didn't go as well as we wanted it to."
Damon, who has now missed 11 games this season, has been experiencing soreness from the left rotator cuff he injured while diving back into second base against Baltimore on Sept. 4. He received a cortisone shot after Friday's game with the Yankees, sat out on Saturday and served as the designated hitter for the finale in the Bronx on Sunday.
Before Monday's game, Damon sounded optimistic about his ability to play through the pain.
"I'm not sure when it's going to be feeling good," Damon said quietly. "I know what my job is, though. ... I'll just keep battling and keep working through it."
With Damon out of the equation, Francona moved second baseman Tony Graffanino into the leadoff slot and sent Gabe Kapler to center field. Each player managed a hit and scored a run in Boston's 6-5 victory.
The last-minute move to pull Damon out of the lineup most likely stemmed from concerns surrounding his ability to throw from deep in the outfield. Damon, who has a reputation for returning from injuries as fast as anyone in the league, said he didn't feel discomfort while hitting.
"He hits fine and he passes his strength tests fine," Francona said. "So, we just have to find out why it is hurting. We need to find out what's going on."
When asked whether or not Damon was feeling any better than in New York, Francona hesitated while searching for a fitting response.
"He's tough," Francona said. "That's probably a better way to put it."
Papi's back: David Ortiz, who has been battling tightness in his back and was scratched on Sunday against the Yankees, returned to his customary No. 3 hole as the designated hitter on Monday.
The All-Star slugger made the most of his return, going deep twice at Rogers Centre. With 40 long balls on the season, Ortiz became the first Boston player to notch consecutive 40-homer seasons since Carl Yastrzemski turned the trick in 1969-70.
Ortiz's return to the lineup was not an indication that his back injury has disappeared. But the Red Sox can ill afford to lose both Damon's and Ortiz's presence during the stretch run toward the playoffs.
Ortiz has been playing with soreness in his back recently. After taking Sunday off and spending time with team trainers, Francona felt the slugger was ready to return to the order.
"He's OK to play," Francona said. "[Ortiz's back] had been kind of grabbing him for a while. Sometimes you try to just take an opportunity to help it a little bit and [Sunday] seemed like a good opportunity for me to do that."
Miller update: Right-hander Wade Miller gave up two runs in 2 2/3 innings of a rehabilitation start with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs on Sunday.
Miller, who landed on the disabled list with stiffness in his right shoulder on Aug. 9, threw 57 pitches and was registering in the high 80's on the radar gun, according to Francona. Miller allowed two hits, struck out three and walked three in the outing.
"I think there were some inconsistencies, which I don't think is out of character for having a layoff," Francona said.
The Sea Dogs defeated Trenton, 9-2, and will play the Akron Aeros in the Eastern League Championship Series beginning on Tuesday at Portland. With the Sea Dogs' season being extended, Miller will get another rehab start on Friday in the third game of the best-of-five series before returning to the Red Sox.
Quotable: "This is a 22-year-old kid. Every side day he's had has been documented and on the radio, probably. I just don't feel like I need to fuel that. Whatever is going to happen will happen. I want to let this kid have as normal a Minor League experience as he can. -- Francona, on whether or not Boston might call up pitching prospect Craig Hansen when Portland's season ends
On deck: Right-hander Matt Clement (13-4, 4.17 ERA) will take the mound for Boston against lefty Scott Downs (2-3, 4.19 ERA) in the second game of a three-game series at the Rogers Centre.