Damon's MRI yields good news

Damon's MRI yields good news

TORONTO -- Red Sox Nation can let out a sigh of relief. Center fielder Johnny Damon had an MRI done on his ailing left shoulder on Tuesday morning and the results brought good news for Boston.

"The report was as good as it can be," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "Structurally, there was no damage. I think he bruised that area and got some swelling."

Damon traveled with the Red Sox for the three-game series in Toronto, but was a late scratch from Monday's opener after originally being inserted into the starting lineup. Damon has been experiencing lingering pain from the left rotator cuff he injured against the Orioles on Sept. 4 and Francona and head trainer Jim Rowe decided to have the outfielder fly back to Boston to have the MRI performed.

Despite the good results, Damon will remain in Boston to rest his shoulder. He is expected to rejoin the Red Sox at Fenway Park for their series opener against Oakland on Thursday.

"The hope is that he can play on Thursday, but even if he can't the news is good," Francona said. "He's going to be OK, we've just got to let him settle down. "

With his absence on Tuesday and Wednesday, Damon -- who is second in the American League with a .321 batting average -- will have sat out for four of five games. 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.

On Monday, Damon told Francona that he was still feeling soreness while throwing, but that he would play through it.

"I'm not sure when it's going to be feeling good," Damon said quietly before Monday's game. "I know what my job is, though. ... I'll just keep battling and keep working through it."

Playing through pain wasn't what Francona wanted Damon to do, especially with the Red Sox in the midst of a playoff race.

"We all know how tough he is," Francona said, "so when he says it's hard for him to play it makes you a little concerned. We took the shot and we DHed him. We probably should have let him rest a little more, but we didn't. You try to do the best you can."

Francona said that they didn't perform an MRI on the shoulder at an earlier date because Damon had passed the strength tests he went through, which indicated he probably did not have structural damage. Damon also wasn't experiencing pain while hitting -- only when throwing.

When Damon returns to the team, Francona expects him to be back in center field, though.

"I think [having Damon DH is] something to consider if the news came back bad," Francona said. "I'd rather give a guy an extra day's rest and keep our lineup intact.

"He needs to be [in center]," he added. "He knows that because David [Ortiz] is our designated hitter."

Jordan Bastian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.