Bay sits, Drew back in Red Sox's lineup

Bay sits, Drew back in Sox's lineup

ST. PETERSBURG -- For the first time this season, Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay was out of the lineup for two successive games.

Why didn't Bay return to the mix on Tuesday after sitting out Sunday's game and Monday's off-day?

Precautionary reasons. Bay exited Saturday night's game in the sixth inning with cramping in his left hamstring, and he could still feel it a little Tuesday.

"It was probably a smart idea to get it all out of there, but definitely not more than another day or two, max," said Bay.

Making it easier for Bay to sit was that right fielder J.D. Drew, who has been dealing with a left groin strain, declared himself fit to return to the lineup.

Drew didn't start Friday or Saturday in Baltimore but returned briefly on Sunday. After drilling a bases-clearing double and scoring on a single by Mike Lowell, Drew had to exit the game in the bottom of the first.

Before Tuesday's game, Drew was optimistic he'd be OK.

"I could feel it a little bit today when I was running, but not to the extreme or severity that I felt Sunday before the game," said Drew. "Hopefully that's a good sign. I'll go out there, take it an at-bat at a time, a play at a time and see how it goes."

Manager Terry Francona indicated that Drew would likely get Wednesday night off, when the Sox face left-hander David Price. Bay should return for that one.

"A leg cramp and a mild strain are basically the same thing," said Bay. "You know, when your leg cramps up, it gets tight in there. It feels a lot better than it did yesterday. In a pinch, I could have played today. But the consensus is rather than push it, we'll give it one more day. Barring anything setback-wise, I fully expect to be in there tomorrow."

Josh Reddick, called up from Double-A Portland on Aug. 1, started in Bay's spot in left field for Tuesday's game.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.