BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to Fenway Park for a jumbo-sized four-game series this weekend. It’s an extremely important series for the Sox, who trail the Rays five games for second place in the AL East (and for the lead in the Wild Card standings).
Boston will start the series without one of their best bats in the lineup, with J.D. Martinez sitting out Friday night’s game with back spasms. Martinez left Thursday afternoon’s win over the Royals in Kansas City after tweaking his back while running the bases.
Boston manager Alex Cora said that Martinez is considered day-to-day, and hopes to have him back in the lineup Saturday. Cora did say that they will cut back on Martinez’s outfield duties, but the slugger will not become a full-time DH.
Back issues are becoming a bit of a problem for Martinez, as Thursday marked the third time he’s had to leave a game early. He’s missed six games already with the ailment. Still, Martinez has been one of Boston’s best hitters this season with a .296 average to go with 12 homers and 33 RBIs.
Eduardo Nunez will DH for Boston in Friday’s series opener against the Rays. They will get some pop back in the order, with Mitch Moreland being activated off the 10-day injured list after missing two weeks with a low back strain. Moreland still leads the Red Sox with 13 homers and a .550 slugging percentage despite his recent absence.
Here is the full Boston lineup for Friday night’s tilt against the Rays:
1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. Rafael Devers, 3B
4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
5. Mitch Moreland, 1B
6. Eduardo Nunez, DH
7. Brock Holt, 2B
8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
9. Sandy Leon, C
— Rick Porcello, SP
This was initially a three-game series between the Red Sox and Rays, but they’ll play two on Saturday to make up an April 26 rain out.