ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Adrian Gonzalez felt fine when he worked out with the Red Sox on Thursday night at Tropicana Field. A routine trip to the mall on Friday changed that.
Gonzalez was getting a cup of coffee at the International Plaza in Tampa when he bent over to say hello to a child in a stroller. That’s when he felt his lower back lock up.
“I have no idea how it happened,” said Gonzalez, who has never had back problems before. “It was something I’ve done a million times.”
Gonzalez tried to play on Friday night, but was scratched from the lineup an hour before first pitch. He was out again on Saturday night, the Red Sox starting Brett Lillibridge at first base against the Rays.
Bobby Valentine said it was “real questionable, real doubtful” that Gonzalez would play on Sunday afternoon.
The manager is considering using David Ortiz at first base as a way to improve the lineup. The alternative would be starting Lillibridge or Nick Punto.
The hope is that Gonzalez will return to the lineup on Monday against the White Sox at Fenway.
“I would think by next week, the beginning of the week, he should be in full swing,” Valentine said. “Unless he’s not.”
Gonzalez isn’t too concerned. He said his back felt better on Saturday after receiving treatment and medication. He has been speaking to teammates about back injuries they had.
“It’s a day-to-day thing, you get it calmed down and you go play again,” he said. “I’ll be fine. We’re being careful because we’ve had so many guys on the disabled list already this season.”
Gonzalez believes the injury is related to the All-Star break. He spent a few days on Cape Cod with his family relaxing.
“You shut your body down for a few days and then you start it up again and it’s like ‘Whoa.’ I think that could have been a factor,” he said. “That’s what the trainers said.”
There are no plans for Gonzalez to get X-rays or an MRI. He did not take batting practice.
“We’re hoping that doing nothing will get him back quicker,” Valentine said. “They think it’s muscular. Right now it’s being treated as a muscular situation.”
Gonzalez stayed on his feet before Saturday’s game. Getting in and out of a chair, he said, was uncomfortable.
Gonzalez averaged 160 games per season from 2007-11. Missing games is something foreign to him, particularly with such a bizarre injury.
“Hopefully I wake up tomorrow and I feel fine,” Gonzalez said. “I woke up on Friday and felt 100 percent. I went to the mall and ran into a family and that’s what happened. I was perfectly fine before that. It’s crazy.”
Buchholz is back
The Red Sox activated Clay Buchholz off the disabled to start against the Rays on Saturday. Infielder Mauro Gomez was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket.
Gomez was 8 of 24 with three doubles and three RBIs in six games after being called up July 3.
He started five games at third base and was at first base on Friday.
Gomez committed four errors in those six games.
The 27-year-old shows promise as a hitter, even this late in his career. But any future he has may be as a designated hitter.
Crawford tunes up
In what was expected to be his final minor league injury rehabilitation game, Carl Crawford went 2 for 5 with a run for Triple A Pawtucket against Buffalo. The Red Sox have said they plan to activate Crawford off the disabled list on Monday. The left fielder has been out all season with wrist and elbow injuries. Crawford has played 11 minor league games and had 44 plate appearances. He was 11 of 36 (.306) . . . The Red Sox will have a well-rested Josh Beckett on the mound against the Rays on Sunday. Beckett last pitched July 6 against the Yankees, giving up six runs on eight hits over five innings in a 10-8 loss. Beckett is 10-4 with a 2.82 ERA in 21 career starts against Tampa Bay. He has been particularly successful since the start of the 2011 season, going 3-0 with a 1.18 ERA in five starts. Beckett has faced the Rays twice this season, giving up three earned runs over 15 innings.
Through Friday, Pedro Ciriaco was 23 of 55 (.418) in 35 career games for the Pirates and Red Sox. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other player has had a higher batting average after 35 games and at least 50 plate appearances. John Kroner of the Red Sox was 43 of 102 (.422) in his first 35 games. Kroner hit .262 over four years with the Sox and Indians from 1935-38 . . . Through Friday, the Red Sox led the majors with 316 extra-base hits. The Yankees were second with 299. Ortiz led the American League with 48. Joey Votto of the Reds led the majors with 49 . . . Aaron Cook, who starts on Monday against the White Sox, is considering warming up to the omnipresent pop anthem “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. “I think people would like it,” he said. Beckett, believe it or not, was encouraging him.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.