ST. PETERSBURG -- The Red Sox will embark on a nine-game road trip at the end of June against three National League teams, which leaves manager Terry Francona in a tough position.

When Boston travels to take on Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Houston consecutively, the Red Sox will lose the designated hitter position, leaving David Ortiz in an odd position.

Ortiz usually lines up at first base during Interleague games, but Adrian Gonzalez is currently holding that spot down, leading the Major Leagues with a .347 batting average and 60 RBIs.

"This is hard," Francona said. "This is unfair. We're going to go nine straight days. In the past, we had [Mike] Lowell, we had [Kevin Youkilis], we had [Ortiz]. It was obvious -- each guy plays two. It was real easy. Right now, it's not so obvious."

The last time Boston played nine consecutive games in a National League park came in 2002, when it took on the Braves, Padres and Dodgers. The Red Sox also went on a similar trip in '00.

Miller to join rotation on next homestand

ST. PETERSBURG -- Wednesday was billed as Andrew Miller's decision day, and even though an official announcement has not been made, it appears the pitcher has opted to remain with the organization.

"[General manager] Theo [Epstein] visited with him [Tuesday] a little bit," manager Terry Francona said. "Obviously, [Miller] is a huge part of our organization, and it's going to stay that way. He's not going anywhere."

The left-hander, who is 3-3 with a 2.47 ERA this season at Triple-A Pawtucket, had the option to become a free agent Wednesday. However, his decision to stay put could pay off. A Major League source said Miller is expected to receive a start on Boston's next homestand, which begins Friday.

The last time the 6-foot-7 pitcher started a game in the Major Leagues was in 2010 for the Marlins. He pitched 32 2/3 innings that season and finished with an 8.54 ERA and a 1-5 record.

If Miller is called up to start for the Red Sox, a six-man rotation is possible with an already solid starting staff in place.

Still, there are steps the organization must take before Miller can make an appearance in the Majors.

"I think as things unfold here, it will make sense," Francona said. "We can't get ahead of ourselves."

Shoulder improving, Lowrie returns to lineup

ST. PETERSBURG -- After missing the Red Sox's last two games because of a bruised left shoulder, Jed Lowrie was back in the lineup batting seventh and playing shortstop.

Lowrie, who suffered the injury on May 29 in a collision with Carl Crawford, was in the lineup Saturday, but after an 0-for-5 performance at the plate, the team decided to give the utility infielder a breather.

"I think the rest is good for him," manager Terry Francona said. "The good news is that it wasn't more than a bruise."

Lowrie entered Wednesday's game hitless in his previous 11 at-bats, but he isn't using his shoulder as the reason for his recent struggles.

"I'm not going to make any excuses," Lowrie said. "I'm just going to continue to work to make it better and know that I'm going to be where I should be."

The bruise is still bothering Lowrie, but he is just focusing on regaining the strength in his left shoulder.

"It's not pain free," he said, "but we're working on getting the strength back up and getting it feeling better. Knowing that with what they told me with the MRI results, it's just a matter of getting the strength and the flexibility, and the pain out."

Sox taking cautious approach with Jenks

ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-handed reliever Bobby Jenks, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list June 8 due to left back tightness, is still trying to work his way back from the injury.

But it could take longer than expected, as the Red Sox are taking a very cautious approach. Manager Terry Francona said Jenks is "probably" going to be out for more than the 15 days.

"He assured us he won't do too much, and we don't want any setbacks with this," Francona said. "I think he's on board with that. He's getting pretty logical about it."