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05/07/09 10:14 PM ET

Papi scratched with stiff neck

Red Sox patch together lineup, activate Baldelli for play

BOSTON -- Already short-handed, the Red Sox had another injury scratch roughly 45 minutes before Thursday's game when slugger David Ortiz was removed from the lineup because of a stiff neck.

There was no previous mention of the injury, but the Red Sox said after the game that the ailment cropped up during batting practice.

First baseman Kevin Youkilis was out of the lineup for the third successive game with a sore left side. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury missed his second game with a tight right hamstring.

Ellsbury is just about healthy, and might have started Thursday if not for left-hander Jeremy Sowers pitching for the Indians.

Expect the speedy leadoff man to be back in there Friday night when the Red Sox open a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Instead, Rocco Baldelli -- coming off a left hamstring injury -- was activated from the 15-day disabled list. Baldelli made the start in center field, while Jonathan Van Every was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket.

The status of Youkilis is still uncertain.

"Youk is actually still a little stiff and sore," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I was hoping to get that call this morning, 'I feel great.' He still feels it, so we're going to be careful."

The Red Sox had a complete overhaul to their lineup, as Dustin Pedroia, the No. 2 hitter, was the only player batting in his normal slot.

Julio Lugo led off and served as the designated hitter. Left fielder Jason Bay moved to the No. 3 spot. Mike Lowell batted cleanup. Baldelli batted fifth. J.D. Drew, typically Boston's No. 5 hitter, was in the sixth spot and played right field. Jeff Bailey filled in for Youkilis at first base and batted seventh. Nick Green hit eighth and played short. Backup catcher George Kottaras batted ninth, getting the start because knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was on the mound.

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