Kevin Youkilis, Erik Bedard Both Return to Boston for Tests

As the Red Sox prepare for three key games at Tampa Bay, two of their key players are back home.

Third baseman Kevin Youkilis has returned to Boston to receive an MRI on his sore left hip, something that might be related to his recent back issues, and left-hander Erik Bedard is home to have a lat strain looked at.

Youkilis played all nine innings at first base Thursday night in Toronto. It was his seventh straight start since coming off the disabled list Sept. 2, the first six of which were at his customary third base. He had been sidelined with a lower back strain, but has played through a litany of other physical ailments this season.

The 32-year-old Youkilis, who missed the final two months of 2010 due to a thumb injury that required surgery, is batting .185 (5-for-27) with six strikeouts since coming off the DL. The timing will not be good if he is forced to sit out many more games — Boston has lost six of nine, has had an inconsistent offensive attack of late and is about to begin a series with perhaps the one team that has an outside chance of catching it in the wild card race.

Jed Lowrie is starting at third base on Friday in place of Youkilis.

Bedard has a history of injury woes and already had his turn in the rotation skipped due to lingering left knee soreness. According to NESN's Heidi Watney, the Red Sox do not expect the lat issue to delay Bedard's return all that much, and he can pitch as long as the pain is tolerable.

However, it is worth noting that two Boston pitchers — Jon Lester and Matt Albers — were both placed on the disabled list earlier in the year in order to fully recover from such an injury.

Bedard's last start was Sept. 3 at home against Texas. He gave up three runs in six innings to pick up his first win in a Red Sox uniform.

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