Red Sox RHP Penny scratched from start

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA (TICKER) Boston Red Sox righthander Brad Penny was scratched from Thursday’s scheduled start against Puerto Rico after having trouble getting loose during a bullpen session Sunday.

Penny was set to make his spring debut Thursday but will now concentrate on building up strength in his shoulder.

“It’s March 3,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Rather than do something for the sake of having him pitch in a Grapefruit League game, I think we can make some strides in other areas and that makes the most sense to us.”

The Red Sox say they are not overly concerned about Penny, who signed a one-year deal in the offseason. Still, he missed most of the second half of last season with shoulder tendinitis.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Penny said. “But I don’t think the shoulder strength is quite where it needed to be yet for the workload I have. It’s better to take it easy now than to go out there and have it flare up on me.”

The Red Sox also reported that outfielder J.D. Drew flew back to Boston on Sunday night to get a shot in his lower back.

At the start of training camp, Drew said he was still experiencing some soreness in his lower back that caused him to miss the final six weeks of last season.

The Red Sox expect that Drew will return to Florida to take batting practice Thursday and play in Friday’s exhibition game against Florida.

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Updated Tuesday, Mar 3, 2009