Mike Lowell is expected to miss Boston weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays because of a sore hip. September 20th, 2008

Mike Lowell is expected to miss Boston weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays because of a sore hip. Leaving the Red Sox without their third baseman as they close in on a playoff berth.

In other news Friday, the Red Sox suspended right-hander Bartolo Colon without pay.

Colon was given permission to leave the team Wednesday and return home to the Dominican Republic to attend to a private matter. The 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner informed the Red Sox on Friday that he wasn’t coming back.

Boston had intended to use Colon out of the bullpen, a role he was not happy with, manager Terry Francona said Friday.

“He got home for the personal stuff and decided he wasn’t real comfortable,” Francona said.

Colon can become a free agent after the season. He went 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA in seven starts for Boston. He is still eligible to return for the playoffs, but Francona said that was unlikely.

Lowell needs four or five more days to rest his sore hip, Francona said.

Outfielder J.D. Drew (back) and shortstop Julio Lugo (quad) are also still nursing injuries, Francona said.

Boston entered the day with a 6 1/2-game lead in the wild-card race. Boston also entered the day trailing Tampa Bay by 1 1/2 games in the AL East.

Lowell first felt soreness and stiffness in his hip – which could require offseason surgery – while making a barehanded pickup and throw on a slow roller in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay and was held out of the lineup Wednesday. Lowell had hoped to return Friday, but the Red Sox decided further rest was needed during a conference call with doctors Friday.

“The plan of attack here is we’ll kind of let this thing cool down, let him get on some medication and do his stuff with the trainers,” Francona said. “We just want him to be as healthy as we can, so we’ll take the next four or five days to see if we can get him there.”

Lowell is batting .275 with 17 homers and 73 RBIs in 112 games.

“They want to see, in the next couple of days, how things go,” Lowell said. “I would like to be available (after four or five days.)

Kevin Youkilis made his second straight start at third base Friday, with Sean Casey starting at first.

Outfielder Jason Bay returned to the lineup Friday after missing the previous two games to be with his wife as she gave birth to a daughter.

Drew, who is batting .280 with 19 home runs and 64 RBIs, has not played since Aug. 18, but is feeling “slightly better,” Francona said.

“We’ll just continue to monitor where he’s at,” Francona said. “I don’t know if this weekend is realistic or not. When I’m watching him hit, he hits the ball out of the ballpark, so it doesn’t look like his swing is affected that much. But then, if it grabs at him when he’s out there, I don’t know how we can play him.”

Lugo, out since July 12 with a strained left quad, suffered a setback last month and has struggled to regain his health.

“He’s trying so hard to get in a game before our regular season is over,” Francona said. “I don’t know if it’s realistic or not. He’s trying.”

Lugo is batting .268 with one homer and 22 RBIs.

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