NEW YORK -- Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew is going on the disabled list with back trouble, has learned. Drew saw a spine specialist in New York Tuesday.

Drew has missed six games with lingering pain. He was reported to have a herniated disk.

The 32-year-old Drew has struggled with injuries throughout his career. He is hitting .280 with 19 home runs and 64 RBIs, but has only six hits in his last 34 at-bats over 12 games.

Drew was put on the DL retroactive to Aug. 18, and the move opened a roster spot for right-hander Tim Wakefield. The knuckleballer was activated from the DL to start the opener of a three-game series against New York, Boston's final regular-season visit to Yankee Stadium.

The Red Sox also called up infielder-outfielder Joe Thurston, purchasing his contract from Triple-A Pawtucket. Right-hander Chris Smith was optioned to Pawtucket.

Drew left an Aug. 17 game against Toronto after experiencing tightness in his lower back and hasn't played since. He was examined by a specialist Tuesday and had tests on his back.

"I had really a good day last Thursday in Toronto -- and then it felt terrible," Drew said.

Drew was a first-time All-Star this season and was selected MVP of the July 15 All-Star game at Yankee Stadium after hitting a two-run homer that tied the score in the seventh inning.

"The signs are, we are going in the right direction. That's why we got the MRIs, to see what's going on," Drew said before the Red Sox announced they had placed him on the DL. "If it continues to progress in the right direction, the guys in the trainer's room know what to do. We'll just take it a day at a time."

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.