Red Sox notebook

Friday start now looks unlikely for Beckett

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 12, 2010

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After the Red Sox announced yesterday they planned on pushing Josh Beckett’s next start back to Friday in Detroit, they now likely have to push him back even farther.

Beckett, who suffered back spasms during batting practice Monday, was scheduled to throw a side session yesterday but it was canceled. It’s now unlikely he will start against the Tigers. Tim Wakefield will start today against the Blue Jays, followed by the rest of the rotation in order on an additional day of rest.

“Beckett went over and got examined this morning,’’ manager Terry Francona said before last night’s game against Toronto. “I think we just wanted to make sure that [it was only] musculature, which it is. That’s good. He’s got a spasm in his lower back, like any of you or me wake up and it’s tight and you feel it. You just have to let it relax a little bit. So in all likelihood he will not pitch on Friday, but because of Wake going and the day off [tomorrow] we can stay right in order.’’

Asked where Beckett’s back was hurting, Francona said, “On the side and lower. Left or right. As Manny [Ramirez] said, ‘Pick one.’ ’’

The manager said the team does not expect the back to be a long-term issue. “Sometimes it goes away in a day, sometimes it’s a couple days,’’ Francona said. “Pitching in a game or throwing a side is probably not going to help it today or tomorrow, so we want to make sure we get him back to feeling good.’’

Beckett, who wasn’t in the clubhouse before the game, was feeling a little bit better, according to Francona, though he still was not moving around that well.

Depending on how Beckett progresses, the Sox could either skip his turn entirely, or they could slot him into the rotation as soon as he feels better. Francona said the immediate plan is to try to get him feeling well enough to get back to physical work.

The injury occurred when Beckett was swinging in the cage in advance of the Sox’ first interleague series, in Philadelphia, in nine days. The pitchers have been hitting for some time now, slowly working up to their swings in the cage.

“It’s a progression,’’ Francona said. “It’s off the tee, it’s flip, it’s in the cage, because we don’t want somebody to get hurt, and they’re not used to doing it. In spring training when they complain, we laugh. Because we don’t want them taking a swing and doing something. It’s something they don’t do every day. So we keep an eye on them, and they’re never by themselves because we don’t want something to happen where we feel like we could have controlled it.’’

Asked if there was something that could be done to prevent American League pitchers from injuring themselves at bat, Francona quipped, “Unless they come up with a rule where a guy swings and you can’t hurt your back, I don’t know how to get around that.’’

Steps by Ellsbury
Jacoby Ellsbury ran the bases yesterday and he appeared to be exerting quite a bit of effort. There remains no timetable for his return, and it’s unclear whether the outfielder will go on the trip to Detroit tomorrow. “If he doesn’t go with us, that means he’s getting close to playing,’’ Francona said, of a possible minor league rehab stint. “I don’t know if he’s ready to do that yet, so we’ll continue to monitor that.’’ Yesterday marked one month since Ellsbury suffered four cracked ribs in a collision with Adrian Beltre in Kansas City . . . J.D. Drew was in the lineup after being a late scratch Monday night because of vertigo. Drew also had a bout of vertigo April 25 when the team arrived in Toronto, but he also was better the next day. Drew was 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI. He and Darnell McDonald had a minor collision in right-center in the second inning, though both appeared to be fine.

Cameron progresses
Mike Cameron went 1 for 3 with a walk in his second rehab start with Pawtucket. He played center field for seven innings. “Sounded like he really felt good physically,’’ Francona said. Cameron will return to the club today, and will play again in Triple A tomorrow . . . Ramon Ramirez pitched the eighth inning, allowing one hit and one walk and recording a strikeout. It was his first appearance since coming out of Saturday’s game against the Yankees with tightness in his right triceps. Francona said he came through the inning well . . . The Sox have a chance for an eight-win homestand, something they haven’t done in a homestand of at least 10 games since going 8-2 in August and September of 2005 . . . Kevin Youkilis was hit with a pitch for the 63d time in his career. That’s one behind Jim Rice for second on the Sox’ all-time list . . . Drew’s bunt single in the fifth was the first for the Sox this season. It was his first since July 6, 2004 for the Braves at Montreal.

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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