Red Sox notebook

Side order of Beckett a hit with brass

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 3, 2011

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That both general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona were on hand to watch indicated that Josh Beckett’s bullpen session yesterday wasn’t routine.

Beckett threw 125 pitches, one short of his career high, against the Angels April 21. The Red Sox limited him to 92 pitches against Baltimore last Wednesday and now will give him two extra days of rest, starting him against the Angels tomorrow.

“We leaned on Beckett pretty hard there a couple of games and we don’t have days off coming up,’’ Francona said. “Just wanted to try and get everybody situated where they all feel as good about themselves as they can physically. To give him that [extra] day was important.’’

Beckett did not make himself available for comment. But Francona said there was no specific injury, just a concern about wear and tear.

“Pitch counts are pitch counts; there’s a reason we probably watch that stuff,’’ the manager said. “Just want to make sure we monitor their workload so he can go out and be Beckett.

“When you have the ability to give a guy an extra day, I think sometimes you have to take it because we won’t be able to for a couple of weeks.’’

Beckett threw for 10 minutes in the bullpen and appeared to be fine. The righthander was on the disabled list for nearly three months last season because of a strained lower back and subsequent shoulder problems.

The Sox also have pushed back Daisuke Matsuzaka to Friday night’s game against Minnesota. He left his last start, on Friday, because of a tight elbow.

“We’re trying to buy him a couple of days. He says he doesn’t need it,’’ Francona said. “I think when somebody comes out like that, we’d like to make sure they’re OK.’’

The reconfigured rotation also makes it easier for Francona to divide up the catching duties.

The Sox want Jason Varitek to catch Beckett and Matsuzaka and are comfortable with Jarrod Saltalamacchia catching Lester and Lackey.

Clay Buchholz, who pitched last night, has worked with both catchers, but more with Varitek of late, including last night.

He’s up, then down Jacoby Ellsbury was 2 for 4 with three runs and two stolen bases in last night’s 9-5 victory. But he also left the game after colliding with Angels catcher Jeff Mathis in the seventh inning.

Ellsbury was the second of three runners to score on a double by Adrian Gonzalez and tripped Mathis as their legs connected. He came away with a bruise on the inside of his knee.Francona said the joint was stable. It is uncertain whether he will play tonight.Ellsbury has hit safely in 11 straight games (18 of 47, .383). He now has 143 career stolen bases, fourth most in team history.

More Wakefield? Tim Wakefield pitched 5 2/3 strong innings Sunday, giving up one run on three hits and one walk. The 44-year-old knuckleballer should be available in the bullpen by Thursday.

There is a possibility Wakefield could get another start later this month if the Sox want to build in an extra day of rest for the other starters.

“It could certainly happen,’’ Francona said. “I think part of why we have Wake [in the bullpen] is he gives us the unique ability to throw a guy in to start. I’m sure he probably will be making a start at some point depending on what’s going on.’’

Paying tribute The Sox paid tribute to the United States military and the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks before the game.

The team unfurled a US flag the length of the wall in left field. There were 18 servicemen and women on the warning track and the Brockton High band played the National Anthem as players from both teams stood on the baselines.

There was a moment of silence as well.

Army Ranger Lucas Carr of South Boston threw out the first pitch. Former Celtics forward Satch Sanders and former Bruins center Derek Sanderson joined Carr at the mound.

“God Bless America’’ was performed during the seventh-inning stretch.

The military operation that killed Osama bin Laden was the main topic of conversation in the clubhouse before the game. Televisions usually tuned to ESPN had CNN on, and several players sat in rapt attention.

“I think everybody’s got a reason for it to hit home, whether it’s family or friends or just being a citizen of the United States. It hits everybody, I’m sure,’’ said Francona, whose son, Nick, is a Marine serving in Afghanistan.

Dustin Pedroia has focused many of his charitable efforts to help veterans. He is a close friend of Kevin Tillman, an Army veteran whose brother, Pat Tillman, the former NFL player, was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan.

“I don’t think we can do enough for those guys,’’ Pedroia said. “I’ve talked to Kevin a lot and it’s amazing what they do for us.’’

Gonzalez stays hot Gonzalez has a nine-game hitting streak (15 of 38, .395) and has hit safely in 15 of the last 16 games . . . NESN analyst Jerry Remy missed his sixth consecutive game and tweeted that he has been diagnosed with pneumonia. It is uncertain when he will return. Dennis Eckersley filled in . . . Saltalamacchia turned 26 yesterday.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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