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Checkup time for Beckett

Sox' next target may be Rangers' 1B

Surely, they are oiling the valve caps on the trumpets on Yawkey Way, preparing to publicly proclaim the rebirth of Marlins righthander Josh Beckett as Red Sox ace Josh Beckett. But that proclamation didn't come yesterday, because the Sox are taking full advantage of a 72-hour window permitted by Major League Baseball to inspect the merchandise before completing the deal.

The Sox have requested and hope to receive the 25-year-old Beckett's full medical records today. Those would include two recent MRIs of his right shoulder, reports written by the doctors who evaluated his throwing shoulder, and journals kept by the Marlins' training staff throughout his career documenting each of the blisters on the middle finger on his throwing hand. Six times in four-plus big-league seasons blisters have landed Beckett on the disabled list, though the issue appears less persistent than it was earlier in his young career.

The Sox presumably will take the same diligent approach with Mike Lowell, the other player the club agreed to acquire in a deal that came together Monday night, a deal that when finalized will send prospects Hanley Ramírez, Anibal Sanchez, and Jesus Delgado to Florida. It's possible that the Sox will request an in-person evaluation of Beckett and/or Lowell, though an analysis of medical records, coupled with a phone conversation with each player, could be enough to satisfy the club.

Provided that the players involved check out physically, an announcement of the deal could come as soon as today or as late as Friday, given the Thanksgiving holiday. Beckett, as of yesterday, was hunting near his vacation home on Herradura Ranch, south of San Antonio, where the native Texan makes his primary residence.

Meanwhile, according to two major league sources, the Sox have spoken with the Texas Rangers about trading for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft. The 23-year-old Gonzalez, who hits lefthanded, split last season between Triple A Oklahoma and Texas. He hit .338 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs in 326 at-bats with Oklahoma, .227 with 6 homers and 17 RBIs in 150 at-bats with Texas.

While the Rangers are believed to be interested in acquiring an outfield prospect, possibly Double A outfielder Brandon Moss, the Sox are likelier to offer up Triple A catcher Kelly Shoppach. Shoppach is a native of Fort Worth.

If the Sox were to acquire Gonzalez, they could go with a first-base platoon of Gonzalez and the righthanded-hitting Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis appeared likely to start at third base in 2006 until the deal for Beckett, which required the Sox to take on Lowell, a Gold Glove winner at third base who is scheduled to make $9 million each of the next two seasons.

''It's a long way to Opening Day," said Joe Bick, Youkilis's agent. ''All Kevin is thinking about is going to spring training and doing everything he can do to convince them that he deserves to be in the lineup on a regular basis somewhere.

''There's no reason for us to panic over this trade. We're not going to. We've had a lot of conversations with the club that started with Theo [Epstein] during the season."

The Sox made no announcements yesterday pertaining to the ongoing search for a general manager, a process that appears to have lost momentum. The club indicated in a Monday statement that it will continue its search but take a brief break for the Thanksgiving holiday.

One name that could surface is Pittsburgh GM Dave Littlefield, a native of Portland, Maine, who attended UMass. Littlefield, who worked for Sox owner John Henry in Florida, has two years remaining on his contract with the Pirates. As of yesterday, Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy said he had not been contacted by the Sox seeking permission to speak with his GM.

Littlefield was in town last night but said he was here strictly to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his wife's family.

Epstein, meanwhile, has visited the Red Sox offices several times since rejecting a contract extension, most recently Monday. However, it continues to appear unlikely that he'll return to the Sox.

Henry, in an online chat with members of the Sons of Sam Horn, said Monday night that ''[Epstein] is not going to return as our surprise GM in this process."

Two league sources indicated last week that director of baseball operations Peter Woodfork would be leaving the Sox to become assistant GM in Arizona in the coming weeks. And while one league source said Woodfork would not be allowed to leave until the Sox' search for a GM is complete, there were indications last night that Woodfork's departure could be announced today.

A year ago, the Red Sox received the annual financial bonus that befalls a World Series win: lucrative team shares. A full share for members of the 2004 team was valued at $223,620. This year, a full share for members of the team that lost in the Division Series is $17,004.06. The Sox convened in late September to decide how to divvy up shares and, according to a major league release, they voted 57 full shares, 43 partial shares, and 10 cash awards. A full share for members of this year's World Series champion White Sox is worth $324,532.72. The 2005 champs awarded 42 full shares, 6 partial shares, and 22 cash awards.

Gordon Edes of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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