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Beckett’s outlook appears optimistic

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / September 30, 2009

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Even with the memory of last season’s injury-marred playoffs, and after having woken up with back spasms before his scheduled start Monday, Josh Beckett yesterday said he anticipated no further issues with his back. He appeared optimistic about his chances to pitch during the rest of the regular season, and the postseason.

“Absolutely, I think I’ll make my next start,’’ Beckett said. “I think if I had to I could probably - I don’t think we’re going to need this - but I could go sooner if I needed to than Saturday. I think right now we’re just kind of looking at Saturday to hopefully set things up.’’

Beckett received three cortisone shots in his back Monday, though according to a team source the shots were trigger point injections of small amounts of cortisone into three muscle spots. Because the injections were into muscle, and not into joints, the source said the minor procedure was very common.

Beckett sounded confident as he spoke, standing in front of a mass of media by his locker. He didn’t hesitate or appear worried as he looked toward a start Saturday against the Indians to round out his 2009 regular season.

And though he wasn’t sure exactly how many innings he might throw Saturday, as manager Terry Francona easily could decide to limit the innings of a few starters in the final few games, he seemed sure that he would be out there.

“I don’t concern myself too much with those things,’’ he said. “I’ll just pitch until Tito tells me I’m done or the game’s over. I think for me to keep it simple like that, I think it’s the best thing.’’

After an uncomfortable plane ride back from New York to Boston, as the left side of his back stiffened, Beckett awoke Monday feeling his back had “locked up’’. He called Francona and pitching coach John Farrell, and the decision was made to scratch him from that night’s start.

Francona said yesterday that Beckett told him he felt about “80 percent better, which is really good news.’’

“Three crappy beds on the road, one getting in at 5 o’clock in the morning,’’ Beckett said about how the problem started. “I just don’t think all that stuff really sat well with my back. It was unfortunate that you wake up on the day you start and don’t really feel well enough to be able to do that. I think we made the right decision. I feel a lot better today.’’

He added, “As far as this being a chronic problem, I don’t foresee that.’’

The situation has given Beckett extra rest between his last start, last Wednesday in Kansas City, and his next one.

“Obviously you want it to be under different conditions if you were taking a break, not sitting in the training room for 3 1/2 hours yesterday trying to loosen your back up,’’ Beckett said. “But we did the things we needed to do. I feel a lot better today than I did yesterday.’’

Wakefield on track
The rest of the Sox’ walking wounded all received positive reports. Despite going to the bullpen Monday night in a game that was heading out of control for the Sox, Tim Wakefield is set to pitch tonight against the Blue Jays. Francona said, “We didn’t want to do that [use him Monday] because we really didn’t have a starter for [today], but we also wanted to protect ourselves. The bad news was we lost the game. The good news was we lost it before we could go through our whole bullpen.’’ . . . After being unavailable last weekend because of a sore right side, Hideki Okajima was available to pitch last night . . . Francona said Jon Lester had “no repercussions from throwing’’ after tossing 55 pitches from flat ground Monday . . . Mike Lowell, who had an injection of Synvisc and cortisone in his hip Monday, is expected to take batting practice outside today, then play tomorrow. The Sox considered starting him today, but determined an extra day might be helpful . . . Infielder Nick Green (bulging disk in his back) said he was hoping to play in a game by Friday. Over the last couple of days, his back has improved enough for him to be able to hit off a tee, do sprints, and throw better.

Drew sizzles
J.D. Drew didn’t just hit the three-run home run last night, he also had two singles. It was his 22d home run of the season, and Drew now has reached base in 24 of 27 games. Over that time he’s batting .358 with 6 home runs, 16 RBIs, and 16 runs. “All night he took good, aggressive swings,’’ Francona said. “When he puts good swings on the ball, it’s as pretty as you’ll ever see.’’ . . . Adam Lind became the first opponent to hit three homers at Fenway Park since Frank Thomas did it for the White Sox Sept. 15, 1996. (Coincidentally, Lind was also the first Blue Jay to hit three homers in a game since, yup, Thomas did it two years ago against the Red Sox.) . . . While the original matchup for Sunday’s finale had been Clay Buchholz against former Red Sox Justin Masterson, the Indians starter for that day is now listed as TBA . . . Jacoby Ellsbury had another multihit game, his 58th of the season, passing Reggie Smith (1970) and Johnny Damon (2004) for the most by a Sox center fielder since 1954.

Cabrera on board
The Sox recalled reliever Fernando Cabrera, making him the 37th player on the active roster. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Sox recalled Aaron Bates (left ankle) and placed him on the 60-day disabled list. . . . The Sox honored their minor league players of the year before the game. The pitcher of the year was righthander Casey Kelly, who also spent time at shortstop this season. Kelly went 7-5 with a 2.08 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 95 innings with Greenville and Salem, including a 6-1 record and 1.12 ERA in Greenville. Outfielder Ryan Kalish was named the offensive player of the year after batting .279 with 84 runs, 18 homers, and 77 RBIs with Salem and Portland. Infielder Ryan Dent had a .971 fielding percentage playing second base and shortstop for Greenville and Salem, and took defensive player of the year honors. Infielder Derrik Gibson, of short-season Single A Lowell, was baserunner of the year with 28 steals. Righthander Juan Rodriguez was 3-1 with a 1.55 ERA with the Dominican Summer League Red Sox, and was Latin Program pitcher of the year. Outfielder Keury De La Cruz of the DSL Sox was Latin Program player of the year with a .259 average, 4 triples, 3 homers, and 50 RBIs.

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