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Red Sox Notebook

Varitek sees painful progress in Beckett

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 9, 2010

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Jason Varitek arrived at the Red Sox clubhouse yesterday morning with a white compression wrap on his left arm, the remnants of a rough Friday night catching Josh Beckett.

Along with giving up 9 runs on 9 hits, with 3 walks and 2 hit batters in a 10-3 loss to the Yankees, Beckett crossed up his personal catcher and drilled him with a 96-mile-per-hour inside fastball in the fifth inning as Varitek set up for a breaking pitch on the outer half of the plate.

“It’ll be OK,’’ Varitek said. “It’ll be fine.’’

The larger question is whether Beckett will be. The righthander has a 7.46 earned run average and in his last four starts has allowed 26 earned runs on 31 hits and 11 walks over 22 1/3 innings.

The pitcher who started Opening Day and was awarded a four-year, $68 million contract extension a day later has become one of the team’s paramount problems.

But Varitek saw hopeful signs Friday night.

“I think there were parts of that game I saw Josh throw the ball better than I have in all the years,’’ he said. “Part of that last inning, obviously, we lost complete feel of everything, almost kind of after we got crossed up. I don’t know what that did.

“But there were periods of that game where I’ve never seen him throw the ball so good, and that’s a good sign.’’

According to Varitek, Beckett showed almost meticulous command until the sixth inning. The catcher, who knows Beckett well, believes he can help snap him out of his funk.

“It’s more encouraging to me because it’s there,’’ Varitek said. “I have some behind-the-scenes idea that I won’t display.’’

Varitek was fortunate he didn’t break his arm, according to manager Terry Francona.

“We dodged a bullet there,’’ he said. “Different getting hit like that than getting hit by a pitch when you’re hitting.’’

Van Every pitches in
Outfielder Jonathan Van Every got the call from the bullpen for the final inning of yesterday’s loss, with the Sox already down nine runs, and the team desperate to save its relievers.

“I thought it was necessary,’’ Francona said. “I thought it’ll help us win [today]. That was the idea.’’

Van Every also took the mound at Tropicana Field on April 30, 2009, going two-thirds of an inning. “If they need me to bail them out, I’m there every time,’’ Van Every said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team get through a bad game or help the team win.’’

On the Mark Teixeira home run, Van Every said, “You play the percentages. In baseball you’re a great hitter if you get a hit 30 percent of the time. I was playing the 70 percent scenario. Unfortunately he got a pitch up in the zone, and took advantage of it.’’

Van Every is only the fifth position player to make multiple appearances on the mound for the Sox, following David McCarty (three), George Schmees (two), Eddie Lake (six), and Henry Eibel (three).

Meeting on Cameron
Francona said the medical staff met to discuss the next step for Mike Cameron, who could start a minor league rehabilitation assignment as soon as tomorrow. They will talk again today. Pawtucket starts an eight-game homestand tomorrow.

Cameron has not played since April 18 because of an abdominal strain. Francona does not believe the center fielder will need a long rehab.

Jacoby Ellsbury, out since April 11 with fractured ribs, is further behind Cameron in his recovery. He is scheduled to take batting practice today.

Ortiz deals with it
David Ortiz is 5 for his last 11 with three home runs and five RBIs. But he was on the bench with the Yankees starting lefthander CC Sabathia. While Ortiz may not like it, he’s in a strict platoon with Mike Lowell.

Francona said Ortiz has “been good with me’’ as he deals with the transition.

“I don’t expect guys to jump up and down,’’ Francona said. “Everybody wants to play. That’s why they’ve gotten to this level.’’

Cano back at it
Robinson Cano, who was hit on the left knee Friday by Beckett, was not in the original lineup for the Yankees but persuaded manager Joe Girardi to use him as the designated hitter. Jorge Posada (right calf strain) was able to play but was not in the lineup because of the wet conditions . . . Ramon Ramirez lasted just three pitches before being removed from the game with what was later announced as triceps tightness in his right arm. He allowed a home run to Teixeira on a 1-0 count, then tossed a ball to Alex Rodriguez, at which point Victor Martinez motioned to the dugout, and Ramirez was taken out. “I don’t think it’s very bad,’’ Francona said. “I think he’s going to be day to day.’’ . . . Francona managed his 1,003d game with the Sox, tying Bill Carrigan for third in club history . . . Darnell McDonald had two assists, both times catching Randy Winn . . . The Yankees put Nick Johnson (right wrist) on the disabled list and called up infielder Kevin Russo from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre . . . Boof Bonser has restarted his rehab assignment with Pawtucket. The righthander allowed one run over three innings against Charlotte Friday.

Amalie Benjamin of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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