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Beckett’s next start delayed

He has spasms in his back after BP

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 11, 2010

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Manager Terry Francona announced Josh Beckett would be pushed back from tomorrow’s scheduled start to Friday to give him a chance to throw a second side session, and to give Tim Wakefield a start. By the time last night’s game ended, there was another reason.

Beckett tweaked his back taking batting practice before the 7-6 victory over Toronto. The Sox have an interleague series in Philadelphia in 10 days. Beckett’s back “spasmed up on him a little bit,’’ according to Francona.

“We’ll get him checked out in the morning,’’ Francona said. “He had a stiff back the other day a little bit, and he was kind of starting to swing the bat and he felt it and it grabbed him a little bit. We’ll get him checked out. Actually, it’s a little bit of a coincidence because he was going to pitch Friday and Wake was going to pitch [Wednesday].’’

Asked if the back issue meant Beckett might not be able to take the ball Friday in Detroit, Francona said, “We really don’t know.’’

Beckett had been coming off another difficult outing — allowing nine runs in 5 1/3 innings to the Yankees Friday night — and the Sox pushed him back to work on mechanical issues, and keep Wakefield stretched out.

“There’s multiple reasons for the adjustment in the rotation,’’ pitching coach John Farrell said. “An additional side with Josh to reinforce, particularly out of the stretch, him getting back to a proper balance point and not getting his delivery too spread out to where he loses a downhill plane to his fastball. When he gets into a proper position, his curveball is less readable by an opposing hitter. Part of this is a constant use of the slide step that can cause some of the habits that we’re trying to recorrect here.’’

It’s unclear if Beckett will be able to throw today’s side session. Adding to the impetus of moving Beckett: He is 3-5 with a 7.34 ERA in 13 starts against the Blue Jays. Beckett is 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA in three career starts against the Tigers, including 2-0 with an 0.61 ERA in two starts in Detroit.

The move also would push Beckett out of the two-game Yankees series in New York next week. Jon Lester and John Lackey will face the Yankees.

“This isn’t something new,’’ Farrell said. “There’s been stretches in the past where we’ve been into some similar type situations. After talking with him, after reviewing video, seeing the hitters’ reactions, just seeing performance data, that shows the same evidence, and this is where we’ve got to reestablish that good position to get into.’’

Beckett’s ERA stands at 7.46 after Friday’s meltdown against the Yankees. He has allowed 34 earned runs over seven starts.

“After things like that happen, you can either go tackle a guy or give him a chance to breathe,’’ Francona said. “We know Beckett well enough that he almost needs the 24-hour rule. We know him. You jump on him before that 24 hours, you’re probably not going to have the conversation you need, but once he’s out of that he can start processing things, hopefully taking the good — cause there was a lot of good — and then figure out, OK, how do we build from that.’’

If Beckett’s back issue keeps him from one or more starts, the team will need to use Wakefield in his place. The knuckleballer has made three relief appearances, covering 6 1/3 innings, since his last start April 25. He worked a 1-2-3 inning Sunday.

Dice roll
Daisuke Matsuzaka has had a pair of bad innings — the last one in his first start and the first one in his second. “Other than that,’’ Francona said, “he’s been really good.’’

Matsuzaka gets the chance to put it together tonight against the Blue Jays. So far, he’s allowed 11 earned runs (12 total) over 10 innings.

“In Baltimore he started trying to overthrow, a bit like Beckett the other night, getting to that point in the game when harder is better,’’ said Francona. “The other night [against the Angels] he threw the first two strikes, and then all of a sudden it was like he was trying to get everybody to chase. Then once he was aggressive with his fastball again in the zone he was fine. Sets up every other pitch.’’

Cameron in action
Mike Cameron played in his first rehab game for Pawtucket last night, leading off and serving as the DH. He fouled out in his first at-bat, struck out in the fourth, walked in the fifth, and doubled and scored in the eighth. He is expected to play the outfield in tonight’s home game . . . After coming out of Saturday’s game with tightness in his right triceps, Ramon Ramirez was progressing well. He played catch on Sunday, and again yesterday. “As of now, he said he feels 100 percent,’’ Francona said. “That’s great news. We thought about actually giving him a bullpen. He says he feels fine, where he’ll go through a normal routine. The hope would be he’s available and it was just kind of a blip on the radar. That was really good news.’’ . . . J.D. Drew was scratched with vertigo about 10 minutes before last night’s game. Drew has had this before, including after the team’s flight to Toronto April 25. He was replaced in right field by Jonathan Van Every. “He got real dizzy before the game,’’ Francona said. “He’s had bouts with vertigo and had a pretty good bout going. Looked like he just got off a boat. He tried to kind of get up about the fifth inning and move around. I think he started to feel better, and then when he did that, he didn’t feel so good. This has happened to him before.’’ . . . Former director of performance enhancement Don Kalkstein was in the clubhouse before the game. Kalkstein used to be the Sox’ sports psychologist, and still consults with the club.

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

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