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Red Sox Notebook

Beckett to return Tuesday against Yankees

Ramon Ramirez walks off after allowing the winning run on a walk to Ramon Santiago. Ramon Ramirez walks off after allowing the winning run on a walk to Ramon Santiago. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 16, 2010

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DETROIT — Josh Beckett is back in the Red Sox rotation and will face the Yankees Tuesday after successfully completing a 55-pitch bullpen session yesterday.

“Everything felt fine,’’ said Beckett, who turned 30 yesterday. “I’ll pitch in New York. Looking forward to it.’’

The Sox are maintaining a cautious stance, saying they want to see how Beckett is moving around today after missing his last start because of back spasms. But manager Terry Francona indicated there was little cause for concern.

“All signs point to Beckett being fine for Tuesday,’’ he said.

Beckett felt good enough to stay in the bullpen longer than expected, and concentrated on some of the mechanical flaws in his delivery that have led to his 7.46 ERA through seven starts.

He and pitching coach John Farrell worked on his delivery from the stretch, focusing largely on breaking pitches.

“That’s an ongoing maintenance issue,’’ Farrell said. “The fact that there were no physical restrictions to keep him from doing that was a good day.’’

Farrell said Beckett was able to work with “normal intensity and effort’’ when compared with his previous bullpen sessions.

Beckett has allowed 14 earned runs on 17 hits and 6 walks in 10 innings against the Yankees in two starts this season.

Cameron is close
Mike Cameron played his fifth game for Pawtucket last night, manning center field and going 0 for 2 with a walk before he was removed after six innings. Cameron is a day or two away from being activated off the disabled list. He has been out since April 19 with a lower abdominal strain.

Cameron will talk to team officials after the game to decide whether he would play one more game in the minors or rejoin the big club in New York tomorrow. Physically, he feels ready.

“It’s more baseball-wise, if he needs the at-bats,’’ said Francona. “We need to see how he feels, if he needs to DH [today].’’

A bit reluctant
Jacoby Ellsbury, out since April 12 with four cracked ribs, will start his minor league rehab assignment with Pawtucket tomorrow, and then join Double A Portland Tuesday, as Pawtucket starts an eight-game road trip that day while the Sea Dogs start a seven-game homestand.

“Not really,’’ said Ellsbury when asked if he was ready to play. “It’s not do-or-die or anything. You know you want to play.’’

Ellsbury said he was worried how his ribs would feel should he have to dive for a ball.

“Yeah, that’ll be fun,’’ he said.

Ellsbury took early batting practice with several teammates yesterday and hit the ball well. It is uncertain how many games he would need on a rehab assignment before being deemed ready to return.

Respite helped
Hideki Okajima had a 7.04 ERA after his first 11 appearances, putting 17 runners on base over 7 2/3 innings.

“There were some bad things going on,’’ the lefthander said via interpreter Ryo Shinkawa before the game. “But I believed in myself that I would get better as time went on.’’

The Sox helped that process by giving Okajima some time off. From April 27 through May 5, he faced only one batter.

Okajima had been nearly perfect since in five appearances, allowing one hit over 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Then came last night, when he entered in the eighth with a 6-4 lead, gave up a leadoff homer to Magglio Ordonez, and failed to finish the inning, surrendering the tying run before leaving.

“He wasn’t locating real well for a while. I think [the time off] was good for him,’’ Francona said. “Command with him is the big word. He’s not overpowering but he can get some funky swings on an 87-mile-per-hour fastball. When he commands, that sets everything up.’’

Royal reunion
Johnny Damon was pleased to see the Sox add longtime minor league coach and manager Ron Johnson to the big league staff this season. Johnson was Damon’s manager in 1995 with Double A Wichita in the Kansas City organization.

Damon, 21 at the time, hit .343 with 16 home runs before being promoted to the majors.

“R.J. was a great manager to have,’’ Damon said. “I learned a lot of baseball from him.’’

Johnson knew then that Damon would be successful.

“Not only was he really good, but every team he was on won and he was a great guy,’’ Johnson said. “It was fun to see a player at that stage because you knew he would be something special.’’

Extended outing
Jonathan Papelbon threw 2 1/3 innings in last night’s 7-6 loss against the Tigers, his longest outing since June 24, 2006, when he also got seven outs. Papelbon needed only 26 pitches.

“I was able to stay in my delivery and keep my legs underneath me,’’ he said.

Papelbon allowed one hit and struck out two, dropping his ERA to 1.47. “He was tremendous,’’ Francona said. “He gave us a heck of a chance.’’

Radio switch
Today’s game will be on WRKO radio, as WEEI will broadcast the Celtics game . . . Special assistant Alex Ochoa joined the team here. He has spent most of the season in Portland serving as a mentor to shortstop Jose Iglesias . . . NESN’s Tom Caron and Don Orsillo shaved their playoff beards after the Bruins lost . . . Bill Hall hit his second home run in as many days when he connected in the fifth inning against Eddie Bonine . . . Kevin Youkilis is the sixth Sox player to walk five times in a game since 1920, the first since Manny Ramirez June 12, 2003, against St. Louis.

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