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Beckett put on disabled list

Wakefield will take his place in rotation

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 20, 2010

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Though the Yankees played Tuesday night’s game under protest, saying that the Red Sox gave no prior indication that Josh Beckett was injured before removing him from the game, those concerns appeared baseless yesterday as the righthander landed on the 15-day disabled list.

According to the Sox, Beckett aggravated his back injury — termed a lower back strain — on an off-speed pitch to Alex Rodriguez.

Beckett had already been skipped in his previous scheduled start, and Tuesday night he allowed five runs (three earned) over 4 2/3 innings. When Manny Delcarmen was brought in to relieve Beckett, he was given unlimited warm-up pitches, prompting the Yankees’ protest.

Tim Wakefield will take Beckett’s place in the rotation, beginning with a start opposite Roy Halladay in Philadelphia Sunday. To fill Beckett’s spot on the roster and Wakefield’s spot in the bullpen, the Sox brought up reliever Joe Nelson from Pawtucket.

“We thought about bumping him back, maybe having him miss a start,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “Then we started thinking, OK, if we do that, if we put him on the disabled list, he can basically miss [two starts], we can line it up where he comes off the day he’s eligible.’’

Beckett will be eligible to come off June 3, which means he could be slotted right back in instead of Wakefield against Oakland at home. Beckett would miss two starts, Sunday against Philadelphia and May 28 vs. Kansas City.

“The last thing we want to have happen is have him pitch with a back and turn the back into something else where it feels like he’s not using his legs or something and he hurts his shoulder,’’ said Francona. “So we really want to make sure he’s OK.’’

Though Beckett felt good for much of his start, it seems clear that the latest injury is related to the back spasms he suffered when taking batting practice last week. His improvements were particularly evident when pitching out of the stretch.

“All our pitchers have become so aware when guys are running and trying to help our catcher out, trying to eliminate some of the running, that Josh had become so quick to the plate that he really wasn’t getting an angle on his fastball,’’ Francona said. “That’s really what it was.

“So he picked up his leg more and I thought, for the most part, he drove the ball downhill a lot better. That was basically what he was trying to do. Doesn’t have to pick his leg up every time, but there’s got to be some load in there or he’s going to have some flat fastballs.’’

Wakefield also pitched well in his last start. Against the Blue Jays May 12, Wakefield allowed just three runs over seven innings, though he took the loss.

“I’m excited I’m going to get another start, but I don’t want it to be because Josh got hurt,’’ Wakefield said. “I’ll do my best while I’m in there and look forward to pitching on Sunday.’’

Except, of course, the part where he needs to bat in the interleague matchup. Wakefield, who hadn’t taken batting practice yet, said he’ll have to take some swings. He wouldn’t make any predictions on his offensive contribution, but said, “Hopefully I get a chance to bunt three times.’’

The one thing Wakefield said he won’t do is try to convince the Sox that he deserves to start on a regular basis.

“I shouldn’t have to,’’ he said. “But I’m not taking each start that I’m going to prove that I can be in the rotation. I don’t make those decisions here. I can only control what I can control.’’

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