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Red Sox Notebook

Beckett not quite ready to return from DL

Adrian Beltre crosses the plate in the second inning with the game’s only run, driven in by a Mike Lowell ground out. Adrian Beltre crosses the plate in the second inning with the game’s only run, driven in by a Mike Lowell ground out. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / May 30, 2010

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After throwing a short bullpen session (20-25 pitches) on Friday, Josh Beckett (lower-back strain) sat down with manager Terry Francona and pitching coach John Farrell to discuss his status.

They met again yesterday, going over the righthander’s progress. They came to the conclusion that they would take a step back, starting with Beckett not coming off the disabled list when he’s eligible on Thursday.

“We’re going to slow him down a little bit,’’ Francona said. “The thinking involved is he’s not able to repeat his delivery consistently enough and that worries us. He starts changing arm angles. You can run into some problems that we don’t need to run into.

“So until we’re a little bit more comfortable, and he’s more comfortable, we’re going to just slow it down a little bit. How much that is, I really don’t know. That’s kind of where we are right now. There’s just a little bit there that concerns us.

“Again, we’ve got this guy for a long time. We know him well. When he’s trying to compete and there’s a little bit of uncertainty, it’s just not going to work as well as it should. We sat down, kind of at length about it, and I think he’s actually in agreement with it and trying to use good judgment.’’

Beckett went on the 15-day DL May 19. Initially, the thought was that he would be able to come off the DL when he was eligible, and only miss two starts. That is no longer the case, with Tim Wakefield scheduled to pitch in Beckett’s place for the third time Thursday.

Beckett was unavailable to speak to the media yesterday.

“We don’t want it to lead to anything else,’’ Francona said. “We know him so well. When he tries to pitch and he doesn’t feel like he has his legs under him, that’s going to lead to other problems.

“I think [Farrell] saw some inconsistency in his delivery, then you talk to Beckett, and Beckett would kind of say the same thing. When you talk it through, it just seems to make sense. You start asking a guy to compete, you might get to an area we don’t need to.’’

Not only is Beckett continuing to feel the effects of the strain, he has struggled to pitch effectively when healthy. He has a 7.29 ERA over eight starts, allowing opponents to bat .305. He was working to correct some of his problems on the mound when the strain occurred.

Francona, when asked what the next step would be, said, “I really don’t [know]. We’ll see how he feels. That’s probably the best we can do.’’

Rest stop
Dustin Pedroia made the defensive play of the game, with honorable mention to Adrian Beltre’s fourth-inning stop to start a double play, and got a reward of sorts from Francona. Pedroia will get today’s game off.

The second baseman’s batting average is down to .255 after going 0 for 3. He is hitless in his last 13 at-bats (although he walked and reached on an error last night), and is only 5 for 40 (.125) in his last 10 games.

“I think he needs a day off,’’ Francona said. “But it’s not easy to give him days off because he’s such a good player. We’ve talked about how good he is defensively, but when the game’s on the line, he’s even better.’’

Pedroia’s defensive gem came in the eighth inning with the Sox protecting a one-run lead. With Jason Kendall on third, David DeJesus ripped a pitch toward second. Pedroia, who was shaded toward the hole, backhanded the ball and threw out DeJesus to end the inning.

“Pedey, he’s unbelievable,’’ Clay Buchholz said. “He makes big plays whenever you need to make big plays. And that’s why he’s as good as he is. He never gives up, 110 percent every play, every at-bat. We’re lucky to have a guy like that at second base for us, making plays and keeping us in ballgames.

“I thought it was almost the exact play that he made [in Buchholz’s no-hitter]. Can’t say enough about the guy. He’s probably one of the best there is in that position in this game.’’

Added David Ortiz, “You want to talk about defense, talk about Pedroia. I heard people worry about he’s not hitting right now. That’s the last guy I’m worried about. When he comes out, he comes out like a monster. So the laser show is about to pop off.’’

Have a seat
Kevin Youkilis got the night off against Royals starter Zack Greinke, with Mike Lowell playing first base. Youkilis had just one hit in 10 at-bats off Greinke, while Lowell came in 4 for 7. “Mikey has done a really good job against Greinke, Youk has had a tough time,’’ said Francona. “I don’t necessarily care a lot of times. Youk is such a good hitter. I just think, try to take advantage of it. There’s been so many late nights. It’s been such a grind.’’ Lowell grounded out against Greinke in the second inning, scoring Beltre from third for the only run of the game . . . Victor Martinez is still dealing with some discomfort in his left big toe, which was hit by a foul ball against the Rays last week. He returned to the lineup Friday, and was back behind the plate last night. He will likely sit in favor of Jason Varitek today. “It hurts,’’ Francona said. “He’s going to have to deal with it a little bit. I hope he doesn’t get hit again in the same spot.Last night, Martinez threw out Scott Podsednik trying to steal second after he singled to start the sixth inning. “Looking at the situation of the game, Victor was even altering his stance behind the plate because it hurts, and he only bounced it,’’ Francona said. “Pedey makes the play. Victor got rid of it quick, and in a 1-0 game, anybody that makes a mistake is going to probably lose.’’ . . . This was the Sox’ first 1-0 win since beating the Royals last July 10. It was their first shutout of the season at home . . . With the save, Jonathan Papelbon, with 285, is just one shy of Dick Radatz for third in club history . . . Ortiz’s double gave him a seven-game hitting streak, during which he’s batting .390 with three doubles, two homers, four walks, and seven RBIs . . . Bench coach DeMarlo Hale coached third base last night as Tim Bogar attended son T.J.’s graduation from Normal (Ill.) Community High School. The Sox were hoping to have Bogar back today . . . Gil Meche, who was scheduled to start today’s series finale for the Royals, was placed on the 15-day DL with shoulder bursitis before last night’s game. Righthander Victor Marte was recalled from Triple A Omaha to take his place on the roster. Former Sox lefthander Bruce Chen is slated to get today’s start.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report; Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.

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