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Beckett’s return at least a month away

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 3, 2010

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Josh Beckett, on the disabled list since May 19 with a sore back, will not be joining the Red Sox any time soon.

The righthander met with team officials yesterday and was told not to throw for at least 10 days. That puts him at least a month away from being ready to start his next game in the majors.

“We lean on this guy too much and we need to. So until we can completely get that, where he’s going though his delivery [pain free], we’re going to make him take it easy,’’ manager Terry Francona said.

“I think he understands it. I don’t think he probably loves it,’’ Francona said. “I think he realizes this is in his best interest, which ends up being in our best interest. So we’re going to be pretty firm on this one.’’

Beckett skipped his start May 12 because of a sore back, then aggravated the injury throwing a pitch on a wet mound at Yankee Stadium May 18. He has not pitched since.

When Beckett tried to throw in the bullpen last week, altered mechanics led to his feeling pain behind his shoulder.

“When we get him back out throwing, we don’t want him doing any adjustments to his delivery, to his arm slot, because then we’re going to run into problems,’’ Francona said.

If all goes well, Beckett could start throwing again June 12. He then would need at least 10-12 days to build up his arm strength to return to the mound. Given what at that point would be a five-week layoff, Beckett likely would require at least one minor league rehabilitation start.

Beckett, who signed a four-year, $68 million contract extension in April, is 1-1 with a 7.29 ERA in eight starts.

Tim Wakefield (1-3, 5.68) has taken Beckett’s place in the rotation and is scheduled to start this afternoon against the A’s.

Good news
Mike Cameron may not play until sometime this weekend, if then. But the pain he has felt on the right side of his abdomen is not a new injury.

Cameron spent 35 days on the disabled list with an abdominal tear on his left side before returning May 25. This latest pain is likely the result of overcompensation and not another tear. He saw a specialist yesterday at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“That was really good news,’’ Francona said.

Cameron has missed two games and is not expected to play for at least another day or two. He said he was diagnosed with tendinitis and inflammation deep in his midsection.

“My next question to the doctor was whether I could do more damage playing or playing through certain things,’’ Cameron said. “He told me probably not, unless I try and go out and try and play hurt.’’

The Sox discussed putting Cameron back on the disabled list but decided to see whether he could recover sufficiently in the next few days.

“The doctor told me my balance was off,’’ said Cameron, who also has some back pain. “I have to proceed with caution. I made it this far, I don’t want to turn back.’’

Said Francona, “When he does play, like we talked about before, we’ll keep an eye on him. But that was really encouraging news.’’

Ortiz, Lester honored
David Ortiz, who seemed on the verge of being released in April, was named the American League Player of the Month in May.

“Not bad for a dead man,’’ said Ortiz, who has won the award four times in his career.

Ortiz hit .363 (29 of 80) with four doubles, 10 home runs, 16 runs, and 27 RBIs over 23 games. It was the second time in his career that Ortiz hit at least .350 with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs in a month.

“It makes me feel good. I’m glad people noticed,’’ said Ortiz, who hit .143 with one home run in April. “I told people I wasn’t finished.’’

Ortiz will receive a trophy, which he plans to display above his locker. “So my friends can see it,’’ he said. “I would like to get another one.’’

Jon Lester was named AL Pitcher of the Month for the third time in his career. He was 5-0 with a 1.84 ERA over six starts and fanned 45 in 44 innings.

Lester, 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA in his first three starts, was more interested in Ortiz’s hardware.

“He deserves it. It’s a huge month for him,’’ the lefty said. “I think a lot of people wrote him off at the beginning of the year and he kind of came back and stuck it in their face and said, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’ It’s good to see him a presence in our lineup again and a presence in this clubhouse.’’

Ortiz and Lester are the first teammates to win the monthly award since Joe Mauer and Johan Santana of the Twins in June 2006. Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez were winners for the Sox in May 1999.

Recalling Griffey
Cameron was one of four players the Reds traded to Seattle for Ken Griffey Jr. in 2000. He replaced Griffey in center field for the Mariners and two become close friends.

News of Griffey’s sudden retirement from baseball after 22 seasons and 630 home runs saddened Cameron.

“It’s been a great ride for him,’’ Cameron said. “I know the toughest thing to do is retire for one. But to retire during the season is probably really hard to do because of the camaraderie more than anything else.’’

Cameron said Griffey was the player his generation emulated.

“He reached out to a lot of people,’’ Cameron said. “He’s been a gift to the game of baseball for a lot of fans for a long time.’’

Martinez sits
A day after he was 5 for 5 with four doubles, Victor Martinez did not play. Francona wanted to save him to catch Wakefield. Martinez is playing with a sore left big toe, the result of a foul tip May 24. “I saw the way he swung the bat [Tuesday night] and it was great. But the three games in less than three days, I don’t know if that’s going to work,’’ Francona said . . . Jacoby Ellsbury, out with sore ribs, is again working out, but it’s uncertain whether he will accompany the team on the road trip that starts tomorrow . . . First base coach Ron Johnson is wearing a plastic boot on the field because of a sore left Achilles’ tendon.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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