|Clay Buchholz will return to the rotation after pitching tomorrow for Pawtucket. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)|
Minor stops along the way
Injured pitchers take next steps
It has taken a while, but there is finally some positive news to report on the injury front for the Red Sox.
Three pitchers on the disabled list — Manny Delcarmen, Clay Buchholz, and Josh Beckett — will make minor league rehabilitation appearances over the next three days, which should lead to them being activated.
It starts tonight when Delcarmen will pitch the first inning for Double A Portland at New Britain, Conn. He has been out since July 1 with a strained forearm. Tomorrow, Buchholz will start for Triple A Pawtucket in Syracuse, the final step in his recovery from a strained lower left hamstring. Then on Saturday, Beckett will start for Pawtucket at Syracuse as he continues his comeback from back woes.
Delcarmen could be activated this weekend, Buchholz and Beckett on the West Coast trip next week. All three worked out at Fenway Park yesterday.
Buchholz has pitched one inning since June 20. As a result, the Sox were not comfortable sending him right into a major league game.
“That’s not very realistic that he’s going to get deep in a game,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “The more we thought about it, the more we talked to him, I think we were all in agreement, go pitch three or four innings, shake the rust off, make sure he’s OK.’’
Rookie lefthander Felix Doubront will start for the Sox tomorrow against the Rangers in Buchholz’s place.
“We’ll get [Buchholz] in the rotation the next time through,’’ Francona said.
The same philosophy was true of Delcarmen.
“It seemed like a good idea to see some hitters before I come back,’’ he said. “I feel good.’’
Beckett, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 18, should need only one more minor league start.
“We’ll see,’’ Francona said. “Depending on how he feels coming out of that, it’s certainly that one or one more. We’ve been pretty patient, we’ve actually been real patient because we want Beckett to be Beckett.’’
As a 22-year-old prospect with the Expos, Francona was in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for a spring training game against the Yankees when Steinbrenner approached him to say he enjoyed watching his father, Tito, play.
Steinbrenner was from Cleveland, where Tito Francona had his best seasons.
“I was a young kid and scared to death of him,’’ Francona said of Steinbrenner. “But it meant something to me that he said that. The one thing that really sticks out is whenever there seems to be a problem or a disaster, he seemed to be first and writing the biggest check. I think that’s pretty cool.’’
Said Sox general manager Theo Epstein: “He was a great icon in baseball and a great competitor. Someone who hated to lose and ran his organization accordingly and, we’re finding out more and more, someone with a huge heart as well.’’
Epstein recalled working for the Padres in 1998, when New York swept San Diego in the World Series.
“He came storming by getting ready to hit the champagne and he had 50, 60 media members following in his wake,’’ Epstein said. “That was my first direct vision of him and that’s kind of how I’ll always remember him, leading the pack and doing things his way. He was a great part of the rivalry. He is the Yankees and will be missed.’’
Dr. Lewis Yocum checked out Beltre in Los Angeles and pronounced him fit.
“He doesn’t seem overly concerned about it, which is good,’’ Francona said.
The plan is for him to be the designated hitter tonight, play left field tomorrow, then DH again on Saturday. He then would be checked out on Sunday before the team goes on the road.
Hermida then likely would play a few more minor league games.
“He’s all excited about getting going and playing,’’ Francona said. “Every day he got a little bit better. Once he knew he could do one thing, he moved up to another. He’s done a really good job.’’