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Red Sox notebook

Simulated success has Beckett back on track

By Michael Vega and Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / March 5, 2011

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Josh Beckett is ready to return to his normal schedule after throwing 40 pitches in a three-inning simulated game on the back field at City of Palms Park yesterday.

Facing minor leaguers, Beckett threw 14 pitches in the first inning, 17 in the second, and 9 in the third. He faced 12 batters in all, each starting with a 1-and-1 count, and finished with seven strikeouts.

“I felt good,’’ he said. “It’s a sim game. There’s just not a lot of adrenaline and stuff that goes into that. But I like it when the guys go up there and swing; [it] gives you a little bit of feedback one way or the other. It’s hard to get a lot of feedback if the guys don’t swing, just not a lot of things that correlate to a game unless you have a little bit of something going on.’’

Beckett suffered a mild concussion Monday when he was struck on the head by an errant ball while in the outfield during batting practice. That caused him to miss his start Wednesday.

Beckett is now scheduled to face the Astros in Tuesday’s split-squad game at City of Palms.

“Yeah, I think I’m right there,’’ he said. “I wouldn’t have thrown that many pitches. I probably would have thrown less than that, in fact, unless I would have ran into a long inning, and even then they wouldn’t have let me go over so many pitches in one inning.

“This time of year, it’s good to get a little bit tired. And I did get a little bit tired in between the second and third innings, going into those warm-ups. I could tell the difference.’’

Beckett is still feeling some effects from the concussion, which occurred when staff assistant Ino Guerrero accidentally struck him with a ball off a fungo bat.

“I’m pretty good. I’m really sore on my jaw and the left side of my head, but I’m pretty good,’’ Beckett said.

Beckett revealed that his return was slower than he first expected.

“I went to lunch about a day and a half later and I couldn’t do it,’’ he said. “I couldn’t be away from the house without lying down and that’s when I figured out something was wrong here, because I was resistant to thinking I even had a concussion.

“I tried to come back the next day and said, ‘Oh, I’m ready to get back to work.’ But that day when I went to lunch, I had a little bit of a setback.’’

Beckett wasn’t cleared to begin normal activity until Thursday after passing a series of neurological tests. He has not yet returned to lifting weights.

Increased workload Adrian Gonzalez took 80 swings, five more than expected. It was another positive step in his rehab from offseason shoulder surgery.

The final 10 swings were against a pitching machine, the first time he has tried that post-surgery.

“I wouldn’t say I’m easing into it, but it’s part of the game plan, I guess you could say,’’ the first baseman said. “I know I’ve got plenty of time and I’m going to get into plenty of games once I get into it.’’

Gonzalez was encouraged by the fact he was able to extend his session to 80 swings.

“At any point when I feel anything, I’m going to stop,’’ he said. “But the fact I didn’t feel anything and Mike [Reinold, the trainer] was OK with me taking five more [swings] was a good sign.’’

Manager Terry Francona would not predict when Gonzalez will take batting practice on the field.

“It will all go on how he feels,’’ Francona said.

Word of warning Righthander Alfredo Aceves has been one of the surprises in camp, impressing Francona with his performance and apparent good health.

But Yankees general manager Brian Cashman issued a word of warning, saying Aceves was a risk because of a bad back.

“I offered him a minor league contract, that was it. I wasn’t going to do anything more than that,’’ Cashman said.

Aceves was 14-1 with a 3.21 earned run average in three seasons with the Yankees. But he was limited to 12 innings last season by a herniated disk.

“He was throwing off the mound for us and he always hit a wall. So we ultimately continued to fail throughout the entire process to get him off the DL and active,’’ Cashman said. “He had a lot of success for a period of time, but then ultimately we’d had to take steps back and we’d have to shut him down and redo the treatment.’’

Family time The Red Sox had reliever Tony Pena Jr. on the trip to Tampa to play the Yankees last night. His father, Tony Pena, is the Yankees’ bench coach and a former Red Sox catcher . . . Actor Richard Gere threw out the ceremonial first pitch . . . The Red Sox arranged to have the DH in place for all their spring training road games against National League teams . . . Jed Lowrie, who will be a utility infielder, started at first base to get some experience there.

Peter Abraham contributed from Tampa; Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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