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Red Sox notebook

Beckett won’t go until Tuesday

By Peter Abraham and Michael Vega
Globe Staff / June 24, 2011

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Josh Beckett has been pushed back again because of illness and is now scheduled to start Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Beckett missed his start this past Tuesday, and plans to have him start tomorrow against the Pirates were scrapped when the righthander did not improve.

But Beckett is expected to be ready for the Phillies, as the extra days off will allow him to get into his normal prestart routine. However, it will be 12 days between starts for him.

Beckett (6-2, 1.86 ERA) is lined up to face Cliff Lee (8-5, 2.87) at Citizens Bank Park.

The Sox will have Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, and Andrew Miller face the Pirates, with Beckett, John Lackey, and Lester going against the Phillies.

Rehab for Jenks Righthanded reliever Bobby Jenks will start an injury rehabilitation assignment with Double A Portland tomorrow at New Hampshire. He will start that game and probably pitch one inning.

Jenks has not pitched since June 7 because of a strained muscle on the left side of his back.

There was good news for injured shortstop Jed Lowrie. His left shoulder will not require surgery, as Dr. Lewis Yocum confirmed the diagnosis of the Red Sox medical staff. Lowrie is expected to be out at least another 2-3 weeks.

Swing thoughts The idea of regular-season interaction between the American and National Leagues seemed novel at first. Part of the charm was that NL rules would come to play on their turf, meaning AL pitchers would have to reacquaint themselves with the batter’s box.

That’s what the Red Sox starters have done leading up to this 11-day, nine-game interleague road swing that begins tonight.

“I think what we’ve done is spread it out more,’’ said manager Terry Francona. “We start out real slow and we hit off the tee, drive swing without the tee, so the progression is really slow, because we don’t want somebody getting hurt. Not just hurt, we don’t want them to be sore.’’

And that is a very real possibility for players not accustomed to work in the batting cage.

“I think I told somebody the other day if you go swing today, tomorrow your sides are going to be sore,’’ Francona said. “That’s not conducive to helping somebody pitch, so we try to balance it.

“We want to go get bunts down and, certainly, if there’s runners in scoring position, we’d like for them to have a chance to get a hit, because some of these guys are actually OK.’’

Beckett is the most experienced hitter on the staff, having spent five years with Florida, where he batted .139. In his five years with the Sox, Beckett has hit .207 with two homers.

As for the relievers, Francona believes getting them BP is counterproductive.

“If one of our relievers is hitting, believe me, the game is not on the line,’’ he said.

New batting stance

While managing in Philadelphia, Francona developed a hard-line stance against the DH, but he seems to have softened. “Yeah, I like the DH, and I’m a little surprised I said that,’’ Francona said. “But I think just from watching games, first of all, it creates jobs for more players, which I think is good. It makes the game more fun. So many times, pitchers go up there and that’s when people get up to go get their popcorn. I understand there’s some so-called strategy there, but I think having the DH there makes the game better. It makes it more fun.’’ . . . Miller makes no bones about his ability to make contact in the batter’s box. Asked how his hitting is, Miller said, “Ah, not very good. If you look up the stats, they’ll validate that.’’ In three seasons with the Marlins, he hit .063 (4 for 63) with 3 RBIs and 27 strikeouts. “You’ve got to get your reps down and try to work the count a little bit,’’ Miller said. “But I’m not going to make any claims that I’m some great hitter.’’ . . . Tonight’s game will be a reunion of sorts for the Sox and two former farmhands, Dusty Brown and Mike McKenry, both catchers. Brown has made eight starts for the Pirates since being called up May 30. McKenry, acquired June 12 in trade, has started seven of the last nine games.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com

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