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Beckett to pitch against Rays

Francona says he’ll likely work Friday

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / September 14, 2011

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Josh Beckett has been cleared to pitch and is tentatively scheduled to face the Tampa Bay Rays Friday.

Beckett was at Fenway Park Monday and threw in the bullpen. Pitching coach Curt Young monitored the session and came away pleased, as did Beckett.

“He feels really good. I think he said he could have pitched yesterday, which is good news,’’ manager Terry Francona said before last night’s 18-6 victory against Toronto.

Beckett sprained his right ankle Sept 5, an injury that initially appeared serious. He will test himself with some fielding drills today, making sure he can cover first base.

“It’s not exactly set in stone, but we’re leaning toward Friday,’’ Francona said.

Beckett (12-5) has thrown 17 scoreless innings against the Rays this season, allowing two hits with 12 strikeouts and no walks. He is 8-4 with a 2.94 earned run average in 18 career starts against Tampa Bay.

The Sox have not yet named a starter for tomorrow. Candidates include Andrew Miller, Kyle Weiland, and perhaps Alfredo Aceves, although he did throw 19 pitches over two innings last night.

Ortiz is scratched David Ortiz was in the lineup but was pinch hit for in the first inning because of back spasms.

“Right before the game, and I mean right before the game, his back was getting stiff,’’ Francona said. “He thought he was going to be OK. We had to take the lineup cards out. But when we turned in the lineup cards, he went to swing and it really got tight. Just muscle spasms.’’

Ortiz is day to day. Jed Lowrie was 0 for 4 in his place, striking out twice, popping out, and grounding into a double play.

Jenks has embolism Bobby Jenks has been diagnosed with what Francona termed a “small’’ pulmonary embolism.

The condition is not career threatening.

“I don’t believe so,’’ Francona said. “It’s still nothing to mess around with, but this was a very small embolism. They have it under control. Certainly they want it to go away. But I think they feel like he’s in good shape.’’

A pulmonary embolism is a blockage in either the main artery of the lungs or one of its branches. Typically it is the result of a blood clot that starts elsewhere in the body. It can cause difficulty in breathing or a rapid heart rate.

Jenks, 30, has missed most of the season with arm and back injuries, appearing in only 19 games. The embolism was found during tests to determine the extent of his back injury.

Team sources said Jenks would undergo back surgery once the embolism is treated. The righthander was signed to a two-year, $12 million contract last winter.

Bedard in limbo Lefthander Erik Bedard has not pitched since Sept. 3 because of a strained left knee and a strained left lat. He played what was described as “light catch’’ yesterday. His return remains uncertain.

“We’re going to have to see where it goes. We don’t know,’’ Francona said. “We know we have a doubleheader coming up next Monday where we have to fill two spots. He may be a candidate; he may not. We’ll see.

Clay Buchholz threw in the outfield four hours before the game and tentatively has been cleared to throw off the mound. That could come tomorrow.

“That will be determined,’’ Francona said. “When he gets to this effort level, we want to see how he bounces back. He’s getting himself towards a bullpen for sure.’’

Five called up The Red Sox added first baseman Lars Anderson, outfielder Joey Gathright, shortstop Jose Iglesias, lefthanded reliever Trever Miller, and righthander Junichi Tazawa.

That gives the Sox 36 players on the roster.

Tazawa, 25, had Tommy John surgery before the 2010 season and has spent this year making a comeback, starting in Single A. He had a 2.51 ERA in eight appearances for Pawtucket and struck out 19 in 14 1/3 innings.

“You’re certainly not going to see him pitch every day. But since we have enough bodies, we have the ability to pick and choose when we pitch him,’’ Francona said. “We’re excited to see him back.’’

Tazawa was concerned about ever getting back to the big leagues.

“When I was first rehabbing last year I was really worried about whether I’d be able to make it back to where I want to be as a pitcher,’’ he said via an interpreter.

“I was having trouble believing in myself and believing in the rehab I was doing, but as time went on, through rehab and training, I’ve been able to reach this point, I’m really happy with myself.’’

Gathright, who was with the Sox in 2009 and made the playoff roster, will be used primarily as a pinch runner.

“He’s got that ability to steal a base and score from first on a double,’’ Francona said.

To make space on the 40-man roster for Gathright and Miller, the Sox designated infielder Nate Spears for assignment and moved J.D. Drew to the 60-day disabled list retroactive to July 20.

Drew is out with a fractured finger suffered while rehabilitating a shoulder injury. If he is cleared to play, he could return as soon as Sunday.

And the nominee is . . . Ortiz is the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award for community service. Tim Wakefield won the award last year. Ortiz announced yesterday that his fourth annual celebrity golf tournament to benefit sick children in New England and the Dominican Republic will be Dec. 1-4 . . . Jacoby Ellsbury extended his hit streak to 17 games . . . Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler was added to the coaching staff, a reward for what Francona said was his excellent work this season.

Michael Whitmer of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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