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Beckett pessimistic about back

Posted by Gordon Edes, Globe Staff  March 10, 2008 12:02 PM

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Red Sox ace Josh Beckett, who spent the morning undergoing treatment for a strained lower back muscle, was considerably more pessimistic about his condition today than he was yesterday. He said he had difficulty sleeping last night because of the back, and said he did not know when he'll be able to resume baseball activity.

"I was a lot more optimistic yesterday than I am today," Beckett said.

He underwent an MRI and other tests that ruled out any issues with the disks in his lower back, but with the Sox just two weeks away from opening the season in Japan (March 24 against Oakland), it would seem improbable that he'll be able to pitch the opener. Beckett has appeared in just two spring games, one against Boston College and the other against the Twins in a B game.

Here is the transcript of Beckett's comments in the Sox clubhouse in Fort Myers this morning:

"Today wasn't as good as yesterday. We'll just have to wait and see I guess. Doctors told me yesterday that there was a possibility I'd come in and feel like I do today so as far as that goes, the doctors were right.''

Why was that, Josh?

"I'm not a doctor, I don't know.''

Did it happen because of looseness of mound dirt Saturday?

"I'm not going to get into the blame thing, Everybody's doing their job. Nobody's job is any easier than anybody else's. I'm not getting into that.''

Was there a mis-step on the mound Saturday?

"I'm not getting into that. It's nobody's fault. It's something that happens.''

It looks pretty doubtful for you to pitch in Japan.

"I don't know. We'll make those decisions as they come.''

Realistically, two weeks from today they open, you haven't faced big-league hitters yet, can you be ready by the 24th?

"I don't know. If I'd had as much progress from yesterday to today as I did from the first day to the second day, I wouldn't have ruled that out. Today I'm just holding up my obligation (to talk to media). It probably would have been better to talk to you guys yesterday because I was a little more optimistic. I'm in a pretty crappy mood as far as this thing goes because it was a pretty frustrating day because yesterday was good and today's kind of horse(bleep).''

Lower back?

''Yes."

Any discussion about an injection to reduce inflammation?

"No. I kicked around some of those ideas because it's a tough time in spring training, trying to get everything going. You don't really want setbacks this time of year. They basically told me that they couldn't find a spot to put the shot in there.''

Did they discuss that maybe putting you on a plane for 17 hours (to Japan) might not be wise because of your back?

"No. We haven't discussed any of that. We're just doing what we're saying, going day to day on how I feel. I pretty much have an interview with two or three doctors every day and report to the manager and pitching coach and my trainer."

Have you had an MRI?

"Yes. We've done a number of tests. There's nothing wrong with the disks, and I think that's what they wanted to make sure of. It's definitely a strained muscle or pulled muscle, whatever you want to call it. It heals when it heals.''

Have you had anything like this?

"No. Not like this.''

Back issues before?

''No.''

Any idea when you'll be healthy?

''No, I have no idea.''

Can you look far enough ahead to know the next time you can be on a mound?

''No. We're going to make sure it's completely pain free. I can't even really if laying in one position too long, or sitting in one position too long or standing in one position too long it kind of goes backwards. I've got to keep moving and stuff like that.''

What do you do tomorrow?

"Whatever they want me to do. Probably the same as what today was.''

Did it respond to treatment? As you're standing here right now, is it feeling better?

"It's kind of numb right now. I've had six or seven icepacks on it this morning.''

"I was a lot more optimistic yesterday than I am today. A lot of that has to do with being in a (expletive) mood because I didn't sleep well.''

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