Despite being bouyed by the good news of Josh Beckett's "awesome" test results from his examination today with Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., the Red Sox placed their right-handed staff ace on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to Augus 18) with inflammation in his right elbow, according to Sox general manager Theo Epstein.
"As I said yesterday [in New York], he was improving, it was just less than 100 percent," Epstein said. "Sure there was concern, but we were optimistic. Today, we got great news and it's a relief, even though we weren't completely panicked. To get reassurance is good news and a big relief.
"I'm not a doctor, but the best guess was sort of a slightly irritated nerve that was exacerbated by sleeping funny on it and pitching through it," Epstein added. "There's nothing structural at all, it's a very healthy elbow -- ligament and nerve."
During his pre-game press conference, manager Terry Francona expressed his relief over Beckett's test results.
"Everything came out I guess the word would be 'awesome,' from our standpoint," Francona said. "I don't know that he used that word. Everything was clean, a number of tests and Josh came through it with flying colors, which I think was what we certainly hoped.
"We just needed to, as Theo stated yesterday, kind of get some closure. When Josh threw the other day [in a 50-pitch side session Tuesday at Yankee Stadium], I got so excited about the way he threw the ball," Francona added. "As we visited with him a little more as the week progressed, he just had that look in his eye so we kinda kept pushing him, pushing him, and pushing him, and we all felt like this was the best thing to do.
"If you're a first baseman and you're knee hurts, you go out and limp through the game. If you're a pitcher and you throwing about 97, it's nice to know that when you let it go, you're going to be OK. I think we all feel good about the way we did it."
Beckett, who was accompanied on this trip to Florida by assistant trainer Mike Reinhold, returned to the clubhouse at about 5:38 p.m. and reported to the manager's office to speak with Francona and Epstein.
"It went good," Beckett reported. "It went good. Just a little bit stiff now. Had some dye put in there. It was definitely good news."
When he departed Yankee Stadium, though, Beckett said his worst fears were having to undergo Tommy John surgery. When he finally got examined by Andrews, "It was a big relief," Beckett said.
"We put it off because everybody is scared at some point, both me and the organization," Beckett said. "I just wanted to – and not that I think Dr. Andrews is a clown, because there’s no one that I respect more – but I just wanted to hear it from the clown’s mouth, as the saying goes."
So what was his doctor's diagnosis? "He said my ligament looked fine," Beckett said. "That’s what I was afraid of. I know a lot of guys have come back from it, but Tommy John surgery, that’s what I was afraid of."
Francona said the plan now was to have Beckett back in time to take his turn for the Sept. 5 opener of a three-game series at Texas.
"Again, because some of the tests he may pick up a ball [Saturday] and he may not," Francona said. "I'd say a fair scenario is hopefully he pitches that first day in Texas, which is week from today. If it doesn't come true, we'll change it, but looking at the rest of the year, if it doesn't come true, we'll change it."
As for his reaction to the news? "Well, I was thrilled," Francona said. "I don't mean to sound flippant about it, because I certainly wasn't, but I didn't think anything was wrong with him. We're just trying to take care of him. He's a big part of our present and our future, but I think we'd feel that way about anybody. It was the right thing to do."
The Sox also placed Sean Casey (strained neck) on the 15-day DL retroactive to August 20 and purchased the contract of catcher David Ross from Pawtucket. To make room for Ross, shortstop Julio Lugo was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.
Coco Crisp was a late scratch when he was set back by flu-like symptoms.
Jacoby Ellsbury, who was supposed to be off, wound up getting inserted into the lineup 10 minutes before the start of the game. He wound up getting tested right away when he made a diving catch on Orlando Cabrera's scorching liner to center on the first pitch of the game.
The (amended) SOX lineup:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. Mark Kotsay, RF
7. Jed Lowrie, 3B
8. Alex Cora, SS
9. Jason Varitek, C