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Good news on Beckett

Posted by Nancy Marrapese-Burrell, Globe Staff  September 2, 2008 04:20 PM

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Terry Francona said he is expecting starting pitcher Josh Beckett, who had a successful bullpen session this afternoon, to be on the mound Friday when the team takes on the Rangers in Texas.

Beckett, who has inflammation in his right elbow and has not pitched since Aug. 17, threw 58 pitches during today's session. Francona said everything went well.

"He threw all his pitches, good intensity,'' the Red Sox manager said during a pregame media briefing.

When asked if Beckett could throw in the vicinity of 70-75 pitches against the Rangers, Francona suggested that might be a bit much.

"One thing we'll do is cut him short on Friday, which makes it harder to win the game, but it's the best way," Francona said. "After not starting a game [for a couple of weeks], there's no good way to let a guy go out and throw a bunch of pitches. So we'll steadily get him back to where the game determines when you take a guy out. But everything was real good health-wise. I think everybody was pleased.''

Beckett has not pitched since allowing eight runs in 2.1 innings of a 15-4 loss to the Blue Jays Aug. 17. The Red Sox revealed after the game that Beckett had been experiencing tingling in his right ring and pinky fingers, and after the symptoms failed to subside sufficiently and his next start was pushed back twice, he visited Dr. James Andrews for a further examination.

Andrews determined that Beckett had inflammation in his pitching elbow, but while the Red Sox were buoyed by Andrews's evaluation, Beckett was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 18.

Francona also offered progress reports on a number of other injured Sox players.

On Mike Lowell, who has been sidelined since Aug. 11 with a strained right oblique, Francona said he initially thought the third baseman's projection of a return against Texas was premature, but now he thinks it's right on. "I kind of thought he was being a little aggressive, maybe unrealistic,'' he said. "Dr. [Thomas] Gill and the trainers said that's probably not unrealistic. He's doing fine. We'll see. We've got the offday on Thursday. They don't seem to think there is any reason why he can't.''

On J.D. Drew, who is on the DL with a lower back strain: "He's getting better," Francona said, but he indicated the right fielder's return would not happen soon.

On Julio Lugo, who has a strained left quadriceps that he reinjured two weeks ago: "He's probably not going on the [road] trip just because he's not ready to do baseball activities. He's got a ways to go.''

On Bartolo Colon, who is rehabbing from an oblique injury: "He's going to pitch Saturday in the minor leagues. Where that is is yet to be determined because some of those playoff series [Pawtucket and Portland are both playing in the postseason] could go different directions or not last far enough. We'll try to let him know Thursday where it's going to be. That would put him in line to be a candidate to start one of those doubleheader games on the 13th [against Toronto] so that's kind of where we sit.''

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