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Pitching staff getting healthier

Posted by Mike Whitmer, Globe Staff  September 29, 2009 05:29 PM

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Red Sox manager Terry Francona said before the game today that Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, and Hideki Okajima are feeling better, and that Tim Wakefield is on pace to make his start against the Blue Jays tomorrow.

Lester was hit in the leg by a batted ball during his last start in New York against the Yankees, while Beckett was a late scratch from his start yesterday against the Blue Jays with back spasms. Those two are expected to be the starters for the first two divisional series games next week in Anaheim.

"Lester has no repercussions from throwing. He's in good shape, and Beckett said he feels about 80 percent better, which is really good news," Francona said. "I think we were hoping that we would not make something worse by pitching him last night and he'd show up and feel better, which he does. I think we all feel better about that."

Okajima is also apparently feeling better, after leaving the team for a day last week while the Red Sox were in New York to receive acupuncture treatment for his sore right side. Okajima last pitched on Wednesday, in Kansas City. He's had five consecutive scoreless appearances.

"He's eligible to pitch tonight. I think he wants to pitch tonight," Francona said. "We'll see how the game goes, but he's ready to go."

So is Wakefield, who has battled his own back problems all year and will have surgery once the season ends. He'll go tomorrow against Toronto on eight days' rest, looking for his 12th win of the season. He's been lights out at Fenway: 7-0, with an ERA of 3.65 in 10 starts.

"Wake's all set," Francona said. "Wake actually went to the bullpen last night. We were in the middle of kind of a long night and we didn't want to do that because we really didn't have a starter for tomorrow, but we also wanted to protect ourselves. So you know, the bad news was we lost the game. The good news was we lost it before we could go through our whole bullpen."

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