The Red Sox play the Angels on Monday. Don't be surprised if Victor Martinez is behind the plate and back in the middle of the lineup.
Martinez caught Clay Buchholz in the bullpen today and felt no pain in his fractured left thumb. He will catch in the bullpen during the game tomorrow.
"If that goes well, we'll see where we're at," Terry Francona said.
Meaning he could play on Monday?
"I'd say it's a possibility. It's not in concrete, but it's certainly a possibility," Francona said. "I talked to [general manager Theo Epstein] about it today and because of the way he's swinging a bat and where we are, sending him back to play one [rehab] game, I don't know if that makes a lot of sense. We're trying to make sure he's ready and when he's ready we'll let him play."
(That is manager-speak for, "Yes, he'll play Monday.")
Martinez had a big smile on his face as he spoke to reporters.
"I can say I'm pretty close, so we'll see how it goes tomorrow," he said. "I feel pretty good. I'm pretty much almost there."
Martinez said catching Buchholz, who can hit 95, was important to him to get a gauge on where he was. That he handled that without a problem was the final hurdle.
"Before I jump in a game, I have to make sure that I catch somebody with pretty good velocity," he said. "It was catching that was the big concern. Definitely, after today, I felt great. It felt so good just to get the feeling, knowing that I'm pretty close to coming back."
Martinez has been able to swing from both sides of the plate. His right-handed swing, which had given him the most trouble because of the position of his left thumb, has improved now that he can get his hands closer together.
So does Martinez agree that he could play Monday?
"We'll see what happens," he said. "I'm not the one who makes out the lineup."
(That's player-speak for, "I better be playing.")
In other news:
* Josh Beckett felt "great" after starting last night. "No problems," he said. "I'm in my usual routine."
* Jacoby Ellsbury is tentatively scheduled to play in the Gulf Coast League on Monday and Tuesday. He would DH the first day and play the outfield the second. The Sox want him to start there before he is moved up to Pawtucket.
* Mike Lowell is 2 for 2 with a double and playing first base for Pawtucket tonight in Columbus.