Red Sox Notebook: Beckett Better

The Red Sox were more encouraged than they expected Sunday by the progress of Josh Beckett, who didn't make his scheduled start Saturday due to back spasms he suffered while warming up. But Terry Francona declined to estimate when Beckett could again take the mound—or if he'd accompany the Sox to Japan next week.

"We're calling it day-to-day," Francona told reporters in Vero Beach, FL. "He's not going to go run a marathon tomorrow. But he showed up feeling better today, which is good."

Francona hinted Beckett will be as eager to return to the mound as the Sox will be cautious. "He doesn't want to miss a game," Francona said. "He doesn't want to miss anything. He just needs to feel better. We'd be doing him and our ballclub a disservice for him to go out there and try to pitch when he's not supposed to—and then he'll miss more time. When he's ready, he'll be ready."

Complicating the timetable for Beckett is the fact he has yet to make an official Grapefruit League start. His first two spring outings were against Boston College Feb. 28 and in a "B" game against the Twins Mar. 3.

The Sox could find themselves scrambling if Beckett is unavailable for his scheduled Opening Day start against the Athletics in Tokyo Mar. 25. Daisuke Matsuzaka is on pace to start the second game of the series Mar. 26, but his wife is due to give birth Mar. 19—the same day the Sox depart for Japan—and the Sox have said Matsuzaka won't travel with the club if his wife is still expecting.

The absence of Beckett and/or Matsuzaka would likely open the door for Jon Lester and/or Tim Wakefield to make one or both starts against the Athletics.

Colon continues progressing: The longer Beckett remains out, the more vital Bartolo Colon becomes for the Sox. Colon appeared to be nothing more than some long-shot insurance when he agreed to terms with the Sox on a minor league contract Feb. 25, but the Sox have been pleased with his progress thus far.

The most recent step for Colon occurred Sunday, when he threw batting practice at the club's complex in Ft. Myers, FL. Colon threw 43 pitches and reportedly displayed his entire arsenal—including a fastball, sinker, changeup and curveball.

Afterward, pitching coach John Farrell was encouraged by how easily Colon threw and said he was cautiously optimistic Colon could make his Grapefruit League debut Thursday, when the Sox are scheduled to host the Rays.

Farrell told reporters Colon would likely throw no more than 25 pitches in the game. "You could also see him going through an inning fairly quickly, because he locates the ball," Farrell said. "That's the one thing in all of his bullpens—his command of the baseball has been very good, particularly with the four- and two-seam fastballs."

Delcarmen's all grown up: Francona believes Manny Delcarmen's impressive outing on almost no notice Saturday is more evidence of how the homegrown righty is maturing. Delcarmen, thrust into an emergency start when Beckett was scratched, tossed two perfect innings and has yet to allow a run in four Grapefruit League innings.

"If we had done that two years ago, he'd have walked six people," Francona told reporters. "I'm telling you. He wasn't supposed to pitch then. He came in, he took his time and he got outs. He's growing up."

Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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