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Notes: Beckett optimistic after simulated game

07.06.10 at 5:54 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Even though the names holding the bats were unfamiliar, the results on the mound weren’t.

Josh Beckett came away from his 64-pitch simulated game against members of the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in fine fashion, offering enough encouragement that he may need just two more rehab assignments before rejoining the Sox’ rotation (depending on how the outings go).

“I definitely have that anxiety where I’m ready to (get back into the big league team’s rotation),” said Beckett, who is scheduled to pitch in Pawtucket Sunday. “But as far as the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s definitely gotten brighter the last week and a half or two weeks. For a while there was nothing. I would just come in, do what they tell me to do and go home. You see that light at the end of the tunnel now and I’m definitely ready to do whatever they want me to do next.”

The encouragement surrounding Beckett’s outing had less to do with the reaction of the opposing hitters – who were bussed up to Tropicana Field after the scheduled rehab start in Sarasota was scratched due to weather – and more because of the pitcher’s overall stuff.

Beckett threw all of his pitches, approaching the likes of Henry Ramos, Moko Moanaroa, Maykol Sanchez, Trygg Danforth and Luke Yoder in the same manner he would big leaguers.

“I thought they were both pretty good today,” said Beckett of his velocity and command. “I thought my command was a lot better today than it was five days ago. I thought my velocity was about the same. Everything is coming together.”

It is an analysis the Red Sox agree with.

“His ability to repeat his stuff was very encouraging,” said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. “He’s felt better physically, more strong, with each bullpen session, each simulated session. He’s making solid progress.”

Beckett has been on the disabled list since re-injuring his back May 18 at Yankee Stadium. The pitcher then aggravated his lat muscle during a bullpen session on May 29, resulting in the Red Sox shutting him down for 10 days. Prior to Tuesday’s simulated game, Beckett had pitched a simulated game at Fenway Park July 1.

- Jacoby Ellsbury may be joining the Red Sox when they head to Toronto this weekend. Ellsbury hasn’t taken part in any baseball activities other than some throwing, but has made progress of late in regards to his injured ribs. Ellsbury has been rehabbing at Athletes Performance in Phoenix.

- Jeremy Hermida took batting practice on the field for the first time since going on the disabled list due to a rib injury. The hope is for Hermida to take live BP again Wednesday with the rest of the team.

“It’s good to get out on the field. It felt good,” said Hermida, who took some live pitching inside Monday. When asked if it felt good to hit a ball in the stands, he said, “Why not? Make sure it’s still there.”

- Clay Buchholz said after going through some physical tests yesterday, his left hamstring still bothers him a bit, but only when he runs straight ahead.

“He did good. He ramped up a little bit more. Still, the running, we got to maybe 50, 60 percent,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “The idea is to continue to get stronger without having to hurt. He did some squatting with, I think, 80 pounds, which I think is a good sign. The throwing part has actually been pretty good. Trying to continue to get that hammy to where he can move quicker with more force and not have it hurt nad not have it grab at him.”

- Pawtucket pitcher Michael Bowden has been moved into the PawSox bullpen, perhaps paving the way to helping out the big league club’s pen in the season’s stretch drive. Bowden won’t be closing, still getting a fair amount of pitches in. Bowden made seven relief appearances for the Sox last season, which marked the first time he had ever worked out of the bullpen during his professional career.

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