DETROIT - Josh Beckett said on Wednesday that he has been dealing with discomfort in his right thumb for 18 months and that surgery ultimately may be the remedy. But he is not expecting to be limited this season.
“Things are a lot better now,’’ said the righthander, who will start the second game of the season on Saturday.
Beckett said he had a cortisone shot in the offseason when his thumb continued to bother him. He had a second injection a few weeks ago, but there was no relief of his symptoms.
That’s what led to his visiting a specialist, Dr. Mark Bagg, in San Antonio on Monday. Then the team had him get examined by Dr. Thomas Graham in Cleveland on Tuesday.
“I had some issues the last few weeks of spring training and we’ve been getting through them,’’ said Beckett, who did not miss a start in the Grapefruit League, allowing two earned runs in 19 innings. “I just didn’t think it was something we should get through for six months.’’
Beckett did not describe the injury beyond saying his ligaments checked out fine.
“I think everything is good,’’ he said. “It’s something we’ll definitely have to monitor. We’re just covering the bases as far as after the shot, things didn’t go as smooth as they have in the past.’’
Surgery could prove necessary in the offseason.
“Yeah, maybe,’’ Beckett said. “Just got to play it by ear.’’
Manager Bobby Valentine is not particularly concerned at this stage.
“The nature of the injury is that it’s really not much of an injury. I would think, because he’s been cleared to pitch and compete and I haven’t been told about any limitations he might have,’’ he said.
The loss of closer Andrew Bailey to thumb surgery so early in the season precludes the idea of trading for a replacement, general manager Ben Cherington said.
“You don’t typically see that at this time of the year,’’ he said. “We’re keeping our eyes open.
“I’m comfortable we have a lot of talented guys. We have to watch and see. Whenever you lose a guy at the end, it’s not so much the end, it’s everybody is pushed up. We have to see how guys adjust. It’s an area we’ll keep looking at.’’
In his first year as GM, Cherington said he is not looking at Opening Day too differently than he has in the past.
“My name’s on the decisions now, that’s the biggest change,’’ he said. “I’m just looking forward to seeing us play.’’
Ever entrepreneurial, Valentine has signed to do two weekly radio appearances. One, naturally, will be with the team’s flagship station, WEEI. But he also will do a weekly spot with ESPN Radio 1050 in New York City with Michael Kay, the television voice of the Yankees.
Valentine said he turned down an offer from WFAN in New York.
Valentine was asked how doing a radio show in New York will be perceived in Boston.
“Why, there aren’t any Boston fans in New York?’’ he said. “I’ve known Michael for a long time, I’ve known ESPN for a long time. They asked and I agreed.’’
Told that some in Boston may be dismayed, Valentine smiled.
“There are going to be no secrets on that show,’’ he said. “It’ll all be to do a show and they’ll be happy.’’
In other media news, former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will call today’s game for ESPN. That feed will be blacked out in the Boston market because NESN has the game.
Valentine was asked for his impressions of Dustin Pedroia after spending spring training with him.
“I try always not to be surprised. But I’m surprised at just how Pedroia he is,’’ the manager said. “That he is more than I even expected in every aspect: his preparation, his competitiveness, his ability, his banter. I thought he had everything and he’s more of everything. I’m very, very impressed, and they said I haven’t seen anything yet.’’
When Valentine went to the Dominican Republic in December, David Ortiz told him something that still resonates.
“He said, ‘How long have you been in the game of baseball?’ I said, ‘I think it’s 40-somethinng years, David.’ And he said, ‘Well, get ready to see the best player you’ve ever seen,’ ’’ Valentine said. “I thought he meant David. He meant Dustin.’’
The Red Sox set their roster after a workout at Comerica Park. Bailey, Chris Carpenter, and Ryan Kalish went to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Scott Atchison, Vicente Padilla, and Justin Thomas.
Carl Crawford, Rich Hill, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Andrew Miller were placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Cherington said that Miller (left hamstring) and Hill (elbow) are close to being ready to start minor league rehabilitation assignments.
Hill, who had Tommy John surgery last June, is well ahead of the usual schedule.
“They may be a week or so away from going on an assignment,’’ Cherington said.
Crawford, Cherington said, is close to getting into extended spring training games.
MVP on hill
Detroit starter Justin Verlander would be the first reigning MVP to face the Red Sox on Opening Day since Walter Johnson of the Senators in 1913. The Big Train, who had won the now defunct Chalmers Award, won the game, 3-0.
Verlander also won the Cy Young Award. The last Cy Young winner to face the Sox on Opening Day was Baltimore’s Jim Palmer in 1976. He beat Ferguson Jenkins, 1-0. The Orioles scored their run thanks to two errors, the second on a throw by Fred Lynn from center field.
Start me up
The Red Sox are 54-56-1 in the first game of the season. They have won three of their last four openers but fell, 9-5, at Texas last season . . . The Sox are opening against the Tigers for the first time since 1994, when Boston claimed a 9-8 victory at Fenway Park . . . Jon Lester will be the first lefthander to start consecutive Opening Days for the Red Sox since Mel Parnell, who did it from 1952-54. Parnell died March 20 . . . Lester will be pitching at Comerica Park for only the second time in his six-year career. He allowed four runs in seven innings on May 15, 2010, and was not involved in the decision. The Sox lost the game, 7-6 . . . Lester is 0-2 in three career starts against the Tigers. They are the only American League team he has never beaten . . . Tigers Hall of Famer Al Kaline will throw out the first pitch on Thursday. The Tigers also will raise their Central Division champions banner.