KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Josh Beckett, who missed his start Saturday because of a sore lat muscle, is set to pitch Thursday when the Red Sox return home to face Cleveland.
“He threw today and said he felt fine and ready to go,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said Monday.
Beckett, who has a 2-3 record with a 4.45 earned run average in five starts, last pitched April 29 in Chicago.
Valentine does not expect Beckett to be restricted in terms of pitch count or innings against the Indians.
Valentine was asked why Beckett didn’t pitch in Saturday’s 17-inning game against Baltimore. He said only that pitching coach Bob McClure was “taking roll call.’’
Valentine said the only starter he talked to personally about going into the game was Jon Lester, and he already had thrown a bullpen session.
The Sox ended up bringing in outfielder Darnell McDonald to work an inning and he gave up three runs to take the loss.
McDonald did not volunteer to pitch. He was told to warm up and go in.
“I’m not supposed to be out there in a tie game, I did the best I could,’’ he said.
“I was in a big league game that was tied up. You know what that felt like when I got on the mound? Wow.
“But they told me and I’m here to try and help the team win games.’’
No help needed
The Red Sox did not make a roster move before the game, deciding their bullpen could handle whatever was needed despite having thrown 25 2/3 innings (outside of McDonald) over the previous three games.
“It would have meant taking somebody who doesn’t deserve to go down off the roster and considering no one pitched on consecutive days other than [Scott Atchison], we might have enough,’’ Valentine said. “Hope so.’’
One possibility may have been righthander Mark Melancon. He has thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts and no walks since being demoted April 18.
“I have very good reports on him. His stuff has been good from what the reports say. Location, attitude. It sure seems like he’s pitching well enough,’’ Valentine said.
Shortstop Mike Aviles was back in Kansas City for the second time since the Royals traded him to the Red Sox last July.
Aviles hit .286 in 301 games for the Royals from 2008-11 before he was traded for righthander Kendal Volz and infielder Yamaico Navarro.
Volz is in Double A and Navarro is now with the Pirates.
“It feels pretty good. Last year, it was pretty weird. This time it isn’t as weird. It’s definitely good,’’ Aviles said. “It’s always good to see the guys and to come back to where you started, so I’m excited.
“I wanted to make sure that I got a good sleep last night so I could be extra hyper today because I like coming here and I’ve always liked playing in this park.’’
Aviles has hit .290 with a .773 OPS for the Red Sox since the trade and this season emerged as the starting shortstop.
Checking it out
General manager Ben Cherington accompanied the team on the trip and spent some time before the game meeting with McClure . . . Aaron Cook had a pressurized brace on his left knee to try to reduce the swelling. He is on the disabled list after getting spiked and suffering a deep cut Saturday. Cook said trainers are checking him several times a day for signs of infection . . . Will Middlebrooks, who homered in the first and eighth innings, has had at least one extra-base hit in each of his first four games. Only four players have done that since 1918. Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes also did it this year. Enos Slaughter (1938) and Coco Laboy (1969) are the others.