Saturday, October 4, 2008

Beckett ready to go in Game 3

Josh Beckett was almost a half-hour tardy to his press conference before Saturday's workout at Fenway Park.

No matter. It's just another case, for Beckett, of better late than never.

The right-hander who cemented his postseason legend a year ago wasn't available in Game 1 thanks to an oblique he injured in a side session a week ago. But with the Red Sox up 2-0 in the American League Division Series, it's suddenly the perfect time to bring out their ace.

"I think we were all preparing for Sunday the whole time," Beckett said. "Even right after it happened, the day after it happened, the soreness was probably at its peak. That's what we were preparing for; I think we were all pretty optimistic."

Beckett is 5-0 with a 0.92 ERA in his last five postseason starts, including a complete-game shutout against the Angels in last season's ALDS. The oblique injury threw his availability suddenly into question, but he's at least healthy enough to make his start Sunday.

"I doubt if he's 100 percent," manager Terry Francona said. "He threw the ball really, really well (in a side session on Thursday). I don't think we would pitch him if there was a worry. I don't know that it's fair to say he's 100 percent. But we also wouldn't pitch him if there was a big worry."

Catcher Jason Varitek likewise was cautiously optimistic when a reporter asked what he expected to see out of Beckett on Sunday.

"We don't really know, to be honest with you," he said after a moment's pause. "We don't know. Hopefully, we'll get a quality start out of Josh, and, hopefully, he'll be himself. He's put his work in to allow himself to take the ball, and if we get a quality start out of him, it'll be pretty awesome."

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