Notes: Foulke eyeing weekend return

Notes: Foulke eyeing weekend return

BOSTON -- All of his previous targets have gone by the wayside in a frustrating two-month stint on the disabled list. But Keith Foulke, who recovered from his elbow woes only to go into back spasms, plans on being in the bullpen this weekend when the Red Sox take on the Yankees in a five-game series.

"I threw back-to-back days [on the side on Monday and Tuesday] and hopefully, if things go well tonight and through tomorrow, I can go get 'em on Friday," said Foulke.

That could be a big boost for the Red Sox, who have had their bullpen both taxed and a bit ineffective of late.

It came with frustrating irony that Foulke actually developed the back spasms while working on some new mechanics that were based on lessening the strain on his right elbow.

Foulke, who has a unique release that comes with the baseball right next to his ear, was trying to lengthen that distance a little bit. But Foulke thinks that that well-intentioned plan backfired.

"That's just been the whole thing," said Foulke. "We were working on some new stuff to help my elbow and that's when it really started to crank on my back. It was like we kind of had to go in a few different directions to make the elbow happy, but not put that constant kink in my back.

"I was making my arm longer, but I didn't correct some of my other poor mechanics. That was actually what hurt my back, is that I was making my arm longer and putting more strain on my torso. We're trying to get everything straightened out and smoothed out right now. We think we got it, we've just got to make it happen."

Manager Terry Francona was waiting to confer with Foulke and general manager Theo Epstein before finalizing an exact date for the right-hander's return to the active roster.

"I just need to spend some time with him to see how he feels about pitching on the side, pitching in a Triple-A game, pitching in a Major League game," Francona said. "That's the next step."

Foulke doesn't think he needs to spend any more time on Minor League rehab. He did, however, expect to throw on the side on Thursday, when the Red Sox have an off-day.

"I don't know if I'm going to throw any more in Pawtucket," Foulke said. "It's kind of one of those deals where I don't know if we're at that point where we're really going to gain anything from that. I guess what I need more than anything is just controlled mound time."

Foulke, who hasn't pitched for the Red Sox since June 11, is happy to finally feel healthy again.

"I think, as long as I feel good, I've got the stuff to be able to compete in a Major League game," said Foulke. "That's the plan for now."

Nixon reportedly taken to hospital: The Boston Globe reported Tuesday night that Sox right fielder Trot Nixon was taken to a local hospital earlier in the day after a minor infection developed in his right elbow.

Red Sox spokesman John Blake said that the club could not comment on Nixon's condition, but that the reported situation involving the right fielder will have no impact on the timetable regarding his return to action. Nixon has been sidelined since July 31 with a strained right biceps muscle.

Francona said on Monday that the club hopes Nixon can rejoin the team at some point during the West Coast trip next week.

Beckett tipping pitches? One theory going around in light of the surprising struggles of Josh Beckett is that perhaps he is tipping his pitches.

Tigers first baseman Sean Casey confirmed to the Lawrence (Mass.) Eagle Tribune that Beckett was tipping pitches back on May 29, 2002, during a Marlins-Reds game.

"I remember that. That's right," Casey told reporter Rob Bradford. "I do remember him tipping his pitches."

Casey added that he did not think Beckett was tipping his pitches on Monday night against the Tigers, when he gave up six hits and five runs over six innings.

Catcher Javy Lopez said he will examine the video to make sure Beckett isn't giving anything away.

"Sometimes when guys throw fastballs and they don't get their breaking ball over and they throw their fastball down the middle, they're gonna get hit," Francona said. "That, to me, is not tipping. That's not locating."

Papelbon might rest again: Francona wasn't going to pitch closer Jonathan Papelbon under any circumstances on Monday night after the rookie threw 55 pitches over back-to-back outings Saturday and Sunday. If Tuesday's game reached the late innings and it was a close game, Francona was contemplating bypassing Papelbon again.

"Oh boy, in a perfect world, we'd stay away from Papelbon," Francona said. "I don't know if it's a perfect world. We'll see. I've got to think long and hard on that one."

Team not rushing Wake: As much as the Red Sox want and need Tim Wakefield back in their rotation, they know that there could be serious consequences if the knuckleballer tried to came back from the stress fracture in his ribcage before he was ready.

"He threw [Monday] and I think somewhat felt good," Francona said. "He's getting better, but he still felt it. I think he's slowly getting better. And he makes a good point, too. Whenever we get him back and having him healthy for the rest of the season is really what we want. Getting him back for two starts and losing him again, that's not good."

Doubleheader order: Francona still hadn't finalized what order he will use starting pitchers Jason Johnson and Jon Lester in Friday's day-night doubleheader against the Yankees.

However, there were indications that the team was leaning toward pitching Lester in the nightcap.

"I talked to the coaches," Francona said. "I want to put our ballclub in the best position to not just win a game or two in the doubleheader, but also for the next three or four days."

Coming up: Left-hander David Wells (1-2, 6.23) will face Tigers rookie phenom Justin Verlander (14-5, 2.95) in the finale of this three-game set on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.