Notes: Time will tell for Beckett

Notes: Time will tell for Beckett

BOSTON -- With a bandage over his right middle finger, Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett lounged on the couch and penned out a crossword puzzle on Monday afternoon. Will Beckett similarly be able to grip a baseball with that right hand and make his next scheduled start on Friday at Fenway?

"We have four days to determine that," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "We'll give him some time and see how he reacts to it. We're obviously going to use a lot of common sense, but we're not going to rush into something. We'll see how he does."

Beckett came out of Sunday's game against the Orioles after four innings with an avulsion -- not a blister -- on his finger. In simple terms, he developed a cut upon release of a curveball.

Though it's far too early what will transpire for Beckett in the next few days, early indications on Monday were good.

"Beckett, upon examination, actually looked like there was some [improvement]," said Francona. "I don't know if recuperation is the right word, but [more good] news than bad. He'll be looked at again [Tuesday] by a specialist. Dr. [Thomas] Gill was pretty happy with the first day of regeneration."

Though Beckett was on the hook for the loss on Sunday, he was able to keep his perfect record (7-0) intact, thanks to Boston's dramatic comeback in the bottom of the ninth.

Beckett, who was plagued by blister issues throughout his time with the Florida Marlins, took things slow on Monday, playing what Francona termed "a little light toss."

If Beckett can't go on Friday against the Braves, the Red Sox could either get a start from reliever Kyle Snyder or call someone up from the Minor Leagues. But Francona felt no need to reveal a backup plan just yet.

"I've talked to [general manager] Theo [Epstein] 15 times, like we always do," Francona said. "We'll always have three or four plans or whatever. However things break down, we'll be ready for it."

How long will the Red Sox wait to determine if Beckett can pitch?

"I don't know if we need to wait until 10 [minutes] to 7 [p.m. ET on Friday]," Francona said. "We'll kind of let the healing process begin and see what pace it's going at. The only thing you can really do is wait a couple of days and see. We'll do that. We've already talked to him."

Positive development for Timlin: The best news on Monday's medical front was the improvement of righty setup man Mike Timlin, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 3 with shoulder tendinitis.

"Timlin had a good day," Francona said. "He's going to start a throwing program [Tuesday], which is good. He had a real good exam today, which is different from the other day. His strength looked better, Dr. Gill was very pleased, so was Mike."

As recently as Friday, Timlin underwent an exam and doctors didn't see any improvement in his shoulder. That was why the pitcher and the team were so pleased with the results of Monday.

Manny checks in fine: Left fielder Manny Ramirez, who left Sunday's game in the top of the ninth because of tightness in his hamstrings, was good to go Monday night. Ramirez was back in his customary cleanup spot and playing left field.

"He's OK, which is good," Francona said. "He came in this morning. To his credit, he was here at 10 o'clock, riding the bike, getting the blood flowing through it, which is appreciated."

Ramirez went 1-for-5 in Boston's 7-1 rout.

Promotion for Bowden: Right-hander Michael Bowden, fresh off being named Boston's organizational Pitcher of the Month for April, was promoted to Double-A Portland. It has been an impressive rise for a pitcher who was drafted out of high school in 2005. Bowden was 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in eight starts for Class A Lancaster. He had 46 strikeouts while walking just eight over 46 innings.

"No one could have expected him to do as well as he did in that hitters' league and hitters' ballpark," Epstein said. "He's had a great start for the season and we thought it was an appropriate time in his development to go to Double-A."

It has been a good year thus far for the Sox from a development standpoint. Top position prospect Jacoby Ellsbury was recently promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket. Clay Buchholz, another top young pitcher, has a 1.85 ERA in six starts for Portland.

Healthy respect: Slugger Gary Sheffield, highly familiar to Sox fans the last three seasons for his prominent role in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, was back at Fenway with the Tigers on Monday.

Francona and Sheffield go way back, as they were teammates on the 1989 Milwaukee Brewers. Sheffield has said several times that if the Yankees had allowed him to opt out of his contract instead of trading him, signing with the Red Sox would have been his top choice.

Has Sheffield lost any bat speed at the age of 38?

"No," Francona said emphatically. "I think he's gained. He has an incredible ... ferocity, the way he comes through the zone, but he doesn't strike out. It's amazing. He's been that way for a long time. Obviously, I hope he goes about 0-for-16. He gets that bat head through the zone and he doesn't miss a lot. That's a pretty odd combination that he's had for a long time."

Rarity to savor: Sunday's 6-5 victory, in which the Sox trailed 5-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, was one of the most impressive in club history.

According to the club's public relations staff, it was just the second time in franchise history the Sox have been shut out through the first eight innings and trailed by as many as five runs entering the ninth and have come back to win. The previous occasion came on May 30, 1931, against the Philadelphia A's.

On deck: Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will take his American League-leading 1.79 ERA to the mound Tuesday night at 7:05 against the Tigers in the middle game of this three-game set. The Tigers counter with 2006 AL Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander.

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