Beckett to start season on DL

Beckett to start season on DL

TOKYO -- The Red Sox are expected to make a series of roster moves in the hours leading up to Tuesday's Opener against the A's, including the placement of ace Josh Beckett on the 15-day disabled list.

The right-hander, who has been sidelined with a back injury, will be placed on the DL, retroactive to March 19. That means the earliest Beckett can come off the DL is April 3, an off-day before the Sox open a three-game series in Toronto. Beckett is progressing well in his rehab and Boston is hopeful he can be activated right around the time he's eligible.

The Red Sox also must designate their 25-man roster six hours prior to the start of Tuesday's 6:05 a.m. ET contest against the Oakland Athletics.

Major League Baseball is allowing the Red Sox and A's to have 28-men rosters, and designate three of those players as inactive for the two games at Tokyo Dome.

The three inactives for the Sox are expected to be Mike Timlin (stitches on right ring finger), Sean Casey (stiff neck) and Tim Wakefield.

Jed Lowrie and Bobby Kielty -- two non-roster invitees who played in the exhibition games in Tokyo -- will be classified as extra players, and ineligible to play against Oakland.

Casey -- who got his stiff neck from sleeping in a bad position on the 17-hour flight -- is fairly certain he'll be ready to play by the time the Sox resume their regular-season schedule in Oakland on April 1.

"No doubt about it," Casey said. "I just need to buy a little more time."

Barring any last-minute changes, the 25-man roster for the two games in Tokyo will look like this:

Catchers Jason Varitek, Kevin Cash and Dusty Brown; Infielders Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Julio Lugo, Mike Lowell and Alex Cora; Outfielders Manny Ramirez, Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew, Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss; Designated hitter David Ortiz.

Pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Javy Lopez, Kyle Snyder, Julian Tavarez, Bryan Corey and David Aardsma.

In essence, the Sox will have a nine-man bullpen, though Buchholz would only pitch in an extra-innings situation. Matsuzaka is starting Game 1, followed by Lester on Wednesday.

Assuming Wakefield, Timlin and Casey are all added back to the roster for the two games in Oakland, the Red Sox will have to make three cuts from the group that will be active in Tokyo.

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