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All systems go for Beckett's return

All systems go for Beckett's return

BOSTON -- After Josh Beckett's strong bullpen session on Tuesday at Fenway Park, manager Terry Francona seems rather confident the ace is ready for a Friday start against Texas in Arlington.

Beckett worked his way from long toss to a 58-pitch session, one in which he "threw all his pitches" with "good intensity," according to Francona.

"It's a lot easier to go at this session with full intensity knowing that everything is OK," Beckett said.

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On the 15-day disabled list since Aug. 18 with a right elbow strain, Beckett can be activated on Wednesday. Still, Francona is tentative to allow his ace to pitch deep into the game against the Rangers in his first start back.

"The one thing we'll do is we'll cut him short on Friday, which makes it harder to win the game," Francona said. "But it's the best way. After not starting a game, there's no good way to let a guy go out and throw a lot of pitches."

Francona said the 70-75 pitch-count might even be a bit too much. Beckett said it's his manager's call just how long he goes.

"We'll work our way back to when the game dictates when you take the guy out," he said.

Beckett is 11-9 this season with a 4.34 ERA. He allowed eight runs on eight hits in his last start on Aug. 17 against Toronto, and it was revealed days later that he was feeling discomfort and numbness in his pitching arm.

Renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews examined Beckett's elbow this past Friday, finding nothing wrong after running extensive tests. Beckett returned to Fenway Park later that day, feeling relieved and confident he'd be able to start on Friday.

Turns out, it looks like he'll do just that.

"We got the big hurdle behind us, going to see the doctor," Beckett said. "No we've just got to go back into the swing of things, and I think today's bullpen was a nice stepping stone."

Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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