With his club trailing the Rays 3 1/2 games in the American League East entering Friday's action, Francona wasted little time adding Beckett and Lowell to the mix. Beckett made his first start since Aug. 17 on Friday and Lowell was penciled in the sixth spot in the order and returned to third base for the first time since Aug. 12. Casey will provide the club another left-handed bat off the bench.
Francona didn't want to disclose Beckett's pitch count for Friday. He placed Lowell lower in the order than usual due to the fact that he hasn't taken Major League hacks in nearly a month.
Lowell is just relieved to be back, regardless of where he's batting.
"I felt really bored," Lowell said. "You want to feel like you're a part of it and be on the field, but not at the expense of the team, of course."
In fact, Lowell has made it a point to take a team-first approach to his return.
Missing a month of games has obviously hindered Lowell's season numbers, but he isn't going to try to make up for lost time in September.
"I don't want to do that, because I feel like I'd only be chasing numbers I can't attain anyway," Lowell said. "You have to be realistic. If I try to hit 10 home runs in 20 games, I'll end up hitting zero."
Lowell's philosophy worked off the bat -- he crushed a solo homer in the second inning off Rangers starter Kevin Millwood to get the Red Sox on the board.
Lowell figures to be in the lineup every day, while Casey is returning to his post as a role player.
But, with his postseason experience limited to 2006 with Detroit, Casey couldn't be happier to be activated in time for the stretch run.
"I've been going stir crazy," Casey said, "especially since I kept thinking I'd be fine and then I wasn't. But I've played all year to be in this situation, and it's good to be ready for it. I'm excited to be a part of it."
And he expects to remain healthy for the remainder of the season.
Casey said his neck strain was similar to the neck issues he dealt with when the Red Sox opened their season in Japan. But with the help of a NordicTrack device that exercised his neck for him 15 minutes every day while he was on the disabled list, he doesn't think his neck will cause him any more problems.
"It was a relaxing 15 minutes -- I just laid there," Casey said.
"I don't think I have to take any more precautions. All I really have to do is just be careful where I fall asleep. I don't imagine I'll have any more problems."