Josh Beckett Is Out Until at Least Game 3

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Bad news for the Red Sox as they prepare to defend their title. Ace Josh Beckett will not start Game 1 of the ALDS against the Angels after suffering a strained oblique during a side throwing session over the weekend.

Initial reports from the Boston Herald indicated Beckett could miss the entire postseason, but manager Terry Francona seems optimstic that he'll be able to pitch in Game 3.

Q: Oblique injuries can be tricky. How confident are you Josh will pitch Game 3?
A: I don't think we would slot him in. Now certainly, if it goes the wrong way, we're going to use pretty good, hopefully very good, judgment. But I think that we're slotting him in there because we think he can pitch there. I don't think - Friday was actually discussed. I think after Theo [Epstein] and I and John Farrell talked about it more and more and more, we thought that was pushing it. Because then you're messing around with maybe cutting short a side session. It's not just health, but it's competing also. He has to be able to go out there and execute his pitches. I think he's going to be OK.

Beckett will throw a side session in Anaheim, and if he comes out of it fine, will be in line to start next Sunday, though it's possible Boston could adjust its plans for him depending on the state of the series.

It's been a tough season for him physically. He started the season on the disabled list and found himself there again in August because of some ominous tingling in his throwing arm.

As for the Red Sox, it's hard to say this news makes their chances of a repeat better. Beckett seems to have taken the mantle of baseball's best big-game pitcher from teammate Curt Schilling. On the other hand, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka are more than capable of stepping up in his place.

Boston should be more concerned about the cumulative effect of all the injuries it has had to deal with this year. The Red Sox are deep enough to win a title without Mike Lowell or J.D. Drew or maybe even Josh Beckett, but without all three, the odds seem pretty long.

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