Morales to start for Beckett on Sunday

BOSTON -- Josh Beckett has been scratched from Sunday’s start because his back remains stiff, Bobby Valentine said Friday.

Left-hander Franklin Morales will take Beckett’s spot against the Minnesota Twins.

Valentine said he doesn’t know yet if Beckett will miss a full turn or be slotted in against the Texas Rangers next Tuesday or Wednesday. He said it was still “nebulous” whether Beckett would go on the disabled list but said it wasn’t likely.

Beckett has lost both of his starts against the Rangers, going 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA. He went seven innings on July 25 in Arlington, allowing 9 hits and 4 runs in a 5-3 loss.

Morales made his last start on July 13, throwing five scoreless innings against Tampa Bay in which he allowed just two hits. He made five starts for the Sox while Clay Buchholz was on the disabled list with esophagitis, and was impressive, going 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA while walking 8 and striking out 31 in 26 1/3 innings.

But with the Sox down to just one lefty in the pen (Andrew Miller), Morales was returned to the bullpen. With the acquisition of Craig Breslow, the Sox now have the flexibility to reconsider returning Morales to the rotation on a full-time basis, especially with Aaron Cook struggling.

Other Sox developments:

-- David Ortiz took batting practice again on Friday but is unlikely to start this weekend against the Twins.

-- Carl Crawford is starting his sixth straight game, further evidence that the “four-day program” was a one-shot deal. Crawford, who is batting .222 (4 for 18) with a triple and home run since being given last Saturday off, was dropped to the seven spot against lefty Brian Duensing.

-- Andrew Bailey hit 92 on the radar gun and struck out a couple of batters in one inning of work in the Gulf Coast League, according to Valentine. He was expected to pitch Sunday, most likely in Double-A Portland. Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to pitch Sunday in Pawtucket.

-- Mike Aviles, who missed the last five games with “turf” toe, returned to the starting lineup. Aviles had an injection and was feeling “100 percent,” Valentine said. Aviles was 1-for-18 (.056) in his last five games before shutting it down.

-- For the third time in the last four games, Jarrod Saltalamacchia will not be behind the plate, with Kelly Shoppach drawing the start for pitcher Felix Doubront. Since the end of May, Saltalamacchia is batting .190 with 10 home runs, and has struck out 54 times compared with 14 walks in the 43 games in which he has played.

Valentine said after the game that Saltalamacchia was home with a fever and ear infection, but hoped he'd be available Saturday.

--Nick Punto has just six plate appearances since All-Star break, hasn't played since July 22.