Red Sox ace Beckett slated to pitch Sunday in Florida

While his Boston Red Sox teammates are playing baseball in Japan, Josh Beckett is in Florida working his way back from back spasms.

Beckett, the ace of Boston's pitching staff, threw a 45-pitch bullpen session at the team minor league complex on Friday, according to reports.

The right-hander, who was scratched from a scheduled start on March 8 with back spasms, said he's beginning to making progress after a halting start to his rehab plan.

"There are still some peaks and valleys," Beckett said, according to The Providence Journal. "That first week I felt better every other day, and then every other day I felt worse. Now I'm at a point where I can do everything I need to do in between starts or bullpens. I've progressed, but it's only been in the last week where I can start to put a timetable when I can get on the mound."

Beckett started 30 games last year, going 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA. In the opener of the Red Sox's sweep of the Rockies in the World Series, he allowed one run and six hits in seven innings of Boston's 13-1 victory. He likely would have
started in Boston's season opener April 25 agaisnt the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo had he been healthy.

Instead, Beckett is slated to pitch in a minor-league game on Sunday. Rich Sauveur, the team's triple-A pitching coach, and head minor league trainer Jim Young will watch his progress.

Right-hander Bartolo Colon also stayed behind at Boston's minor-league complex and was scheduled to pitch in a game Saturday.