Beckett scratched, plans visit to see Andrews in Alabama

NEW YORK -- Josh Beckett was scratched again from a scheduled start, and the Boston Red Sox ace plans to have his ailing right elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews.

Beckett is to see Andrews in Alabama on Friday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after Thursday's 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees.

Francona characterized the visit as a precaution, and said there was no indication the tingling sensation Beckett had previously felt in his pitching hand had returned.

However, the Hartford Courant reported on its Web site that Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein told reporters after the game that though the numbness in Beckett's fingers has subsided, the elbow "doesn't feel 100 percent."

"I think the best word I can use is we're just trying to get some closure," Francona said. "We never want to send anyone out there that's not 100 percent. We're no more pessimistic about him today than we were, but when he goes out there [again] we want him to be able to pitch with peace of mind."

A serious injury to Beckett would be a major blow to Boston, trying to repeat as World Series champions. The Red Sox lead the AL wild-card race after completing a 6-3 road trip.

A 20-game winner and postseason star for Boston last season, Beckett hasn't pitched since Aug. 17, when he reported numbness and tingling in his right arm.

He missed a turn in the rotation, but had been slated to start Friday night against the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park. Daisuke Matsuzaka will get the ball instead, on his regular four days of rest.

It appeared Beckett had already left the clubhouse when it was opened to reporters after Thursday's game.

Beckett was roughed up for eight runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings of a 15-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 17. He felt numbness and tingling in his right hand after sleeping on his arm the night before, so he started sleeping with a special sleeve to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

The right-hander's spot in the rotation came up again last weekend in Toronto, but he was pushed back and scheduled to pitch Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Then, he skipped a bullpen session Saturday because of continued numbness and tingling in his arm. At that point, Francona said Beckett had "inflammation" in his elbow and he wouldn't start again until this Friday against Chicago.

After Beckett threw a 50-pitch side session Tuesday in New York, Francona said his pitcher felt strong and was on target to start Friday.

The next day, the Red Sox began to hedge, saying they were evaluating the 28-year-old Beckett on a day-to-day basis. Beckett said he appreciated the team being cautious, but still planned to pitch Friday.

"Just day to day. We're going to keep checking. Be smart with it," Beckett said Wednesday. "We're not talking about the end of a season, we're talking about the end of a career when you're dealing with a pitcher's arm."

The 2003 World Series MVP with Florida, Beckett is 11-9 with a 4.34 ERA this year. He said his elbow has bothered him on and off this season.

"We're just dealing with it the best way we can. I don't think we can do anything different," Beckett said.

The Red Sox also are missing injured right fielder J.D. Drew, third baseman Mike Lowell and shortstop Julio Lugo.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.