Beckett throws four shutout innings in minor league game

LOS ANGELES -- Boston manager Terry Francona, in California for three exhibition games against the Dodgers, got good news from ace Josh Beckett on the East Coast.

Beckett, who missed the team's just-concluded trip to Japan because of back spasms, pitched four shutout innings in a minor league game in Florida on Thursday. He threw 47 pitches, allowed one hit, didn't walk a batter and struck out six.

Francona said he spoke with Beckett afterward and was told he felt fine.

"It's good because he's healthy. He's just trying to get ramped up for the season," the manager said. "Everything's gone great there, so that's why there's not a lot of anxiety from that standpoint."

Beckett, who went 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA last year, will pitch again in Florida on Tuesday, then is scheduled to join the team for the weekend series in Toronto. Francona said he may pitch there, but "that's not etched in stone."

Beckett felt soreness in his back after throwing a warmup pitch before his scheduled start March 8 against the Florida Marlins, and left without facing a batter.