BOSTON -- The Red Sox haven't completely ruled out Josh Beckett making his next scheduled start, but it's looking doubtful.
Beckett left Tuesday's game in the third inning, complaining of back spasms. The initial plan was to have him throw a bullpen Thursday or Friday, but that is now on hold.
"He's not throwing Thursday,'' said manager Bobby Valentine, "and I'd say it's questionable for him to throw Friday, which would then make it questionable that he would pitch in his next start, which means that he won't make it -- more than likely -- if he doesn't throw Thursday or Friday.''
Valentine added that Beckett felt "much improved Thursday. He had a great night's sleep, but he's still a little limited in his motion.''
Valentine declined to say whom the Sox would choose to start in his place, though there has been plenty of speculation that lefty Franklin Morales would step in and take Beckett's spot.
Morales was to be available to contribute out of the bullpen Thursday night, though that would hardly him make him ineligible to pitch Sunday.
A source indicated that the Sox hope to avoid placing Beckett on the disabled list, indicating that they don't belive the back spasms are a long-term concern.
Even if Beckett can't go Sunday, it's conceivable he could start against the Texas Rangers, who come to town Monday for a three-game series before the Sox leave on a 10-game road trip to Cleveland, Baltimore and New York.
Pablo Sandoval hit his fourth home run of the spring and Rusney Castillo had three hits to lead a Red Sox split squad to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Sandoval, who has won back his third base job after missing nearly all of last season following surgery on his left shoulder, connected for a three-run shot, batting right-handed, against Rays starter Ian Snell in the fifth inning. The switch-hitting Sandoval had abandoned hitting right-handed in 2015, his last full season with the Red Sox.
He's hitting .353 this spring with a 1.051 OPS and 19 RBI.
Castillo, the Cuban outfielder signed to a seven-year, $72 million deal late in 2014 but again likely headed for Triple-A Pawtucket, went 3-for-4 and is hitting .368 this spring. Catcher Blake Swihart, also probably Pawtucket-bound, had two hits and is hitting .325.
Kyle Kendrick strengthened his bid for a spot in the rotation by allowing two runs in six innings and striking out six and Jackie Bradley homered as a Red Sox split squad played to a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.
Kendrick, 32, a non-roster invitee to spring training, allowed eight hits and a walk in his sixth start this spring. He's been the Red Sox best starter with an ERA of 2.17.
With David Price out until May and lefty Drew Pomeranz still a question mark, Kendrick could find his way into the rotation behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.
Bradley went 2-for-3 with his third homer of the spring. He's hitting .244 in spring training games.
The Phillies pushed across the tying run in the ninth off lefty reliever Robby Scott, the first run he's allowed this spring in 10 innings.
The Minnesota Twins host the Red Sox on Sunday at 1:05 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.