By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Josh Beckett, sidelined with an ankle sprain, couldn't say when he would return to the mound for the Red Sox, but said the ankle has shown a lot of improvement in the last day or so, leaving him optimistic.
Beckett long-tossed Saturday afternoon from a distance of about 120 feet.
"It was more just getting loose and come back in and throw some breaking balls and changeups,'' said Beckett, "and kind of see how it feels pushing off. Because that's been the big issue, with my body weight on it.''
Beckett said the ankle, which forced him from the game Monday, "feels a lot better today. Two days ago, it was pretty rough.''
He wouldn't put a timetable on his return to the rotation, saying: "It's not my decision. The trainer's got to be comfortable with where I am. (But) I don't see it being too much longer.''
"He's doing good,'' said manager Terry Francona. "He's got minimal soreness. We'll continue to re-evlaute. When he pitches, we don't know. But he's going OK.''
Asked if he could envision throwing a between-start bullpen mid-week and taking his next turn next weekend, Beckett said: "I think that sounds reasonable, but like I said, it's not my decision. It's going to be up to them. Obviously, they're going
to have my input and I'm ready to come back whenever it feels good.''
Beckett said he's been able to maintain his arm strength during his downtime by doing normal shoulder exercises and some light throwing.
"We just have to take it day-by-day,'' he cautioned. ''If I come in tomorrow and it's flared back up, this was all for naught.''
Some swelling some exists in the ankle, "which shuts down some of the muscles... The fluid takes up space and whenever you do certain movements, it pinches you.''
Beckett revealed that, when he came off the mound Monday, "it hurt bad,'' and he feared the injury was related to his Achilles tendon, since the discomfort was in the back of the ankle joint.
With the post-season less than three weeks away, Beckett doesn't see this compromising his readiness.
"I'm hoping this isn't a question mark,'' he said. "It needs to be 100 percent whenever I come back. I don't think we're going to (rush it); we're going to test it off the mound first and then figure stuff out.''