FORT MYERS — Josh Beckett's back was sore Tuesday, three days after he left a start against the Marlins because of back spasms, and the Red Sox ace is unlikely make his scheduled opening day start March 25 in Tokyo, ESPN.com reported.
Beckett, 27, doesn't have a disc problem, an MRI exam showed, and he reported Tuesday that he was "feeling better" than the day before. But manager Terry Francona told ESPN.com that the Red Sox don't want to take any chances.
"I don't think we know (for sure) yet," Francona said. "But we're certainly not going to rush him back to pitch a game March (25) if he's not ready."
Beckett's only spring appearances have been two innings against Boston College on Feb. 28 and three innings of a B game against the Twins four days later. He left before throwing a pitch Saturday.
"The idea is just to give Beckett the respect to get better when he gets better," Francona told the Web site.
PEDRO WARMS UP: Mets right-hander Pedro Martinez had a final warmup before making his first Grapefruit League start. The three-time Cy Young Award winner tossed 59 pitches in a simulated game in Port St. Lucie, possibly paving the way for a start Sunday.
"There were times that I got into a routine, I just wanted to work on the pitches," Martinez said. "I don't think I would have done differently in a game."
He hit 87 mph on the radar gun.
"The main key right here is to feel healthy," Martinez said. "That's how I felt today, I felt like I'm really, really healthy."
LASORDA BACK, BRIEFLY: Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda returned to the dugout as Dodgers manager for the first time in 12 years.
He didn't stay there long.
Lasorda, who retired from managing in 1996 after 21 years, is temporarily taking over for Joe Torre this week while Torre travels to China with part of the squad for two exhibition games against San Diego.
In Lasorda's first game back, a 7-6 loss to the Marlins, the 80-year-old stormed onto the field in the second inning to argue with an umpire when James Loney was tagged out running to first base on a bunt. Lasorda thought it was foul.
The play ended the inning.
"It's been a long time for me. I am so happy and grateful they allowed me to do it. I wish we would have won the game, but we'll get them next time," Lasorda said.
Also, third baseman Nomar Garciaparra's wrist is improving, but he's uncertain when he'll return. He was scratched from the trip to China.
SELIG'S SALARY: Commissioner Bud Selig earned about $14.5-million in baseball's latest fiscal year, roughly the same as the previous year. Selig received $14,515,071 in compensation during the 12 months ending Oct. 31, 2006, according to Major League Baseball's tax return. That was up from $14.5-million in the 12 months that ended Oct. 31, 2005.
ASTROS: Second baseman Kaz Matsui is expected to miss four or five days after being diagnosed with a condition known as anal fissure.
BLUE JAYS: Right-hander Armando Benitez agreed to a minor-league contract. The former closer, 35, had a 5.37 ERA and nine saves in 55 games with the Marlins and Giants last season. He has 289 saves over a 14-year career. … Closer B.J. Ryan threw a simulated game and is scheduled to make his first spring appearance Friday. The left-hander had elbow ligament replacement surgery in May.
CARDINALS: The wafer-thin rotation might be another member shy on opening day after Joel Pineiro was sidelined a few more days with shoulder discomfort. The only givens for the start of the season are Adam Wainwright and Braden Looper. Matt Clement began throwing batting practice a few days ago, pitching coach Dave Duncan doesn't expect Pineiro to be ready from the beginning and a rosy scenario for Mark Mulder would be May.
MARLINS: Injured pitchers Scott Olsen (left shoulder tendinitis) and Sergio Mitre (elbo stiffness) threw off a mound, but neither is expected to be ready for the season.
RANGERS: Third baseman Travis Metcalf is expected to be out six to eight weeks with a torn left hamstring tendon that will require surgery. Also, right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who was expected to be out four to six weeks with a right forearm strain, likely will be out four to eight weeks. A procedure on McCarthy's arm to reduce the swelling has been delayed until the area calms down.
YANKEES: Leftfielder Johnny Damon, who fouled a ball off his right foot Monday, had X-rays and an MRI exam, which were both negative. Listed as day to day, Damon didn't play and is not scheduled to travel for today's game against the Rays in St. Petersburg.
Best bet of the day
Phillies vs. Reds, 1:05, Bright House Field, Clearwater: Any time there's a chance to see one of baseball's all-time greatest hitters, Ken Griffey, it's worth the price of admission.
NEW YORK METS
Faces: LHP Mickey Lolich, 1B Ed Kranepool
W-L: 86-76, third place
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Faces: 1B Keith Hernandez, LHP Al Hrabosky
W-L: 72-90, fifth place
A mid-February visit by President Ford draws a big crowd; so does Eckerd College as it becomes something of a fantasy camp as the site of informal workouts for striking major-leaguers.
NEW YORK METS
Faces: OF Lee Mazzilli, LHP Jerry Koosman
W-L: 64-98, sixth place
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Faces: SS Garry Templeton, OF Lou Brock
W-L: 83-79, third place
The new Al Lang Stadium opens with 7,700 fans on hand as the Mets beat the Cards; it's also the start of something else as civic leader Jack Lake pitches the idea of St. Pete's own team.
Our daily look at the history of spring training in St. Petersburg.