Beckett throws on side, will start Friday vs. White Sox

Josh Beckett's side throwing session at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday convinced Red Sox manager Terry Francona that his ace is ready to return to the rotation.

Beckett was held out of his scheduled start against the Yankees, and an earlier scheduled start against the Blue Jays, after experiencing tingling in the fingers of his right throwing arm during his last start. In that outing, on Aug. 17 against Toronto, Beckett gave up eight earned runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings.

But Beckett's success convinced Francona that Beckett will be ready to return Friday against the White Sox at Fenway Park.

"He threw 50 pitches and he was strong and he's ready to go Friday. I'm excited, and because he's excited so are we," Francona told reporters.

Pitching coach John Farrell, who watched the throwing session, said it was evident that Beckett was feeling better. "Just the way the ball came out of his hand, you could tell right away," Farrell said, according to the Boston Herald.

Asked if Beckett was pain- and tingle-free, Francona said, "Yes, we wouldn't let him throw a side [session] until he was symptom-free."

"He probably could've pitched the other day, but we always try to do things the right way, even when it's not easy to do," Francona said of the decision to hold back Beckett, according to The Boston Globe." I think we're real comfortable backing him up, because now he can go out and pitch and not think about it and go out and compete."

Beckett is currently 11-9 with a 4.34 ERA, and the Red Sox are 12-11 in Beckett's 23 starts this season. But any talk of a playoff run for the Red Sox has to include Beckett, who has a career 6-2 record and 1.73 ERA in playoff games and went 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA during Boston's run to the 2007 World Series championship.