Beckett's elbow OK so he'll return to rotation on Friday

BOSTON -- Red Sox ace Josh Beckett is set to rejoin Boston's rotation on Friday night in Texas.

Beckett, who hasn't pitched since Aug. 17 because of an inflamed right elbow, threw 58 pitches during a bullpen session before Tuesday's game against Baltimore.

"It was a lot easier to go out there this session with full intensity," Beckett said, standing in front of his locker in a sweat-soaked warmup jersey.

Beckett had been set to return last Friday, then was scratched and was examined by Dr. James Andrews, who said the right-hander's elbow ligament was in good shape.

"He threw all of his pitches with good intensity. Everything's fine," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "We'll cut him short on Friday, which makes it harder to win the game. But after not starting a game, there's no good way to let a guy go out and throw a bunch of pitches. We'll steadily get back to where the game determines when we take him out."

Francona said 70-75 pitches "might be a bit much" for Beckett in his first game back.

Beckett was 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA last season and went 4-0 in the postseason when the Red Sox won the World Series for the second time in four years. He is 11-9 with a 4.34 ERA this year.

In his last start before going on the disabled list, he allowed eight runs in 2 1/3 innings on Aug. 17 at Fenway Park in a 15-4 loss against Toronto.