BOSTON -- Josh Beckett is on track to start for the Red Sox on Wednesday in their series finale against the Rangers at Fenway Park after missing a start on Sunday with back stiffness.
Beckett was in good spirits on Tuesday during a radio appearance, though he has not pitched since leaving his last outing on July 31 in the third inning due to a back spasm.
"I had a lot of anxiety and stress things going on, exterior distractions. I don't think a lot of it was great for my back," Beckett told WAAF. "Then going out and pitching on that mound, it was very wet and my back just locked up on me."
One of those distractions was trade rumors and, coincidentally, Beckett's last outing fell on the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"That week was so much different for me because they were all rumors," the right-hander said. "They were apparently not being brought up by the Red Sox, because I was hearing from everybody that none of this was true and everything like that, but I still had to answer questions about it, so it was very confusing. That's where I think the anxiety comes in. It's not so much stress, it's more anxiety than anything because you're not real sure how things are going."
Beckett also dismissed the notion that the Red Sox (55-55) have a dysfunctional clubhouse.
"No, it's the exact opposite," he said.
As for his upcoming start, manager Bobby Valentine does not expect Beckett to be hampered by any lingering effects from his back spasm or stiffness.
"He'll only be limited if his back hurts again, his arm is fine," the manager said before Tuesday's game against Texas. "I don't think he'll be limited."
Beckett is 5-9 with a 4.54 ERA in 18 starts this season. The Red Sox are 7-11 when he takes the mound.
Out of lineup, Middlebrooks hits first pinch-hit homer
BOSTON -- Will Middlebrooks didn't start in Tuesday's 6-3 loss against the Rangers, but he belted a pinch-hit three-run home run in the seventh inning.
Manager Bobby Valentine sat the third baseman for the second time in four games in an effort to keep his left hamstring healthy. But with the Red Sox needing a spark while trailing 4-0, Valentine called on the rookie, and he delivered with his 14th homer of the season.
"When you're put in that situation and you're a pinch-hitter your job is to drive in runs," Middlebrooks said. "When you're not starting, about the sixth inning you start getting ready, go down in the cage, take some flips, just get loose because you never know."
Middlebrooks attacked the first pitch he saw from Ryan Dempster and barely lifted it over the Green Monster. It was the first pinch-hit homer of his career in three chances.
"I hit it off the end a little bit and I knew at least it was going to hit the wall, so I was running hard out of the box trying to at least get a double for sure," Middlebrooks said.
The umpires reviewed the play but did not reverse the call. The three-run shot made it 4-3. But the Rangers scored once in both the eighth and ninth.
Before the game, Valentine explained why Middlebrooks was not starting.
"I'm counting on him playing in a lot of games here. With the day game and the travel day [on Wednesday] I figured this was a good little breather," Valentine said. "Other guys will get theirs I hope."
Middlebrooks was also out of the lineup on Saturday against Minnesota, though he entered the game in the ninth inning.
"I feel fine, I'm good to go," Middlebrooks said before the game.
Still, Valentine is being careful not to aggravate Middlebrooks' left hamstring, which has bothered him at times this season.
"It's just in the back of my mind," Valentine said. "He's running really well now, showing us enough that we're letting him go on the bases and things. I'm trying not to get him into a fatigue situation where the way he's playing might cause a situation."
Nick Punto started at third base and hit ninth. He was 0-for-2 before Middlebrooks pinch-hit for him.
Papi eyes return to Red Sox lineup this weekend
BOSTON -- The shot David Ortiz received in his right heel on Monday was doing its job a day later, giving hope the Red Sox designated hitter could be back in the lineup this weekend.
"It felt better," Ortiz said Tuesday after batting practice. "I got that injection yesterday and it actually felt pretty good last night. It felt like I could play last night. I got a little excited. But it was just six to eight hours, and then it goes back to normal and do what it's supposed to do, and get that inflammation out of there."
Ortiz has been out since July 16 with a right Achilles strain. Wednesday is scheduled to be Ortiz's first day of full activity, and that will serve as a test. He said he doesn't expect to go out on a rehab assignment.
"He says he feels as good now as he did before he got hurt," manager Bobby Valentine said.
Ortiz said he still has a little sensation in his heel but that it's improving.
The team entered Tuesday night's game against the Rangers 9-11 in Ortiz's absence.
"Trust me, I'm dying," Ortiz said. "I want to be playing. It's not fun, watching. Especially knowing this ballclub needs me the most. Every time we win a game it makes me feel better. It makes me feel more comfortable and takes some of the pressure off myself. Those games you see we lose one or two runs, it gets in your head a little bit because you think you could have done something. It's an ugly truth and I have to deal with it."
Andrews tells Atchison he doesn't need surgery
BOSTON -- While a visit to noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews is often a precursor to surgery, right-hander Scott Atchison was delighted to hear the opposite during his visit to Pensacola, Fla., on Monday.
Though Atchison, 36, does have a ligament injury in his right elbow, Andrews recommended that surgery isn't necessary at this point.
Instead, Atchison will spend the next couple of weeks rehabbing his elbow with the hope he can help the Red Sox down the stretch.
"I'm hoping at some point probably in September, maybe be in a game and pitch and hopefully help this team down the stretch," Atchison said before Tuesday's game against Texas.
There seemed to be a near inevitability that Atchison would need surgery once Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine revealed last week that there was a tear in his UCL.
But the truth is, nearly every pitcher Atchison's age -- and with his amount of professional innings -- has some degree of tear in the elbow and shoulder.
"You never want to have surgery. I didn't want to rush into anything," said Atchison, who was one of Boston's best pitchers in the first half of the season, going 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 37 games. "Obviously you hear tear and it automatically makes people think that. Unfortunately, everybody probably has a little bit of something going on. You just don't ever know. It was good to hear and I feel like, at this point in my career, I can get through this."
If the conservative treatment of rehab doesn't work, Atchison understands that there's still a possibility he could need surgery.
"If I come back and I start throwing, and it all doesn't allow me to do it or there's too much pain, then we have to sit back down and re-assess everything," Atchison said. "Any time you pick up that ball out there, even if you're healthy, there's always a risk. It's nothing I'm worried about. I'm just going to go forward with it and keep a positive mindset and hopefully I can get back before the end of the year."
Nolan Ryan is one notable pitcher who played through a similar ligament injury later on in his Hall of Fame career.
"I had a very similar report when we got him from Houston [in December 1988] when I was with the Rangers," Valentine said. "They said a very similar thing, 'Hey it's torn, either get it cut on or throw 75 pitches a game or something.' And he went on to pitch a couple more no-hitters and strike out a whole bunch of people, so who knows."
Youk's charity pitches in to replace equipment
BOSTON -- Still serving the New England area, Kevin Youkilis' charity will donate $20,000 to replace baseball equipment lost in a lightning strike Saturday in New Hampshire.
A fire started once lightning hit a storage shed in Allard Park, where gear used by the Goffstown Babe Ruth League ranging from batting cages to bats, balls and catchers' equipment was lost.
Youkilis' charity, Youk's Kids, will continue to operate in New England as well as Cincinnati, his hometown, and Chicago, the current city he's playing in after being traded from the Red Sox.
"As a child, baseball was a large part of my life," the White Sox third baseman said in a news release. "Organizations like Goffstown Babe Ruth are an integral part of the town. They offer so many opportunities for kids to learn the skills of both baseball and teamwork, something that will stay with them throughout their lives. I'm thrilled that Youk's Kids has the ability to help out the Goffstown Babe Ruth League after the fire."
Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled to make his third rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday. He allowed one earned run in 5 1/3 innings over his two previous rehab outings with the PawSox.
Valentine said he would hesitate to use reliever Vicente Padilla on Tuesday. The right-hander is dealing with discomfort in his biceps and triceps.
Starter Aaron Cook will be skipped in the rotation during a four-game series at Cleveland that begins on Thursday, according to Valentine. Instead, the right-hander's next start will come during a three-game series at Baltimore that begins on Aug. 14.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Evan Drellich contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.