Time is running out on Josh Beckett's slim chance of traveling to Tokyo to pitch in Boston's first two regular-season games.
The Red Sox ace who led the majors with 20 wins last year has yet to pitch in a regular exhibition game, and his back injury might keep him from doing that. Plus, sitting on a plane for the long flight to Japan next Wednesday wouldn't be very comfortable.
''The one thing we're not going to do is send him over there to pitch three innings and hurt his back,'' manager Terry Francona said Tuesday.
The Red Sox have two exhibition games against Japanese teams before facing the Oakland Athletics in regular-season games March 25 and 26.
Beckett hasn't been able to stretch since he felt back spasms while throwing his first warm-up pitch before Saturday's game against the Florida Marlins, Francona said. The right-hander threw a total of six warm-up pitches and left before the game started.
Tests showed the injury was muscular.
No decision has been made on whether Beckett will go to Japan, Red Sox spokesman John Blake said after talking with Francona about the report.
Last May, Beckett missed two starts when he tore skin on his right middle finger, an injury known as an avulsion.
This program aired on March 12, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.