WASHINGTON — The fortunes of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff took a detour Tuesday through Cleveland, where ace Josh Beckett and closer Andrew Bailey were both having second opinions on thumb injuries.
Beckett is expected to OK, while Bailey could miss much of the season.
"The good news for us is that their situations don't seem to be the same," manager Bobby Valentine said before Boston wrapped up its spring training schedule against the Washington Nationals. "The bad news for us is that their situations aren't the same. One seems to be a problem, and one seems not to be so."
Valentine said he thinks the right-handed Bailey will be out "a while" with a right thumb injury. Asked if that meant days, weeks or months, the manager said: "possibly all of the above."
Beckett also has a bothersome right thumb, but Valentine said he "totally" expects the right-hander to start as scheduled at Detroit on Saturday in Boston's second game of the season.
The nature of Bailey's injury is still a bit of a mystery. Valentine initially said it began bothering the closer during a game against Pittsburgh on March 21, but the manager wasn't aware of it until Friday. Bailey traveled to Boston on Monday to have it checked out before going to Cleveland to meet with Dr. Thomas Graham.
Asked how the injury occurred, Valentine said: "I'm not sure. I don't think we're going to find out. When I talked to him before he left he was very, he was unknowing. He felt a little something. There really wasn't a defining moment, in the last conversation I had with him."
Bailey was acquired in a December trade with Oakland to replace Jonathan Papelbon, who left for Philadelphia in the offseason. Bailey was also sidelined at the start of spring training when he strained a lat during the vertical leap portion of his entrance physical.
He pitched six innings in six Grapefruit League games this spring, with an 0-1 record and a 4.50 ERA.
Bailey also missed time with injuries each of the last two seasons. He began last year on the disabled list with the Athletics because of a strained right forearm, and in 2010 was sidelined with a right intercostal strain and later had right elbow surgery.
His latest injury has Valentine going to Plan B for a closer. Candidates include Alfredo Aceves and Mark Melancon.
"I'd like to think of it as we'll have a plan where there'll be a person that we'll have designated for that role with others who can do it when he's not available," Valentine said, "if it all falls in line perfectly."
Valentine indicated Beckett's visit with Graham was more of a precaution. Beckett had the thumb examined in Texas on Monday before going to Cleveland.