Red Sox push Josh Beckett’s next scheduled start to Tuesday

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From Rob Bradford of WEEI.com comes word that the Red Sox have again rescheduled Josh Beckett‘s next start, this time to Tuesday against the Phillies.

Beckett has been battling flu-like symptoms since the beginning of last week and is just now starting to show signs of improving health.

The Red Sox will use Jon Lester in Friday night’s series-opener against the Pirates, with Tim Wakefield handling Saturday’s start and Andrew Miller making his second appearance for Boston on Sunday. Monday is a scheduled off day.

Beckett, 31, has posted a sparkling 1.86 ERA and 0.92 WHIP through 14 starts this season, striking out 7.7 batters per nine innings. He’ll be in the running for his first Cy Young award if he finishes strong.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.