Beckett likely to start vs. Yankees

DETROIT -- The Boston Red Sox are still going to be short-handed for their weekend series in Detroit, but it is starting to look like things might improve by the time they hit Yankee Stadium on Monday night.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona is hoping to have Josh Beckett and Mike Cameron back for the two-game Yankees series that starts Monday in New York, and Jacoby Ellsbury also is getting closer to a return.

Beckett, who missed his last start with a sore back, took an important step by playing long toss Friday afternoon. He is scheduled to throw in the bullpen on Saturday, which would put him on target for a Tuesday start in New York.

"He was throwing from 150 feet today, and he did really well," Francona said. "We'll have to check to see how he feels tomorrow, and he'll have to get through throwing in the 'pen, but if everything goes well, he'll be out there on Tuesday."

Beckett has struggled this year, winning just once in seven starts and posting a 7.46 ERA, but Francona doesn't have any long-term concerns.

"I don't think the bad back is going to help him, but he's still Josh Beckett, and we still have all the confidence in the world in him," Francona said. "Once he gets out there and he's feeling good, he'll turn this around."

Cameron, who has been out since April 19 with an abdominal strain, was scheduled to make his fourth rehab start for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday night.

"Cam is going to play left field down there tonight and tomorrow, and we'll decide after that what the best thing for him will be on Sunday," Francona said. "If everything goes well, he could be with us on Sunday."

Cameron has never started a major-league game in left, so the team is giving him a couple of minor-league appearances there to give Francona options if Cameron returns at less than 100 percent.

"If he gets back up here and he can play full out, he's going to be in center," Francona said. "But if he's still a little limited, we could give him some time in left."

Ellsbury has been out since April 12 with a rib injury, but took batting practice on Friday and is inching closer to a minor-league rehab assignment.

"We don't have an exact timetable on Jacoby because it is all going to depend on how he feels," Francona said. "He's getting more aggressive, and once he comes to me and tells me that he's ready, we'll get him some at-bats and then get him back in the lineup here."