Reports: MRI negative, but Beckett's back still in pain

Updated: March 11, 2008, 1:34 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

For Josh Beckett, the good news is that team doctors have told him his sore back is not result of a disc problem -- and the results of an MRI back that up.

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But the Boston Red Sox ace is still hurting, and not planning to throw again until the problem is resolved.

"We're going to make sure it's completely pain-free," he said Monday. "I can't even, really, if lying in one position too long, or sitting in one position too long or standing in one position too long, it kind of goes backwards. I've got to keep moving and stuff like that."

Beckett, who left Saturday's game against Florida without facing a batter when he was bothered by back spasms while throwing his warm-up pitches, said his condition had not improved Monday. In fact, it had gotten worse.

"Today wasn't as good a day as yesterday," Beckett said after undergoing several hours of treatment. "We'll just have to wait and see, I guess. [The] doctors actually told me yesterday that there was a possibility I would come in and feel like I do today. So as far as that goes, the doctors were right."

An MRI on his ailing back was negative, but manager Terry Francona said the team hadn't decided whether Beckett will make the trip to Japan for a season-opening series March 25-26 against Oakland.

"We're going to do what's in the best interest of our ballclub," Francona said.

Team doctors had considered giving Beckett an anti-inflammatory shot in his back, but their attempt to do so was unsuccessful.

"They basically told me that they couldn't find a spot to put the shot in there," Beckett said.

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"We've done a number of tests. There's nothing wrong with the discs, and I think that's what they wanted to make sure of. It's definitely a strained muscle or pulled muscle, whatever you want to call it. It heals when it heals."

Beckett, who said he was in a "crappy mood" after struggling to sleep Sunday night, wasn't optimistic about Opening Day, either.

"I don't know," Beckett said. "If I'd had as much progress from yesterday to today as I did from the first day to the second day, I wouldn't have ruled that out. Today I'm just holding up my obligation [to talk to media]. It probably would have been better to talk to you guys yesterday because I was a little more optimistic."

Beckett was the only 20-game winner in the majors last season, going 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.

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