BOSTON -- Red Sox ace Josh Beckett threw a side session before Friday night's game, marking the first time he has done so since being placed on the disabled list with a lower back strain on May 19.

While the righty is eligible to be activated on Thursday, the Red Sox aren't yet ready to say he'll be cleared to pitch that soon. Boston is fortunate to have a highly-dependable starter filling Beckett's spot in the rotation in veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.

"He ended up throwing 22, 25 pitches," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Where that leads, we hope it's good. I don't know. If there's any hesitancy, we're going to be cautious with him. I think we need to be. I think the good news is that he was able to throw a side [session]. That's good. But we don't want this to turn into something it shouldn't, so we're going to keep a close eye on it."

What is next for Beckett?

"It depends on how he feels," Francona said. "If we force this, it's going to be wrong. We just need to see how he feels and how he responds."

Troublesome ribs put Ellsbury back on DL

BOSTON -- As much as Jacoby Ellsbury wanted to get back on the field, he can now say with the benefit of hindsight that he wasn't quite ready. So six days after Ellsbury was activated, the Red Sox center fielder was placed back on the 15-day disabled list before Friday night's game against the Royals.

Ellsbury's comeback lasted all of three games before he started experiencing discomfort again in his left side. The injury was initially sustained on April 11, when Ellsbury had a nasty collision with teammate Adrian Beltre while in pursuit of a foul ball.

For the past few days, Ellsbury and the Red Sox's medical staff huddled in search of a solution for his setback. Ellsbury met with a thoracic specialist during the day on Friday and it was after that consultation that the Sox put him back on the DL.

"I mean, basically, I tried to play with a level of discomfort, knowing that I wasn't 100 percent, and doing so worsened my condition," Ellsbury said. "But I saw a thoracic specialist today and he basically advised me that I need to be at a further stage of healing before I resume play. To this point right now, I really don't have a timeline for when I'm going to come back."

What Ellsbury seems to need more than anything is just more time.

"Just talking with the medical staff, I'm going to do everything I can to get back on the field as quickly as possible," Ellsbury said. "That being said, I'm going to listen to the doctors, the medical staff, and listen to what they have to say before I get back on the field."

Upon returning from the DL, Ellsbury had just one hit in 14 at-bats.

"I think Jacoby is probably healing faster than a normal person, but the normal person doesn't try to play center field and lead off, so we're gonna back off a little bit, let him try to feel a little bit better where he can play and not go backwards and feel it as much," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I mean, I think we all knew he'd feel it. That's how it's gonna be. But it's gotten in the way of him playing productively. We'll try to slow it down a little bit. [As for] the timetable, the best we can say is we hope it's quick. But I don't know."

Unlike the first time Ellsbury went on the disabled list, Boston at least has its other center fielder active this time around in Mike Cameron. In fact, Cameron returned from his lower abdominal strain on Tuesday.

"Still, I don't know if it makes it easier," Francona said. "Jacoby is a really good player and he makes our lineup look different. But we have to do what's right."

To replace Ellsbury on the roster, the Red Sox recalled veteran reliever Scott Atchison from Triple-A Pawtucket. It has been a whirlwind week for Atchison, who was initially recalled from Pawtucket on Monday, only to be designated for assignment the next day when Ellsbury started experiencing discomfort and the club needed to keep outfielder Darnell McDonald on the roster.

Victor returns to catch Wake

BOSTON -- After missing the past three games with a bruised left big toe, Victor Martinez timed his return perfectly, coming back to the lineup on a night Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield was pitching.

Jason Varitek, Boston's other catcher, worked with Wakefield earlier in his career, but barely at all in the past decade.

The key for Martinez, who ripped a two-run double in the first inning and a two-run homer in the third Friday night, was simply being able to put his shoe on without feeling agonizing pain. That finally occurred over the past 24 hours.

"Well you know what, when I got here [Thursday] about this time, it was pretty sore," said Martinez. "I went out there and did some stuff. They drilled a little hole in the nail. A lot of fluid was coming out of there and it was feeling a lot better after that."

Of course, the one thing Martinez strongly hopes is that he doesn't take another foul ball off that same toe any time soon.

"It's still feeling sore," said Martinez. "I'll play like this. I just hope I don't get hit there again. If I get hit there again, you're going to see a grown man cry."

Of Martinez's first 38 starts this season, 33 of them were in the No. 3 spot in the batting order. But David Ortiz batted third on Friday night for the third straight game and Martinez went to the fifth spot.

"A lot of times, it's just balance or who's pitching," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Victor is coming back after not playing for a few days. They've got two left-handers in their bullpen. Sometimes it's just things like that. If we hit, we can line them up however we want. If we don't hit, you can line them up. We're just trying to not let a reliever come in and have it be easier than it should."

Papi keeps it in perspective

BOSTON -- While the Red Sox took a 12-5 loss to the Royals on Friday night, that was far from the toughest part of slugger David Ortiz's day.

The designated hitter flew to New York earlier in the day to attend the funeral of former Major League pitcher Jose Lima, who died of an apparent heart attack last week at the age of 37.

Ortiz was close with Lima, a fellow Dominican.

"When I saw him in that casket, I was like, 'We ain't nothing.' That's a man full of life and happiness, and the next thing you know, 37 years old, massive heart attack," said Ortiz. "That hit home."

While Ortiz has always tried to keep things in perspective, he said that Lima's sudden passing hit drove that point home even further.

"It hit me on Sunday," Ortiz said. "Ask the guys. I was destroyed on Sunday. I couldn't believe this. That's my boy, man. That's my dude. That's my dog, right there. Sunday when I found about that, you start thinking about all the things we did together, all the good times. I don't remember being around him one day where he didn't make me laugh. Not one day."

Ortiz returned to Fenway roughly 90 minutes before game time, going 1-for-4 with an RBI single.

Pedroia vows to break out of slump

BOSTON -- Back on May 16, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was given a rare day off so he could rest his sore right knee. He has played in every game since, hitting .137.

However, Pedroia was emphatic after Friday's 12-5 loss to the Royals that his knee has nothing to do with his rare slump.

"There's nothing, there's nothing wrong with my knee," said Pedroia. "I don't make excuses for my play. I play hard every day. I don't make excuses if I get injured or something. I go out there every day and try to hit 1.000. I'm trying to get a hit every time up. It's really not working out right now."

The slump, Pedroia says, will be a distant memory soon. Following an 0-for-5 performance on Friday, Pedroia is hitting a season-low .259.

"I can guarantee you that I won't end the year hitting .260 or whatever the [heck] I'm hitting now," Pedroia said. "I can guarantee you that. I don't guarantee a lot, but that's for sure."

What has led to the slump?

"I'm just not getting any hits. That's it. I hit a couple of balls hard [Friday]," Pedroia said.

Pedroia prides himself on the long hours he puts in, so preparation has also played no role in the slump.

"Oh yeah, I work more than anybody in baseball -- that's a fact, too," Pedroia said. "I'll definitely put the time in and make sure I have a great year, so, laser show. Relax again."

The laser show comment was in reference to what Pedroia said a few weeks ago about slumping teammate David Ortiz. Shortly after Pedroia's impassioned defense of Ortiz, the lefty slugger started hitting again. Pedroia expects the same will happen when it comes to himself.

What troubled him most on Friday was the score of the game.

"I don't like losing," Pedroia said. "I don't [care] what I do. If we win, I'm fine. I know in the end, numbers are going to be numbers. That's what this game is. I'm more concerned with how we play instead of myself. But both our team and me, we'll pick up our play."