BOSTON -- Ryan Lavarnway made his 2012 debut for the Red Sox on Thursday against the Twins, one day after the catcher was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.
"I'm excited, I'm ready to get a win," Lavarnway said before the game.
Lavarnway is arguably the best right-handed hitter in Boston's farm system and the club's No. 3 overall prospect. He appeared in 17 games with the Sox in 2011 after making his Major League debut August 18. Nearly a year later, the catcher said he's much improved.
"I've been catching every day, I feel like I'm moving really well to both sides [of the plate] blocking the ball, I feel like my arm strength has improved," Lavarnway said. "I'm not as intimidated by Fenway Park as I was the first time I stepped in there."
He's caught Thursday starter Jon Lester before, which will make his transition smoother.
"I think there is some comfort level with Lester," said manager Bobby Valentine. "He was catching in Triple-A and we were sending guys every other day he wasn't used to for two months, and guys are coming up from Double-A. There's probably some learning experience, but I don't think it's monumental."
Lavarnway hit .295 with eight homers and 43 RBIs in 83 games with Pawtucket this year.
Ortiz likely to return after Twins series
BOSTON -- David Ortiz took the next step in his recovery from a strained right Achilles tendon when he did agility drills on the field at Fenway Park on Thursday, but the slugger is still a few days away from being activated.
Ortiz did some light jogging, shuffling and stretching in right field before the series opener against the Twins. He still needs to do more strenuous power running drills before the Red Sox will be comfortable activating him from the 15-day disabled list, though.
"I would say I'm around 50 to 60 percent right now," Ortiz said Thursday afternoon. "And the doctors and trainers say I'm not going to be 100 percent when I come back to play, but when we start doing the power drills and once I start feeling better, I think I will be ready to go."
Ortiz won't start the power running drills for at least three to four days. That would likely put his return date after the weekend.
"It all depends on how I feel and if I can handle it for a couple of days, they might give me the green light," Ortiz said. "But, we got to get there first. We got to wait to see how it feels [Friday], because as you add different drills you either get sore or you start loosening up."
Still, the designated hitter is improving on a daily basis. Of course, he won't know how his injured right foot responds to Thursday's increased workload until Friday.
"After I work out and do different things, the following day I feel a little sore," said Ortiz, who suffered the injury July 17. "But it's part of the process from what [the trainers] said. [Wednesday] when I came in, I felt really good and then we took the treatment to another level and today I came in a little sore."
Ortiz said he wanted to return Wednesday, the first day he was eligible, but will be cautious to avoid any lingering effects from the injury.
"I got to get better, though, because I don't want to have any setbacks," he said. "This is something that is not a game. I was playing with soreness before I got into the situation. Once I shut it down, I started learning about that injury and I figured that it's an injury that can put you out for a long time if you don't take care of it. So, I'm trying to get to the point where there are no risks."
Beckett questionable for Sunday's start
BOSTON -- Josh Beckett did not throw a bullpen session on Thursday, two days after leaving his last start in the third inning due to back spasms. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said it's "questionable" if the right-hander will make his scheduled start Sunday against the Twins.
"I'd say it's questionable for him to throw tomorrow, which would then make it questionable that he would start in his next start, which means that he won't make it more than likely if he doesn't throw today or tomorrow," Valentine said before Thursday's game against Minnesota.
Beckett had back spasms in his last outing Tuesday against Detroit. He left the game in the third inning with the bases loaded and two outs.
"He feels much improved today, had a great night's sleep. Still a little limited in his motion," Valentine said.
Valentine is undecided on if Beckett will require a stint on the disabled list.
"I'm going to talk to Josh," Valentine said. "He's been through this a couple times before. I'll just get all the information, figure out if Tuesday is feasible or Wednesday is feasible, what that does for the rest of the staff, and if it would be better to give him the entire [15-day] break."
Beckett went on the DL once this year and missed 16 games in June with right shoulder inflammation. He's 5-9 with a 4.54 ERA in 18 starts. The Red Sox are 7-11 when he takes the mound.
Valentine would not say who would fill Beckett's place Sunday if the right-hander can't pitch. Franklin Morales is the likely option and Valentine said Wednesday the lefty was "waiting in the wings" to join the rotation. Morales, currently in the bullpen, went 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA in five starts earlier this season.
Bailey scheduled for second rehab outing Friday
BOSTON -- Reliever Andrew Bailey is scheduled to make his second Minor League rehab appearance Friday with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox.
Bailey, recovering from right thumb surgery, pitched for the GCL Red Sox Wednesday. It was his first appearance in a game since Spring Training. He tossed a scoreless first inning, struck out two and allowed one hit.
"He felt really good, physically," said Boston manager Bobby Valentine Thursday. "First time, so there was a lot of check points he was going over but he felt good."
Bailey will likely need at least seven rehab appearances in the Minors before returning to the big leagues.
"There's going to be things that need to get checked off. When he does back-to-back [outings], coming in the middle of an inning, pitches in different situations," Valentine said. "I suspect it's going to be seven or eight appearances. I can't imagine it's going to be less than that."
Former Red Sox starter Lowe on Boston's radar
BOSTON -- Former Red Sox starter Derek Lowe was designated for assignment by the Indians on Wednesday. Cleveland has 10 days to either trade or release the right-hander.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was asked before Thursday's game against the Twins if Lowe is on the club's radar.
"If he's available and someone might think he can help our situation, I'll bet you he's being talked about and evaluated," Valentine said.
Lowe, 39, pitched for the Red Sox for eight seasons and helped the club to a World Series championship in 2004, his final year in Boston. Since then, he's bounced around between the Dodgers, Braves and Indians. Lowe was 8-10 with a 5.52 ERA in 21 starts this season.
"I haven't seen him pitch for a little while," Valentine said.
On Thursday, Lowe appeared on Boston sports radio station 98.5 and admitted that the Red Sox were at the top of his list.
With starter Josh Beckett questionable to make his next start Sunday (back spasms) and Aaron Cook struggling of late, Lowe could make some sense for the Sox.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.