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06/12/10 10:38 PM ET

Beckett takes big step forward, plays catch

Red Sox righty 'felt terrific' after making 30 throws at 60 feet

BOSTON -- Red Sox ace Josh Beckett took his most significant step forward in a while, when he played catch before Saturday's game. Beckett has been on the disabled list since May 19 because of a lower back strain.

During a side session May 28, Beckett felt some discomfort in his lat muscle. A few days later, the Red Sox told Beckett not to do any throwing for 10 days. That rest period ended Saturday, and now Beckett will build up a steady progression.

"Thirty throws at 60 feet and he felt terrific," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He'll move out to 90 [on Sunday]. We'll kind of do that for a few days and then there will be a down day and we'll get him [to] 120 [feet]. But he had a real good day. He was really excited about how he felt."

Beckett has made eight starts this season, going 1-1 with a 7.29 ERA.

Youk appears OK after hit by pitch

BOSTON -- Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis missed just one game with back spasms, rejoining the lineup Saturday. However, his return didn't last all that long. Youkilis was hit on the right elbow by a pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning and was replaced by Mike Lowell in the seventh.

"Precautionary, yes. I mean, he's OK," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He got looked at with the Fluoroscan. He got hit on the ulnar nerve -- the funny bone --- and he got hit pretty good. You could see when he was running the bases he was kind of dragging that arm. He's sore, and he's probably going to be sore [Sunday]. But he's OK.

Francona was unsure if Youkilis will start Sunday. With left-hander Cole Hamels pitching for the Phillies, it wouldn't be a bad day for Lowell to get a start. Lowell started in place of Youkilis on Friday night and belted a home run.

"You know what? We'll see," Francona said. "With the day off the next day, I think his back is pretty good, but we'll see."

Beloved scout Maldonado passes away

BOSTON -- Felix Maldonado, a treasured scout and Minor League instructor with the Red Sox for several decades, died on Saturday following a lengthy battle with cancer.

"Everyone in the Red Sox organization is better for having known and worked with Felix," said Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. "He was a great baseball man and an even better person. For all of Felix's accomplishments over many decades, perhaps his longest lasting achievement will be turning the Red Sox from an organization into a family. He will be dearly missed by all of us."

Maldonado was 73 at the time of his death. He hailed from Ponce, Puerto Rico, and was a Minor Leaguer for both the Giants and Red Sox. He played eight seasons in Boston's farm system.

He started working for the Red Sox as a scout and instructor in 1971. The club thought so highly of his work that they named a field after him in Spring Training in 2007. He was inducted into the Puerto Rico baseball Hall of Fame on Oct. 25, 2009.

Funeral arrangements are being finalized. The Red Sox held a moment of silence before Saturday's game against the Phillies at Fenway Park.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.