ANAHEIM -- The unmistakable sound of heater meeting catcher's mitt could be heard from more than 400 feet away, which seemed as good a sign as any that Red Sox ace Josh Beckett's much-anticipated side session during Thursday's workout went well.
While the media could see Beckett from a distance as he took his most critical step yet in determining if his strained right oblique is healed enough to take the ball in Game 3 of this American League Division Series, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell had a close-up view.
"Provided that there's no concerns coming out of his exams after the bullpen or the follow-up tomorrow, he should be on line for Sunday," said Farrell. "There hasn't been an official announcement, but I will tell you that from the look in his bullpen today, he looks ready to go for Sunday."
And that certainly qualifies as excellent news for the Red Sox, considering Beckett's importance to the team, and the fact that lefty Jon Lester won Game 1 vs. the Angels, 4-1, in his absence.
Ace Josh Beckett, who will start Game 3, is 6-2 with a 1.73 ERA in 10 career postseason outings.
"[Beckett] needs to know going into a start that he has what he needs to win, so today was a very productive day," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.
During Beckett's bullpen session at Fenway Park last Friday, the right oblique injury first cropped up. But by having the sense to shut it down the second he felt something, Beckett likely gave himself the chance to be healthy for this series.
"The one thing is, Josh is very well in tuned with his body and how he feels, and he made the right decision with shutting down when he felt the tweak last Friday," Farrell said. "We were able to get aggressive treatment on it with Mike Reinold and our medical staff, so they've been able to do everything possible to get him here to the mound today. And again, provided the next two days of workouts and treatments go without any issue, he should be in line very well for Sunday."
When Farrell watched the bullpen session, he didn't see any lingering effects of the oblique problem.
"It was consistent with his bullpens prior to the elbow issue or any oblique issue, so today was a very good day for Josh," Farrell said. "He threw a 65-pitch 'pen with no restrictions, no limitations. And really, the extension he was able to get with his fastball, particularly to the down and away area to a right-handed hitter, which is always going to indicate the furthest extension from the throwing arm, there was no discomfort in the oblique."
In last year's postseason run, Beckett went 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA.
"I haven't talked to Josh, but you know, he's coming in, he's getting his treatment and doing everything to be prepared and ready to start Game 3," said Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. "If he's ready to go, that's great. It would be huge for us."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.