TOKYO (AP) -First baseman Sean Casey's stiff neck improved enough for the Boston Red Sox to activate him for the first two games of the season against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
Casey had been expected to be left off the 25-man active roster after he developed the neck problem during the 18-hour plane flight last week that brought the Red Sox to Tokyo.
``Case ended up being OK,'' manager Terry Francona said of the backup first baseman signed as a free agent in the offseason.
Ace right-hander Josh Beckett, who did not make the trip, was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 19 with a lower back strain. He is eligible to come off the list April 3. Francona indicated there was a chance he could pitch in the three-game series in Toronto starting April 4.
Boston optioned catcher Dusty Brown to Triple-A Pawtucket, although he would be eligible for recall for the second game if either catcher, Jason Varitek or Kevin Cash, can't play because of injury. Cash, a non-roster invitee to spring training, had his contract purchased from Pawtucket.
The Red Sox and Athletics can carry 28 players each with 25 active for the two games.
Boston actually has 27 after optioning Brown and deactivating pitchers Tim Wakefield, who pitched in Sunday night's exhibition game against the Yomiuri Giants, and Mike Timlin, who is recovering from a cut on his right ring finger that required two stitches.
The Red Sox brought 30 players (plus Curt Schilling, who is on the 60-day disabled list) to Tokyo, including non-roster invitees Bobby Kielty and Jed Lowrie, who remained off the roster.
The active roster for the two games in Tokyo includes pitchers David Aardsma, Clay Buchholz, Bryan Corey, Manny Delcarmen, Jon Lester, Javier Lopez, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Jonathan Papelbon, Kyle Snyder and Julian Tavarez; catchers Varitek and Cash; infielders Casey, Alex Cora, Mike Lowell, Julio Lugo, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis; outfielders Coco Crisp, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brandon Moss and Manny Ramirez, and designated hitter David Ortiz.
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