BOSTON -- Red Sox righty Andrew Bailey, after two successful Gulf Coast League outings, is ready for the next step in his Minor League rehab, which will come Sunday for Double-A Portland.

Bailey underwent right thumb surgery the day before the regular season started. His rehab was halted for a while by some discomfort in his right forearm.

But all systems appear go for Bailey at this point.

"I feel like I'm throwing good," Bailey said. "It's nice to be on a mound and not have to worry about health issues. That's the key. Now it's back to baseball, getting back here and helping the team win. One step at a time. I know I'm pitching tomorrow, then we'll kind of re-evaluate. I'm sure they want to get me through some schedule stuff with back-to-back, that kind of stuff."

Though the Red Sox traded for Bailey with the idea he'd be their closer, the timing of his comeback means he'll likely serve in more of a supplemental role for the rest of this season.

"I don't [care], frankly," said Bailey. "I just want to play and get to the playoffs. [Alfredo Aceves] and the whole bullpen has been doing great this year. Whatever role they see fit, that's what I'm going to do. If it's setting up, if it's doing whatever, that's fine by me and we'll address it next spring."

Valentine pencils in Beckett for Wednesday

BOSTON -- Assuming there are no further setbacks, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine thinks that Josh Beckett can return to the rotation on Wednesday afternoon against the Rangers.

Beckett threw on flat ground before Saturday's game against the Twins, and played long toss out to about 120 feet, looking unrestricted as he did so.

"Great," Valentine said. "He really felt good today and we're going to try to insert him on Wednesday."

By pitching Beckett Wednesday, Valentine could get lefty Felix Doubront, and conceivably the other pitchers in the rotation, an extra day of rest.

Wednesday was Doubront's original day to pitch. Doubront has thrown 118 1/3 innings this season, meaning he will easily pass his professional career high of 129 1/3 for Class A affiliates Lancaster and Greenville in 2008.

In 21 starts, Doubront is 10-5 with a 4.56 ERA. He couldn't hold a 5-1 lead on Friday night, a game the Red Sox lost in 10 innings.

"Felix Doubront is a first-year starter in the American League, in the American League East, in Boston, Massachusetts," Valentine said. "We want to look at a perfect, finished product in a guy who's doing an outstanding job. I'm not looking at perfection. I've seen a great deal of excellence. I love the excellence that I've seen, and I think we can build on that."

Ellsbury a late scratch with leg ailment

BOSTON -- About three hours before Saturday's game against the Twins, bench coach Tim Bogar scratched Jacoby Ellsbury's name from the leadoff spot of the lineup card posted in the clubhouse and wrote in Ryan Kalish's.

The reason? Ellsbury is nursing what manager Bobby Valentine termed a "little situation."

While Valentine didn't elaborate much on the injury, he said it was a leg ailment, and that Ellsbury was willing to play.

"With the day game tomorrow, I vetoed it," said Valentine. "Ryan is healthy, ready to go. It's a leg issue. But it's not an issue. But it could become an issue."

It was the second time Ellsbury hasn't been in Boston's starting lineup since he returned to the active roster on July 13.

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks was also absent from Valentine's starting nine on Saturday, with Nick Punto filling in. It was Punto's first appearance for the Red Sox since July 22.

"I wanted to give him a day off two days ago, and he talked me out of it," said Valentine. "I said, 'OK, we'll go through the left-hander.' It should have been two days ago. We all need days off. He's out working every day early. This will do him great."

Three catchers on roster creates challenge

BOSTON -- With three catchers on the roster, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine's biggest challenge is how to best divide playing time.

Since the Red Sox recalled Ryan Lavarnway from Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday, Valentine has rotated catchers with Kelly Shoppach getting two starts against one each for Lavarnway and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

It's a new dynamic for Valentine and one he's not 100 percent comfortable with.

"I don't know how permanent the three-catcher situation is going to be. It's nothing I've ever been comfortable with or tried to do, I don't think," Valentine said before Saturday's game against the Twins. "But if they're here the whole time I will get them work behind the plate."

When asked why the Red Sox chose Lavarnway to fill the roster spot opened when outfielder Daniel Nava went on the disabled list instead of Pawtucket's Mauro Gomez, Valentine backtracked.

"These three catchers I'm not uncomfortable with. Just the concept of three catchers is something that I haven't had on rosters before," the manager said. "[Gomez] was probably an option. Lavarnway has caught an awful lot also and we feel that if he's just used as a hitter, it's not so bad."

Lavarnway caught Jon Lester Thursday and went 0-for-3 with a walk, though Lester had one of his best starts of the year. Boston's No. 3 overall prospect was 1-for-5 with a double Friday as the designated hitter.

Shoppach got the nod on Saturday for the second straight day, partly because Saltalamacchia was dealing with food poisoning on Friday. But Saltalamacchia started at DH on Saturday and appears to be healthy.

"He said he felt really good when he woke up this morning, came here, lifted some weights and has got it out of his system," Valentine said.

The Red Sox likely won't carry three catchers once David Ortiz returns from the DL some time next week, but for now it's another daily decision for Valentine.