Beckett ready to go; Lefties not quite
Ace Josh Beckett made it clear Monday night that he’s good to go for Opening Day. The righty was sharp in his 94-pitch outing, scattering six hits and two earned runs and striking out eight.
“I thought he was strong,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “I didn’t think he was quite down as much as he was last outing. I thought he threw some real good changeups. I thought as he got into the game, he started throwing his breaking ball. I think he feels good about himself. He should. He looks strong — he looks ready to go.”
Beckett accomplished what he set out to do this spring, despite a bad cold/flu that weakened him for about two weeks.
“You want to progressively get better. I felt like I did that,” said Beckett.
Mike Lowell made a solid return to the lineup, lacing two singles to right over his three at-bats. It was Lowell’s first game since Friday, when he pounded a foul ball off his left knee.
Meanwhile, the battle in the bullpen is still going. Scott Schoeneweis, signed on Saturday, made his first appearance with the Red Sox. It started just fine, with two strikeouts. But then things worsened. The lefty gave up two hits and two runs over 2/3 of an inning, walking two.
“I thought Schoeneweis — I thought he was a little too amped up,” Francona said. “He’s had a week off. The ball was moving all over the place, but not necessarily in the strike zone. First two hitters struck out and then things kind of got away from us a little bit.”
Alan Embree, another veteran lefty who was signed on March 20. Unlike Schoeneweis, who had a full camp for the Brewers, Embree wasn’t pitching for anyone until he got that call from the Sox.
For the second time in as many outings, he struggled, giving up two hits and four runs — three earned — over 2/3 of an inning. Embree walked two, but felt it was better than his first outing two days earlier.
“Alan just didn’t command very well from the very first pitch,” Francona said. “He was kind of up, down, so we’ve got some things to work on. It’s been coming quick but he’ll come back Wednesday. Just trying to get him enough work and not too much.”
After giving up a leadoff walk, Embree was trying to get groundballs.
“Threw five groundballs. Leadoff walk is just a leadoff walk, flat out. Settled in, tried to get double play balls. Tried to get them to hit it on the ground. Made the pitches to make them hit it on the ground,” said Embree. “Most of the time I’ll take those groundballs. Tonight it didn’t seem to fall the right way.’
Embree and Schoeneweis will both pitch again on Wednesday in Sarasota against the Orioles.