March 2011

Taking it slow with Miller

Andrew Miller was dominant in his first two spring outings but struggled quite a bit in his third one. That doesn’t change anything about how Red Sox are evaluating him.

If he makes the team, that’s great. If not, the club is invested in him for the long haul.

The lanky lefty offers big potential as both a starter or a reliever. Obviously the latter job would get him to the Red Sox faster.

“Well, he came to spring training with the idea that he’s in competition for a bullpen slot with the idea that Opening Day isn’t the cutoff for him,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “That’s part of the reason we wanted to get him off the roster and then sign him back so we weren’t held hostage by somebody that looks really good but maybe needs a few more weeks or a month, so we need to watch him pitch and see where it takes him. He’s been terrific about it. He’s been really mature about, ‘hey, this is long term’. That’s part of the reason we did it the way we did it.”

Phillies GM impressed by the Red Sox

Most national publications will probably predict the Red Sox and Phillies to face off in the World Series this season. Today, the clubs squared off at City of Palms Park, which is obviously a much lighter atmosphere than a potential Fall classic would be.

The Red Sox added Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to their team. The Phillies got Cliff Lee back, their World Series hero from 2009.

Count Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. among those impressed by the Sox.

What does he think of the Sox on paper?

“This is the best club in baseball, I think,” said Amaro. “The combination of speed, power pitching and bullpen — they’re a hell of a ballclub. They don’t have a whole lot of holes.

“Any time you bring that kind of talent to your club, they did a heck of a job. They already had a great team except for a whole lot of injuries. For them being in the race, to hang around as decimated as they were, they were decimated every bit as much as the Mets were a couple years back. For them to kind of keep things afloat is pretty impressive.”

Friday Night Lights

You can finally see the Red Sox for yourselves on Friday night, when they travel to Tampa to play the Yankees. It will be the first NESN telecast of 2011.

With a split squad coming up on Saturday, the Sox won’t bring their “A” team to Tampa to play the Yankees.

Clay Buchholz draws the start, but none of the nine projected Opening Day starting position players will be on sight.

Jason Varitek will catch, and the infield will include Lars Anderson, Jose Iglesias and Jed Lowrie. The outfield will be represented by Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald and Daniel Nava.

Before the club leaves for Tampa, Josh Beckett — recovered from his mild concussion symptoms — will throw three simulated innings in the bullpen. Adrian Gonzalez also might take live BP for the first time this spring.

Beckett: I feel better today

The day after suffering from mild concussion symptoms thanks to a batting-practice liner gone bad, he was back at City of Palms, but only to meet with the medical staff. Beckett was instructed to resist any physical activity today. There’s no word on his next start, but logic seems to dictate it will be pushed back at least a day or two.

Here are his thoughts:

“”How do I feel? I feel all right. I feel better today. I felt like I got hit in the head. I think getting rid of some of the headache stuff I had yesterday is probably good. No activity I guess today.”

“You go through a bunch of different emotions. At first, you’re [mad] because you don’t know what happened. Then, I tried to walk and I got real dizzy and just kind of took a knee. You just kind of go through everything. I really didn’t even know what happened. I didn’t know if I got hit by a ball from another field or what. “

“It was a little bit behind my temple.I mean, I’ve got swelling all over right there but it was just right above the ear, basically.”

Next start? “I don’t know, like I said, it’s the second day after that happened, it’s kind of hard to say. They’re not even letting me go outside at all today. I think it’s all going to be up to them.”

What did the doctors say? “I just got checked. I’m definitely better today than I was yesterday. Those were encouraging things. I don’t know where we go from here.”

A noted creature of habit, Beckett is confident this mishap won’t have a significant impact on his spring schedule. “I’ll just hope so, yeah. if I have to miss Thursday, I don’t think it will be Wednesday when I pitch. It will definitely be before then. If they push me back, they push me back.”

Batting practice coach Ino Guerrero feels bad about hitting a fungo back to the infield and hitting Beckett, rather than just throwing it back. “Yeah, he feels terrible. I didn’t want to make things worse. Like I said, at first I was [peeved]. I knew he didn’t do it on purpose. It was one of those deals, I mean, was it stupid? Yes. It was very stupid. I think he realizes that now. Like I said, no sense making him feel worse than he already does.”