Results tagged ‘ John Lackey ’

No fifth year for Beckett?

If Red Sox ace Josh Beckett can avoid free agency and sign a new pact with the team he has pitched for since 2006, it apparently won’t be for the same length as the five-year deal John Lackey agreed upon back in December.

ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes, citing a source with “knowledge of the negotiations”, reported Saturday night that the Red Sox won’t go past four years in their negotiations with Beckett.

However, the sides are still believed to be negotiating, as the Red Sox would like to keep Beckett and the right-hander has a desire to stay in Boston long-term.

Both Beckett and the club have stood by their vow to keep all negotiations private. There have been no public words from either side about the status of talks that could prevent Beckett from reaching free agency for the first time in his career following the 2010 season.

Beckett will start for the Red Sox in the first game of Major League Baseball’s 2010 season – on the night of April 4 at Fenway against the New York Yankees.

Though it has been Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein’s policy not to go five years for a free agent starter, he made an exception on Lackey, in large part because A.J. Burnett had set a bench-mark of sorts when he signed for that length with the Yankees in Dec., 2008.

According to the ESPN report, concerns about the long-term health of Beckett’s right shoulder is the main reason the Red Sox are hesitant to go five years.

Beckett, who turns 30 on May 15, is 65-34 with a 4.05 ERA in 122 starts for the Red Sox. In his career, he is 106-68 with a 3.79 ERA. The righty forever notched a place in Boston’s postseason lore by going 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA in October of 2007, lifting the Red Sox to a World Series championship. Beckett was equally heroic in leading the Marlins to a World Series title in 2003, firing a shutout against the Yankees on three days rest in clinching Game 6.

Pedroia healthy, happy upon return

It was pretty clear that Dustin Pedroia had no ill effects from the left wrist he strained on Tuesday. After making his return to the lineup, the little second baseman was clearly in a good mood in the clubhouse.

As John Lackey was holding court across the way, Pedroia couldn’t resist doing some chirping.

“He would have signed for five years at the league minimum to come here and not to have to face me [anymore],” Pedroia said.

Lackey was swift with his rebuttal, clearly re-playing a scene that the two players have had at times when the media has not been in the clubhouse.

“I’m scared of singles to right,” chuckled Lackey. “He’s been saying that for two weeks. Don’t give him credit for that.”

In truth, the humor that Pedroia displayed was only another example of what a non-issue his wrist is. The Red Sox gave him three days off because it’s Spring Training, making it a perfect time to be conservative with a nagging injury. Pedroia went 1-for-4 on the day.

“I got on the ground a few times and dove, so it was fine,” Pedroia said. “Swinging, I was fine. My first at-bat, I was just getting my timing back. He kind of blew the ball by me a little bit. But my next three at-bats were good, hit the ball on the barrel, so that’s the only thing I was trying to do today, make sure it felt great and see some pitches.”

Pedroia felt that his last at-bat, when he flew out, was probably his best of the day.

“My last at-bat, that was good. I felt good,” Pedroia said. “He was throwing me some pretty good pitches on the corners and I was fouling them off and it was good.  I was seeing a lot of pitches. I saw a lot all day which was good.”

In other news, Jeremy Hermida left the game with minor soreness in his right hamstring.

“It just didn’t seem like a good thing to keep him in the game,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “He just came up and he said, ‘I feel it.’ I said, ‘that’s enough.”

Hermida didn’t seem the least bit concerned about the ailment after the game.

One pitcher who isn’t quite in sync at the moment is reliever Manny Delcarmen, who has been battling his mechanics for a couple of weeks. The righty got two outs and didn’t give up any runs on Saturday, but he’s not quite there yet.

With that in mind, the Red Sox will pitch Declarmen for a couple of innings in a more controlled environment on Monday, in a Minor League game.

“That’s still a work in progress,” Francona said. “I think we’re going to take him down to the minor league side on Monday and give him a couple, try to get him enough reps where [he's more comfortable]. Still watching his warm-ups, he’s not driving the ball downhill yet. We’ve got to stay on that.”

Lackey stretches out in Minors game

The Red Sox pretty much know what they are going to get from John Lackey this season, and they know how professional he is about getting his work in. So it was without hesitation that they had him make Monday’s start in a Minor League Intrasquad game down the road, rather than at City of Palms Park, where an “A” game was taking place against the Rays.

At this point, the key for Lackey is just to continue the process of getting stretched out. He did that on Monday, going five innings and allowing three hits and one run.

Lackey, who hasn’t allowed a run in his first three Grapefruit League starts, walked none and struck out six. He threw 68 pitches, 46 for strikes.

“It sounded like he threw a bunch of strikes,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “I think he had six strikeouts, gave up one home run. Sounded like he had a pretty good day though.”

Two members of the Boston media — Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe and Alex Speier of WEEI.com — took the trek down Edision Avenue to watch Lackey pitch instead of staying for the Major League game.

There were, of course, not just less media, but far less fans than normal for Lackey’s performance.

“It’s different, for sure,” Lackey said to Benjamin and Speier. “The adrenaline is not quite flowing like a normal game. I felt like I got my work in, located the ball pretty good. Got to the pitch count I needed to get to. Got it accomplished.”

After starting the last two seasons on the disabled list, Lackey is keeping a closer eye on himeslf this spring so there are no bumps in the road.

“I’ve definitely scaled back a few things,” Lackey said. “I haven’t thrown quite so much this Spring Training between starts. I’m kind of saving a few bullets. But I definitely feel like I’m where I need to be for right now. Got to the pitch count, so keep moving forward. I was more happy with my breaking stuff today than I have been in the past. I got a few more swings and misses going for a couple strikeouts that I got. There are definitely some times in games when you’ve got to go get one, and I was able to do that.”

In other news, veteran reliever Alan Embree, who was signed for a second stint in a Boston uniform a few days ago, threw in the bullpen before Monday’s game. Embree will pitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday.

“Then we’ll kind of go from there,” said Francona. “He just hasn’t been outside a lot. He’s champing at the bit, we’d like to get a look at him. But going too fast doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Father Farrell watches a hit

For just a moment on Friday afternoon, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell became father John Farrell.

In a classy gesture by the Pirates, they brought Minor League infield prospect Jeremy Farrell on board as a Minor League extra for Friday’s game against the Red Sox.

So with John Farrell watching intently from the dugout in the bottom of the seventh, Jeremy belted a single up the middle against Red Sox righty Jorge Sosa.

Though Farrell was fairly modest in his comments to reporters after, you can bet he was beaming with pride. So, too, was Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

“Was that great? I hate to root against our guys but that was pretty cool,” Francona said. “That was fun to watch.”

John Farrell’s take?

“You don’t get to see him very often but to see him in this setting is pretty special and we appreciate the Pirates for bringing him over for half a game,” Farrell said. “You like to see the aggressiveness about him. He looks to be in great shape. I know he loves what he’s doing. We’ll see where it takes him.”

As for Farrell’s job as pitching coach, the Red Sox have some juggling to do over the next couple of days. The club has split squad contests on both Sunday and Monday. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield draws Saturday’s home start vs. the Orioles. On Sunday, Jon Lester takes the ball at home against the Astros, while Felix Doubront pitches at Dunedin against the Jays.

Monday, Boof Bonser pitches at home against the Rays, with Michael Bowden drawing the Jupiter assignment against the Cardinals. John Lackey will also pitch Monday, in a Minor League game. Obvioulsy the Sox gain more from monitoring Bonser, a bubble candidate to make the team, up close, than Lackey, who has breezed through the spring.

“A guy like Bonser, we want him to pitch in an A game,” Francona said. “You’ll see some guys pitch over at the complex. We do that every year. Lackey is to the point where he’ll go get his work in and he’ll be in good shape and we can watch the other guys pitch.”

As for Friday’s game, David Ortiz and Jeremy Hermida both belted longballs, but they had some help from a friendly wind gusting out to right.

“David, real good swing,” Francona said. “Like you were kind of alluding to, though, today’s a day where if you elevate it, it’s going to leave the ballpark. If he got the barrel to it, it went out. It’s a difficult day to judge your pitching. [Junichi Tazawa] gets one and looks like it’s a lineout or a double and it’s a homer. That happens. But it also kind of re-affirms, throw strikes, keep the ball down.”

Meanwhile, Bill Hall took a solid step forward in his quest to show the Sox he can be a backup shortstop, among the other roles he will fill. Hall made all the plays and looked smooth in completing a double play.

 “I thought he had a good day,” Francona said. “I thought he had a real good day. I thought he moved his feet. That was good to see. I thought he did a good job.”

Lackey breezes in Sox (unofficial) debut

John Lackey, pitching for the first time in a Boston uniform, cruised in his two innings at City of Palms Park. He retired all six Minnesota hitters he faced. Lackey fired 19 pitches, 11 for strikes.

“Felt pretty good. It’s a good place to start from,” said Lackey. “It’s always different when you have to sit down and get back up for that second inning. It’s a little harder to get loose that second inning, as opposed to the first. But overall, pretty good, keep moving forward.”

Lackey is happy just to blend in with the Sox, and has no visions that he will get the call on Opening Night (April 4) against the Yankees.

“I’m not worried about that, at all,” said Lackey. “If the roles were reversed, and I would have stayed in Anaheim and those guys had come over there, I would expect to still be going first. I Think those guys have earned the right. They’ve won a lot of games for Tito, and to go in front of me, I’m alright with that.”

After starting the last two seasons on the disabled list, Lackey’s main goal this spring is just to get through it healthy.

“For sure, it’s something I’ve taken into account, working out, trying to strengthen my arm a bit more, and being a little more careful in my throwing program,” Lackey said.

For a first Spring Training game, Lackey felt strong.

“Probably the best indicator today was when I got to 3-1, to Delmon Young and pretty much challenged him with a fastball down the middle, and he fouled it off. That means I had a little life on my fastball,” Lackey said.

Lowell works out at first

For the second time in three days, Mike Lowell, a career third baseman, spent time at first base during Boston’s workouts.

Lowell is trying to gain comfort at first this spring, which could help his market value and also make him more viable to the Red Sox if he stays with the club.

Manager Terry Francona said that Lowell seemed to make the transition to the other side of the diamond “pretty good”. Here he is taking a grounder down the line, in a photo by Brita Meng Outzen.
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“For everybody, it’s different,” Francona said. “From my standpoint, you’re seeing the ball off the bat from a completely different angle. It’s like left field, right field. I think as you get comfortable, if you can play third, you’re going to be able to catch the ball at first. But when it’s not to you at third, you can stand there. When it’s not hit to you at first, you better get to first. It’s just different real estate. But once you get comfortable over there, then the natural instincts take over.”

The Red Sox managed to get all their work in on Saturday, despite a downpour that started almost immediately when they came off the field.

“Everything, which was very fortunate,” Francona said. “Right when Pap took the mound, the groundskeeper came out and said, ‘you’ve got 10 more minutes’ which would have been a little different. But no, we got everything in. It wasn’t the best day ever but we got everything in. Guys got their throwing in, guys got their hitting and we’re OK.”

Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to climb back to full health in his recovery from a minor back injury.

“Dice-K today, he threw off the mound — just tossed off the mound. Today was kind of his down day because tomorrow is going to be 150 feet,” Francona said. “But he did it off the mound so he could at least be at that angle. He wasn’t throwing hard but just so he could get the feel of that angle because you can’t do that off the flatground. Tomorrow will be a pretty aggressive day, probably out to 140 or 150.”

Matuzaka should have a full-out bullpen session by early next week, perhaps Tuesday.

In case you missed it, the here is how the pitching lines up for the exhibition games.

Wednesday vs. Northeastern and Boston College — Casey Kelly and Boof Bonser.

Thursday at home vs. the Twins. Josh Beckett; Friday at the Twins complex. Jon Lester, piggybacked by Tim Wakefield. Saturday split squad at home vs. the Twins. John Lackey. Saturday on the road split squad. Felix Doubront; Sunday at Sarasota vs. the Orioles. Clay Buchholz.

Pitching practice

Yes, it is, for some reason, referred to as live batting practice. But that’s hardly what was taking place on Friday morning, as John Lackey, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz all took turns devouring most of the hitters that stood in the box against them. It was the first round of live BP for all of Boston’s starting pitchers with the exception of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who will likely get off the mound early next week.

Let the record show that the first batter John Lackey faced while wearing a Red Sox uniform was Jed Lowrie. The first pitch was a strike on the outside corner.

“Incrementally, it was another step, increase in intensity,” said Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell. “I thought he threw the ball with good downhill angle. His two-seamer had very good life to his arm side. He spun some curveballs for strikes which at this point in camp that’s what we’re looking for. We’re not looking for the swing-and-miss type, the putaway. It’s getting a feel for a hitter in the box and how they’re reacting to the stuff that each one of our guys is delivering to the plate. The amount of volume picks up a little bit more today with a full eight or 10 minute bullpen, in addition to the 40 pitches of BP. He’s handling the volume well and executing from pitch to pitch thus far.”

Lackey is the type of professional who doesn’t need much hands-on supervision during Spring Training.

“He has a clear understanding of what Spring Training is about and what he’ll need to get ready for games,” said Farrell. “Certainly there’s been a lot fo dialogue, but we’re trying to get an idea of what he likes, what his preferecnes are. We’ll get more of that when games begin. There’s an internal clock there you can see at work. He’s taking a very solid approach to getting ready for games. The last couple of springs have probalby given him some information on when to pick it up a notch. He’s going about it the absolute right way.”

Wakefield continues to impress and shows no ill effects from back surgery. David Ortiz did not enjoy the experience of trying to hit Wakefield’s knuckleball. As a matter of fact, Ortiz was demonstrative in his disbelief of how much some of Wakefield’s knucklers moved.

“We’re all encouraged,” Farrell said of Wakefield. “These first 10 days on the Minor League complex, there’s a lot of volume guys are going through. Not just the bullpens, but all the other activity we’re going through. And he’s respnoded each day, and each day he’ gone out a  little more refined and with more arm strength, which was evident with the quality of pitches through the length of a typical bullpen session.”

The boys are back in town

Sure, it was cool by Florida standards, as the temperature hovered in the low 50s for John Lackey’s first side session with the Sox.

But baseball was in the air. In the morning, it was all about Lackey, who participated in his first workout with his new team and then spoke to the media. Lackey reeled off about 40 pitches — all heaters — and MLB.com’s own Brita Meng Outzen was there to capture the action.

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For a while, Dice-K took the stage, speaking openly about how it wasn’t all that wise of him to conceal injuries last year. Then, Victor Martinez, embarking on his first full season in Boston, held court with a small group of reporters.

Here are some snippets from pitchers and catchers reporting day.

Dice-K on his increased comfort with the Sox:

“I think I’m able to approach the season and come to work here just as I was able to do in Japan, so I think that I’ve definitely gotten used to things over here. With each passing year, as I’ve become more and more accustomed to how things work, I think I look forward to the season just that much more every year,” Matsuzaka said.

Lackey on the competition that could build among Boston’s packed starting rotation:

“I think I’ll fit in good. [Beckett's]  a competitor,” said Lackey. “He gets after it on the mound. I’ve got a little bit of that in me too. I think if we all get rolling a little bit, you can kind of have a healthy competition between starters and it turns into kind of a relay race kind of thing. You don’t want to drop the baton from the next guy. It’s fun when you get into that sort of situation.”

Victor Martinez on whether he’d like to stay with the Red Sox after his current contract expires following the season:

“Obviously,” Martinez said. “Who wouldn’t want to be here in the long term? This is the organization, this is the team that everybody wishes to play here, especially a team that is always in the race, always in the playoffs. As a baseball player, that’s what you want. That’s what you work for. You work really hard to make it to the playoffs and get a ring.” 

Those were the main storylines today. Tomorrow, all pitchers and catchers will undergo physicals. Saturday is the first full-squad workout.

That’s all for now.

Lackey touches down in the Fort

The most-anticipated new arrival for the 2010 Red Sox arrived in discreet fashion on Wednesday afternoon, pulling into the team’s Player Development Complex after virtually everyone had gone home for the day.

Lackey went out and played catch with Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell and then presumably dropped off some of his belongings in the clubhouse.

Thursday is the official reporting date for pitchers and catchers, followed by physicals on Friday and the first workout on Saturday. Several players took part in an informal workout on Wednesday, as has been the case the last few days. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, Kevin Youkilis, Jonathan Papelbon, Ramon Ramirez, Hideki Okajima and Daniel Bard were among those who took the field on Wednesday. Okajima was the only Sox player still on the premises when Lackey made his under-the-radar arrival.

The Red Sox signed Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in December. The right-hander had spent his entire career with the Angels before becoming a free agent after the 2009 season.

Wednesday is media day

The Red Sox have just announced that the Mike Cameron signing will be announced at 11:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, followed by John Lackey at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Should be an action-packed day for Theo and his crew, not to mention the Boston media.

There will be a whole lot to go over. In particular, I’m curious as to the Red Sox abandoning their usually conservative approach when it comes to free agent starters. Theo Epstein has long been against paying big money for free agent starters, with the exception of Daisuke Matsuzaka, which was a different situation altogether because of the international factor, and that it took a blind bid of $51.1 million just to secure the negotiating rights.

How exactly will Cameron fit in? I would imagine he will platoon with Hermida and rove all over the outfield. Does Epstein think he now has enough offense or does he need another impact bat to replace Jason Bay?

We will have updates aplenty from Fenway throughout Wednesday.

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