Results tagged ‘ Josh Beckett ’

A Francona slip?

The Red Sox have still not announced the rotation for the first handful of games of the 2010 season, mainly because of the unique dilemma of having three off-days before the eighth game. But it sure stands to reason that Josh Beckett is pitching Easter Sunday night against the Yankees. All you have to do is look at the way the schedule lines up, and Beckett’s last Grapefruit League start is Monday, meaning he would have five days of rest before Opening Night.

Asked if all the pitchers would be making the trip to Washington D.C. for the one exhibition game on April 3, Francona said, “Everybody will go with us. I think even Beckett.”

Veteran Red Sox scribe Sean McAdam kiddingly asked Francona why he would single Beckett out. Everyone laughed. Francona was then asked if this was a good time to announce his Opening Night starter. But he respectfully declined, saying that the staff is still going through the process of communicating with each pitcher and that players should be informed of all decisions before the media is informed. Fair enough.

As for other matters, Boof Bonser’s groin tightness from the other day was nothing more than a minor ailment. He is long tossing today and should throw a bullpen tomororw. No word yet on when he will get back into game action.

Staying in the minor injury department, Dustin Pedroia (sprained left wrist) will be back in the lineup for Friday’s home game against the Blue Jays.

“He actually probably could have gone today,” Francona said. “I don’t know if that makes a lot of sense. He’s already in the cage. The medical staff has no problem with him going through his normal day. If there’s any red flag at all, we wouldn’t play him tomorrow but I don’t see that happening. He’ll drive everybody crazy if we don’t play him.”

Beckett scratched from Sunday start

Josh Beckett will not be making his scheduled start on Sunday against the Twins. The news was passed along this morning that he was scratched due to illness. There are no more details as of now regarding the nature of Beckett’s illness, but I’ll pass any information along once we get it.

In his place, right-hander Ryne Miller will get the start. Miller signed as a non-drafted free agent in July of 2007. He split the year between Salem and Portland, pitching largely in relief, and went 10-4 with a 2.76 ERA over 94 2/3 IP.

Pitching for a spot

While Clay Buchholz (two innings, five hits, three runs, two walks, 37 pitches) had a somewhat forgettable day, he is past the point in his career where he needs to be measured by Spring Training stats. Yet there is still one little problem: The Red Sox have more Major League-worthy starters (six) than spots (five).

Buchholz can add. He knows this. Is it a little awkward?

“It would be awkward for anybody. I guess there’s four guys regardless what happens will be on the staff,” Buchholz said. “The other two, three guys, yeah it’s awkward. Got to basically do what I did last spring, do what I did to finish he season last year, and I think everything will take care of itself.”

It was a pretty good deay for a couple of other guys trying to make the team in the bullpen. Scott Atchison had a 1-2-3 inning, striking out two.

Boof Bonser looked extremely sharp for the second outing in a row, striking out three and giving up one hit over two innings. Bonser is being stretched out like a starter, but has the inside track on a spot in the bullpen.

“He’s got a nice, clean delivery,” said Francona. “For a guy who has gone through some things with his shoulder, he likes to pitch. He doesn’t look scared. He’s a really interesting guy. We’ll try to build him up and see where it will take him. I think as he builds up and gets some of that velocity back, he gets a little bit more interesting.”

 Atchison, meanwhile, is competing with Joe Nelson, Brian Shouse and some others for what would probably be the 12th slot on the staff.

The big story of the day was the hometown kid, Casey Kelly, firing off two shutout innings. It was Kelly’s first time back at Ed Smith Stadium since he led Sarasota High School to a state championship in 2007.

Even veteran umpire John Hirschbeck was taken aback that Kelly is only 20.

“Even the umpire, between innings, was like, how old is that kid?” Francona said.

In other news, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, citing a source familiar with the talks, says that early discussions between Josh Beckett and the Red Sox have been amicable, perhaps creating optimism that the ace will never get to free agency at the end of the season. It should be noted that it is still very early in the process.

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.”

Will Victor work with Beckett in postseason?

An interesting point was brought up to Red Sox manager Terry Francona before Saturday night’s game. Sean McAdam from the Boston Herald wondered if Francona might give Victor Martinez a start or two with Beckett before the season ends so they can get comfortable with each other in the event that is a tandem that will happen in the playoffs.

To be sure, Francona has not decided yet who will catch Beckett in October.

“You know, I don’t know. It’s not a bad question,” Francona said. “I don’t know.  That’s the answer. I just don’t know. It’s a legitimate question. To be honest with you, I know the numbers with ‘Tek are phenomenal and I believe in that. I also think that the night that Victor caught Beckett [in Toronto] was a crazy night.”

“I just, again, I’m very aware that when Victor catches, our lineup is more potent. Also, our goal is to win that game. That’s where we probably have to sit down at some point and think about … I just don’t know the answer. I certainly don’t think it’s a bad question. I just don’t know the answer.”

In other words, be sure to stay tuned.

Beckett building another notch in Cy candidacy

I’m figuring the Josh Beckett for Cy Young talk is going to start shortly. This guy has been nothing short of nasty all season, with the exception of April. Each time out, he eats a ton of innings and barely allows any runs.

Mike Lowell is hot, real hot with the bat, and Jason Bay is trending that way. Just like guys seem to get cold at once, they seem to get hot at the same time too.

The two guys they need to get going now are Ortiz and Varitek.

Another day, another duel

So nothing could live up to Beckett-Burnett? Well, not so fast. Sabathia and Buchholz is pretty good theater so far today. CC has a no-no through five. Buchholz might be coming of age in front of our very eyes.

Still no word on a starter for Tuesday, but I’m guessing Tazawa.

That was one of the best games I’ve seen in a long time last night. If it was a playoff game, that game would be rehashed for years.

Where do you rank that catch by J.D.? Just a fantastic game. It was fun to be there for it.

In the context of the rivalry from 2003-09 — call it the Epstein-Cashman era — it was second only to July 1, 2004 in terms of regular season games. July 24, 2004 definitely had drama, and a brawl and a walkoff, but it wasn’t a GREAT game. It was more of a slugfest.

Poor Youk in left today. He’s getting exposed.

A blinking contest between Beckett, Burnett

Who will blink first? Great pitcher’s duel thus far between two former Florida Marlins gunslingers, Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett.

It was an interesting day all-around for the Red Sox, with a notable addition (Junichi Tazawa) and subtraction (John Smoltz).

General manager Theo Epstein held court before the game, and had some good insight on the trying events of the last few days.

“We’re certainly day to day with a lot of things, if not inning to inning and pitch to pitch,” Epstein said. “Last night, we made Verizon a lot of money with the cellphones giving everything that was going on. Trying to find a way to field a full roster today and make things work. I don’t think it’s a time to make definitive statements, other then to say things will stabilize. It’s not going to stay like this and we’re going to get through it as an organization. We can’t have any firm commitments because we have to see how things shake out.”

How is Paul Byrd doing and when can he help?

“He was throwing and working out consistently, expecting a call in June or July from a club and then stopped throwing about two weeks ago,” Epstein said. “When we first called him a few days ago, he started again and was able to throw two innings against a college team. He reported today down in Fort Myers and threw. He’s got some work to do to get in game condition and to get his arm into shape. He’s probably about three weeks away from being able to help.”

It seems like the Red Sox will have three starters — Wakefield, Dice-K and Byrd — all ready to help around the same time. Wake could be a bit sooner, but he still has weakness in his calf.

Extra, extra for Josh and Wake

If Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield pitch in tonight’s All-Star Game, you know that the game has gone extra innings.

Beckett pitched on Sunday, and after conversations with AL manager Joe Maddon, he has labeled himself an emergency valve.

Wakefield’s situation is different because he is working on five days of rest. What Maddon has in mind for Wake is that he will be the last man standing, and could pitch a bunch of innings if there was an extended game.

Beckett and Wakefield didn’t express any disappointment at all about the possibility — or even likelihood — that they won’t pitch tonight. They’ve both had a great time just absorbing the All-Star atmosphere.

Jonathan Papelbon was informed by Maddon that he will likely pitch the seventh.

As always, follow along on Twitter tonight. http://twitter.com/IanMBrowne

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