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Tag:Josh Beckett
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:33 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:16 pm
 

Pitching plans for tonight's All-Star Game

PHOENIX -- Talked to both All-Star pitching coaches during batting practice, Mike Maddux of the Rangers and Dave Righetti of the Giants, and here's the tentative pitching plans for tonight's All-Star Game:

AL starter Jered Weaver is only expected to go one inning. Angels manager Mike Scioscia talked to Rangers and AL skipper Ron Washington and requested Weaver go no more than one inning or 25 pitches because he's due to start Saturday during the Angels' doubleheader in Oakland.

Boston's Josh Beckett is expected to follow Weaver to the mound, according to Maddux. After that, look for either Michael Pineda of the Mariners or Texas' C.J. Wilson. The way things were set up going into the game, Washington and Maddux were planning to use Pineda as the third pitcher in.

After that it's less planned, though Angels rookie closer Jordan Walden has been told there is a good chance he'll pitch in the fifth inning. While that's not guaranteed, Maddux said he did speak with some of the closers because, obviously, not everybody can pitch the ninth.

"Guys used to pitching the ninth inning, we gave everybody a heads up because if we need them early, normally, they wouldn't have even gone to the training table yet," Maddux quipped.

As for overall pitching plans, Maddux had another good line: "The only sure thing is, if Weaver carries a no-hitter into the second inning, he's not gonna get it."

As for the NL, starter Roy Halladay likely will pitch two innings unless he goes through a long first inning. Phillies teammate Cliff Lee will follow him to the mound. Then, Righetti said, it will be either the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw or Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens -- probably Kershaw.

 

Posted on: February 20, 2011 6:43 pm
 

Verlander wants to be Mr. April

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Justin Verlander is a three-time All-Star, has logged 200-plus innings for four consecutive seasons, has won 37 decisions over the past two and owns a career 3.81 ERA.

So what to work on in spring training?

April.

"I'm a little more focused on some things I need to come out of the gate strong," Verlander was saying the other day in Lakeland.

Last April, Verlander went 1-2 with a 5.53 ERA over five starts.

Put those aside, and the Pride of Old Dominion University was 17-7 with a 3.07 ERA the rest of the way beginning on May 1.

It's been a disturbing pattern: Over the past three Aprils combined, Verlander is 3-8 with a 6.28 ERA over 16 starts.

That's why Verlander this spring is keeping a list of five bullet-point items in his locker.

"Every day I'll look at that list," he says. "They're just some things I worked on in April when things weren't going right. Things that helped me get to my May and June form."

In a way, Verlander is concentrating on his own Daylight Savings Time program.

"Trying to set the clock forward a month," he says, grinning. "To May."

He was not specific in what those bullet points are.

But he is specific when he's on the field.

"I don't just work on those things when I'm throwing in the bullpen," Verlander says. "I'm working on them at other times, too. Like even when I'm playing catch every day."

As they say, spring forward ... and try to avoid falling back.

Sunblock Day? Only another suitable-for-framing 85-degree day with no humidity.

Likes: Love Josh Beckett wondering if Boston can win 100 games and Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins is predicting 100 wins for the Phillies. We'll see. ... The gulf at Punta Gorda off of I-75 is a beautiful sight on a sparkling, sunny day. ... Things are going much better on the drives since I picked up an iPod plug-in for the rental car's auxiliary jack instead of relying on the cigarette lighter cable that tunes to a particular radio frequency. Crystal clear music for the drives now, instead of intermittent static.

Dislikes: So at 7 Sunday morning, I'm in Circle K getting coffee (OK, there's the first problem). I head to the men's room. It's locked. The gal behind the Circle K counter sees this and instructs me, "Use the other one." Really? The ladies' room? "Nobody's in it," the gal says. At this point, it sounds like the men's room is out of order. So still in an early-morning haze, I open the ladies' room door and take a step in. And there's a lady sitting there on the toilet, pants at her ankles, and she immediately throws up her hands and lets out a scream. Rightfully so. The Circle K woman apologizes profusely. I get my coffee, pay and get the hell out of there as quickly as I can before the lady emerges from the restroom.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It was 1990 give or take I don't remember
"When the news of revolution hit the air
"The girls hadn't even started taking down our posters
"When the boys started cutting off they're hair
"The radio stations all decided angst was finally old enough
"It ought to have a proper home
"Dead, fat or rich, nobody’s left to bitch
"About the goings on in self destructive zones"

-- Drive-By Truckers, Self-Destructive Zones

Posted on: April 5, 2010 12:37 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2010 4:08 pm
 

Beckett: Four more years (in Boston)

Fresh from their Opening Night pounding of the dreaded Yankees, the Red Sox this afternoon formally will announce a contract extension for ace Josh Beckett, $68 million over four years.

As colleague Danny Knobler chuckled when we talked not long ago, not bad for a pitcher with a 9.64 ERA. That's where Beckett's stands now after the Yankees clubbed him for five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings Sunday night.

In all seriousness, though, the larger meaning of this beyond New England's boundaries is that it continues to emphasize the most important thing in today's game: You'd better build your team with young pitching, because less and less of it is available on the free agent market. At least, fewer impact pitchers are getting out there.

Beckett and Roy Halladay each was supposed to be a free agent next winter. Not now: The Sox have locked up Beckett, and the Phillies over the winter acquired Halladay from Toronto then signed him to a three-year, $60 million deal.

Two other key pitchers had their free agency delayed over the past several months, too, with Detroit signing Justin Verlander to a five-year, $80 million extension and Seattle signing ace Felix Hernandez to a five-year, $78 million deal in January.

Posted on: March 1, 2009 9:18 am
 

Boston's Beckett strong early


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- This time of the spring always comes with a qualifier: It's early. Looks and impressions can be deceiving.

But lots of what you see and observe at this time of year can be telling, too. And what Boston pitching coach John Farrell is seeing from ace Josh Beckett could present big trouble for the American League East and other Red Sox opponents this summer.

After battling back and oblique problems for much of 2008, Farrell's gauge so far this spring has Beckett looking more like he did in two seasons ago, when he dominated at 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA, than last summer, when he was 12-10 with a 4.03 ERA.

"He's throwing the baseball more like he did in '07 than '08," Farrell says. "The ailments he had to contend with, his back, his oblique ... that's all cleaned up."

Not only is Beckett far better physically than he was for most of '08, the fiery look in his eyes that meant trouble for others as he was leading the Red Sox to the '07 World Series title is back, too.

"There's an apparent demeanor about him right now," Farrell says. "Every time he's stepped on the mound in the bullpen, this is what it was like in '07."

Beckett, who is slated to pitch Sunday afternoon's Grapefruit League game against Minnesota, tried to pitch last October with a torn or pulled oblique -- depending on whom you believe -- and it did not go well.

In one start against the Los Angeles Angels in the AL Divisional Series, Beckett was hammered for four earned runs and nine hits in only five innings.

In two starts against Tampa Bay in the AL Championship Series, the Rays torched him for 10 earned runs and 13 hits in just 9 1/3 innings.

"The standard he sets for himself ... walking away last year, I know he wasn't pleased. We have a lot of quality pitchers here, and this is not to degrade them in any way. But Josh is our leader. He sets the tone.

"Granted, it's only February, but the tone he's set in this camp is important."

Likes: Hate to see John Smoltz in a uniform other than Atlanta's, but love to see him still pitching. He says he's ahead of schedule following his shoulder surgery, though he's still not expected to pitch before June. But if he and Brad Penny (shoulder issues last year) return to form and join Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Jon Lester and even Clay Buchholz, one Red Sox strength by mid- and late-summer should be the depth of their pitching. "This group has a chance to be exceptional," pitching coach John Farrell says. ... Sign in the Red Sox clubhouse: "Work hard, play hard, listen hard." I may hang that one in my daughter's room. ... You can tell it's fund-raising time at PBS when they run Roy Orbison and Friends: Black and White Night. Have to say, though, that never gets old. It's an exceptional concert, with guests Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis Costello and others.

Dislikes: No concerts are lining up with my spring travels so far. There isn't a lot of down time at this time of year, anyway. As a writer, you're usually in a team's camp by 8 or so in the morning, and it's often dinnertime or later until you're finished interviewing and writing (and, this year, shooting videos). Still, it's fun when you happen to be somewhere where there's a show -- in the past in Florida I've seen Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett and Bonnie Raitt, among others. So far, though, no go this spring.

Sunblock day? Yessir. On a roll here with a bright sun and temperatures near 80. But alas, on the eastern side of the state, at least, it is supposed to rain Sunday and cool down into the 60s through midweek.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day

"Don’t gimme that look, that’s right, let’s get sweaty
"Let’s get real sweaty
"I’m talkin’ rainforest sweaty
"I’m talkin’ swamp sweaty
"Let’s fill the bathtub full of sweat"

-- Jackie Moon, Love Me Sexy
(Or, as you better know him, Will Ferrell, in Semi Pro).

 

Posted on: September 30, 2008 5:54 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2008 5:55 pm
 

Red Sox encouraged by Lowell during workout

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The early word on Boston's myriad health issues Tuesday was "encouraging", as Red Sox manager Terry Francona said, as the club prepared for Game 1 of its American League Divisional Series with the Angels here Wednesday.

The Red Sox's main worry, for the time being, is third baseman Mike Lowell, who has struggled with a partially torn labrum in his right hip. Lowell seemed to move around reasonably well in Tuesday's workout, and though they still likely won't determine whether he can play in Game 1 until Wednesday, they're more optimistic now than they were.

"It was encouraging the way he moved around, or the moving he did do," Francona said about two-thirds of the way through Boston's workout. "It didn't grab at him, and that's very encouraging."

Regarding Boston's two other key injuries, outfielder J.D. Drew (strained lower back) "looked pretty good", Francona said. And starter Josh Beckett (strained oblique) is still on track to start Game 3 on Sunday in Boston.

"He threw from 60 feet, 30 throws, then threw from 90 feet, 20 throws, then moved back and threw again from 60 feet," Francona said. "The ball came out of his hand very well."

Beckett is scheduled to throw long toss Wednesday and then throw a side session in the bullpen Thursday.

As for Lowell, he's retaining hope.

"I would love to play," he said before Wednesday's workout. "It's going to be fairly simple. If I can make plays and move around, I think I will. If I can't, I won't.

"I feel great sitting around. Doing nothing, I feel fantastic. But until we're sitting on the couch and that's what it takes to play baseball. ..."

It isn't, and especially against an Angels team that is as aggressive as any club in the majors. That's why Lowell's mobility -- or lack of -- is as important as anything else as Francona makes his decisions in this series. The Angels will bunt, take the extra base, make the Red Sox make plays.

Which could be to the detriment of Lowell, if his hip injury keeps him several steps slow. Lowell said it doesn't hurt to hit, but Francona quickly shot down the idea of using Lowell as his designated hitter and David Ortiz at first base because of the way the Angels play.

"He's one of the best defensive third basemen in the game," Francona said of Lowell. "If he can move and he's not in agony, if he can position himself, I think we're a better team with him at third base. If we have to move (Kevin Youklis) over and have to play somebody else at first base. ..."

If so, that's probably not the Red Sox's best option. But it might become their most realistic option.

Lowell said that Boston cannot worry about its banged-up players, that the show must go on.

"If some key guys are out and we're not at full strength, I don't think that will determine whether we can win this series," Lowell said. "Whoever executes better and plays well, that will determine if you win the series."

Francona said the club will not determine its final roster for the divisional series until late Tuesday night or, possibly, Wednesday morning. He planned to meet with front office officials back at the team hotel later Tuesday for more discussion.

 

Posted on: September 5, 2008 6:33 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2008 8:40 pm
 

Terrible blow for White Sox

Sure, the news Friday for the Chicago White Sox could have been worse. U.S. Cellular Field could have been condemned. A Black Sox Scandal II could have been uncovered. Ozzie Guillen's arch-enemy columnist, Jay Mariotti, could have been re-hired.

But failing those disastrous possibilities, dang, it's difficult to imagine anything much worse for the poor White Sox than slugger Carlos Quentin heading to the surgeon's table.

He will undergo surgery Monday and have a screw inserted into his fractured right wrist. He'll be re-evaluated in two or three weeks and, though he hopes to salvage the season, it doesn't look good. There is a very real possibility that he's done for the year.

Wrist injuries, particularly serious wrist injuries, are temperamental things, and for the White Sox, losing Quentin is no less of a blow than if Boston were to lose David Ortiz, or the Los Angeles Angels were to lose Vladimir Guerrero. That's how important he's been to them in his first season on the South Side.

Sox general manager Kenny Williams absolutely stole Quentin from Arizona last winter, sending infielder Chris Carter to the desert in exchange, and Quentin has responded with a Most Valuable Player-type season. He leads the AL with 36 homers, ranks fifth in the AL with 100 RBIs and has provided needed heft for the White Sox lineup.

"He's had a phenomenal year," general manager Bill Smith, whose Minnesota Twins are battling the White Sox for the AL Central title, said Friday afternoon. "He was probably one of the best pickups of the year.

"You never like to see players get hurt, and I'm sorry to see this. He's had a huge impact for them every game he's played against us this year, I can tell you that."

The Sox play the Twins three more times, at Minnesota from Sept. 223-25, in what likely will be a key series to determine the AL Central title. Entering the weekend, the White Sox had opened a 1 1/2-game lead on Minnesota.

Most aggravating, and manager Ozzie Guillen was vocal about it before Chicago opened its weekend series with the Angels, was the fact that the probable season-ending injury appears self-induced. Quentin says he angrily slammed his bat with his right fist after missing a pitch during his final at-bat Monday in Cleveland. It's something he's always done, Quentin says, only this time, he missed his spot and hit the bat with his wrist instead of his fist.

Undoubtedly, it will go down in the freak-injury annals of stretch-run baseball. Nobody ever plans on getting hurt, but Quentin's fracture would be more understandable if, say, it occurred when he was hit by a pitch.

"Quentin is one of those guys who's led every league he's ever played in in being hit by a pitch," one scout said Friday.

Quentin, who has been hit by a pitch an AL-leading 20 times this season, also led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in hit-by-pitches in both 2006 (31) and 2005 (29), and he led the Class A California League in 2004 (27).

Now, thanks to one brief instant in which his self-discipline disappeared, Quentin is out.

And no surgery is going to fix the hole he's leaving in the middle of the White Sox lineup.

Posted on: August 27, 2008 4:57 pm
 

Boston bags Kotsay

Following the Manny Ramirez nonsense, the Tim Wakefield shoulder issue, the Josh Beckett numbness and J.D. Drew's back, things finally are beginning to break right for the Boston Red Sox.

Outfielder Mark Kotsay was a terrific acquisition Wednesday, and the road is beginning to take its toll on the Minnesota Twins for Boston's fallback October plan, the AL wild-card slot.

Kotsay is 32 with the back of a 42-year-old (or worse), but he's playing and he's good to go for now. He was hitting .289 with six homers and 37 RBI in 88 games for Atlanta. With Drew's status dicey for the rest of the season, Kotsay is the perfect complement to Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Bay and Coco Crisp: An experienced hand who is battle-tested, having playoff experience with Oakland in 2006.

The Red Sox have been in the market for an outfielder since the Manny Ramirez fiasco, before Drew's back began acting up. San Diego's Brian Giles declined a trade to the Red Sox earlier this month for family reasons and because the Red Sox couldn't promise him anything more than an extra outfielder's role at the time. Giles wanted to play every day.

What's changed since then -- and increased the urgency for the Red Sox to acquire another outfielder -- is Drew's injury. Fortunately for the Red Sox, they didn't grant Crisp's desire to be traded this spring. Think how thin they'd be in the outfield if they had.

Not only does Kotsay know his way around the outfield, he's a solid guy to have in the clubhouse for a stretch run. Professional, committed, intelligent and no-nonsense (no Manny comments here, please).

So consider this another test passed for Boston as the Red Sox gallop toward another October. This isn't to grant them a playoff spot yet -- there are still many challenges ahead.

But the Red Sox are better today with Kotsay on their roster than they were yesterday. And thanks to Minnesota's four-game losing streak, the Red Sox have some breathing room (a 2 1/2-game lead) in the AL wild-card race.

This isn't a team that has given up on first place -- they trail Tampa Bay by only 3 1/2 games, and they still play Joe Maddon's club six times in September (three home, three away). A lot still can change.

But the way things are shaping up, the Red Sox have two chances to make the playoffs. And the percentages are rising. Minnesota should have won three of four over the weekend in Anaheim and could have swept the Angels. But the Twins lost the final two games of that series and the first two in Seattle this week.

Not a good way to begin a 14-game trip, and even more disheartening for the Twins after they started 2-0. Being that Ron Gardenhire's club has begun a stretch in which they play 24 of 30 on the road, as Yogi says, it's beginning to get late early.

Meantime, Boston has won five of seven, nine of 13 and life without Manny isn't looking as daunting as maybe it once did.

Likes: Colorado has won four in a row and has pulled to within six games of first-place Arizona in the NL West. You don't think the Rockies will stage another September miracle, do you? … Instant replay on boundary calls are fine, but if baseball officials ever look to expand replay, it'll be time to dig in and fight it. … Watching Randy Johnson pitch. … My Weber grill. … Gates barbecue sauce from Kansas City, right in my fridge and then on the chicken on the Weber grill.

Dislikes: Well, I was just saying yesterday how fun the Mets are to watch lately. Not so much after they blew a 7-0 lead to Philadelphia on Tuesday night while falling with a thud into second place in the NL East. … Florida's Hanley Ramirez with a glove. … Sure, I write a feature piece on Arizona this week and the Diamondbacks promptly go into the tank in San Diego. I hate it when teams don't cooperate. … Come on, Tropical Storm Gustav, let's skip right over New Orleans this time.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"When I think back on all the crap
"I learned in high school
"It's a wonder I can think at all
"And though my lack of education
"Hasn't hurt me none
"I can read the writing on the wall"

-- Paul Simon, Kodachrome

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com