Red Sox

Beckett: 'I'm pretty much back to normal'

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Beckett: 'I'm pretty much back to normal'

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Josh Beckett tried to get coaching staff assistant Ino Guerrero to step in against him in his three-inning simulated game Friday afternoon.

We tried to get him to, Beckett said. We told him we couldnt find enough right-handed hitters.

Apparently, Guerrero thought better of it because he was not among the batters Beckett faced in his outing . . . costing Beckett a shot at a little revenge.

Beckett can joke about it now, but getting hit in the head with a baseball is always scary. It was Guerrero -- whose errant hit with a fungo, attempting to get a ball from the outfield back to the bucket behind second base during batting practice Monday -- who inflicted the damage. The ball hit Beckett, who was in the outfield shagging fly balls, in the left temple. The right-hander walked off the field on his own, accompanied by trainers, and was diagnosed with mild concussion symptoms.

I dont think initially I was that scared, Beckett said. It actually took when I went to lunch the next day and I couldnt do it. I couldnt be away from my house without laying down. And thats when I finally said, Hey, theres something wrong here.

"Because I was kind of resistant to even thinking I had a concussion. I tried to come in the next day. I was like, Oh, Im ready to go back to work. Lets get this over with. And I found out that day when I went to lunch. I kind of had a little bit of a setback.

Progressing from the setback, Beckett threw 40 pitches in his outing on the backfield of City of Palms Park Friday. He faced six Red Sox minor-leaguers right-handers Hector Luna, Ryan Dent and Ryan Khoury, and lefties Bubba Bell, Peter Hissey and Zach Gentile. General manager Theo Epstein and Jon Lester were among the on-lookers.

I felt good, Beckett said. Its a sim game. Theres just not a lot of adrenaline and stuff that goes into that. But I like it when the guys go up there and swing. It gives you a little bit of feedback one way or the other. Its hard to get a lot of feedback if the guys dont swing, just not a lot of things that correlate to a game unless you have a little bit of something going on.

Although he has not lifted weights since the incident, hes been able to get in enough work to continue his regular spring training progression. He skipped his start Thursday against the Phillies.

I think Im right there, he said. I wouldnt have thrown that many pitches had he pitched against the Phils on Thursday. I probably would have thrown less than that, in fact, unless I had a long inning, and even then I probably they wouldnt have let me go over so many pitches in one inning. As far as workload, yes. As far as the other things that go into actually pitching in a spring training game are a little bit different, whether it be routine or stuff like that.

Beckett said he got somewhat fatigued between the second and third innings, after throwing 31 pitches, but was not concerned by it.

In fact, at this time of year its good to get a little bit tired, he said.

Pitching coach Curt Young was pleased with Becketts outing, with the right-hander throwing all his pitches.

Just a good workout for him, Young said. With him getting hit in the head with a ball and being out for a couple of days, just looking to see good action out of him, throwing the ball. And it turned into a good session for him. So hell have three days rest and then ready for his outing.

With him supposed to be pitching yesterday, it kind of gets messed up one day. But hell get right back on schedule.

Triple-A Pawtuckets Mark Wagner caught for Beckett.

Outstanding, Wagner said of Becketts outing. Hes got all his stuff working and it was good. It was a good little quick outing.

Compared to the other days Ive caught him this spring , its obviously a work in progress but hes more than well on his way to being where he wants to be. All his pitches to all locations and it was all coming out of his hand really good.

Beckett said although hes still feeling the effects of getting hit, hes almost back to normal.

Im actually good, he said. Im really sore on the left side of my head. My jaw and stuff like that are pretty sore. But I think Im pretty much back to normal.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

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Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel.