Red Sox

Valentine: Beckett a "professional"

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Valentine: Beckett a "professional"

BOSTON The firestorm caused by Josh Becketts golf outing two days before he was skipped in a start because of a sore right lat muscle and a week before he was pummeled by the Indians Thursday night is still broiling.

Beckett took the loss last night, going just 2 13 innings and giving up seven runs, his shortest start since going 2 13 innings while giving up eight runs on Aug. 17, 2008, to the Blue Jays.

Before Fridays game manager Bobby Valentine said Becketts health was not an issue, and that Beckett may have been tipping pitches to the Indians.

I think mechanically, based on the information Ive got back, is that his mechanics are all right, Valentine said. But Josh seems to think that Cleveland is on him more than others and there might be something that hes doing that is signaling their effectiveness. Were investigating that. Healthwise he was fine. He said he felt great and today he was actively pursuing the answers to the problems.

Looking at video to see whywhen the cutter came in to the left-hander they always were out in front of it. Thats suspicious.

But with the backlash on Becketts choice of off-day activities still swirling, Valentine was asked if there was anything he could do about that.

I dont think that I am making a determination on what people are doing during their off days unless it affects the performance of them on the field and it seems that he was healthy when he played and it seems like it didn't hurt him, Valentine said. Would be very tough for a manager to start legislating what guys do when they're away from the park.

I think there are things that have been thought about since this has happened by everyone concernedin terms of right and wrong and what to do next time.

Perhaps it is the perception of the situation.. Choosing to play golf two days before a start will be skipped, the day after Valentine announced Beckett would be skipped certainly doesnt look good.

Again, that gets into the semantics thing, Valentine said. If you're injured, you can't do it. If there's an injury involved, you can't do anything away from the park that can do anything that might continue to cause more pain.

Valentine said the reason Beckett was skipped was to be cautious rather than because of a specific injury. Beckett threw 126 pitches, matching a career high in his previous start. After that start, he said his lat was bothering him before the outing.

I didn't think it was a physical thing as a reason he was skipped, Valentine said. I thought it was a cautionary thing. Right from the first day that I saw we were going to do it, I said it was 126 pitches and he had some lat stiffness. I was in the training room with him when they were digging into his lat and he said, Yeah its a little sore right in there, and I said, Im not taking a chance this time of the season.

Thats all that me personally is going on. I even heard the day that we skipped him, the day that Aaron Cook pitched, that he was feeling good enough to pitch that day.

Valentine considered bumping Beckett back, rather than skipping his turn, but that would have altered the rotation and other starters schedules.

I did but that would have caused everybody else to have to move up and we had a situation with Cook that was a coincidentally convenient thing, Valentine said. We had to make a decision whether to keep him or not to keep him and what we were going to do with him if we kept him and it just seemed like the stars were aligned to keep him and have him pitch in that spot.

Valentine said there had been some thought of using Beckett in the 17-inning loss to the Orioles on Sunday, but after quickly conferring with pitching coach Bob McClure during the game, that move was decided against.

At some point there was a thought but it didn't come to fruition, he said.

Cook had an opt-out date of May 1. It was announced on May 2 he would start in place of Beckett, with Beckett getting skipped.

We were all intrigued about Cook staying or leaving before we knew what he was at the major league level, Valentine said. We were all dealing, wrestling with that situation.

Valentine had been critical of Beckett in the past, as an analyst for ESPN. Since joining the Sox, he said he has found Beckett to be professional.

Josh has been a real professional to talk to, Valentine said. Hes seems like hes always on the same page in conversation. Hes with the guys, hes making jokes in the food room when I go by, hes shagging balls and seems to have fun. Seems to just be a regular to me.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 

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“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.
 

NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

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NLCS: Cubs avoid sweep, top Dodgers 3-2 to cut series deficit to 3-1

CHICAGO -- Javier Baez sensed he was ready to bust out of his slump and give the Chicago Cubs the lift they needed.

As breakthroughs go, this was a big one. Just in time to keep the season going for the defending champs.

Baez snapped an 0-for-20 skid with two home runs, Wade Davis hung on for a six-out save and Cubs avoided a sweep, holding off the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 Wednesday night in Game 4 of the NL Championship Series.

"We have to be much more offensive," manager Joe Maddon said. "It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

Baez finally got going with a pair of solo drives .

Jake Arrieta pitched three-hit ball into the seventh inning to help the Cubs close their deficit to 3-1. Maddon got ejected for the second time in this series in the eighth, and a packed Wrigley Field crowd watched Davis get Cody Bellinger to ground into a game-ending double play.

Maddon was heavily criticized for not using Davis during a 4-1 loss in Game 2. This time, the Cubs closer threw 48 pitches to finish the job.

Willson Contreras also homered for the Cubs. Bellinger and Justin Turner connected for the Dodgers, who had won a team-record six straight playoff games.

Game 5 is Thursday, with Jose Quintana pitching for Chicago against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.

"They're the world champs, and you know they're going to fight to the end," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "So today, they did. We got beat today."

Baez hit solo drives in the second and fifth after going hitless in his first 20 playoff at-bats. He had been watching videos and felt his timing was starting to come back in recent trips to the plate.

"I just need to take a step back and see what's going on," he said.

Contreras added a long homer against Alex Wood.

Davis entered with a 3-1 lead in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff homer to Turner, who went 2 for 2 and drew two walks.

Maddon became incensed that a swinging strike three against Curtis Granderson was ruled a foul after the umpires discussed the play. Maddon got tossed, and Granderson struck out swinging at the next pitch.

And after walking Yasmani Grandal to put runners on first and second, Davis struck out Chase Utley , who is hitless in his last 24 postseason at-bats.

All seven of Chicago's runs in this series have come on homers. And long drives in the second by Contreras and Baez made it 2-0.

"Great to have this win, because if not we were going home tomorrow," Baez said. "But I feel like we're still not on track as a team. But I think if we get back on track, everybody as a team, we're going to be the best again."

Contreras' 491-foot homer banged off the left-field videoboard and Baez sent a towering drive out to left.

Bellinger cut it to 2-1 with his drive to right in the third. But Baez got the lead back up to two with a shot to the left-field bleachers in the fifth, the raucous crowd chanting "Javy! Javy!" for the flashy young star who was co-MVP of the NLCS last year.

No Cubs player had hit two in a playoff game since Alex Gonzalez went deep twice in Game 2 of the 2003 NLCS against Miami.

Arrieta exited with runners on first and second in the seventh after walking Chris Taylor on a 3-2 pitch. He tipped his hat as fans gave him a standing ovation, a fitting show of appreciation for a pitcher with an expiring contract.

"Hopefully, it's not a goodbye, it's a thank you, obviously," Arrieta said. "I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. If that's where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there."

Arrieta turns 32 in March and figures to land a huge deal in free agency. The trade that brought him from Baltimore helped fuel Chicago's rise, with the right-hander capturing the 2015 NL Cy Young Award and contributing to last year's drought-busting championship run.

Limited by a right hamstring injury in the final month of the season, he threw 111 pitches. Brian Duensing retired Bellinger on a fly to end the seventh.

Turner made it a one-run game with his homer off the left-field videoboard against Davis in the eighth.

A career-high 16-game winner, Wood gave up three runs and four hits in 42/3 innings.

"The only frustrating thing is we fell a run short," Turner said. "We played a great game, they played a great game. They just hit one more ball over the fence than we did."

FINISHING UP

Maddon said Davis would not be available on Thursday.

"So other guys got to do it," Maddon said. "We have to be much more offensive. It's got to start happening tomorrow. We're going to do this. Going to pull this off, we have to become more offensive tomorrow."

QUOTABLE

Chicago's Kyle Schwarber on all the Cubs' runs coming on homers in the series: "That's fine. A run's a run, anyway you can get them in. Obviously, we want to manufacture some runs, but we won a ballgame 3-2 hitting homers; I'll take that, too."

UP NEXT

Dodgers: The Dodgers turn to Kershaw to try to wrap up the series. The three-time NL Cy Young winner went five innings in Game 1, allowing two runs, and has a 4.76 ERA in two postseason starts this year.

Cubs: Quintana pitched five innings of two-hit ball in Game 1, one day after his wife, Michel, was taken off the team plane in Albuquerque with a medical ailment.

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