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What’s New with the Red Sox: Monday

03.09.10 at 9:12 am ET

Nothing fancy, just the facts.

Josh Beckett threw three perfect innings against the Cardinals on Monday, yet that performance seemed almost secondary to the identity of the man who was behind the plate to receive the 29-year-old’s pitches. Beckett spent the day working with Victor Martinez, and pronounced afterwards that he has achieved something in the vicinity of a 7-of-10 in terms of comfort level with the catcher who came to Boston at last year’s trade deadline, and who will now serve as the everyday catcher for the Sox in 2010.

Beckett explained that there is a necessary transition phase as he begins to work with someone other than Jason Varitek. Yet while opponents had a 1.021 OPS off of Beckett in three starts with Martinez behind the plate, compared to a svelte .625 mark when he threw to Varitek, Beckett made two things clear:

1) He likes throwing to Varitek because of the comfort that the two have built; and
2) He doesn’t dislike throwing to Martinez.

From this story:

“I do like throwing to Jason Varitek, and I’m not ashamed to say that. He has helped me so much throughout the years just throwing to him,” Beckett said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t like throwing to Victor. I think Victor does great. Somebody asked me after a bad start that Vic caught me and I said, ‘Damn, if you’re blaming him for me pitching like (crap) I’ll tell you right now he’s got a pretty good answer for you and that’s, ‘I’ve caught two Cy Youngs in two years.’ Maybe it’s the Indian [and] not the arrow.

“I don’t know if it’s blown out of proportion because the number is there and I’ll say it in front of Vic: I like throwing to Jason Varitek. It doesn’t mean I don’t like throwing to Vic. There’s got to be some transition there.”

Jose Iglesias lined a game-winning three-run homer to left against the Cardinals. The shot offered reason to believe that the 20-year-old has greater offensive potential than the light-hitting Rey Ordonez, the player to whom Iglesias is often compared for their shared career path (both defected from Cuba) and their defensive wizardry.

“He just needs experience and the sky’s the limit for him,” said Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan.

For more, click here.

– Iglesias is unlikely to explore that ceiling in the majors until at least late-2011 or 2012. The man who will man shortstop for the Sox during that time, Marco Scutaro, will almost surely land in the bottom of the Red Sox linuep, with Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the order. But on days when Ellsbury doesn’t play — such as Monday — Scutaro represents a viable alternative. Scutaro recalled that it was Jays manager Cito Gaston who first surfaced the idea that the shortstop might be able to hit atop a lineup. “I liked it,” said Scutaro. “I had no complaints.” For more, click here.

– On the subject of Ellsbury (seamless transitions, no?), the outfielder received a $47,000 pay raise in his final season preceding his eligibility for salary arbitration. Ellsbury, who said recently that he hasn’t had any discussions with the Sox about a long-term deal, will make $496,500 in 2010. Here are the details for him and the other 12 players who agreed to terms on contracts for the 2010 season with the Sox.

John Lackey, after focusing on his changeup in the past couple of spring trainings, is placing less of an emphasis on that pitch than he is his primary three offerings (fastball, curve, slider) this year.

– With the Twins holding their breath while waiting for MRI results on Joe Nathan‘s elbow injury, it is interesting to observe the similarities between Nathan and his spring Fort Myers counterpart, Jonathan Papelbon. The two have been statistical twins since Papelbon ascended to the closer’s role in 2006, with Nathan recording a 1.73 ERA in that time, just ahead of Papelbon’s 1.74 mark.

That being the case, Nathan offers one prism through which to view the significance of the Red Sox closer. Along those lines, here is what Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had to say about Nathan, just under 24 hours before his closer suffered what Minnesota is hoping is merely a normal part of the recovery process from offseason elbow surgery:

“Without Nathan, our bullpen is really in trouble. It has been and it will be if we don’t have Nathan. We’ve really struggled. Not saying somebody can’t step in, but without Nathan, we’d be in trouble,” said Gardenhire. “He’s been the horse. And he is the horse. So if we protect him enough, he’s really good.”

– Minor leaguer Zach Daeges was reassigned to minor league camp. After missing virtually all of last year due to an ankle injury, he was excited to return to the field this spring, only to suffer a strained lat that prevented him from swinging over the past couple weeks. The development was disappointing, but Daeges tried to remain mindful of the bigger picture.

“My body hasn’t been treating me the best,” Daeges said last week. “I wanted to get in the spring and prove myself again, show them I could still play. … Hopefully [a return will come] soon, but the number one goal is to be healthy in April.”

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