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Crisis averted? Bobby Valentine ‘totally’ expects Josh Beckett to be ready for start of season

04.02.12 at 12:48 pm ET
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Manager Bobby Valentine expects starter Josh Beckett to be ready to start the season as scheduled. (AP)

Shortly after Alfredo Aceves told reporters in Fort Myers that he was on call in case the Red Sox needed to fill in for Josh Beckett‘s first two starts of the season, manager Bobby Valentine suggested that, while the team has made some contingency plans for a “situation” with Beckett’s right thumb, he does not anticipate having to seek an alternative starter for the team’s second game of the year.

Asked if he expected Beckett to make his scheduled start on Saturday against the Tigers, Valentine responded, “Totally.”

Valentine told reporters that Beckett had an impressive 100-pitch bullpen session on Sunday, and that he felt good and commanded well. The manager suggested that Beckett will have the thumb — an issue that has been mildly bothersome since late-March — examined in San Antonio “just for peace of mind.”

“Just been a little situation. I think I might’ve mentioned it 10 days ago that there’s a situation that we’ve been dealing with,” Valentine told reporters. “I feel really right now –– as in all cases you have to be prepared and I think we are. I think we’re covered with whatever happens. The good news is in his 100 pitches yesterday, he felt terrific.”

The thumb injury notwithstanding, Beckett had a very strong spring, with a 0.95 ERA in five Grapefruit League starts and a .117 batting average against, along with 10 strikeouts and eight walks, in 19 innings.

OTHER NOTES

– Valentine said that closer Andrew Bailey‘s thumb is being examined on Monday and perhaps Tuesday. Until the Sox have the results of his exam, they won’t be ready to finalize their roster, particularly their pitching staff.

– Towards that end, Valentine did not identify the potential closing replacement for Bailey if the right-hander is sidelined to start the year. The manager told reporters that Mark Melancon represents a potential alternative, while also noting, “I’d be comfortable with a lot of guys. … I’m confident we have guys who could pitch in the ninth inning.”

– Valentine identified a host of players who will remain in Fort Myers while rehabbing from injuries. They are:

POSITION PLAYERS

Carl Crawford (wrist surgery rehab)
Ryan Kalish (shoulder surgery rehab)

PITCHERS

Chris Carpenter (elbow surgery rehab)
Rich Hill (Tommy John rehab)
Bobby Jenks (back surgery rehab)
John Lackey (Tommy John rehab)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (Tommy John rehab)
Andrew Miller (hamstring — Miller threw in a minor league game on Monday morning)

Valentine told reporters that Crawford is moving “slowly ahead. He’s progressing exactly like we want him to progress, and hope he just doesn’t get offline.”

The manager suggested that the good weather in Fort Myers was a better atmosphere for Crawford to continue his rehab progress than the colder climes in which the Sox will open the year. Valentine suggested a likelihood but not a certainty that Crawford will go on a rehab assignment to a minor league affiliate before he is activated from the disabled list. The manager suggested that it was imperfect that the first time he will be able to work with Crawford in a game environment will be when he is activated from the DL, but there’s little that can be done about that fact.

“Is that the word, disappointment? Whatever it is, it’s the only thing that I probably regret,” Valentine told reporters of the idea that he has not been able to see Crawford play in spring games. “You know that will complicate matters possibly as we move forward. But it is what it is. I would have loved to have seen him in games, got to work with him, talk with him. Down here in this practice environment. First time I’m going to see him in uniform with me will be in that real environment.”

Read More: Andrew Bailey, Bobby Valentine, carl crawford, Josh Beckett
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