|Josh Beckett: Though thumb eventually may require surgery, ‘dumbfounded’ by concern||04.04.12 at 4:42 pm ET|
DETROIT — In most years, little drama surrounds a team on the day of its final workout prior to the start of the regular season. In that sense, the 2012 Red Sox are already an atypical team.
Andrew Bailey will undergo surgery on the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb on Wednesday, thus leaving the Sox without their anticipated closer for the first half of the season. Given Bailey’s situation, there were alarm bells sounded when news emerged that right-hander Josh Beckett was having his thumb examined both in San Antonio by Dr. Mark Bagg and in Cleveland by Dr. Thomas Graham, the latter being the same doctor who examined Bailey.
However, after manager Bobby Valentine declared Beckett’s thumb “not much of an injury,” Beckett suggested that he was stunned by the concern that the condition — which he considers trivial after dealing with some variation of it for 18 months — generated as much attention as it did.
“Everything’s fine. I really have no idea how this got blown out like this. I was dumbfounded,” said Beckett. “The text messages and the e-mails I was getting from guys, I was like, what’s going on here? I think a lot of it had to do with Andrew Bailey also having injured his thumb. But he injured his thumb on one thing. Mine was something that’s happened over time.”
Beckett said that he “had some issues the last few weeks of spring training,” but said that it’s something he “should just get through for six months.” He received a cortisone injection into the joint during the offseason and another roughly two to three weeks during spring training, and it was the fact that the second injection had limited palliative impact that led him to see Bagg in San Antonio. (It was the team, Beckett said, that wanted him to see Graham.)
“It didn’t respond as well [to the cortisone shot] this time, and I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t some more damage in there,” said Beckett, who said he did not know how to describe the medical condition that he faced. (“There’s a bunch of little bones and stuff in there that had some things going on.) “It’s something I’ve been dealing with for 18 months. It’s been there for 18 months. Like I said, we’re just covering the bases as far after a shot things didn’t go as smooth as they had in the past. We had to make sure there wasn’t some more stuff going on. … I think everything’s good. There was just one concern that it was my ligament, much like Andrew Bailey’s deal, and it wasn’t.”
Beckett acknowledged that he will continue to monitor the condition of his sore thumb during the season. He suggested that, at some point, surgery may be an option, but that it wasn’t being considered right now.
“We’ve got to kind of play it by ear, see how things go,” said Beckett.
|Ben Cherington talks Andrew Bailey, Josh Beckett||04.03.12 at 4:08 pm ET|
Talking to reporters prior to the Red Sox’ final exhibition game in Washington, D.C., general manager Ben Cherington spoke to the media regarding updates on both Andrew Bailey and Josh Beckett, whom both were being examined for thumb ailments in Cleveland on Tuesday.
On Bailey: “We’re proceeding as if he’s not going to be on the roster for Opening Day. Until we get a little more information I don’t want to speculate on what may or may not happen. It’s clear he has an injury, we’re still trying to figure out the best way to deal with it.’’
“Bailey’s injury is different (than Beckett’s) in that we believe it is more of an acute injury we think he suffered when he was in a collision at Bradenton when he covered first and collided with Alex Presley and he fell. At the time he didn’t think anything of it but then started to experience some soreness shortly after that and then went back and looked at the video and he definitely landed on his thumb so he’s never had any thumb soreness before that so we don’t know for sure but it seems possible that’s what did it. Anytime you have more of an acute injury, we have to get to the bottom of how bad it is and whether it can be managed conservatively or not.”
Regarding surgery: “Don’t think it would happen today. If the procedure’s necessary, I think it would happen soon but we’re not at that point yet.’’
On potential closer candidates: “We’ve got a number of guys who have done it a little bit and think they can and are capable of doing it. Ultimately that’s up to Bobby [Valentine] who he brings in in the ninth inning. there are a number of guys out there who have some saves, have pitched late in games and maybe it’s more than one guy, that’s something that Bobby will decide and the game will dictate.
“We’re never comfortable with the depth we have, this is an opportunity for some guys to step up and maybe pitch in a different role than they would have before. I think when you lose one guy to the bullpen no matter who it is, no matter what the role is, there is a little bit of a ripple effect on other guys’ role. This is an opportunity for guys to step, maybe do a little more than in the past and then we’ve got to continue to look for protection just as we would in any season. As you guys know, we’re going to use 20,. 25 pitchers, not 12, we’ll keep doing that. Then we’ve got guys who are hopefully can be factors at some point early in the season – Andrew Miller and Rich Hill – both in Fort Myers and who both should go out on rehab assignments pretty soon. We’ve just got to keep looking and give the guys here every chance to prove they can do it.”
On Daniel Bard’s role: “No, the decision was made and he’s going to pitch Game 5 in Toronto and we’re committed to him as a starter right now.”
On Beckett: “Josh has had some soreness off and on this spring that he’s pitched through. We took the opportunity, the time between his last outing to the extended side he threw, the 100 pitch side in Fort Myers to let him gather as much information as possible so that we could help him manage it the best possible. He’s not that concerned about it, we expect him to pitch Game 2. It’s mostly information gathering at this point.
“You know that was one of those things that is common with pitchers, they might feel a little something, guys feel stuff all the time and he didn’t report it right away. I think he felt like it was just one of those things you get in spring training, you’re just a little sore and it goes away and you keep pitching through it. Over a period of days it kept nagging at him and it wasn’t getting better – I can’t remember the exact date he reported it. We took him out of his last outing and kind of stepped up our efforts to get it checked out and get to the bottom of it. It is what it is. We’ll know more by the end of the day.’’
“He’s had it off and on this spring. There may have been a time or two in the past where it’s been bugging him. This isn’t atypical for a pitcher or any player, you have something that crops up from time to time and has to be managed, and he’s managing it.
“It’s not tendinitis. You can kind of make a comparison to a pitcher’s shoulder or elbow, most major-league pitchers have changes in their shoulder or elbow that they pitch through. He’s got some changes in his thumb but it’s something he’s been able to pitch through and he’s planning to pitch through and pitching with, not that concerned with.
On if that impacts his grip: “You’d have to ask him. Josh has evolved as a pitcher. He was a different pitcher in 2011 than he was in 2007, we all saw that. He’s always making adjustments out there. He threw his curveball plenty this spring, threw it effectively, I don’t think there’s any one pitch he’s not going to use. He’s evolved as a pitcher but he’s not eliminating anything.’’
|Crisis averted? Bobby Valentine ‘totally’ expects Josh Beckett to be ready for start of season||04.02.12 at 12:48 pm ET|
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.
– 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. Read the rest of this entry »
|Tim Kurkjian on The Big Show: ‘There’s going to be some issues’ with Bobby Valentine, Ben Cherington||03.27.12 at 5:25 am ET|
ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian joined The Big Show Monday to discuss a series of issues and topics currently surrounding the Red Sox, including the team’s pitching staff, the potential for a bounce-back season for Carl Crawford and whether the team will be able to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
However, nothing surrounding the Red Sox was a bigger story than a report stating that manager Bobby Valentine and general manager Ben Cherington, both in their first year with the club, are at odds with each other.
It was a claim that Valentine dismissed today, noting the report as nothing more than “lazy journalism,” but Kurkjian said that there is certainly the potential for prolonged tension between the two.
“We have to understand that there’s going to be some issues here where there’s a manager in his 60s who has done the things that he has done, not just in this country but in Japan, and you pair him with a first-time general manager who’s trying to feel his way,” Kurkjian said. “There’s going to be some issues along the way, whether it’s who’s our shortstop and is this guy going to pitch the eighth inning or is he our fourth starter? Those are big questions that have to be answered.
“Sometimes, the manager wins those battles. Sometimes, the GM wins. In the end, Bobby is going to insist on doing what is right and in his heart, he thinks he’s going to be right 99 percent of the time and I can tell you, hopelessly biased, he’s right an awful lot.”
Along with the new personnel, another major question that will face the Red Sox this season will be whether Crawford can rebound from a disappointing 2011 season in which the high-priced free agent acquisition batted a career-worst .255. Kurkjian said that there may be some major internal problems plaguing Crawford, but that Valentine should be able to find a way to fix what went wrong last season.
“I checked very closely last year with the Rays when Crawford was struggling thinking nobody knows him better than the Rays, and I was assured that he will be fine as long as he has two things going for him – comfort and trust,” Kurkjian said. “He has to be comfortable in where he is and he has to trust the people who are making the decisions around him.
“I don’t know if he didn’t trust or wasn’t comfortable or whatever, but that was a really down season for him and I worry that they’re going to find that level of trust and comfort that’s going to make him play like he did with the Rays.”
Kurkjian said that, for now, he has the Red Sox making the playoffs as a wild card and that a big reason for that decision will be the positive effect that Valentine will have on the team.
“I think a smarter, wiser, older Bobby Valentine from, say, the Ranger days in ’85 is going to take a look and say, ‘Look, I’m going to do my part, but in the end, we’re going to win with those guys,” Valentine said. “If Carl Crawford is more comfortable hitting second and he’s going to be a better player hitting second, then I’m going to hit him second.’ That’s how smart Bobby is – ‘What button do I have to push to get this guy to play?’ He always finds the right buttons.”
|Thursday afternoon with Bobby V: The Dice-Man cometh?||03.22.12 at 7:35 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Among the various elements that the Red Sox must factor into their plans for their rotation, add a first-half return of Daisuke Matsuzaka.
That, at least, was the message from Red Sox manager Daisuke Matsuzaka after the rehabbing right-hander — now more than nine months removed from Tommy John surgery — tossed two simulated innings against hitters at the team’s spring training complex. After the outing, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine was asked whether July 1 seemed like a realistic return target for the 31-year-old.
“July? I think that that’s more than realistic, yeah. We have it mapped out before that. Closer to June 1st,” said Valentine, who clarified that he was referring to a timetable for Matsuzaka to return to the major leagues. “I mean, potentially. And there I went. I threw out a date, didn’t I? I told you the first day I’ll never throw out a date, didn’t I?” Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox name Jon Lester Opening Day starter, Beckett gets home opener||03.19.12 at 10:12 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine confirmed today that left-hander Jon Lester will make the Opening Day start for the Red Sox when they face the Tigers in Detroit on April 5, opposing reigning AL Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander, while Josh Beckett will follow him in the rotation and thus line up to start the Sox’ home opener at Fenway Park.
“I think the No. 1 determinant was a conversation I had with Josh, where Josh explained to me about starting pitchers and their Opening Day status or mentality or whatever. He thought Jon earned the job last year and didn’t do anything to lose it,” said Valentine, who said that the conversation with Beckett took place on Jan. 1. “I said, ‘You have a lot more knowledge of Opening Day starters and mentality than I.’ I saw the health of both of them. I figured it’s an honor both ways, I think – home opener and opener. So they’re both getting an honor.”
It is the second straight Opening Day start for Lester, who took a no-decision while tossing 5 1/3 innings and allowing five runs against the Rangers last year. Lester shook off that start to post his typical strong numbers for the year, going 15-9 with a 3.47 ERA in 191 2/3 innings and 31 starts for the Sox. Read the rest of this entry »
|Who is going to be the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter? Bobby Valentine offers hints||03.09.12 at 9:12 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Bobby Valentine knows Opening Day starters have already started being named (see Cleveland tabbing Justin Masterson). But that isn’t going to push his timetable.
Valentine insists he is going to get much closer to the Red Sox’ April 5 opener in Detroit before identifying who is going to be his starter that first day against the Tigers. But that doesn’t mean he won’t drop some clues along the way.
1. How does Valentine determine who should get the honor?
“The year before and the resume have a lot to do with it. When you have guys that both deserve something, or both years were good and resumes are similar, then you just have to figure out what you’re going to do with it. In our case it’s a simple fix.”
2. What is the “simple fix” you mention?
“Whom do I want to start on the road in my opener, and whom do I want to start in my home opener, because I think they have equal merit, honor, and prestige.”
3. Do you think Josh Beckett had the best year last season among your pitchers?
“A better year. But it wasn’t like Jon had a bad year.”
Valentine clearly believes that a pitcher has to have a significantly worse year than the one that earned him the right to start the opener in order to be pushed out of the spot. And, judging by his comments, there is no inclination to think Lester had that sort of downturn.
Lester earned the right to start Opening Day in 2011 because of what he did leading up to that season. And the fact that Beckett was coming off the roughest season of his career only sealed the deal. But this year it could have been a bit more interesting. The former Opening Day starter, Beckett, had the best season among the Sox’ starters, going 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA. But Lester, the incumbent, wasn’t that far behind (15-9, 3.47 ERA).
It would appear as though Valentine does see the pair as somewhat equals, leading to the “easy fix” comment. On most years, he might get an argument regarding the value of pitching the April 13 home opener (which Beckett is currently lined up to pitch). But this is the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, so a legitimate case can be made. And the manager won’t be shy about making it.
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