Beckett looking to snap personal skid on birthday

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Beckett looking to snap personal skid on birthday

BOSTON -- Josh Beckett makes his seventh start of the season on Tuesday as he takes on the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.

At 2-4 with a 5.97 ERA, he'll be looking to snap out of a personal two-game skid. He's also looking to get away from tipping his pitches, something that Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had implied was the issue last Thursday when Beckett was lit up for seven runs in 2.1 innings against the Cleveland Indians.

It's also Becket's 32nd birthday, but Valentine doesn't see that as a distraction.

"I think guys always like to perform well on their birthday," said Valentine before Tuesday's game. "When you're the kind of pro that Josh is, I'm just happy that he has the ball. If he could pitch more than once every five days and I'd be happy to give him that. I think he's ready to go."

As for Beckett's previously sore lat muscle, Valentine clearly doesn't see it as a concern now. He acknowledged that Beckett took part in some batting practice before the upcoming weekend inter-league series in Philadelphia.

As for any potential concern for Beckett's velocity and that previous lat issue, Valentine also didn't think his decrease in pitch speed was a concern, if there even was a decrease.

"It depends on what the hitters are seeing," said Valentine. "Some of these guns are weird. So I'm not trusting all gun speeds . . . There's been times when his fastball has been plenty to control the head of the bat."

Jarrod Saltalamacchia will start behind the plate for Beckett for the first time since Beckett's first start of the season in Detroit on April 7. Kelly Shoppach started behind the plate as his catcher for the ensuing five games.

Red Sox-Yankees: Pregame news and observations

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Red Sox-Yankees: Pregame news and observations

BOSTON -- As we get ready for the first Red Sox-Yankee series of the season, some pregame news and observations:

* Eduardo Rodriguez was at Fenway, to be checked by the training staff after his rehab outing in Syracuse Thursday night. Rodriguez allowed three runs -- two earned -- in 3 2/3 innings. He allowed six hits and walked three while striking out two.

"He came through it fine from a health standpoint,'' said John Farrell. "He was probably a little rusty. He's going to need some innings.''
Rodriguez is scheduled to pitch again Tuesday for Pawtucket. The Sox are undecided about what their plans are beyond that, but it seems likely he'll make another rehab start after that.

* Blake Swihart made his debut in the outfield Thursday, and according to Farrell, had just one chance in left: a ball that he initially lost in the lights before eventually recovering.

"The first game, after some work...(he's), as we all are: a work in progress,'' said Farrell. "The footwork was initially something that we had to address (in pre-game work). We've had (minor league outfield coordinator) Billy McMillon in there to work with him. It's been about some of that first-step reads and jumps to his routes to get accustomed to. Here's a guy, for the last four or five years, the game is coming to him (behind the plate). Now, all of a sudden, he's reacting to balls off the bat. It's a completely different view of the game. This is going to take some time in the outfield.''

Farrell said the goal is to get Swihart in the outfield a couple of times per week.

* Farrell hinted that the Sox may be close to dropping a pitcher -- they currently are carrying 13 - and adding another position player. For the past week, the Sox have had just three extra position players on the 25-man roster.

"Maybe (Friday night) might have some impact on that,'' said Farrell, suggesting that as long as starter Henry Owens doesn't need relief help early, the Sox may be in a position tomorrow to swap a reliever for a role player.

As it stands, the Sox have an extra catcher, outfielder Chris Young and infielder Josh Rutledge. Not long ago, they had infielder Marco Hernandez up, but Farrell said it wasn't a given that the player added will be an infielder.

"I don't think we need to center around an infielder,'' said Farrell. "The best complement would be a left-handed bat.''

On the 40-man roster, that profile fits only two players: Hernandez and Swihart, who's a switch-hitter.

Hernandez was optioned back to Pawtucket on April 20, and rules state that a player must spend 10 days in the minors before being recalled. On Saturday, that 10-day period will have elapsed.

It's highly unlikely that Swihart would be brought back so soon, since the Sox want him to continue his development behind the plate and get more comfortable in the outfield.

"We wanted him to come up here and not play more than half the week,'' said Farrell. "I think that derails everything that we're trying to accomplished currently.''

* Joe Kelly (shoulder impingement) threw a 35-pitch bullpen Friday and will throw long-toss Sunday, with another bullpen set for Tuesday. After that, the Sox will schedule his first rehab assignment for an affiliate.

"He's going to need some innings, obviously,'' said Farrell. "We haven't gotten him to full speed yet. For any pitcher, that last five to ten percent of intensity is always the benchmark. We're going to have to build him up to 80-plus pitches.''

* The Red Sox lost lefty Edwin Escobar on a waiver claim to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Escobar was taken off the 40-man roster and designated for assignment when the Sox had to get William Cuevas onto the 40-man roster.

Friday's lineups: Red Sox vs. Yankees

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Friday's lineups: Red Sox vs. Yankees

BOSTON -- Henry Owens will be on the mound tonight, making his second start of the season, as the Red Sox play the Yankees for the first time in 2016.

The lineups:

YANKEES:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Texeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Brian McCann C
Starlin Castro 2B
Chase Headley 3B
Didi Gregorius SS
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Masahiro Tanaka P

RED SOX:
Mookie Betts RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Travis Shaw 3B
Brock Holt LF
Ryan Hanigan C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
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Henry Owens P