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.
Never say never?
While Red Sox officials said at the team's annual Winter Weekend at Foxwoods on Saturday that they'd be traveling to the Dominican Republic to talk to David Ortiz about a role with the team, Pedro Martinez told WEEI he sees Big Papi returning to his old role - designated hitter - this season.
CSN's Trenni Kusnierek and WEEI's John Tomase talked to Martinez on their show Saturday at Foxwoods and Martinez said his old teammate would be making a comeback despite the long, emotional farewell tour last season.
For the full interview with Martinez, click here.
Red Sox executives Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy and Dave Dombrowski made no mention of Ortiz returning as a player when talking about their Dominican trip. Ortiz has repeatedly said he is going to stay retired.
MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- While there’s a deal of anticipation going into Spring training with the four Killer B’s, David Price and Pablo Sandoval’s shot at redemption and Rick Porcello looking to be something similar to his 2016 self, there’s one name that trumps them all.
The lankly lefty received an ovation from fans at the Friday night Town Hall, kicking off Red Sox Winter Weekend. With his consistent success, there’s reason to be excited.
But there’s also reason for apprehension given the way Sale’s departure from Chicago was depicted. But he’s made sure to clear the air.
“I wouldn’t say . . . ya know . . . I loved my time in Chicago,” Sale said when asked if it was time to leave the Windy City. “My best baseball memories are there [and] will be there forever. I love the city; I love the people in the organization.
“It was time for both sides to do something different, I guess. I talked to (White Sox Senior V.P.) Rick on the phone, I talked to (White Sox pitching coach Don) Coop (Cooper). We’re all cool, it’s fine. We understand where both of us are, it happens in baseball, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chicago.”
He didn’t seem irritated discussing the issue, and certainly wasn’t timid -- we all know that’s not in his DNA.
He genuinely seems excited to deal with the large sum of Sox fans and to call a new place home -- in a city his wife’s fond of no less.
But ultimately, he’s focused on winning, nothing else.
“Every time I’m out there it’s gonna be all I got,” Sale said. "Every time, no matter what. Can promise you that.”