Beckett, Sox blow away Tampa Bay, 12-2


Beckett, Sox blow away Tampa Bay, 12-2

BOSTON -- If you're a glass-is-half-empty type, the shoulder injury to Jacoby Ellsbury is what you're going to take away from Opening Day at Fenway Park.
The glass-is-half-full types, however, will remember Josh Beckett.
Beckett bounced all the way back from his dismal start last Saturday in Detroit with a dominant eight-inning performance against the Rays, limiting Tampa Bay to five hits and one run as he pitched Boston to a 12-2 victory Friday afternoon. He retired 21 of the last 24 batters he faced and received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 37,032 -- some of whom had booed him during pregame introductions -- when he left the field in the eighth.
It wasn't all sunshine at Fenway, though, as Ellsbury suffered what appeared to be a potentially serious shoulder injury in a second-base collision and had to leave the game in the bottom of the fourth. There was no immediate word on his condition, or how look he'll be sidelined.
The Sox fell behind 1-0 in the second when Ben Zobrist singled and came all the way around to score on a double into the left-field corner by Jeff Keppinger. But Beckett was dominant after that, shutting down the Rays on two hits the rest of the way.
He was given all the runs he would need in the third, when the Sox bled Rays ace David Price out of the game with a protracted rally that drove his pitch count into the 80s.
It began when Kelly Shoppach was hit by a pitch, and Ellsbury followed with a double to left that put runners on second and third. A walk to Dustin Pedroia loaded the bases.
Adrian Gonzalez then singled to left, scoring Shoppach and tying the game at 1-1. A sacrifice fly to right by Kevin Youkilis put the Sox ahead, 2-1 (and moved Ellsbury to third in the process), and David Ortiz beat Tampa Bay's overshift with a squib single to third base that scored Ellsbury and made it 3-1.
A walk to Darnell McDonald loaded the bases, but the Rays turned the hardest-hit ball of the inning -- a sharp grounder up the middle by Cody Ross -- into an inning-ending double play.
That was all for Price, however, who had thrown 83 pitches through three, and the Sox touched his replacement, Burke Badenhop, for another run of the game in the fourth. With one out Shoppach doubled, and he rode home on a single to center by Ellsbury.
The Sox blew it open with eight runs in the eighth, as a two-run double by Shoppach (3-for-4, 3 runs scored, 2 RBI, 2 doubles, first career stolen base), a two-run single by Ryan Sweeney, another two-run single by Youkilis, an RBI double by Ortiz and a sacrifice fly by Ross made it 12-1.
Ben Zobrist homered for the Rays in the ninth off Mark Melacon.
Elsbury suffered his shoulder injury after his RBI single, when shortstop Reid Brignac fell on his right shoulder as he slid into second in an attempt to break up a double play. He walked off the field with his right arm immobilized, and the Red Sox said later he was being evaluated.

Red Sox will re-assess Rodriguez's progress after rehab start


Red Sox will re-assess Rodriguez's progress after rehab start

CHICAGO -- Eduardo Rodriguez's return to the Red Sox rotation is going to take a little while longer.

Rodriguez will make at least one more rehab start for Pawtucket Sunday before the Red Sox re-assess his progress.

There had been some thought that Rodriguez would need only two outings on his rehab assignment. But the decision was made Wednesday to give him at least one more.

Rodriguez had a good outing for Pawtucket Tuesday night, allowing three runs on five hits in six innings of work.

All three runs came in the first inning, after which he showed improvement. "From the second to the sixth innings,'' said Farrell, "they were probably more crisp, more sharp. Looking for that to continue to advance."

Rodriguez, too, said he felt better than he did the first time out, when he allowed three runs in just 3 2/3 innings.

"I feel more control of the ball,'' he said. "I feel more comfortable throwing the ball in the game. Physically, I feel fine. I just see how everything goes every day like bullpens, running and everything. I just want to get back as fast as I can. But I want to get back 100 percent, I don't want to get back at 70 percent and go out there and don't do like I normally do."

Rodriguez, of course, has missed the first month of the season after tweaking his knee at the beginning of spring training.

"The first start I made in Pawtucket,'' recalled Rodriguez, ''I was thinking too much on my knee. Every pitch I'm throwing, I'm thinking like 'Don't push too much,' but (Tuesday) night it was every pitch I'm throwing just thinking of the game and not my knee."

After throwing 84 pitches Tuesday night, the Red Sox want him to get his pitch count over 90 in his next outing.

''I think with each outing he's getting, he's gaining more confidence and feeling more maybe natural and free on the mound," Farrell said.


Ainge: 'This offseason is bigger' than others for Celtics


Ainge: 'This offseason is bigger' than others for Celtics

WALTHAM, Mass. – There was very little sizzle in the moves made by Boston during last season, one in which they were hoping would be a summer full of basketball fireworks.

Well the bar is once again set relatively high for the Celtics this offseason, one in which the chances of making an impact, fireworks-worthy deal appear to be even better now than they were a year ago.

The Celtics have Brooklyn’s first-round pick in next month’s draft that has a 15.6 percent chance of being the top overall selection, and will be no worse than the sixth overall pick.

That’s just the first of eight picks for the Celtics in next month’s draft.

Boston has the potential to shed enough salary to offer a pair of near-max contracts to free agents this summer.

“We look forward to every offseason,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “This offseason is bigger. My expectations are high this offseason. And yet I also know that it takes good fortune.”

There’s the NBA draft lottery later this month.

“We need some ping-pong balls to bounce our way, give us the best opportunity,” Ainge said.

The Celtics own Brooklyn’s first-round pick courtesy of the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade with Brooklyn in 2013. That pick will be no worse than the sixth overall selection this season but has a 15.6 percent chance of being the top overall selection.

“Whether we use that pick, trade that pick and … in free agency we have opportunities. That’s all we have,” Ainge said. “We have no guarantees of great things happening. We have a lot of hope. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We have to have Plan A through Z; usually it’s A through G.”