All-Star notes: Beckett good to go if called upon

191542.jpg

All-Star notes: Beckett good to go if called upon

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
PHOENIX -- Two Red Sox pitchers who entered the All-Star break with physical question marks were confident Monday they would be ready to contribute quickly when the second half gets underway Friday.

Josh Beckett, who saw his last start cut short because of a hyperextended knee, is scheduled to start Sunday, the final game of the team's series in Tampa Bay and told A.L. manager Ron Washington that he'd be available for an inning or two Tuesday night in the All-Star Game.

"If he needs me, I think I can pitch, said Beckett. "I don't think it's what everybody back in Boston probably wants. But if he needs me, I can definitely pitch.

Beckett added that he's not worried about the knee. I went all through all my long toss and everything Sunday. I don't think it's an issue.

Having made the trip here, Beckett said he'd like to get into the game.

"Yeah, it's fun, he said. "The whole time is fun. I think that maybe you can enjoy your off-the-field stuff more if you know you weren't pitching, but I'm going into thinking I'll probably get an inning or two.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim starter Jered Weaver was chosen by Washington as the starting pitcher and Beckett had no issue with that decision.

"I think Weaver has the credentials to start, said Beckett. "He should start.

Lester, meanwhile, is on disabled list with a pulled lat muscle and won't be eligible to return until after the Red Sox return from their six-game road trip.

But Lester said he's feeling improvement with the lat every day and plans to do some throwing Thursday when the Sox hold a workout at Tropicana Field.

The Red Sox announced their rotation for the Tampa series, with Andrew Miller set to pitch Friday in the opener, followed by John Lackey Saturday and Beckett Sunday.

Presumably, that would leave Tim Wakefield for next Monday in Baltimore. The Sox would then need someone to pitch Tuesday in Lester's spot and could chose from among reliever Alfredo Aceves or another call-up from Pawtucket.

Of the six Red Sox players on hand here, David Ortiz is the only one not under their control for 2012.

Kevin Youkilis said it would be hard to imagine the Sox without Ortiz.

"You don't envision that because he's kind of the face of the franchise right now, he said. "When you see the highlight reels with all the stuff like Boston vs. so-and-so, no matter what channel you watch, David Ortiz is one of the guys they flash up there.

"It's definitely a possibility that David might not be back. It's tough. Guys come and go all the time. It would be tough not to have David because of his presence in the lineup and his overall personality. It would be a sad day and I think the fans would be pretty sad, too, because he's been the Red Sox guy.

If Ortiz leaves after this year, Youkilis who has a guaranteed year for 2012 and an option for 2013, could see some at-bats at DH.

"If it's the best thing for the team, said Youkilis, "I would do what I have to do for the organization. My first choice would be playing the field. But if you sign with a team, you have your personal stuff and then you have the team stuff and you can't have your personal stuff outweigh the team.

"It's different. It gives your body a little bit of a breather. But it's not easy.

Jacoby Ellsbury is making his All-Star debut and said the experience hasn't quite sunk in yet.

"I know it's a huge honor, said Ellsbury, "to be an All-Star at any level. Just looking around at these names, these players . . . some of them I watched going through the minor leagues, that I admired, watched game film on. To be among them and playing on the same team for one game is an honor.

"I think when we get into the clubhouse, it will be interesting to see who I'm lockering next to, who's next to me, putting on the same uniform.

After a half-season as his teammate, Ortiz is still in awe of Adrian Gonzalez.

"He's ridiculous, said Ortiz. "He makes the game look too easy. You don't see him worried about going 0-for-4 because he knows he can come back and go 4-for-4.

"He never talks about being in a slump. He never talks about a pitcher being nasty. He's always positive. It's fun to watch. But talking hitting with him . . . he's on a whole different level.

With all the injuries that have hit the Red Sox starting staff this season, the Sox have had to call on some spot starters for 20 games and are 13-7 in those 20 games.

"In spring training, you always hear, 'They have a spare pitcher,' said Beckett chuckling. "There's no such thing. We see it every year, don't we? Every year, we come to spring training and we hear 'Oh, we have an extra pitcher.' (Expletive), we have an extra pitcher. I want to meet a GM who thinks he's got an extra pitcher.

"It speaks to our minor leagues and the development people. They've got something pretty good going on at that Double A and Triple A thing. Every year, we have a guy like Kyle Weiland either really close to being ready for the big leagues or doing really good at Triple A.

Youkilis wasn't added to the A.L. team until Friday night, but Lester had to wait until Sunday to get invited, even though, because he's on the DL, he won't pitch.

The last-minute notification created some havoc for the pitcher and his family.

"It's been crazy, said Lester. "It really wasn't too bad for me. I just have to throw a couple of shirts in the suitcase and pack my baseball stuff up and I'm good to go. But getting my wife and our son packed up is pretty tough. You know how women are -- they have to have 14 different dresses for just two days.

"It was a tough day Sunday, trying to find a way to get out here and try to find a way to get back. But it's been fun. I think in our profession, you wouldn't have it another way. You find out about stuff last-minute all the time. It's been kind of a whirlwind, but we've enjoyed it.

"I think it was a little hectic for him and his family Sunday, said Beckett. "He had no heads up. It was like, 'By the way, you have to get a flight to Pheonix.'

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

red-sox-matt-barnes.jpg

Improved Matt Barnes dealing with much more than mechanics

BOSTON — Matt Barnes has been coping with more than just a few bad outings on the mound, and he’s asking for help.

The Red Sox set-up man made some mechanical corrections that paid off in the eighth inning Monday night, when he struck out all three Twins he faced in a 4-1 Red Sox win at Fenway Park.

“I just simplified the mechanics,” Barnes said afterward. “Two days ago, I was trying to get with more of an up, down, and out approach. I felt better in that outing. I know I gave up a run and walked the one guy, but I felt better around the zone. And then just kind of went into a slide step, doing what Andrew Miller was doing.”

Barnes allowed four runs spanning his previous three outings, retiring just four batters while walking five. But Barnes has had a lot more to worry about than just a brief professional rut. 

He’s been devoted to helping his girlfriend, Chelsea, through the unexpected loss of her father, who was diagnosed with cancer and suffered a stroke

"Her father passed away [May 27]. That’s why I wasn’t in Baltimore for the two days [in early June], I was at his funeral,” Barnes said. "It’s tough, dealing with that, and she’s obviously having a hard time with it. She’s got her good days and her bad days. But it’s not easy. He was sick for a little while, and unexpectedly passed a lot faster than anybody ever expected him to. So, it’s been tough. She’s been alright, considering.”

There are a ton of medical bills still to be paid. A fundraising page has been set up to help the family with some large medical bills, and Barnes has asked on Twitter for people to spread the word if they’re able to.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her which is nice,” Barnes said of his girlfriend. “Everybody who’s helped out with donations and spreading the page, I couldn’t be more grateful, and she couldn’t be more grateful.”

Barnes is a big leaguer, but he’s still young and making the major league minimum. For every $1,000 total donated, Barnes plans to send a signed baseball to a random donor.

“I felt like it was a nice way, if they’re going to help me out, I can at least do that in return for them,” Barnes said.

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

Sale gets 9 Ks, Moreland hits home run as Red Sox beat Twins, 4-1

BOSTON -- The way Chris Sale and the Boston relievers were pitching, the Red Sox didn't need to score a lot.

Sale went 6 1/3 overpowering innings with nine strikeouts, Mitch Moreland hit a solo homer for the third straight game and the Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 on Monday in a matchup of two of the AL's top teams.

"When you've got him on the mound, all you need is a couple and he's going to do the rest," Moreland said. "Obviously, tonight was another example of that."

Dustin Pedroia had two hits and drove in a run and Moreland added a sacrifice fly for Boston, which kept pace with the New York Yankees atop the East.

The Red Sox started fast, grabbing a 2-0 lead just four batters into the first.

"When the guys score early for you, it's nice," Sale said. "It settles you down a little bit and allows you to throw strikes."

Coming off a three-game sweep in Cleveland that had jumped them over the Indians into first in the Central, the Twins' offense was stymied by Sale and three relievers. The loss coupled with Cleveland's win over Texas moved the Indians back a half-game ahead.

Sale (10-3) gave up one run and four hits, increasing his major-league strikeout total to 155. Craig Kimbrel pitched the ninth for his 21st save after Matt Barnes struck out three in the eighth. Heath Hembree faced one batter, getting a double play.

The 6-foot-6 Sale relied on his usual sharp-breaking slider and fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s to fan eight over the first six innings, getting the initial half dozen with his breaking pitch.

"It's what we've seen many times. He had a nice mix," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think the biggest trouble we had was with that slider, especially down and in to righties."

Jose Berrios (7-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Chris Gimenez had a solo homer for Minnesota.

"When you go against a guy like Chris Sale, you try to give 110 percent," Berrios said through a translator.

Boston jumped ahead when Moreland homered into the first row of Green Monster seats after the first run scored on a double-play grounder.

Berrios had given up just two runs in each of his previous four starts, and six of eight since being promoted on May 7.

Gimenez's homer completely left Fenway Park over the Monster.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Twins: Molitor said RHP Phil Hughes, on the 10-day disabled list since late May with biceps tenderness, "felt good" but the pitcher had hoped his velocity would be a bit higher. ... LHP Glen Perkins, on the DL with a shoulder strain, is expected to resume throwing again Tuesday after a setback about a week ago.

Red Sox: DH Hanley Ramirez was out with a sore left knee after getting hit by a pitch Sunday. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the 10-day DL since June 20 with a left inner-ear infection, is slated to start a rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday. Manager John Farrell said there's no planned date for his return. ... Moreland fouled a ball that bounced and hit near his right eye.

NICE START, KID

Red Sox 3B Tzu-Wei Lin singled to right in his first major-league at-bat and first career start.

The 23-year-old from Taiwan played third on his country's national teams in 2009 and 2010. He's the second Taiwanese-born player to make Boston's major-league roster. Outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin was the other, in 2012.

RUNNING AROUND

Twins LF Eddie Rosario made three nice running, over-the-shoulder catches.

WELCOME ABOARD

Infielder Jhonny Peralta reported to Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday. Boston signed him to a minor-league deal after he was released by St. Louis earlier this month.

The plan is to alternate him at third and DH with Sandoval.

ROSTER MOVE

The Twins sent RHP Dillon Gee back to Triple-A to make room for Tuesday's starter LHP Hector Santiago.

UP NEXT

Twins: Santiago (4-6, 5.26 ERA) will be activated off the DL Tuesday. He's been sidelined since June 7 with a strained left shoulder.

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz (6-4, 4.07) looks to snap a three-start winless stretch.