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

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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

Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

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Jones-Molina WBC spat is a clash of cultures . . . and that's great

The Adam Jones-Yadier Molina verbal skirmish is as predictable as it is annoying.

Was every cultural nuance for the 16 World Baseball Classic teams explained in a booklet the players had to memorize before the tournament?

No? Then it’s amazing there weren’t more moments like this.

Jones, the Orioles outfielder, said Team USA's championship game win over Puerto Rico was motivated by Puerto Rico's choice to plan a post-tournament parade for the team before the final game.

As Jones was raised, parades in pro sports are for championship teams. Red Sox fans are likely aware of this.

As Jones was raised, discussing a parade before a title is secured suggests overconfidence. Rex Ryan fans are likely aware of this.

After an 8-0 win for the U.S., Jones revealed the parade was used as bulletin-board material.

"Before the game, we got a note that there was some championship shirts made -- we didn't make 'em -- and a flight [arranged],” Jones said. “That didn't sit well with us. And a parade -- it didn't sit well with us."

But apparently, Jones didn't know the full context of the parade. It was reportedly planned regardless of whether Puerto Rico won.

One Team USA teammate of Jones whom CSNNE spoke with didn't believe that, however.

"It was called a champions parade that got turned into a celebration parade once they lost," the player said. "I think they just don't like getting called out by Jones, but all Jones did was tell exactly what happened."

Jones’ comments weren’t received well.

Puerto Rico's going through a trying time, a recession, and the entire island rallied behind the team.

“Adam Jones . . . is talking about things he doesn't know about," Molina told ESPN’s Marly Rivera. "He really has to get informed because he shouldn't have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made.”

No one should be upset Jones explained what he was thinking.

Jones actually asked MLB Network host Greg Amsinger, “Should I tell the truth?”

Yes. It’s better than lying.

Look at the reactions across the WBC: the bat flips, the raw emotion. Honesty conveyed via body language.

People in the U.S. are starting to accept and crave those reactions. The WBC helped promote a basic idea: let people be themselves.

Jones said what was on his mind. We can’t celebrate bat flips and then say Jones should keep his mouth shut.

But there's an unreasonable expectation being placed on Jones here.

He heard about a parade -- which is to say, a subject he wouldn't normally think twice about or investigate before a championship baseball game.

Plus, it gave him motivation.

Why is Jones, or anyone with Team USA, more responsible for gaining an advance understanding of Puerto Rico’s parade-planning conventions -- we're talking about parade planning! -- than Puerto Rico is responsible for keeping U.S. norms in mind when making and/or talking about those plans?

No one involved here was thinking about the other’s perception or expectation. It's impossible to always do so.

But that’s how these moments develop: what’s obvious to one party is outlandish to the other.

Now Molina, Puerto Rico's catcher, wants an apology.

"He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people," Molina told ESPN. "Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn't know what this means to [our] people."

Jones can clear the air with an apology, but he doesn't owe one. And he definitely doesn't owe one after Molina took it a step further.

"I'm sending a message to [Jones], saying, 'Look at this, right now you're in spring training working out, and we're with our people, with our silver medals,' " Molina said. "You're in spring training and you're working . . . you have no idea how to celebrate your honors, you don't know what it means.”

Team USA had no parade. Manager Jim Leyland made clear how the U.S. was celebrating, by recognizing those serving the country.

The silver lining here is how much attention the WBC has drawn, and how much conversation it can drive. People care, a great sign for the sport -- and its potential to foster better understanding across cultures.

Internationally, the sport is on parade.

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

Wright extends scoreless streak to 9 1/3 innings in Red Sox' 10-7 win over Pirates

The angst surrounding the David Price- and (possibly) Drew Pomeranz-less Red Sox starting rotation may have eased a little -- or a lot -- on Thursday.

Steven Wright extended his string of scoreless spring-training innings to 9 1/3 by blanking the Pirates for 4 1/3 innings in his third spring-traing start, leading the Sox to a 10-7 victory over the Pirates at SkyBlue Park.

Red Sox-Pirates box score

Wright allowed two hits -- the only two hits he's allowed this spring -- with one walk and three strikeouts.

Several of his pitching brethren, notably Heath Hembree and Robbie Ross Jr., didn't fare nearly as well. (See box score above.) But the Sox -- using what may be their regular-season batting order for the first time -- bailed them out with a 16-hit attack, led by Dustin Pedroia (3-for-3, now hitting ,500 for the spring). Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and, yes, Pablo Sandoval each added two hits. Sandoval also drove in three runs and is now hitting .362.

Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-4 in his return to the Sox from the World Baseball Classic.