Beckett: 'I'm pretty much back to normal'

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Beckett: 'I'm pretty much back to normal'

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Josh Beckett tried to get coaching staff assistant Ino Guerrero to step in against him in his three-inning simulated game Friday afternoon.

We tried to get him to, Beckett said. We told him we couldnt find enough right-handed hitters.

Apparently, Guerrero thought better of it because he was not among the batters Beckett faced in his outing . . . costing Beckett a shot at a little revenge.

Beckett can joke about it now, but getting hit in the head with a baseball is always scary. It was Guerrero -- whose errant hit with a fungo, attempting to get a ball from the outfield back to the bucket behind second base during batting practice Monday -- who inflicted the damage. The ball hit Beckett, who was in the outfield shagging fly balls, in the left temple. The right-hander walked off the field on his own, accompanied by trainers, and was diagnosed with mild concussion symptoms.

I dont think initially I was that scared, Beckett said. It actually took when I went to lunch the next day and I couldnt do it. I couldnt be away from my house without laying down. And thats when I finally said, Hey, theres something wrong here.

"Because I was kind of resistant to even thinking I had a concussion. I tried to come in the next day. I was like, Oh, Im ready to go back to work. Lets get this over with. And I found out that day when I went to lunch. I kind of had a little bit of a setback.

Progressing from the setback, Beckett threw 40 pitches in his outing on the backfield of City of Palms Park Friday. He faced six Red Sox minor-leaguers right-handers Hector Luna, Ryan Dent and Ryan Khoury, and lefties Bubba Bell, Peter Hissey and Zach Gentile. General manager Theo Epstein and Jon Lester were among the on-lookers.

I felt good, Beckett said. Its a sim game. Theres just not a lot of adrenaline and stuff that goes into that. But I like it when the guys go up there and swing. It gives you a little bit of feedback one way or the other. Its hard to get a lot of feedback if the guys dont swing, just not a lot of things that correlate to a game unless you have a little bit of something going on.

Although he has not lifted weights since the incident, hes been able to get in enough work to continue his regular spring training progression. He skipped his start Thursday against the Phillies.

I think Im right there, he said. I wouldnt have thrown that many pitches had he pitched against the Phils on Thursday. I probably would have thrown less than that, in fact, unless I had a long inning, and even then I probably they wouldnt have let me go over so many pitches in one inning. As far as workload, yes. As far as the other things that go into actually pitching in a spring training game are a little bit different, whether it be routine or stuff like that.

Beckett said he got somewhat fatigued between the second and third innings, after throwing 31 pitches, but was not concerned by it.

In fact, at this time of year its good to get a little bit tired, he said.

Pitching coach Curt Young was pleased with Becketts outing, with the right-hander throwing all his pitches.

Just a good workout for him, Young said. With him getting hit in the head with a ball and being out for a couple of days, just looking to see good action out of him, throwing the ball. And it turned into a good session for him. So hell have three days rest and then ready for his outing.

With him supposed to be pitching yesterday, it kind of gets messed up one day. But hell get right back on schedule.

Triple-A Pawtuckets Mark Wagner caught for Beckett.

Outstanding, Wagner said of Becketts outing. Hes got all his stuff working and it was good. It was a good little quick outing.

Compared to the other days Ive caught him this spring , its obviously a work in progress but hes more than well on his way to being where he wants to be. All his pitches to all locations and it was all coming out of his hand really good.

Beckett said although hes still feeling the effects of getting hit, hes almost back to normal.

Im actually good, he said. Im really sore on the left side of my head. My jaw and stuff like that are pretty sore. But I think Im pretty much back to normal.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

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Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which David Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.