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

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

MLB may make rule changes for '18 season

PHOENIX - Major League Baseball intends to push forward with the process that could lead to possible rule changes involving the strike zone, installation of pitch clocks and limits on trips to the pitcher's mound. While baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope the ongoing process would lead to an agreement, he said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Union head Tony Clark said last weekend he did not foresee players agreeing to proposed changes for 2017. Under baseball's collective bargaining agreement, management can alter playing rules only with agreement from the union - unless it gives one year notice. With the one year of notice, management can make changes on its own.

"Unfortunately it now appears that there really won't be any meaningful change for the 2017 season due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA," Manfred said Tuesday during a news conference. "I've tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, that it does not need to be fixed as some people have suggested, and I think last season was the kind of demonstration of the potential of our league to captivate the nation and of the game's unique place in American culture."

Yet, he also added: "I believe it's a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed and continues to change."

Manfred said while he prefers an agreement, "I'm also not willing to walk away." He said he will send a letter to the union in the coming days and plans to continue dialogue with Clark and others in hopes of reaching agreement.

Clark met with Cactus League teams last week, five at a time over Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before departing Monday for Florida to visit each Grapefruit League club - and proposed rules changes were a topic.

"I have great respect for the labor relations process, and I have a pretty good track record for getting things done with the MLBPA," Manfred said. "I have to admit, however, that I am disappointed that we could not even get the MLBPA to agree to modest rule changes like limits on trips to the mound that have little effect on the competitive character of the game."

Clark saw talks differently.

"Unless your definition of `cooperation' is blanket approval, I don't agree that we've failed to cooperate with the commissioner's office on these issues," he wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this offseason we've been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened. I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don't continue, notwithstanding today's comments about implementation. As I've said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open."

Clark added "my understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2-minute limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of game warning/fine adjustments."

Manfred said he didn't want to share specifics of his priorities for alterations.

"There's a variety of changes that can be undertaken," Manfred said. "I'm committed to the idea that we have a set of proposals out there and we continue to discuss those proposals in private."

MLB has studied whether to restore the lower edge of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level - at the top of the kneecap. Management would like to install 20-second pitch clocks in an attempt to speed the pace of play - they have been used at Triple-A and Double-A for the past two seasons.

Players also have been against limiting mound meetings. The least controversial change appears to be allowing a team to call for an intentional walk without the pitcher having to throw pitches. In addition, MLB likely can alter some video review rules without the union's agreement- such as shortening the time a manager has to call for a review.

"Most of this stuff that they were talking about I don't think it would have been a major adjustment for us," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Manfred said starting runners on second base in extra innings sounds unlikely to be implemented in the majors. The change will be experimented with during the World Baseball Classic and perhaps at some short-season Class A leagues. Manfred said it was a special-purpose rule "beneficial in developmental leagues."

Manfred also said Tuesday that a renovated Wrigley Field would be a great choice to host an All-Star Game and Las Vegas could be a "viable market for us."

"I don't think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city," Manfred said.