Beckett, like Lester, fails Red Sox down the stretch


Beckett, like Lester, fails Red Sox down the stretch

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

BALTIOMRE -- Josh Beckett and Jon Lester were supposed to represent one of the Red Sox' strengths in September, and, they hoped, October, too.

But it hasn't turned out that way.

Beckett lost to the Baltimore Orioles for the second time in the last week Monday, knocked around for six runs in six innings. That outing came five days after he couldn't hold a 4-1 lead last week at Fenway, and lost that one, too.

"You can't be (crappy) when your team needs you," said Beckett. "It's tough, but that's the way it is."

In nine games started by Beckett and Lester this month, the two are 2-5 with an ERA of 5.73. The Sox have lost five of their last six starts.

"I couldn't make pitches when I needed to," said Beckett. "We've got to win games and we're not going to do it when the starting pitcher gives up six runs."

Beckett has a 7.03 ERA against Baltimore this season despite the fact that the Orioles are in last place in the American League East.

"I guess it comes down to making pitches," said Beckett. "I know in my last two, it comes down to making those pitches when I need to. You can't leave the changeup (to Chris Davis for a double) or the pitch to (Robert) Andino (who hit a three-run inside-the-park homer.

Beckett had to work with Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the first time this season after Jasin Varitek was scratched before the game, unable to go because of a sore knee.

Beckett said he and Saltalamacchia worked fine together. He also said his right ankle, which caused him to miss a start earlier this month, has not been an issue since he returned.

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As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

As expected, Red Sox send Swihart to Pawtucket

Blake Swihart wasn't going to win a job. Monday merely made that official.

Swihart was optioned out as the Red Sox made further cuts, sending a player who could still be the Red Sox catcher of the future -- well, one of them anyway -- to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he's expected to work on his receiving.

Swihart hit .325 in 40 Grapefruit League at-bats.

"Had a very strong camp and showed improvements defensively. Swung the bat very well," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida.  "For the player that he is and the person that he is, you love him as a person. He's a hell of a talented player.

"He made some subtle adjustments with his setup [defensively]. That gave him a different look to pitchers on the mound. Pitchers talked positively about the look that they got from him behind the plate. I think it softened his hands somewhat to receive the ball better. And there were a number of occasions where he was able to get a pitchers' pitch called for a strike, so the presentation of the umpire was a little bit more subtle and consistent then maybe years' past."

Sandy Leon's hot hitting in 2016 earned him an automatic crack at the lead catching spot for this year. Combined with the fact that Christian Vazquez looks great defensively, went deep on Sunday and is out of options, Swihart was the obvious odd man out.

He had options, the others didn't.

Deven Marrero was also optioned to Pawtucket. Sam Travis -- who, like Swihart, could break camp with the 2018 team -- was reassigned to minor-league camp, as was catcher Dan Butler.

The Sox have 38 players left in camp, 32 from the 40-man roster.

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Red Sox reliever Tyler Thornburg likely headed to disabled list

Righty Tyler Thornburg seems a guarantee to join David Price on the disabled list to start the season.

Thornburg, the biggest acquisition Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made for the bullpen this winter, was scratched Monday because of a spasm in his upper right trapezius — not a great sign for a pitcher who already had throwing shoulder issues this spring.

Sox manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida the spasm was “not shoulder related.”  But the trap, a large muscle along the neck and back, does extend to the shoulder blade.

Dombrowski told reporters it is most likely that Thornburg starts the year on the disabled list. More is expected to be known Tuesday, possibly after an MRI.

Robby Scott could be a replacement for Thornburg. If so, the Sox would likely have three lefties in the bullpen, along with Fernando Abad and Robbie Ross Jr.

"Possibly. Possibly," Dombrowski said of Scott. “We still have to make those decisions. But possibly.”

Dombrowski didn’t indicate a desire to go outside the organization for now.

Thornburg had barely enough time to get ready for Opening Day prior to Monday’s setback. If he indeed starts the season on the DL, Joe Kelly would be the eighth-inning reliever for the Sox — a role Kelly was headed for anyway given Thornburg’s shaky spring.

Thornburg, 28, had a 2.15 ERA last season for the Brewers. The Sox picked him up at the winter meetings in a deal that sent Travis Shaw and prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers.