BOSTON -- Josh Beckett makes his seventh start of the season on Tuesday as he takes on the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park.
At 2-4 with a 5.97 ERA, he'll be looking to snap out of a personal two-game skid. He's also looking to get away from tipping his pitches, something that Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had implied was the issue last Thursday when Beckett was lit up for seven runs in 2.1 innings against the Cleveland Indians.
It's also Becket's 32nd birthday, but Valentine doesn't see that as a distraction.
"I think guys always like to perform well on their birthday," said Valentine before Tuesday's game. "When you're the kind of pro that Josh is, I'm just happy that he has the ball. If he could pitch more than once every five days and I'd be happy to give him that. I think he's ready to go."
As for Beckett's previously sore lat muscle, Valentine clearly doesn't see it as a concern now. He acknowledged that Beckett took part in some batting practice before the upcoming weekend inter-league series in Philadelphia.
As for any potential concern for Beckett's velocity and that previous lat issue, Valentine also didn't think his decrease in pitch speed was a concern, if there even was a decrease.
"It depends on what the hitters are seeing," said Valentine. "Some of these guns are weird. So I'm not trusting all gun speeds . . . There's been times when his fastball has been plenty to control the head of the bat."
Jarrod Saltalamacchia will start behind the plate for Beckett for the first time since Beckett's first start of the season in Detroit on April 7. Kelly Shoppach started behind the plate as his catcher for the ensuing five games.
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.
This isn’t your average young and hungry player on the brink of the big leagues.
Yoan Moncada, the ex-Red Sox prospect who was one of the principal pieces in the trade for Chris Sale, ate 85 Twinkies in a week, his agent told ESPN The Magazine.
David Hastings, Moncada's agent, clarified to CSNNE that this was a one-time thing when Moncada first arrived in the U.S. Moncada had never had Twinkies before, Hastings said, so he was like "a kid in a candy store."
He's still in great shape. Moncada had a huge spring training with the White Sox after a disappointing major-league debut with Boston in September.
The 21-year-old third baseman has been optioned out of big-league camp, so he’s slated to start the year in Triple-A. But he hit .317 with a .391 on-base percentage and .683 slugging percentage and 3 home runs in 41 at-bats — some of the best numbers anywhere.
Moncada took a $31.5 million signing bonus from the Red Sox, money that the Sox turned into Sale. Moncada, meanwhile, didn’t exactly invest every cent.
Twinkies weren’t his only indulgence.
More from the story:
Moncada had money to spend on drones, video games, toys and clothes. He sometimes spent $1,500 or more during nights out, David says. After he purchased the second $200,000 car, Josefa [Hastings, David’s wife] tried to talk some sense into him.
David Hastings reinforced to CSNNE that the message to Moncada was to invest in things that appreciate in value.