Beckett returns to rotation Friday vs. Jays

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Beckett returns to rotation Friday vs. Jays

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON Manager Terry Francona has set his rotation for the four-game series against the Rays beginning Thursday at Fenway Park and Josh Beckett has been penciled in to start for the first time since spraining his ankle on Sep. 5.

Right-hander Kyle Weiland will start the opener, opposed by righty Jeremy Hellickson. Beckett will start Friday, facing righty James Shields. Jon Lester will pitch Saturday against right-hander Jeff Niemann. In the finale on Sunday, Tim Wakefield will pitch against lefty David Price.

John Lackey is scheduled to pitch one of the games in Mondays doubleheader against the Orioles at Fenway.

The nice thing, because we have a lot of pitchers, its not disturbing that maybe you start a guy that can't go deep or maybe you dont plan on going deep. So well see, Francona said.

Francona opted for Weiland over lefty Andrew Miller, believing a righty would give his team a better chance.

I think we felt with the righty against them, he had a real good bullpen session, Francona said. I just think the other day down in Tampa those were tough circumstances for Weiland playing against them and he got through his first inning going four innings in a 6-5 loss. I just think he can rise to the occasion and give us a chance to win. I don't doubt Andrew would do the same thing.

David Ortiz was out of the lineup again Wednesday. Francona said the DH, who was scratched before his first at-bat Tuesday, is sore but moving better. Francona would only use Ortiz to pinch-hit if Ortiz felt up to it.

If he was OK, we certainly could, Francona said. I dont know that he is, though. If you see him hitting, you know he felt better.

There is still no timetable on a return to the rotation for lefty Erik Bedard, who has been limited by knee and lat ailments.

I think he feels once he feels good enough, he can pitch, which is a little unique, Francona said. Saying that, he played catch yesterday. That was kind of the firstand hes going to do it again today. So I dont know how close we are to having him pitch. Wed love for him to pitch. We dont want to rush him to pitch because thats not going to help anybody. So we just take it day by day and see if hes ready.

We know where were at. We need to win games but we also dont want to make decisions based on urgency where we end up hurting him as opposed to helping him.

Francona on the impact of having Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, both 20-home run, 20-stolen base offensive threats in his lineup:

The majority of the year theyre hitting first or second. The fact that they can help us win so many different ways, whether its hitting the ball out of the ballpark, steal a base, defensively, extra-base hits, it speaks for itself. I think people look at Jacoby and certainly see the athleticism. With Pedey I think you have to watch him and now certainly his reputation precedes him but because hes a very similar player.

It is the first time the Sox have had two 2020 players in one season.

Francona, who is not a fan of expanded rosters at this time in the season, also sees their value, particularly on days such as Mondays doubleheader.

Im glad we have extra pitchers but I dont agree with the rule, he said. I dont think its fair when you play 25 all year and all of a sudden one team might play with 35 and one will play with 30. I do think that every day you have to submit a roster. Im thrilled we have extra pitching but I still dont think its fair.

I just think it would probably make sense. Some uniformity is probably good.

Francona, decidedly not a hockey fan, is an advocate of a hockey-type system: 40 players on the roster with 25 chosen for each game.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.