Beckett strikes out five in 'ruined' spring loss

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Beckett strikes out five in 'ruined' spring loss

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BRADENTON, Fla. Josh Beckett didnt leave the McKechnie Field mound Sunday afternoon feeling all warm and fuzzy.But there were plenty of things to like about the right-handers third start of spring training before it dropped into a vat of garbage in the fifth frame.Beckett is far removed from post-concussion symptoms and had cranked up enough arm strength to get on the mound for a fifth inning of work in the 9-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. And he flashed enough stuff to fan five Bucs hitters in the process of stretching out his prized right arm.There were plenty of complaints from Beckett and righty reliever Scott Atchison about the disparity in size between the bullpen mound and the game mound. Beckett nearly stumbled after his first pitch of the game to center fielder Jose Tabata, and spent a good minute cleaning off his spikes in a fit of pique behind the mound.But lets focus on the results rather than the excuses when it comes to Becketts afternoon.Beckett had impressive crackle and velocity on his mid-90s heat, caught several Pirates hitters chasing with the curveball that eluded him far too often last season, and gave another piece of mounting proof he will have plenty to offer once the regular season begins.I was feeling good and can specifically point to the middle three innings, said Beckett. I threw some good changeups today. I threw some good breaking balls behind in the count. The strength is good. I think Ive pretty much caught up from the post-concussion syndrome, or whatever you call it.For now, though, Beckett was simply happy to get up and down for five innings of spring work in the books. He took full responsibility for the solo home runs allowed, and felt badly for the mess left for Atchison in the fifth that contributed mightily to the lopsided score. Beckett was holding a 3-1 lead going into the fifth, and allowed a home run, walk, double and hit by pitch before he headed to the showers.The good thing about spring training: Beckett can drown his sorrows in shrimp and crab legs in Fort Myers on Sunday night and then be ready to push deeper into an exhibition game his next time out.I was a little behind myself out there in the fifth inning, said Beckett, who said the fifth-inning mess wasnt due to fatigue of any kind. Its a shame that a whole outing gets ruined by one inning. But thats the case here. I felt like I ruined it because I pitched well in the middle three innings.The first inning was getting used to the mound here. Theres a big difference between the bullpen mound and the game mound, and at least I had those middle innings to get my work in. Obviously the arm build-up is good, but the results in the fifth inning werent.Beckett now has three walks and nine strikeouts in 9 23 innings of spring work for the Sox that screams out vintage Sox ace, but hes also sporting a 6.51 ERA over those three starts.He seemed to have made peace with his work before the regulars van left for Fort Myers while the minor-leaguers were still playing out the string, and catcher Jason Varitek likewise saw nothing but positives with the stuff and the spirit in his first moments catching him this year. I thought he did good until the fifth inning, said Varitek. It was the first time Ive gotten to see him on the field. Hes just like everybody else. Taking steps, gaining innings and really building himself up. He had kind of a mix with sinkers, four-seamers and curveballs. It was kind of all of the above.The one thing Beckett might leave the start a little fired up about: surrendering a sharp single to right-center off the bat of Pirates pitcher Brad Lincoln in the third frame. For a combustible personality like Beckett, its just the kind of ammunition he will store and utilize as he continues through the at-times monotonous tenor of spring training before a pivotal season in his All-Star career.There were just enough flashes against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon to believe that hes well on his way.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

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Pedro Martinez talks about one of the greatest games he's ever pitched

CSN baseball analyst Lou Merloni sits down with Pedro Martinez and Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis to discuss one of Pedro's greatest games. 

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On September 10, 1999 at the height of the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, Pedro Martinez struck out 17 Yankees in a complete game victory, with the only hit he allowed being a home run to Chili Davis. The two men recall that memorable night in the Bronx, and discuss the state of pitching in 2017.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."