Haggerty: Lackey or Bedard? No. 3 spot open

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Haggerty: Lackey or Bedard? No. 3 spot open

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

SEATTLE The audition process has begun for the No. 3 Red Sox starter role once the seemingly inevitable postseason berth arises, and its a two horse race.

The to be determined role is which one will fill in behind the unquestioned No. 1 and No. 2 starters in Josh Beckett and Jon Lester once the playoff bell rings, and its between veteran right-hander John Lackey and newly acquired lefty Erik Bedard.

While its true the Red Sox brought in Bedard from Seattle to essentially replace their missing No. 3 starter in Clay Buchholz and admitted that the strikeout-happy lefty was eerily similar stats-wise to Buchholz prior to his back injury there are pretty good arguments to be made for each pitcher.

The idea that Lackey might step into a slot ahead of Bedard in Bostons playoff rotation might have been preposterous a few months ago, but the big lug from Texas has finally hit his stride after hitting rock bottom with the Sox earlier this season.

Lackey is 6-0 with a 3.92 ERA in seven starts since July 7. Hes tied with Lester for the team lead with 11 wins this season and hes finished at least six full innings in five out of those seven outings with the Sox.

Lackey has clearly quelled the vicious boos at Fenway Park and turned things around despite his 6.13 ERA this season, and theres a strong argument to be made for the rightys candidacy if he can maintain his current pace since the beginning of July.

It also doesnt hurt that Lackey has appeared in 14 playoff games, won a World Series Trophy and put up a 3.14 ERA in nearly 80 playoff innings with the Angels including a gem of a game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park that showed exactly the kind of chutzpah and big game ability still lurking in that 6-foot-5 body.

Hes been great, man," David Ortiz said. "Hes just a competitor. Hes been having a tough time. Not many people know what hes been through in his mind when hes out there. Hes been dealing with so many things at once. You can see that he wants to have some good results. He tries hard and he wants to compete. He likes the competition. A guy like that, Ill take him on my team anytime.
Bedard, on the other hand, is the ultimate wild card.

He has all the talent in the world, has racked up some pretty good strikeout numbers over the years and should be fresh for the playoffs after missing a lot of time with shoulder problems over the last couple of seasons. But there are some red flags that go along with Bedard despite the good ERA and solid strikeout-to-walk ratios.

Theres the simple fact that Bedard has never pitched a meaningful game for either the Baltimore Orioles or Seattle Mariners in the heat of a pennant chase, and has never had even a sniff of the playoffs. Bedard has made 159 career stars in the Major Leagues and has thrown 923 13 innings in Baltimore and Seattle, but hes never gained entry to the postseason and never pitched with that kind of pressure on his back.

The 32-year-old also will never be a big friend to the bullpen given that hes tossed one complete game in nearly 1000 career innings as a starting pitcher, and routinely racks up high pitch counts while racking up those beloved strikeouts.

Its not all bad for Bedard either, though.

Just as Lackey has really begun to rebuild the confidence that the Sox coaching staff has in him, Bedard will be afford that opportunity over the next months with the playoffs riding on the line. The Canadian southpaw will be pitching in some big games with consequences on the line, and hell be able to show exactly what kind of stuff hes made of as a potential big game pitcher.

Theres also the sheer fact that Bedards free agency value will hinge largely on what he can do in the national spotlight over the next few months, and theres an incredible incentive for the southpaw to peak in the playoffs.

Theres still an outside chance that Buchholz could be back once the playoffs begin if his back cooperates, but it looks more and more like it will be a Lackey or Bedard choice for Francona and his coaching staff.

There are pros and cons to each pitcher, and the Sox will need both to get through a successful postseason run. But the audition process for the No. 3 starter begins anew this week when both hurlers take the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park with a mandate to snap the team out of its August doldrums.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

The Cardinals broke open a close game with four runs in the last two innings against Red Sox relief prospect Chandler Shepherd and went on to a 7-2 exhibition victory over Boston yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Cardinals box score

The loss dropped the Sox to 1-3 for the exhibition season.

Boston had jumped on top, 1-0, on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the first, but St. Louis countered with two runs in the second and one in the third, all against starter Brian Johnson. It remained 3-1 until the Cards touched Shepherd for two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Red Sox added their final run in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Jordan Procyshen, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, hit a sacrifice fly.

Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Young each had two hits for the Red Sox. who also got scoreless relief from Teddy Stankiewicz, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, Kyle Martin and Brandon Workman. It was Bogaerts' last game before leaving to compete for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

The Sox host the Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."