Notes: Beckett highly critical of recent schedule

191542.jpg

Notes: Beckett highly critical of recent schedule

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

KANSAS CITY Josh Beckett finally went off on the Major League Baseball schedule after winning his 10th game of the season Thursday night against the Royals, and the outspoken Sox hurler was speaking for many of his teammates.

The Sox traveled to Minnesota and Seattle last week for a fairly far-reaching road trip that included the long journey to Washington State, hopped back on a flight to Boston for three games in two days against the Tampa Bay Rays punctuated by an ill-timed double-header, and then jumped right back onto the road for series against Kansas City and Texas in the blaring August heat.

Kevin Youkilis and Marco Scutaro have both come down with back injuries during the long plane flights around the country, and the Sox managed to amass only nine hits in the three home games against the Rays earlier this week. That amounts to the worst offensive output the Sox have ever put together in their home ballpark, and to Beckett was a clear indicator of how heavily fatigue was weighing on the Sox as a team.

Our travel hasnt exactly been great," Beckett said. "Our offense has taken a lot of flak for that, but how can you not be tired after the crap that weve been through over the last week-and-a-half? I dont know how they do it. There have been several days where these guys have played and I dont know how they do it. I want to pick them up because this travel has been horrible.

Several of the Sox players have grumbled about the yoyo effect that the travel has had on a team treading water during the month of August, and the doubleheader played on Tuesday against the Rays was the last straw for Beckett. The Rays will be back for a four-game series in the middle of September, and Beckett was frosted over fact that the doubleheader wasnt scheduled for the later series.

Instead it was shoehorned into a quick two days at home for the Sox, and the right-hander believes his team is paying for price for it now. The Sox have lost four of their last seven games, and look very much like a team falling victim to the dog days of August in the process.

I dont know who the expletive made the doubleheader that day when they come back one more time, said Beckett. We havent exactly been treated fair here in the last week. That doubleheader being the most glaring thing for me . . . I dont know how it gets thrown onto that day.

Beckett battled through the fatigue to finish seven full innings and 110 pitches for the 4-3 victory over the Royals, and reached double digits in wins for the sixth time in his career. It wasnt easy, but Beckett said he feels like hes coming through on the other side of some seasonal fatigue that normally hits him around the 150 innings mark in a normal year of work.

He managed to scatter seven hits and three runs, and retire 14 of his final 18 batters after surrendering a two-run bomb to Alex Gordon all while suppressing his apparent rage at the Major League Baseball schedule-makers.

I just felt a little fatigued, said Beckett. It was more my legs than anything and trying to get them back under me. Once you get to 150 innings you really have to focus on maintaining your legs.

Beckett looked like he had plenty of legs passing the game on to Daniel Bard and Josh Beckett in the ninth inning as he worked a 1-2-3 seventh frame before giving way to the bullpen.

Dustin Pedroia has hit safely in 50 of his last 57 games, and cleaned up in Thursday nights win with three hits and three RBI including the game-winner in the 4-3 victory over the Royals. Pedroia has again shifted to the cleanup spot in Bostons lineup with injuries to DH David Ortiz and 1B Kevin Youkilis, and the little second baseman continues to shine there. Pedroia is now hitting .481 (25-for-52) with six doubles, five home runs and 14 RBI in 12 career starts in the clean-up spot. Its getting close to the end of the season and everybody in here is just trying to do their part to help us win games. Thats all that this is about, said Pedroia.

Carl Crawford snapped an 0-for-15 streak with a single in the fifth inning, and recorded his first multi-steal game since April 6 when he stole both second and third base in the same frame. Crawford was thrown out at home attempting to score on a shallow fly ball to center field, but the aggressiveness to the left fielders game is something the Red Sox desperately need moving forward. His two stolen bases in the same inning was the 17th time in his career that hes pulled off the trick, but the first time since July 27, 2010 when he was a member of the Rays playing against the Detroit Tigers.

The Red Sox were pretty adventurous on the base paths throughout the game and stole four bases while also getting thrown out attempting to advance three different times in the game. It might be time for the Sox to stop running on the Royals as their outfielders lead the Major Leagues with 11 double plays from the outfield this season.

It appears the Red Sox are going to soldier on without David Ortiz for at least a week.

Hes wearing a boot on his right foot to treat the bursitis in his right heel, and itll be at least 4-5 days out of cleats before Big Papi is potentially ready to start taking batting practice. The Sox havent ruled out Ortiz potentially going on the DL retroactively if their designated hitter doesnt feel any better when he gets out of the protective boot, but early indications were that he was feeling better.

Until he gets out of that boot, were probably not going to know a lot, said Terry Francona. There comes to a time when you run out of players and youre forced to put somebody on the DL, but were hoping to avoid that. He could be in the boot for 2-3 days and then out of spikes for another 2-4 days depending on how hes doing. Then hed need to take BP for a couple of days.

Theyre hoping that itll knock it out, but if it doesnt then well have to revisit.

Counting Thursday nights tilt against the Kansas City Royals, Ortiz has missed four straight games with the bursitis in his right heel.

Marco Scutaro reported that his back is feeling better, and that things seemed to loosen up during the double-header against the Rays. He took full batting practice with his teammates at Kauffman Stadium, and should be ready for a return sooner rather than later.

I hope hes doing a little better, said Francona. He called Mike Reinold and said he was feeling a little better. Well see how he does today.

J.D. Drew was set to take batting practice with his teammates and his situation will be reevaluated by this weekend with a decision pending on activation or a potential rehab assignment.

Well see how hes doing and then hopefully in the next couple of days well be able to reevaluate him, said Francona.

Mike Aviles said he had a lot of good friends in the Kansas City clubhouse in his first return to his former home with the Royals, and was looking forward to playing against them while batting ninth and playing shortstop. Aviles was dealt to the Sox prior to the July 31 deadline, and has settled in nicely as a right-handed utility man capable of playing both infield and outfield while also bashing left-handed pitching.

I have a lot of good memories here, and I think I was a good guy while I was here. Im still a good guy, actually, said Aviles with a wide smile on his face. This was the team that gave me a shot in the big leagues, so Ill always have a special place in my heart for the Kansas City organization.

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

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.

MORE RED SOX

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.