Beckett bounces back with strong outing

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Beckett bounces back with strong outing

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. For Josh Beckett the most important goal in spring training is to be healthy.

That was the message he delivered after his last start, Feb. 27 against the Twins. Eerily and frighteningly the very next morning, he was hit in the left temple by a baseball while shagging flies during batting practice, suffering a mild concussion.

In his first Grapefruit League outing since then, Beckett showed no signs of rust or of injury. He went 3 23 innings, giving up one run on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts, as the Red Sox beat the Astros, 3-2, on Tuesday. The run came in the first inning. After walking Astros lead-off batter, T.J. Steele, he gave up a wind-aided two-out double to Drew Locke.

Pretty good, manager Terry Francona said of Becketts outing. I thought he threw his fastball downhill. Stayed out of the middle. Especially coming off a missed outing. He looked pretty strong. The run they scored was the flyball to right that right fielder Josh Reddick probably didnt get a good enough jump on with the wind. I think we were all pretty pleased. Threw some good breaking balls.

Beckett threw 55 pitches, 30 for strikes. He ended each of his three full innings with strikeouts, including Chris Johnson looking at a curveball in the first.

My curveball was good, Beckett said. We changed a couple of things in my delivery, and were still making adjustments with it. The adjustment came faster with the breaking ball. I threw some good changeups. I threw one to a righty on an 0-and-0 count, and I threw one on a 1-and-0 count to a lefty.

One of the adjustments is shortening his stride.

My last start, that was a big thing, getting out too fast, he said.

Beckett threw a three-inning simulated game on Friday, throwing 40 pitches.

Those two days off definitely made me a little more sore today, just going in, he said. I had short rest last time and short rest this time, and it eventually catches up to you. I got my pitches in today. I feel fine. Im ready for a normal five-day deal.

Last season, Beckett went 6-6 with a 5.78 ERA, missing 56 games with a lower back injury.

I dont think he ever got untracked, Francona said. But then he was fighting it. I think it was both. It just kind of snowballed and he was never able to build any kind of momentum in the right direction.

I had stretches in there where I felt good, Beckett said. Felt as good as I have when Ive gone out and competed before. You have other stretches when you dont.

Now, Beckett hopes to put 2010 behind him, rebounding with a healthy 2011.

Theres some mental things, but Id say a large majority of it is physical, he said. Some of that can criss-cross a little bit. Mentally, you have to remember yourself being healthy because, a lot of times, when you look back, all you have is the last thing you did. If you werent healthy, thats what you remember.

Getting through spring training is big, because then youre not playing catch-up. Thats always been my thing, ever since I got here in 06. Im always preaching that to myself and preaching that to you guys as well -- about getting out of spring training healthy. Tito says it well: There are some guys here that are trying to get ready for a long season, and there are some guys here that are trying to make a team, and theres the other guys. I fit in that group where Im trying to get ready for a long season, and this time here is very important.

Just as important, the Sox need a healthy and effective Beckett to help them get where they want to go this season.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Quotes, notes and stars: Location gets Buchholz in trouble

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Quotes, notes and stars: Location gets Buchholz in trouble

Quotes, notes and stars from the Boston Red Sox' 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

 

QUOTES:

"When he's gotten in trouble, it's been a combination of location and pitches up in the strike zone. That was the case tonight. . . It's more general location than one pitch that he's getting burned on. '' - John Farrell on Clay Buchholz's poor start.

"No disrespect to (Jace) Peterson, but you're wanting to force contact. He hasn't hit for a high average.'' - Farrell on Buchholz walking No. 7 hitter Peterson three times.

"When do you walk guys, you do your best to try to minimize the damage and I didn't do a good enough job of that.'' - Buchholz, who saw Peterson come around to score twice after his three walks.

"It's frustrating when you can't put your finger on what you need to do it, and when you need to do it and why. All I can do right now is learn from it and get better in these next couple of days.'' - Buchholz.

"I didn't hear anything. The play was right in front of me, so I couldn't see him say anything. I just assumed I was out.'' - Xander Bogaerts, who was ruled safe at second on a force play by umpire Joe West, but believing he was out, came off the bag and was tagged out in the first inning.

 

NOTES

* Clay Buchholz has allowed five earned runs in four of his five starts this season.

* Heath Hembree pitched multiple innings for the fourth time this season and remains unscored upon in them.

* Over the last eight games, Dustin Pedroia is hitting .436 (17-for-39) with nine extra-base hits.

* All three of Chris Young's hit off lefthanded pitchers this season have been doubles.

* Hanley Ramirez (three hits, two RBI) has driven in a run in each of his last four games and six of his last seven.

* The Sox have scored in the first inning in eight of the last nine games.

 

STARS:

1) Nick Markakis

The Braves right fielder had a four hit night and knocked in three runs.

2) Jhoulys Chacin

Atlanta's starter wasn't overpowering, but he limited the Sox to two runs over five-plus innings and earned the victory.

3) Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez broke out a bit at the plate with three hits, while knocking in the first two Red Sox runs.

 

First impressions of Red Sox' 5-3 loss: Another tough outing for Buchholz

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First impressions of Red Sox' 5-3 loss: Another tough outing for Buchholz

First impressions from the Red Sox' 5-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves

 

Another night, another less-than-satisfactory start for Clay Buchholz. Since the end of their last homestand, the Red Sox are 6-2. Both of those losses were hung on Buchholz.

Buchholz wasn't horrendous - he did manage to pitch into the seventh inning and five runs in 6 1/3 isn't a shellacking.

But five runs to this Braves lineup is nothing to shout about, either, and Buchholz made matters worse by walking the No. 7 hitter -- Jace Peterson, who came into the game with a .205 average -- three times. Twice, Peterson came around to score.

In fact, the bottom third of the order was 3-for-7 with three walks.

 

Hanley Ramirez showed some progress at the plate.

Before the game, John Farrell noted that Ramirez had been expanding the zone of late, and working to correct the issue with hitting instructors Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez.

Something apparently clicked, as Ramirez was 3-for-3 in his first three at-bats with two RBI.

The one thing that's been lacking for Ramirez: power. He came into the game with just one homer and a paltry .373 slugging percentage.

 

It wasn't much of a night for former Red Sox players.

Catcher A.J. Pierzynski was 0-for-4, and for the second straight night, failed to catch a routine foul pop-up.

Meanwhile, reliever Alexi Ogando came in for the seventh inning and promptly allowed a leadoff single and a walk to the first two hitters he faced before recording two more outs and getting lifted for lefty Hunter Cervenka.

 

Turnabout is fair play for Chris Young.

Young got the start in left field over Brock Holt, despite the fact that Atlanta started a righthander (Jhoulys Chacin).

Young was 1-for-3 with a double, though that one hit came off lefty reliever Eric O'Flaherty.

Then, in the eighth inning with righthander Jim Johnson on the mound for the Braves, John Farrell sent Holt up to pinch-hit for Young.

That marked the first time that Holt hit for Young; to the great consternation of many, Young had been sent up to hit for Holt three times in the first week or so of the season.

By the way: Holt grounded out to end the inning.