Beckett returns to rotation Friday vs. Jays

504192.jpg

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.

Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

red_sox_blake_swihart_052616.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:

 

QUOTES

"I felt a little cramp. I'm fine. I appreciate John and everybody looking out (for me). We obviously don't want anything to happen like last year, but I'm good.'' - Dustin Pedroia, who left the game in the fifth after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring.

"It's nice to be able to get deep into the game. That's my goal every time. My goal is nine innings, so if I don't get nine innings, I'm a little disappointed because I want to be able to go out there and pitch as many innings as I can.'' - Steven Wright.

"I think my release point was just a little off. That definitely makes it hard, especially when it's moving, because it's not a consistent release point.'' - Wright on the early-inning unpredictability of his signature pitch.

"Even when I was catching, I pride myself on running. I want to be an athlete back there. I want to run the bases, steal bases, things most catchers aren't known to do.'' - Blake Swihart, who hit two triples.

 

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games.

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

* David Ortiz tied Paul Molitor for 12th on the all-time doubles list with 605.

* Ortiz has driven in multiple runs in three straight games

* Dustin Pedroia has a career batting average of .340 in interleague play, the highest ever for someone with 500 or more at-bats.

* Travis Shaw drove in three runs and now has 68 RBI in his first 111 games since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice in 1974-75.

* Blake Swihart became the third Red Sox hitter this season to post two triples in the same game.

* The Red Sox clinched their fifth straight home series win.

* The Sox are 21-8 since April 24 and are 13-2 in their last 15 home games.

 

STARS

1) Steven Wright

Backed by some rare run support, Wright evened his record at 4-4 with seven-plus innings and his eighth quality start this season.

2) Travis Shaw

Shaw produced two hits and knocked in three runs, making him the fourth Red Sox player this season to reach 30 RBI.

3) Blake Swihart

Swihart got to flash both his power and his speed by hitting two triples to the triangle, motoring around the bases.

 

First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 win over Rockies

red_sox_steven_wright_052516.jpg

First impressions from Red Sox' 10-3 win over Rockies

BOSTON- First impressions from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over Colorado:

 

Steven Wright is the very picture of consistency.

In nine starts this season, Wright has pitched at least six innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer eight times. In the one start in which he failed to do so, he was pitching in a mini-monsoon and unable to properly grip his signature pitch.

On Wednesday, he battled some early-inning wildness with the knuckler, resulting in two wild pitches and four passed balls, but eventually settled down.

His 4-4 mark hardly represents how well he's pitched. A more telling stat is the 60 2/3 innings he's pitched in nine outings, just shy of seven per game.

 

It could be a costly night for injuries.

Ryan Hanigan left the game after 2 1/2 innings because of illness. Dustin Pedroia came out in the fifth as a precaution after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring. And Xander Bogaerts jammed his thumb in the eighth.

Let's assume that Hanigan's illness is a temporary thing, and since Bogaerts remained in the game, that, too, seemed minor.

But the Pedroia hamstring is potentially a red flag, since it was that same hamstring that sidelined him for almost half of last season.

 

For the past 19 home games, the Red Sox have averaged more than eight runs per game.

Nineteen games isn't exactly a small sample size. In fact, it's almost exactly one-quarter of the home schedule. To average more than eight runs per game over that long a stretch, covering parts of three different homestands, is pretty remarkable.

 

Blake Swihart's speed is something else.

Swihart hit two triples to the triangle Wednesday night, and on the second, to see him shift into higher gear as he approached second base was really something to see.

It's difficult to think of another catcher -- and yes, I understand that Swihart has been playing left field exclusively of late; but he remains primarily a catcher -- who ran as well as Swihart does.

When the Sox and other independent evaluators remark about Swihart's athleticism, that's one of the things to which they're referring.