First Pitch: Tuesday, September 6

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First Pitch: Tuesday, September 6

By ArtMartone
CSNNE.com

Welcome to First Pitch, aquick spin around the world of Major League Baseball . . . or at leastthe corner of it that most concerns the Red Sox. For a complete wrapupof Monday's action, check out Craig Calcaterra's AndThatHappened(hardballtalk.nbcsports.com).

AND THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING: The day started with the news that Erik Bedard's knee is still bothering him and he'll miss his next start and that Bobby Jenks is done for the season.

Then Josh Beckett sprained his ankle.

So by the time the Red Sox completed their 1-0, 11-inning defeat in Toronto -- a game in which Dan Wheeler, whom many have been clamoring to be given a more important bullpen role, surrendered the game-winning home run -- it was already a lost afternoon, made worse by the Yankees' victory over the Orioles (more on that in a moment). Boston now trails by 2 12 in the A.L. East and, oh, that's five losses in the last seven games for those keeping score at home.

(All stories csnne.com.)

But the big news, obviously, is Beckett, because the Sox are going nowhere -- and I mean nowhere -- in October without the two-headed monster of Beckett and Jon Lester at the top of the rotation (especially considering how wobbly the rest of the starting staff looks these days). Beckett didn't sound especially encouraging afterwards, talking about he's "never had such an injury . . . before" and the ankle is "definitely stiff" and having something happen to his power leg is "always concerning". ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes raised the disconcerting notion of possible ligament tears, which would be consistent with "the popping sound Beckett heard Monday" when he got hurt.

Beckett returned to Boston to be examined today, and we should get word at some point. Until then, nothing to do but wait.

And, as Sean McAdam has, contemplate the state of the Red Sox starting rotation sans Beckett.

Not pretty, is it?

YOU DON'T HAVE TO PAINT ME A PICTURE:Hideki Okajima's not getting a September call to Boston and no otherteam seems interested, so the veteran left-hander -- who actually did pretty well this year in Pawtucket (pawsox.com) -- is thinking about retirement. (Providence Journal)

TIME FOR A CHANGE: Joining their voices to speed-things-up-for-the-love-of-Mike chorus: The New York Daily News' Mike Lupica and our old pal The Tao of Stieb. Tao, however, is mostly focused on the Red Sox, thanks to Jonathan Papelbon's agonizing, 27-pitches-in-24-minutes, water-dripping-on-the-forehead outing yesterday. (According to an Edes Tweet, Dennis Eckersley called Pap's display "sickening to watch". Really, how great is Eck?)

OH, GOD: Almost from the day Jesus Montero signed with the Yankees, we've been anticipatingdreading John Sterling's call of his first home run. It finally arrived yesterday -- twice, as Montero hit two in the Yanks' 11-10 win over the Orioles (New York Daily News) -- and Sterling came out with . . .

"Jesus is loose!" (New York Times)

(He used the Hispanic pronunciation, so it came out as the rhyming "Hay-seuss is loose!")

Phew.

That left it to the New York Post ("Praise Jesus!") to pick up the Gauntlet of Tastelessness, and the headlinestype in both the Post and Daily News ("Jesus Saves", "What will Jesus do?") were about what you'd expect. But, hey, the kid hit two home runs. Can you really be surprised?

It all made for a fun day in the Bronx, and enabled the Yanks to overlook a less-than-stellar performance from Mariano Rivera. (New York Post) Also not joining in the party, presumably, is Jorge Posada -- whose already-paltry playing time figures to disappear with Montero's emergence -- but he's keeping a stiff upper lip about the whole thing. (New York Post)

SIX INTO FIVE: Joe Girardi says he's sticking with a six-man rotation for now. (New York Daily News)

AROUND THE A.L. EAST: Mark Reynolds isn't making anyone forget Brooks Robinson, at least defensively, in Baltimore (Baltimore Sun) . . . The St. Petersburg's Times' Marc Topkin tells us what the Rays have to play for the rest of the way.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE (OR IS THERE?): Foxsports.com's Tracy Ringolsby points out that the division races are all but settled, and the wild-card races aren't much closer, as baseball comes down the home stretch. But SI.com's Cliff Corcoran says "baseball history is littered with late-season collapses and comebacks."

THEY'RE WORTH SOMETHING . . . I GUESS: Joe Posnanski says he comes to praise pitchers' wins as a meaningful statistic, but then does nothing of the sort. (joeposnanski.si.com)

WOULD YOU BELIEVE . . . Adrian Beltre in the Hall of Fame? Rob Neyer really doesn't seem to think so, either, but he points out that you can make a case, and a pretty good one, for him. (sbnation.com)

OLD FRIENDS: J.C. Romero is back in the big leagues, this time with the Rockies (AP) . . . To no one's surprise, Hanley Ramirez' season is over (Miami Herald) . . . So is the Mets', but at least Jason Bay is finishing strong (AP) . . . Derek Lowe had a rough night against the Phillies, and Cliff Lee's masterpiece made it look even worse (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) . . . Victor Martinez can't catch these days, but he sure can hit (Rotoworld).

AND FINALLY . . . Who knew Bill Buckner could act? (tvfanatic.com) Personally, I think he was better than either Mark Teixeira or Alex Rodriguez, and especially Rodriguez. (AP) "We're trying to win a ring here"? Even on TV, even when scriptwriters put words in his mouth, A-Rod comes off as a phony.

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis. 

Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time. 

The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.

Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball. 

 

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer.  And…

US ambassador to Japan?

Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.

The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons. 

When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team." 

Would he be interested?

"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.

Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. 

Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.