Valentine: Beckett doesn't need personal catcher

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Valentine: Beckett doesn't need personal catcher

FORT MYERS, Fla. Last season, Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught Josh Becketts first start of the season, a 3-1 loss in Cleveland on April 5. It was the last time the two were paired to start a game until Becketts final start of the season, a 6-3 loss in Baltimore on Sept. 26. In between, Jason Varitek caught each of Becketts other 28 starts.

Now with Varitek retired, Beckett will have to adjust to someone other than the former Red Sox captain behind the plate. That begins Sunday against the Twins in the Sox Grapefruit League opener with Saltalamacchia catching for Beckett.

I think its very important, very challenging for him to be on page with anybody whos going to be catching him, said manager Bobby Valentine. Which even complicates the equation a little because we can't say that its going to be Salty catching him every game or even most of the games because injuries do happen in this game. So were going to try to prep that team within the team the best that we can, knowing that its going to be a project that evolves as the season continues. It wont be a completed project in spring training, I dont believe.

Valentine, while managing in Japan, inherited a personal catcher situation. Then, though, it was not with a starter, but with his closer.

When I first got there I was told that the catcher couldnt catch my closer, Valentine said. Not that they couldnt work together; that he couldnt catch him. That was a problem. That was a problem I thought. The next season he caught him for a championship. But what I did there, the guy I think we had wound up playing for another team, so there wasnt an option.

When that catcher was in the game the closer didnt want to come in. And I didnt know. It was one of those Oh, really? It was during the game, Are you serious? And it wasnt unique to change catchers with pitchers there. It wasnt like an exception to the rule. It was more the rule than the exception.

I think there was a game the closer didnt pitch.

Valentine does not foresee that being a problem this season.

I think Josh is going to pitch regardless of whos catching, Valentine said.

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

Acciari notches first NHL goal in Bruins win over Predators

BOSTON – It took until his 43rd game in the NHL to finally score his first goal with the Bruins, but Rhode Island native Noel Acciari said it made him appreciate it all the more when that moment finally did arrived on Tuesday night. The 25-year-old Acciari finished off a Riley Nash feed on a 3-on-1 odd-man rush that gave the Bruins an insurance goal they badly needed in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at TD Garden.

Then David Pastrnak hit Acciari with a shaving cream pie to the face during the NESN broadcast as a way to commemorate his teammate’s big scoring moment, and Torey Krug immediately fished the puck out of the net to make certain that Acciari would get it.

So it was the best of both worlds with the team-oriented Acciari, who watched his Bruins win to go right along with his hallmark scoring moment that he’ll remember forever.

“Your first NHL goal is a special feeling and to finally have it, you know, like I said before I couldn’t have done it without the other guys, the other four, five guys on the ice. But it feels good,” said Acciari, who has a goal and four points in 24 games this season in Boston. “It just shows you how special it is. It’s not going to come the first game you play; it could come 10, 20, for me probably over 40, but it still feels the same.”

Clearly it’s more about providing a physical, heavy and aggressive opponent when Acciari suits up for the Black and Gold, and it’s less about providing offensive production that’s really a bonus from the fourth line. The focus on throwing hits, aggravating opponents and playing with extra energy have been a big part of Acciari’s game since his return from Providence, and that is absolutely been by design.

“I think I kind of strayed [from my strengths] when I got back from my injury – I kind of strayed away from the hitting game,” said Acciari. “Just getting in on the fore-check and, you know, just kind of getting back to that down in Providence was huge and kind of get my confidence up down there helped out a lot. So when I got the call up I was ready for anything.”

He’s certainly played like he was ready for anything while posting a goal and two points along with a plus-4 in his first four games back for the Bruins organization. Acciari did all of that while leading everybody in Tuesday night’s game with eight registered hits in the win over Nashville. So the 5-foot-10, 208-pound Acciari gave a pretty good example against the Predators of just what he can do with steady ice time and the trust of his teammates as all of the hockey clubs in the East gear up to finish strong for the playoffs.

Now all Acciari has to do is continue to play consistently, punish opposing players and chip in a little offense from time and time as he carves out a permanent role on Boston’s fourth line, and helps his team win a few along the way. 

Florio on issues NFL may face with Raiders in Las Vegas

Florio on issues NFL may face with Raiders in Las Vegas

Mike Florio joins Quick Slants to discuss the problems of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas, and the latest NFL rule changes.