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.

Drellich: Devers is a keeper, even with the addition of Nunez

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Drellich: Devers is a keeper, even with the addition of Nunez

BOSTON -- The cherub stays.

There's no way Rafael Devers is headed back to Triple-A before the homestand starts Friday, right, Dave Dombrowski? Not for the newly acquired Eduardo Nunez, who's a fine player but has nowhere near the offensive upside of Devers, the 20-year-old phenom you just rushed to the big leagues.

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You probably weren't really considering sending Devers straight back, were you now, Dave? Sometime in the 3 o'clock hour Eastern time on Wednesday morning (after a 13-inning, 6-5 loss to the Mariners), you did tell reporters in Seattle that you would need to sit down with manager John Farrell to figure out the plan at third base from here.

Likely, you're just making sure your ducks are in a row. That Nunez himself has a chance to shake hands with you, and gets to hear straight from you what he'll be doing.

That's fair. But let's be doubly sure we're on the same page.

As long as something else doesn't happen between now and then -- no other trades for third basemen, no injuries -- Devers must at least platoon at third unless he shows he can't handle it. Nunez bats right, Devers left.

But it wouldn't be crazy to let Devers have the bulk of the playing time, either, and use Nunez to spell Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia. Or simply have him come off the bench.

Devers didn't look overmatched in his very first big-league game Tuesday night. On the contrary, he was patient at the plate, drawing the walk that started a sixth-inning rally against Felix Hernandez. (King Felix is quite the draw for a someone making his major-league debut, we should note.) He looked like a happy kid, and sounded like one after the game.

"For me it's just going out there and playing my brand of baseball and having fun out there," Devers told reporters through translator Daveson Perez. "That's what I was trying to do and I think I did that."

Devers finished 0-for-4 with a pair of walks, one strikeout and a run scored. He didn't make any errors and looked smooth and quick, his athleticism shining through some baby fat.

Dombrowski spoke during the last homestand about the lack of league-norm production at third base. Nunez can bring that, if nothing more. He is, at a position that's had no certainty, some form of certainty. A stable piece that can help out around the infield and has valuable versatility.

But Nunez is not what the Sox need most: A bopper.

Devers has pop. The chances he blossoms this year are not in his favor because he is the youngest player in the majors. But it would be a most strange and almost cruel choice to call the kid up for two days and then decide you don't need him because of Nunez, who entered Tuesday with the same OPS as Mitch Moreland (.745).

If you're the glass-is-half-full-type, the first four-game losing streak of the season for the Red Sox was numbed by a third-base situation that's been upgraded twofold. Let's assume the Sox know how to best deploy the two from here -- in the big leagues together, until shown a reason to change course.