Takeaways from Fort: Beckett goes wild
March, 12, 2012
By Rick Weber | ESPNBoston.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A few takeaways from the Fort, where the Red Sox beat the Miami Marlins, 5-3, in a rollicking 10-inning game that featured an early exit by the irascible Ozzie Guillen and some live ESPN game analysis by Bobby Valentine.
Wild Thing?: Josh Beckett has nothing in common with Charlie Sheen. But during a six-batter sequence in Monday’s game against the Marlins, he looked a little bit like Sheen’s character in the movie "Major League" -- Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn -- before he got glasses.
Beckett hit Omar Infante in the ribs, struck out Austin Kearns, hit Aaron Rowand in the back, walked Chris Coghlan to force in a run, got Terry Tiffee to ground to second, and walked Matt Dominguez. Going into the game, Beckett had walked just two and hit none of the 19 batters he had faced.
“Just getting too fast,” Beckett said.
When his four-inning stint was over, he had thrown 33 strikes and an uncharacteristic 24 balls, a ratio of 1.38. While never known for his control, Beckett has a better strike-to-ball ratio (1.80) and walk rate (6.8 percent) over the past three years than any other current Red Sox pitcher.
In the end, he held the Marlins to one run on one hit in four innings, which prompted him to say the “results were good,” and he has now adjusted to pitching every three days.
“For me, it’s just about how my body feels,” he said. “In spring training, especially pitching every three days instead of four, it can take its toll. Today was the first time I felt when I got done in the bullpen that I was loose and ready to go.”
Rough start: Andrew Bailey, making his first appearance of the spring after straining his lat during the vertical-leap portion of his physical, started the sixth by giving up a double off the Green Monster on his second pitch to Infante, then singles to Kearns and Rowand. He retired the next three batters and exited the game.
“The first guy hit a double, and immediately your mind switches into closer’s mentality, where you never want to blow a game, and it doesn’t matter for me even if it’s in spring training,” he said. “For me, it’s kind of cool to have your first outing be that tight of a ballgame and act like it was the regular season. Obviously, I have some things to work on. For me, I never want to give up a run, no matter what inning you’re pitching.”
Bailey said he expects to pitch another seven or eight innings this spring, which he deems sufficient to be ready for Opening Day.
“He feels healthy right now,” Valentine said. “That’s a big step forward. I’d rather him strike everyone out and miss all the bats, but the bats happened to find the ball a couple of times today.”
Ozzie being Ozzie: Guillen, the Marlins’ first-year manager, may have set a record for the earliest Grapefruit League managerial ejection. He was tossed in the bottom of the sixth inning by first-base ump Tim Tschida after arguing a fair-or-foul call.
The clubhouse setup forces the visiting team to walk across the field to a tunnel next to the Red Sox dugout, so on Guillen’s way out, Valentine had a chance to wave goodbye after never having a chance to say hello before the game.
Valentine on what he said to Guillen: “See ya.”
Guillen said he did not see the wave or hear Valentine's remarks.
"I didn't see it,” he said. “I would have told him to go and (bleep) himself too. That's the way Ozzie Guillen is."
Bobby V being Bobby V: Valentine, who gave up an ESPN job to take over the Red Sox, put on a headset in the sixth inning and offered some entertaining analysis, at one point calling Gary Tuck “our savant catching coach.”
He also lauded David Ortiz for being on the treadmill at 5 a.m. and losing 17 pounds with his new diet: “He wants this to be anything but his last year. He wants to extend his career.”
Showdown city: Responding facetiously to a question about facing the Yankees in Tampa on Tuesday, Valentine said: “I won’t be able to sleep tonight. This will be a big one. We want to set the tone tomorrow. We really want to let them know who we are. Send a message.”
The winner: Pedro Ciriaco hit a two-run homer in the 10th to end the game.
“I’m very impressed,” Valentine said. “He’s stolen bases when he’s been asked to steal, made plays defensively, bunted extremely well for base hits, he had a hit-and-run, and today he hits a home run to win the game. There’s nothing else he can do to impress people here.”
No issues: Mark Melancon pitched a clean fifth inning in his third appearance of the spring, striking out one. Melancon, who had 20 saves last year as the Astros’ closer, says he’ll be fine as a setup guy -- a role he had in Houston in 2010.
“It’s not that much different,” he said. “You’re still trying to keep guys from scoring.”
Injury update: RF Ryan Sweeney left the game in the third inning with a left quad strain. Sweeney flied out to right in his only at-bat, lowering his average to .083.
Always a comedian: The PA announcer noted that although it was 69 degrees in Boston at game time, just 12 degrees cooler than in Fort Myers, “I wouldn’t get too excited -- it will probably snow tomorrow morning.”
Getting comfy: The Red Sox and Marlins play six times this season in interleague play, with three-game series at the new Marlins Park June 11-13 and at Fenway June 19-21. The last time they met, the Red Sox took two out of three in Fenway in 2009.