Beckett to try to ramp up to 90-plus pitches

March, 19, 2011
3/19/11
11:36
AM ET
BRADENTON, Fla. -- NCAA tournament or Red Sox exhibition baseball?

That's the choice NESN will offer viewers Saturday afternoon, as Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy will call their eighth game of the spring, the Red Sox taking the 90-mile bus ride here to play the Pittsburgh Pirates (1 p.m. ET).

Josh Beckett will be making his second consecutive start here, having pitched against the Pirates last Sunday, when he left with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth. All three runs eventually scored, Scott Atchison unable to stop the bleeding, so Beckett was charged with five runs in the loss. It took him an inning, he said, to make the adjustment between the steeply pitched bullpen mound upon which he warmed up and the game mound.

Manager Terry Francona said the plan is for Beckett to throw in the vicinity of 90 or so pitches.

The Sox lost both ends of a split squad affair Friday, losing the day game 8-3 to the Tigers in City of Palm Parks, then falling, 7-3, to the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte Friday night, Tim Wakefield absorbing a beating (6 runs on 7 hits, including 4 home runs).

They say spring training is supposed to be about hope, but that's proving to be a tough sell once again. The Pirates, who haven't had a winning season since 1992, are 8-14 and have lost eight of their last 10. Spring training records don't matter, except when you're in a market in which people are desperate for a sign that things are getting better.

Here are the lineups for Saturday:

RED SOX
1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. Mike Cameron, DH
6. Darnell McDonald, CF
7. Daniel Nava, LF
8. Josh Reddick, RF
9. Nate Spears, 1B
SP -- Josh Beckett, RHP

PIRATES
1. Jose Tabata, LF
2. Neil Walker 2B
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
4. Lyle Overbay, 1B
5. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
6. Matt Diaz, RF
7. Ronny Cedeno, SS
8. Dusty Brown, C
SP -- Kevin Correia

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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