March 9, 2011

Beckett Works On Shortening Stride; Gonzalez Close To Playing In A Game

Josh Beckett (3.2-3-1-1-4, 55) made his first start since suffering a mild concussion. Among the hits he allowed in a split-squad game against the Astros were a misplayed fly ball and a likely infield error. Beckett is working with pitching coach Curt Young on smoothing out his delivery by shortening his stride, a change he says has improved the break on his curveball.

Vs Houston: Jonathan Papelbon retired the three batters he faced, giving him three perfect innings this spring. ... Francona was impressed by lefty Dennys Reyes's two-seamer. (Reyes, Andrew Miller, and Hideki Okajima are fighting for the lefty bullpen role.) ... Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 2-for-2 with a walk.

Vs St. Louis: In the other split-squad game, Jacoby Ellsbury went 3-for-4, with a double, a stolen base (against a lefty pitcher and rifle-armed Yadier Molina), and an RBI. ... Ryan Lavarnway doubled and homered, and drove in three runs.

The Red Sox signed 15 players -- including Daniel Bard, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Kalish, and Josh Reddick -- to one-year contracts. Bard, who last year became the first Boston reliever in almost 50 years with 70+ innings pitched and an ERA under 2.00*, is not concerned with any bumpy outings this spring:
When I go out in a regular-season game ... I know the three hitters I'm about to face. I go in there with a purpose ... In spring training, I'm just kind of going out without a purpose, just trying to work on stuff, I guess, which doesn't work for me. For my style of pitching, I've got to be aggressive.
* Dick Radatz had 132.1 IP and a 1.97 ERA in 1963. Ten years before that, Ellis Kinder pitched 107 innings with a 1.85 ERA. In 1980, Tom Burgmeier had a 2.00 ERA over 99 innings.

Adrian Gonzalez hopes to play in a game next week.
The reason I don't make a deal out of this is because I played through it last year. ... It's not something that I lost games over and I'm trying to recover from. It was surgery to get me to be 100 percent instead of 95. It really isn't a surgery I needed. But it's a surgery that is going to help me in the long term.
Gonzalez says he will not face live pitching in a simulated game.
I hate doing that. You don't have the game mentality, so you go through the motions ... Nothing good can come out of it.
Mike Cameron has some mild soreness in his left knee ("tendinitis", according to Terry Francona).

David Roher, co-president of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, has an Extra Bases blog post, concerning what he calls the Familiarity Index -- "What percentage of plate appearances came from players who were on the roster the year before?" Roher looked at the entire history of the Red Sox to see if team success correlates with a lack of player turnover. Despite the limitations in such a study, it's an interesting post. Roher found that the average Red Sox season sees 73% of plate appearances and 72% of innings pitched from players on the previous year's roster.

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