Friday, February 27, 2009

Lester Working On A New Weapon

Jon Lester, who started yesterday's 3-2 Boston Red Sox loss to the Pirates, pitched two scoreless innings, giving up zero runs. Saito followed him with a two strikeout scoreless inning. The three Pittsburgh runs were given up by Lentz, who I am not familiar with. You'll find the Sox pitching summary below. That's the first thing I look at this early in the spring. The hitters will come around...I learn more from the pitching summary than anything else when it's this time of year. But the big news is that Lester is working on a new pitch, the changeup, to add to his weapon arsenal. Sox manager Terry "Tito" Francona explains...

"The idea is twofold,” manager Terry Francona said. “One is to incorporate the changeup more and give him another weapon. And in the meantime, staying away from the cutter early in camp helps with arm strength and saves some wear and tear. The cutter is a weapon and then all of sudden, it’s a very effective weapon. You go to it, you go to it and all of a sudden, your fastball loses velocity. It’s been a very effective pitch for him, but he understands the need to have other pitches. We don’t want any of our pitchers to go with the cutter too much. We understand how good a pitch it can be, but you can lose some of your fastball with it.”

Jon Lester added this tidbit...

"The changeup just adds another pitch. It adds another dimension that hitters have to worry about. It takes pressure off of my fastball and my cutter, because primarily behind in the count we go two-seam away or cutter in. It just gives the hitters something else to look for."

The more pitches the better, and anything he can confidently throw for strikes when he's down in the count is vital. Jon was 16-6 in 2008 and he's our solid number two starter. I expect great things from him and a changeup certainly will help confuse and confound the opposing hitters. He and Beckett will make a great one-two punch and with Matsuzaka, Penny and Smoltz following them, well, wow. Wakefield will be the number five guy until Smoltz is ready to go.

Takashi Saito, bad elbow and all, was very impressive in his one inning of work. One inning per appearance will be the norm for him in 2009. He managed to strike out two and hit 93 MPH on the radar gun. Tito said this about that...

“I didn’t expect to quite see 93 MPH out of him today,” Francona. “We’ve been kind of easing him into it. That was nice to see.”

OK, here's that pitching summary for Thursday's game...

J Lester 2 2 0 0 0 1 0
T Saito 1 1 0 0 0 2 0
H Okajima 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
W Littleton 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
F Cabrera 1 1 0 0 1 0 0
H Jones 1 0 0 0 0 1 0
A Mills 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
R Lentz (L,0-1) 1-3 1 3 2 2 1 0 **
M James 2-3 0 0 0 0 0 0

Wins and losses are in no way important this time of year...the players' health and conditioning are what counts. And except for Lentz, who will disappear by season's start, the pitchers did a great job. That's what counts. Have a great Friday...for some reason, since I woke up I've been thinking it's Saturday. No such luck, I guess. Click on this post's title if you wish for the latest news about Manny and his nonsensical agent, Scott Boras(s). Believe it or not, Boras(s) rejected a Dodger two year offer for $45 million bucks. Where's the logic there? Don't ask me, but read the SI article by clicking this post's title. As always, BE WELL. Aloha. Shalom. See ya. Go Sox. Forever.

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