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Red Sox Notebook

Trying to frame Beckett outing

Before 5th inning, righty had cruised

After a few good innings, it was hold on to your hat for the Sox’ Josh Beckett in the fifth yesterday against the Pirates. After a few good innings, it was hold on to your hat for the Sox’ Josh Beckett in the fifth yesterday against the Pirates. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)
By Nick Cafardo and Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / March 14, 2011

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BRADENTON, Fla. — Josh Beckett’s outing came to a screeching halt in the fifth inning yesterday, and he wasn’t too happy about it.

“Got a little bit behind myself,’’ he said. “It’s a shame that the whole outing is ruined by one inning. That’s what I felt was the case here because I felt I really pitched well in the middle three innings.’’

Beckett lasted four-plus innings, allowed four hits, and was charged with five runs, allowing two solo homers as his ERA shot up to 6.52 for the spring in a 9-4 Red Sox loss to the Pirates. But while Beckett was down on himself after allowing a leadoff homer to Ronny Cedeno in the fifth, then walking a batter and hitting another, he got a thumbs up from manager Terry Francona and catcher Jason Varitek

“I hope his last inning didn’t ruin his day because I think he really threw the ball good,’’ Francona said. “Threw some fastballs down. Last inning he walked a guy and hits a guy. The inning gets away. But that’s the good thing about spring training, as long as he can take out of it more good than bad. And it got him stretched out pretty well.’’

Varitek said Beckett had good life on his fastball and used his changeup effectively, and said the pitcher’s breaking ball was sharp.

The visiting bullpen mound at McKechnie Field was described fairly accurately by Francona as “a mountain.’’ So when Beckett entered the game he needed some time to adjust. Scott Atchison had the same problem in relief of Beckett. He allowed four hits and two runs in one inning. It wasn’t pretty.

“In the first inning I had to get used to the mound because there was a big difference between the mound in the bullpen and the mound on the field,’’ Beckett said. “At least I had those middle innings to do that. I think it would be really difficult to come in as a reliever with a bases-loaded situation. It was a bad situation for [Atchison] to be in.’’

Beckett said he’s recovered from a mild concussion suffered when he was struck off the temple with a fungo in batting practice.

He said that in the fifth inning he might not have been staying back well enough, thus not driving his legs. But he was happy with his fastball velocity, which got up to 95 miles per hour.

Put me in, coach Adrian Gonzalez may be coming off shoulder surgery. But when asked how many games he hoped to play this season, the new Sox first baseman didn’t hesitate.

“I want to play every game,’’ he said in Fort Myers. “I’m a first baseman, you know? How much effort do you really put out there? Not effort, but as far as how much energy do you really put out there? I don’t steal bases. I don’t run fast. I play first base. As long as my legs can take it, I’m good, and thank God up until now my legs have been good enough to take it.’’

Francona has said if he needs to rest Gonzalez early in the season, he will. But when told of Gonzalez’s comments yesterday morning, Francona said, “I would have no problem with that.’’

Gonzalez said he has never asked for a day off and has, in fact, gotten into arguments about being given one.

“The times they gave me a day off, I’m really annoying in the dugout,’’ he said. “So the next time they’re like, ‘You know what? Let’s just throw him out there so he’s not annoying me.’ ’’

Gonzalez played all 162 games in 2008, then 160 in 2009 and 2010.

Gonzalez is scheduled to start at first base against the Yankees tonight. He hopes to get three plate appearances. He hopes to play in back-to-back games next week.

Hitting stride Lars Anderson went 2 for 3 with a homer. “I’ve seen him hit a couple of home runs now,’’ said Francona. “He hits a ball to left-center and then he turns on a ball for a homer. That’s what he has to do. He plays first base and he has to make some noise and he’s starting to show.’’ . . . Mike Cameron was 1 for 3 with two RBIs, and after playing most of his career in center field he continues to get used to playing the corner outfield spots. He was in right field yesterday after playing left the day before. “It’s always a challenge,’’ Cameron said. “Especially left field. That was like I was on an island, but it worked out good.’’ . . . Tall lefthander Andrew Miller (6 feet 7 inches) was a bit erratic in the eighth, walking one and hitting one before getting a strikeout and a double-play grounder.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. This story was reported by Cafardo in Bradenton and Abraham in Fort Myers.

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