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Valentine: Starters ready to get on a roll

Posted by Alex Prewitt  July 20, 2012 04:54 PM

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Clay Buchholz spun a gem last night, earning the no decision after eight innings of six-hit, one-run ball.

Could that be a sign of good things to come for the Sox' front-end starters? Manager Bobby Valentine thinks it might.

"Well I think we have quality guys who are starting who really haven't gone on a continuous roll together," Valentine said. "Part of that is because of some injuries, and the things that have happened in the first part of this season.

"Now, they're healthy, they're feeling good about themselves, and I think that's a good way to get on a roll."

Josh Beckett gets the start today. He is 4-7 with a 4.44 ERA, but won his last start at Tampa Bay, allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out seven. That was his first win since May 20. Since then, he has given up at least three runs in the first inning in half his starts.

"I think he'll get by the first inning without a problem," Valentine said. "I think he'll build on his start from last time. He's feeling good, and I'm really confident he'll give us a chance to win this game."

Salty out of the lineup again

Jarrod Saltalamacchia was absent from the lineup for the third straight game, with Kelly Shoppach starting behind in the plate in his stead.

"He's dying to get back in there, so we'll see if he's recharged tomorrow," Valentine said.

In July, Saltalamacchia is hitting just .100 with 21 strikeouts in 40 at bats. He is also 0 for his past 12.

"Tough pitches, and swinging at some pitches that really weren't hittable," Valentine said. "I think he'll be a little more selective next time he gets out there, and hit them the way he can."

No worries about celebration injuries

Rather than bask in the remnants of last night's 3-1 walk-off win over Chicago, the first question Valentine received in his pregame press conference asked whether he was concerned that a player would get injured in the home-plate celebration.

"Well, I went over to [closer] Alfredo [Aceves] after throwing that 50-pound Kool-Aid thing around like he was ... I guess it's Gatorade, our sponsor," Valentine said. "You're always concerned, but that doesn't mean I don't want to see it happen again.

"The more practice you have with those celebrations, the better you get at it. I believe in practice."

Bobby V took the question lightly.

"That's an interesting spin to a ninth-inning home run," Valentine said.

Kendry Morales fractured his ankle celebrating a walk-off homer with the Angels on May 29, 2010, and wound up missing the rest of the season, and all of 2011 due to ensuing complications. With his teammates awaiting him, Morales enthusiastically jumped onto home, landing awkwardly and suffering the injury.

"Of course somebody could, but everybodyís so excited," said Cody Ross, who's three-run homer in the ninth gave the Sox a wild victory. "Youíre trying not to step on anybodyís feet when youíre jumping up and down. Itís a little more cautious nowadays."

As far as momentum carried over from the Ross' homer and taking three out of four from the White Sox, Valentine was more dismissive.

"I don't believe in momentum," he said. "I think you can have momentum in a game, or in an inning, but I don't think yesterday necessarily carries over. Other than you have a good feeling when the game starts.

Ten runs, sometimes maybe you get a little over confident. Everyone gets hits, they figure it's going to be easy. It's never easy at the major league level. Never. As soon as you think it's easy, that's when it gets really difficult."

Etc.

  • David Ortiz said before Thursday's game that he planned to hit in the batting cage on Friday, protective boot and all. Valentine wasn't so sure if that actually happened. "Oh, I doubt that," Valentine said. "Maybe. But I doubt it. I think we've said earlier in this season, you don't have to take everything David says as a literal fact. He might have stood in there and seen some balls. I don't see much purpose in it. Well, at least get out of that boot and make sure he's not going to stretch his Achilles while doing it. It'll be the medical department that gives him the green light on hitting."
  • Pitcher Andrew Bailey threw off the mound today -- around 38 pitches, Valentine said -- and will throw a bullpen Sunday. If the Sox can get early field time in Texas Wednesday, Bailey will throw 15 pitches of batting practice. Valentine said the reliever, on the DL with offseason reconstructive thumb surgery, is not yet ready for a simulation game. "I don't think he has a health issue to deal with any longer," Valentine said. "He now just has a conditioning, a pitch build-up, and a competition challenge ahead of him."
  • Pitcher Rich Hill (elbow) is progressing towards a return from the 60-day DL. Valentine said he has been restricted to flat-ground long toss recently, but is throwing pain free. "He's getting close, feeling good," Valentine said.

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