The Globe’s Amalie Benjamin checked in this morning before heading to Fenway Park to answer your questions about today’s Game 3 of the ALCS. Check out the transcript below. And be sure to come back later … Tony Massarotti will be chatting live from Fenway during the game.
ACCuneo35: Amalie, enjoy the post game wrap ups on the Soxblog. I probably share everyone’s concern regarding Josh Beckett. While they (reporters) are claiming his oblique injury is more severe than the Sox are leading on, I’m still stuck on the elbow tingling of earlier in the year. I can’t help but think, based on the drop in velocity (96-97, to 91-93) and the fact he has zero movement on his offspeed pitches, that something beyond the oblique is bothering him. In your estimation, what should the Sox fans be more concerned with? Thanks much!!
Amalie Benjamin: I’m not quite sure it matters, at least not right now. The problems are clear. Beckett has lost a couple of miles per hour off his fastball, and isn’t getting the swings-and-misses that he normally gets. It could be the oblique, it could be the elbow, it could be a combination of the two (with rust as an added bonus thrown in there). Either way, it should make Game 6 a lot more frightening for the Sox.
Dave: Amalie, Has Francona acknowledged leaving Beckett in too long? It was obvious that he didn’t have it in Game 2, and I’m curious if Tito admitted that. Being patient is one of his strengths, but it worked against him in a big way Saturday…
Amalie Benjamin: Here’s what Francona said about bringing Beckett back for the fifth on Saturday night: “We scored three in the fifth and wanted to give ourselves a realistic chance at having some semblance of order in our bullpen, which we did. Again, that’s what I was kind of telling him. They went about it a little different, went to their bullpen early, couldn’t hold it. We tried to get to a certain point, gave up the runs then early, and then were able to put up four zeros. We wanted Beckett to get through that fifth and set up our bullpen, and it didn’t work.” I think we all thought it would be a disaster, given what Beckett had done up to that point.
AndreLuiz: Hi Amalie. Tell me: Beckett can be trusted ? I’m a great of him, but i know that he is hurt. What do you think?
Amalie Benjamin: At this point, probably not. It’s extraordinarily unfair to Beckett, who I respect absolutely as a pitcher, and for his resolve to go out there. But given what we’ve seen from him these last two games, there’s no reason to expect him to turn it around for Game 6, or any possible World Series starts. It’s hard to say that, though.
Chris: How would you characterize the differences in mood within each of the clubhouses? Is one a little more uptight then the other or do they both appear rather loose right now?
Amalie Benjamin: I think they’re both pretty loose. The Sox certainly weren’t happy to lose Game 2, but it’s hard for them to be mad having won Game 1 on the road. They got what they wanted, ultimately, which was a split in St. Pete. The Rays are pretty loose too. I talked to Carlos Pena the other day, and he said the team is just having fun. They have a right to that, since no one expected them to get this far. Plus, winning Game 2 in that fashion definitely helped the clubhouse atmosphere.
Brian: Hello Amalie, I was wondering what has to happen on the field for Tito to put Byrd in a game … certainly the extra inning loss might have been avoided if Byrd replaced Beckett early. Byrd is a winner, not a meatball like our aging MikeT … he should get the ball in those situations.
Amalie Benjamin: I think we all sort of knew what was going to happen when Francona put Timlin into the game. He has said that he wanted to have Byrd last, and hopefully get an inning out of Timlin. I can understand that reasoning. And, really, the problem in that game was Josh Beckett. When you’re forced to use Timlin, unless you’re up by quite a few runs, you’ve really already lost that game.
Gracie: Hi Amalie – Mazz blogged this morning about the Red Sox possibly switching Lester to Game 6. Is that something the Sox are really considering or did Mazz just put that out there for us to ponder?
Amalie Benjamin: I haven’t heard anything yet on that possibility, as there would be no reason for the Sox to do anything at this point on Game 6. But Lester could pitch in that game on normal rest, a tempting possibility with the way he’s pitched (and the way Beckett has pitched) in this postseason. It will be something to monitor, as I have a hard time having any confidence at all in Beckett at this point, especially if Game 6 were to be a must-win for the Sox.
phillysoxfan: Yo, Amalie! What the heck is going on with Ortiz? Is it the wrist? is it Manny?
Amalie Benjamin: Well, he’s clearly not hitting. He hasn’t been entirely right since the wrist problem, and not having Manny behind him doesn’t help (though Youkilis and Bay haven’t been too shabby). Ortiz is rarely getting fastballs these days, something he’s going to continue to see until he proves he can hit what he’s being thrown. If he can, that could turn the series in the Sox favor. If he can’t, he needs to take walks, which is the least he can do for the team.
jobrown8: Is it plausible to put Masterson back in the rotation?
Amalie Benjamin: For 2009, sure. For this series, no. It would be nearly impossible to go from throwing an inning at a time for the last couple of months to being inserted into the rotation. Plus, that would leave a big hole in the bullpen.
ARM_18: Enjoying your informative coverage and your sense of levity… do you think Tito will make any moves with Ellsberry scuffling or will he keep things as they are?
Amalie Benjamin: Francona made a big show of leaving Ellsbury in the leadoff spot before Saturday’s game, even with a tough (or used to be tough) lefty on the mound in Kazmir. Ellsbury will be in centerfield today, and as best I can tell, he should still be in the leadoff spot, despite being hitless in his last 17 at bats.
louisville: Hi Amalie, did any of the players seem concerned about the poor calls towards the end of the game or were they just ready to move on to game 3?
Amalie Benjamin: They were concerned with them on Saturday night, but I think it’s a veteran enough group that they’ve put that behind them. There’s no point in dwelling on the could-haves, especially because Sam Holbrook won’t be behind the plate again today.
Steve: Good morning, Amalie. You do a great job and I love reading your columns. Glad to see the Sox back at Fenway and I’m sure the pitching staff is also. I’m worried abut the presence of Mike Timlin. He used to be a guaranteed out, now he seems to be a shell of his former self. Any chance he gets dropped from the roster should we make it to the Series and do you think he’s all done when the season is over?
Amalie Benjamin: Good morning, Steve. The biggest problem in dropping Timlin would be his replacement. The Sox don’t have a lot left off the roster. Michael Bowden has been told his season is over. They have Devern Hansack with the team now, so he might be the replacement should they need him. As for next year, I can’t imagine Timlin coming back (but stranger things have happened).
Chris: Thanks for taking our questions Amalie. It’s appreciated. I’m wondering how the Sox are viewing this afternoons game. As a fan, it seems like a “Must Win” if we want to feel good about taking 2 out of 3 at home. Do you think that view is shared by the players and coaches as well or are they really just playing this series on game at a time?
Amalie Benjamin: I think the Sox players know that taking Game 3 behind Jon Lester is extremely important. They know that Wakefield (Game 4), Daisuke (Game 5), and Beckett (Game 6) aren’t exactly entirely reliable right now. I know Daisuke was great in the first game, and could be so again, but he hasn’t rattled off a string of those type of games so far this season. There is definitely a lot riding on today’s game, and the Sox know it.
Mulky99: I have never been to the Trop, but I have heard it is ugly. Since you have been to many ballparks, how does the Trop rank as being one of the worst MLB destinations? Is there a worse ball park?
Amalie Benjamin: It’s actually a good ballpark to work in (at least in the regular season). As for the ambiance, let’s just say that there’s a lot of aspirin involved in working there, given the noise level. It’s not my favorite.
Dewey: Why the Red Sox let Carlos Pena go I’ll never understand! Could you imagine Pena teamed with Pedroia 2B, Lowrie SS and Youkilis 3B for the next 5+ years?
Amalie Benjamin: The Sox aren’t the only ones that let Pena go (Tigers, Yankees), and I’m not sure even Tampa Bay knew what they were getting — since he almost didn’t make the roster last year. He’s one of the nicest guys in baseball, so it’s nice to see him find a place that fit for him. But, yes, he would have been a good addition to this Sox team, except for the fact that he wouldn’t have had a position to play.
brian: Amalie – It appears Francona has basically decided to never use Casey. The guy can hit … and yes, he might lose to Adam Dunn in a footrace … but with Cora always ready to replace Lowrie and with all the switching possibilities, it is disheartening to leave a guy who can hit sitting there while opportunities to pinch-hit lgo by. He is a better hitter than Lowrie, even though his power is gone. Can’t a fellow get a break?
Amalie Benjamin: It does seem interesting that Sean Casey has essentially disappeared off the roster. Even he would admit that he’s very slow, and his defensive skills aren’t great, but you would think he’d at least get a pinch hitting appearance here and there. At this point in his career, Casey’s really a singles hitter with little power. His spot has really been taken by Mark Kotsay, who provides much better defense and more pop.
Amalie Benjamin: Hey guys, I hate to cut this short, but I’ve got to get over to the ballpark. I’m sure I’ll be back with another chat soon, so save the rest of those questions for then. Thanks for chatting with me, and enjoy today’s game!
Bostondotcom Thanks for chatting Amalie! And a quick reminder that if you’re at your computer during today’s game, check back in with us … Tony Massarotti will be chatting during the game!