Terry Francona and the Red Sox probably aren’t too thrilled with Major League Baseball’s decision-makers right now.
Between Josh Beckett’s league-mandated six-game suspension for allegedly throwing at the Angels’ Bobby Abreu, and Daisuke Matsuzaka’s fatigued pitching arm — an apparent aftereffect of trying to do too much too soon in the MLB-endorsed World Baseball Classic — it’s understandable that the Sox would have a beef or two with commissioner Bud Selig and his staff.
While Francona, sounding weary after last night’s 12-inning, 6-5 loss at Oakland, wouldn’t go so far as to criticize the decisions, he discuss his frustrations with the Beckett and Matsuzaka situations during his weekly interview on WEEI’s “Dale and Holley Show” this afternoon.
Francona also said the Sox’ training staff will further evaluate Matsuzaka today. Here are a few of the manager’s other notable comments:
On whether Matsuzaka’s disastrous one-inning performance last night was an example of Francona’s worst fears about the effects of the WBC coming true:
Francona: “Yeah, probably. I think that’s a fair assessment. We need to sit down this morning and do a little bit more with the medical staff and with Daisuke and kind of see where we all are here. After a game’s over is not the best time to evaluate a lot of things, especially after a tough loss. But I think we do need to sit down this morning and take this a little further, try to get to the bottom of it. He’s certainly not throwing the ball like he can. And there can be various reasons for that.”
On whether Matsuzaka might have developed some bad pitching habits while training away from the Red Sox in preparation for the WBC:
Francona: “I don’t think so. The tough thing for us was that he was 6,000 miles away and you’re kind of at their mercy. We communicated about it as well as we could. I just think we’re seeing the results of a guy that ramped up pretty quickly with a high volume under really competitive circumstances. Then you come back here and the ball’s just not coming out like you want it to and you’re not having the results you want.”
On whether he felt “helpless” watching Matsuzaka throw 90-something pitches in a start in the WBC:
Francona: “And you are [helpless]. Again, we’re supposed to be supportive of the WBC, and understand they’re trying to make it work so they need to have a commitment from major league baseball. But, on the other hand, when you’re sitting there, you know, we’re 2-6 the first week, we’re having a real tough week, and we’re starting to lose pitchers, it’s frustrating, because we’re the ones who are going to have to bear this, and that’s not easy to do. We’ve got a guy that won 18 games last year, and we have a way of preparing him for a long season that certainly doesn’t coincide with the way they do in the WBC.”
On MLB’s decision to suspend Beckett even though he was not ejected from the game:
Francona: “I saw where the pitch ended up, and I don’t think you can . . . When [the batter calls timeout] and [the pitcher is] halfway through his delivery . . . it came close [to hitting Abreu in the head], I certainly understand that. But after that, again, it escalated and the umpires thought Beckett handled it really well. And when the league overruled the umpires, that’s when I said I was shocked. I was not expected to get a call from Theo [Epstein] about that, and then the severity of it shocked us, and I was just trying to tell the truth.”
On whether Beckett’s suspension seems particularly severe given the way the MLB has handled similar cases in the past:
Francona: “Yeah, yeah, I know, and that’s been relayed, same types of things. I don’t want to start throwing people under the bus for stuff like that, but we definitely believe there’s been some inconsistencies.”
On whether the MLB’s decision indicates that the umpiring crew made a mistake and should have ejected Beckett:
Francona: “Well, again, I’m not privy to all that. I’d like to be privy to more, especially when they’re making decisions on our ball club, but I’m not. I got up the next day and saw Joe West’s comments [saying Beckett handled the situation well], and thought ‘Okay, this is over, this is good,’ and so I was very surprised that it advanced farther than that. But you’d have to ask the guys in baseball [who make these decisions], because they don’t share them with us.”
On the difficulty of making Beckett’s case in an appeal:
“We’re not dealing from a position of strength. In Josh’s case, he goes, ‘I don’t feel like I need to come out and say I’m sorry, because I didn’t do anything on purpose,’ which I understand. He was pretty honest about it. He’s not going to try to hit somebody in the head, he wouldn’t do that. It was a little bit of a funny situation when you’re holding the ball, the guy steps out, you don’t want to show him a pitch over the plate, you let it go, and he let it go up and in. There’s no denying that, we all saw that. But the intent was not there to hurt anybody.”