Josh Beckett injures back taking batting practice

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Yesterday afternoon the Red Sox announced that they were pushing Josh Beckett’s next start back from Wednesday versus the Blue Jays to Friday versus the Tigers, which also put him in line to miss the Yankees next week after giving up nine runs against them in his last outing.
At the time the move was not made because of an injury, but then just a few hours later Beckett strained his back while preparing for interleague play by taking batting practice in an indoor batting cage. He’ll undergo tests today to determine his status and in the meantime Tim Wakefield will slide back into the rotation Wednesday.
Beckett’s pushed-back start is now up in the air, although some extra time off may not be so bad given his 7.46 ERA and need to “refine his delivery” with pitching coach John Farrell. His peripheral numbers aren’t nearly as awful as his ERA, so assuming the back issues aren’t serious he’s a good bet to get on track.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉