Don’t count on Josh Beckett bouncing back

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John Tomase of the Boston Herald has some bad news for Sox fans who are counting on Josh Beckett bouncing back in 2011:

Virtually every pitcher to struggle like Beckett did last season not only was never the same, but almost to a man failed to produce a single, solitary above-average season thereafter. …

… Thanks to the magic of baseball-reference.com, it was easy to sort for pitchers in their 30s who posted ERAs above 5.75 while pitching at least 125 innings. The search returned 69 such seasons by 66 different pitchers … Of those 66 pitchers, only three managed to regain something even remotely approximating their form, at least as starters.

One small quibble: Baseball-Reference.com isn’t magic. It’s unadulterated genius.  Otherwise: whoa. Tomase acknowledges that such results don’t mean that Beckett can’t buck it. But it does show that hardly anyone ever does. Whether a pitcher Beckett simply ages quickly or whether he stumbles because of injury, bouncing back is exceedingly uncommon.

But hey: at least that contract extension was well-timed.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.