Red Sox line up Josh Beckett for Wednesday, Dice-K Friday

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The Red Sox cleared Josh Beckett to start Wednesday after his 25-pitch bullpen session went well Monday, and they announced plans to return Daisuke Matsuzaka to the rotation on Friday.

Beckett, whose normal turn would have fallen tonight, was given extra rest after failing to come out with his best stuff in a no-decision last week against Baltimore. He previously threw 125 pitches on April 21 against the Angels, and it seemed his arm didn’t respond as well as hoped afterwards.

Matsuzaka left his start Friday in the fifth inning because of right elbow tightness, but the Red Sox have decided against putting him on the disabled list or having him skip a start.  Like Beckett, he’ll be pitching on six days’ rest this week.

With both veterans in line to start, it doesn’t look like Tim Wakefield will get an opportunity for an encore performance anytime soon.  Filling in for an ailing Clay Buchholz on Sunday, he pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball (with the lone run scoring after he left) in his first start of the year.  He exited in line for the win, only to end up with a no-decision when Bobby Jenks blew the lead.  The Red Sox did end up winning in the bottom of the ninth to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Mariners.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.