Josh Beckett feeling better, hoping to return next week

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Things are improving quickly for Josh Beckett.

The Red Sox right-hander played long-toss from about 250 feet on Saturday afternoon in Tampa Bay.

He had no trouble striding into his throws and did not appear to be bothered at all by his right ankle, which was sprained this past Monday while the Boston ace was making a start against the Blue Jays.

According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Beckett is hoping to throw a bullpen session next Tuesday or Wednesday with an eye on returning to the Red Sox rotation by the end of the week.

Beckett, 31, has posted a stellar 2.49 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 155/46 K/BB ratio in 173 2/3 innings this season.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Tony La Russa part ways

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The Arizona Diamondbacks just announced that they are parting ways with Tony La Russa at the end of the month.

La Russa served as the club’s “Chief Baseball Officer” from 2015-16. For the last year he was styled “Chief Baseball Analyst.” That’s a nice way to saying that he was pushed aside when the club fired his hand-picked general manager Dave Stewart and brought in Mike Hazen to run the club a year ago. La Russa was stripped of his powers, but was told he could hang around as an advisor. Most didn’t think he’d actually take the club up on that offer, but he did. By all accounts he was a pretty unobtrusive presence around the team this year, offering counsel and insight when asked but not making things awkward the way having the old boss around might do.

I suppose that can only last so long, however. The Dbacks had considerably more success without La Russa in charge in 2017 than they had with him in charge the previous couple of years. At some point you just part ways. That point is now.