Boston Red Sox manager Valentine watches pitchers work out at the Red Sox new Major League Baseball spring training facility in Fort Myers

Fake Outrage Alert: Bobby Valentine doesn’t like Josh Beckett playing golf

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Fried Chicken? Pfft! That’s yesterday’s faux scandal.  Today’s Red Sox Nation tempest-in-a-beer keg is golf:

According to 98.5 the Sports Hub, Beckett went out for a round of golf last Thursday, just two days before he missed a scheduled start against the Orioles because of back stiffness … It’s a development that has predictably become fodder for talk radio stations in town, and Bobby Valentine — a weekly guest on WEEI — was forced to answer questions about Beckett’s golf game this afternoon.

It was “less than the best thing to do” if Beckett played golf, Valentine said.

Eh. This is going to become a thing, I presume, in which Valentine is accused of feuding with a player and Beckett accused of being me-first instead of team-first. But let’s head this off, shall we?

As Valentine himself said, Beckett missed the start for precautionary reasons, not because he was actually injured. Beckett said he probably could have pitched. So this should not be a golf or a Josh Beckett-related “scandal.”

It is, however, another instance in which Bobby Valentine’s complete inability to defuse a media-created controversy — those radio guys talking about the golf — by mouthing some managerly platitudes creates a problem where there need not have been one.

Keep the focus off your players, Bobby. It’s the first lesson of Manager School.

Brett Lawrie will take a pay cut to avoid arbitration with White Sox

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 12: Brett Lawrie #15 of the Chicago White Sox fields a ground ball during batting practice before the start of the game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 12, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
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Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.

The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.

Cubs sign LHP Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Brian Duensing #50 of the Baltimore Orioles throws a pitch in the eleventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.

The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.