Josh Beckett was booed off the mound at Fenway Park on Tuesday night after leaving his start against the Tigers in the third inning with back spasms. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine expressed optimism yesterday that the veteran right-hander will be able to avoid a stint on the disabled list, but there’s now uncertainty whether he’ll be able to make his next scheduled start Sunday against the Twins.
According to Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston, Beckett was unable to throw a bullpen session this afternoon. Bobby V acknowledged that he “more than likely” won’t start Sunday if he can’t throw tomorrow. Franklin Morales would presumably return from the bullpen to make the start if Beckett is unable to go.
Beckett was charged with one run on one hit and two walks over 2 2/3 innings on Tuesday and holds a disappointing 4.54 ERA through 18 starts this season. The Red Sox reportedly shopped him leading up to Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but didn’t find much interest. Given his struggles this year and the $15.75 million he’s owed over each of the next two seasons, that’s exactly not a surprise.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.