Links 5-20-2010: The AL East race, Beckett to DL, Dice-K and V-Mart friction, Lowell-Ortiz heats up, more

The AL East is becoming a tough place to compete, even for the Red Sox. Not only is Tampa Bay continuing their streak of great baseball, but even Toronto is getting into the act, outperforming expectations despite the losses of Roy Halladay and Marco Scutaro. I think I mentioned that the Blue Jays can be dangerous this year if they get enough hitting, because they have some very strong young pitching.

Josh Beckett has been placed on the 15-day DL, and 35-year old reliever Joe Nelson was recalled from Pawtucket in his place. They are just being cautious with Beckett, but there’s definitely something there, despite the Yankees’ protests. It would be a mistake to judge Beckett based on limited performance while injured. Filling during Beckett’s absence is Tim Wakefield. He’s happy to be back in the rotation, but he doesn’t approach it as he has to earn his way back in. Seems like he doesn’t particularly think much of some of his competition.

Speaking of which, Daisuke Matsuzaka had a horrendous first inning which led to a very short start in game 1 of the Yankees series. When asked about his poor performance, Dice-K seemed to be hinting at something, saying:

There’s one thing that I know for sure, but I’m not quite ready to share that at this point.

Victor Martinez was also frustrated by the outing, and the fact that Matsuzaka seemed to be shaking him off a lot, even for him. When there’s no trust in between the pitcher and catcher, it’s hard to work. I wonder if Matsuzaka wouldn’t be better servedthrowing to Jason Varitek, who spent time the last few years building a working relationship with Dice-K and even learning some Japanese. Terry Francona met with them to calm things down, so let’s hope Dice-K can shake this off and come back ready to fight next time. With Beckett out of commission, we need Matsuzaka to be steady if we want a chance at this thing.

After last night’s game, Scutaro’s elbow flared up, making a move for a middle infielder necessary, for depth. The Sox chose to bring up Angel Sanchez from Pawtucket, designating Scott Schoeneweis for assignment. Despite being let go the night before the one-year anniversary of his wife’s sudden death, Schoeneweis is taking it well. Seems like just a class act.

Mike Lowell made some comments the other day in New York regarding his lack of a role with the Red Sox that are being blown way out of proportion (surprise, surprise). Look, the guy’s an established veteran, and he has a right to feel frustrated. He’s being measured and honest. Meanwhile, David Ortiz feels bad for Lowell, but he is enjoying a May renaissance to the tune of .359/.397/.774 with 7 HR and 17 RBI in just 14 games. Now aren’t you glad we let him keep playing? My feeling is that this situation will be resolved sometime next month, when teams are ready to deal again. Until then, just sit tight on these two.

Jacoby Ellsbury is looking back to his usual fleet self in his rehab stint, even if he isn’t driving the ball every at-bat.


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