If you ask Alfredo Aceves, Josh Beckett's thumb is damaged, and Aceves will possibly be starting for him in game two of the regular season. Bobby Valentine -- who told Aceves to be ready to begin with -- isn't as concerned as Aceves might make you think we all should be:
Beckett threw a lengthy bullpen session on Sunday and did not miss any of his starts this spring. He allowed two earned runs on seven hits over 19 innings against major league competition.
"He threw 100 pitches yesterday and felt great, hit location," Valentine said. "He's had a little situation that he's getting taken care of today just for peace of mind."
For "peace of mind" is a much better reason than the horrible ones we likely envisioned upon immediately hearing the news that Beckett might miss a start. Beckett is having his thumb checked out in San Antonio, and given the above -- 100 pitches thrown Sunday with no problems, his 0.95 ERA this spring -- maybe there isn't anything wrong after all.* It's better whatever is bothering him gets checked out before it turns into something worse, though.
*This is more likely than a thumb injury turning him into an even better pitcher.
Aceves wants to start, which might be why he was so eager to tell the media about a potential opportunity to do so. With Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard in the rotation, and Aaron Cook not quite ready to join the rest of the Red Sox in the majors, it's basically down to Aceves to cover any spot-starts that are needed to begin the year. And while he might not be happy that he's in the bullpen right now, both Doubront and Bard will likely need their usage monitored throughout the season, so there's a chance he ends up with quite a few starts whether Red Sox pitchers end up hurt or not.
Looking for Andrew Bailey news? There won't be any until tomorrow at the earliest. Boston's closer was reported as having a very vague thumb injury that could cause him to miss either the first few weeks of the regular season, or all of four games, depending on how much time he needs to recover, if any.
Given the occasional bending of the roster rules with use of the disabled list that occurs in Major League Baseball, there's a part of me that wonders if Bailey, who started spring training later than most of his teammates, needs more time to throw on the side before he's 100 percent. A stint on the DL to begin the year for this reason, one that would also allow the Red Sox to feature another arm or two out of the bullpen -- Justin Thomas, a left-hander with options remaining, perhaps? -- while also managing the oft-injured Bailey's total innings output, would make a lot of sense.
That's just some thinking out loud, so don't take it as any particular insight into the situation. When information is scarce about the injury, though, and for a team who wants to audition as many pitchers as it can so it knows what it has, it's not an impossible scenario. [Update: Or he's totally hurt and needs surgery. That too.]
Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds are working on an extension that, if rumor is right, will keep him a Red for sometime around forever. He's already in the middle of a contract that has him paid $26.5 million over the next two seasons, and it's likely any extension would be on top of that.
Why mention that here, at Over the Monster? There's only one reason to mention the contracts of elite first basemen, and that's so we can gloat about Adrian Gonzalez's deal. Gonzalez is entering the first year of his own extension, one that will pay him $154 million over the next seven years. Prince Fielder signed for nine years and $214 million this winter. Albert Pujols will be with the Angels for the next 10 years, at the cost of $240 million. Ryan Howard, who is not elite but is paid that way, added five years and $125 million to the two years and $39 million that were remaining on his previous deal.
The total value of the extension might not be worth what Pujols got, but it's easy to picture him reaching or surpassing the size of the Fielder deal. Votto and Gonzalez have had similar value since 2008, when Votto first became a full-time player. Votto isn't as related to Gonzalez as Pujols and Prince since he wasn't a free agent yet, but still, trading prospects for an extra year of Gonzalez and a way to avoid the first base negotiations of 2011-2012 looks like it was the right thing to do.