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Beckett Passed The Test

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03/04/2004 5:42 PM ET

Notes: Beckett 'passed' the test

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com Ticket information



FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Ideally, the Marlins were hoping for three full innings out of Josh Beckett in the Spring Training opener Thursday. But manager Jack McKeon wasn't complaining about the 23-year-old right-hander's first showing.

"He passed the test," mused McKeon.


With flying colors.


Not that the linescore is totally indicative of the performance: two runs on five hits with one walk, a home run and four strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.


It's how Beckett threw that was impressive.


"Beckett threw the ball well," McKeon said. "His command wasn't sharp in the first inning, but after that he was good."


The World Series MVP had good velocity. Catcher Ramon Castro, who belted two homers in the Marlins' 6-5 loss to the Orioles at Fort Lauderdale Stadium, said the right-hander was clicking between 95 and 97 mph.


Orioles catcher Javy Lopez told Castro, "he's throwing hard."


Beckett showed that in the first inning, striking out Admin Bigbie and Miguel Tejada with fastballs. Lopez fanned looking on a curveball to retire the side.


But Baltimore scored one run in the 24-pitch inning on Jerry Hairston's single, two stolen bases, and Rafael Palmeiro's RBI single to right.


In the third, Tejada belted a solo homer on a hanging curveball.


"It's my first time pitching, and the adrenaline was flowing," Beckett said. "I felt good. With my changeup early, I was kind of rushing through my delivery. I made some mistakes. I hung a curveball to Tejada, and he did what good hitters do. Raffy hit a pretty good pitch. It caught too much of the plate."


After the first inning, Beckett was made aware that he was tipping his slide step, enabling Hairston to steal two bases. Hairston, however, swiping third was costly because he fractured a knuckle to his right hand sliding.


"I hope he's all right," Beckett said. "This is Spring Training. You don't want to not play 100 percent, but you don't want anyone getting hurt."


Beckett received a warm welcome after he was lifted after 2 2/3 innings and 56 total pitches.


The Marlins didn't want to exceed 55 pitches, but with two outs in the third he gave up the homer to Tejada and after walking Palmeiro, Lopez singled.


Beckett told pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal he wanted to face one more batter. But the decision was made, and Matt Perisho came in relief, and got out of the jam.


"I'm just getting back into form," Beckett said. "Mentally, you have to get yourself pitching again. In the offseason you are doing a lot of throwing, and getting your arm into shape. Today, I pitched pretty good."



Castro goes deep twice: Castro's two homers Thursday marked the first time a Marlin has had a multi-homer Spring Training game since Lyle Mouton belted three off the Dodgers in Vero Beach in 2001.


Castro is battling Mike Redmond for the starting catching job.


Castro has excellent power potential, but is unproven as an everyday player.


"I'm going to do the best I can for the team," said Castro, who isn't predicting any home run totals for the season.


Thursday was the first time this spring that Castro has worked with Beckett.


Castro hadn't caught Beckett in any bullpen or batting practice sessions. Castro says his priority this spring is getting familiar with the pitchers.


Beckett says there is a brief adjustment period every battery goes through. Last year, it took a few starts to get a comfort level with former Marlin, Ivan Rodriguez.


Starters left behind: The Marlins opened Spring Training action Thursday without four expected Opening Day starters. Center fielder Juan Pierre, second baseman Luis Castillo, shortstop Alex Gonzalez and Redmond didn't make the trip to Fort Lauderdale.


"I don't want to wear them out early," McKeon said. "You're not going to get Pierre out of the lineup when the season starts. So they stayed back [in Jupiter] and did some special drills today."


Teams are expected to start at least four position players for spring road games. The Marlins brought Mike Lowell (who was the designated hitter Thursday), Miguel Cabrera, Hee-Seop Choi and Jeff Conine on Thursday.


Aware that Pierre expects to play all the time, McKeon briefed the speedy center fielder about taking time off.


"I told him, 'I don't want to hear anything out of you because I know you want to play every day,'" McKeon said.


Ring press conference: Before the Marlins face the Orioles on Friday at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida owner Jeffrey Loria will unveil the World Series rings at a news conference.


The rings will be presented to the team before the April 10 game against the Phillies at Pro Player Stadium. That day, replica rings will be presented as a giveaway to fans.


McKeon frequently wears his 1989 All-Star Game ring, and plans to wear the 2003 World Series ring whenever possible.


"There will be many occasions when I will wear it," McKeon said.


Lowell, Castillo, Conine and Lenny Harris will be at the news conference.


Friday's schedule: The Marlins play their home opener at Roger Dean Stadium on Friday with Brad Penny scheduled to pitch three innings against the Orioles, who will pitch Omar Daal. Following Penny will be Darren Oliver, Franklyn Gracesqui, Aaron Small and Nate Bump.


Dontrelle Willis will start Saturday against St. Louis at Roger Dean Stadium and Carl Pavano gets the nod Sunday vs. Baltimore, also in Jupiter.


B Game rotation: The Marlins will face the Mets in a B Game Saturday in the back fields in Jupiter at 10 a.m. Trevor Hutchinson, a top minor league pitching prospect, will start for Florida. Hutchinson was the organization's pitcher of the year in 2003, combining for a 12-5 record with a 3.09 ERA in 22 games with Class A-Jupiter and Double-A Carolina. James Baldwin will start for the Mets.


Injury report: Infielder Jason Wood strained his left calf in Wednesday's 7-6 win over the University of Miami and is listed as day-to-day. Pitcher Bryce Florie remains out of workouts with a strained rib.


Happy birthday: Left-handed reliever Tommy Phelps turned 30 on Thursday.

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