Josh Beckett Gets Ready for Last Start of Spring Training

Josh Beckett Gets Ready for Last Start of Spring Training Josh Beckett will get his last tune-up before the regular season when he toes the slab against the Tampa Bay Rays, who have had the Red Sox' number this spring.

Beckett suffered through an illness earlier this spring, but he was dominant in his last outing. He may get scaled back just a tad on his pitch count.

The Sox are coming off an 11-4 win over Minnesota. The victory, Boston's fourth in five games, clinched the Mayor's Cup for the fourth straight season.

WHEN AND WHERE

7:05 p.m. ET, March 29, 2010
City of Palms Park, Fort Myers, Fla.

RECORDS

Rays (16-8)
Red Sox (13-13)

HEAD TO HEAD

Let's hope this is not a precursor of things to come. The Rays have dominated the Sox this spring, winning all four meetings while scoring an average of eight runs per game.

The clubs have a sixth and final meeting Tuesday in Port Charlotte.

LINEUPS

Red Sox
Marco Scutaro, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
J.D. Drew, RF
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Lowell, 3B
Jason Varitek, C
Mike Cameron, CF
Bill Hall, LF

Rays
Jason Bartlett, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Evan Longoria, 3B
B.J. Upton, CF
Willy Aybar, DH
Pat Burrell, RF
Hank Blalock, 1B
Sean Rodriguez, 2B
Nevin Ashley, C

PITCHING MATCHUP

RHP Jeff Niemann (2-0, 3.26 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (1-0, 4.05 ERA)

Beckett looked as if he was in regular-season form in his last outing, a 6-4 win over Pittsburgh. He allowed just one run on three hits in five innings while striking out nine.

Niemann, coming off a breakout 13-6 season, has struck out 18 and walked just two in 19 1/3 innings this spring.

STAT SHEET

Red Sox
Tug Hulett's three-run homer Sunday gives him a team-high 13 RBIs.

Jonathan Papelbon has allowed seven runs — five earned — in 9 2/3 innings.

Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis combined to go 11-for-13 on Sunday.

Rays
Second baseman Sean Rodriguez is batting .420 with six home runs and 15 RBI.

Carlos Pena is just 5-for-39 (.128) with 12 strikeouts.

Heralded lefty David Price has allowed 22 hits in just 12 2/3 innings.

BLACK AND BLUE

Red Sox
Mike Lowell took infield practice Sunday and could return to action either Monday or Tuesday.

Jeremy Hermida remains at least a day away from returning from a tight right hamstring.

Rays
Catcher Dioner Navarro is due to return soon from a bruised left shin.

Reliever J.P. Howell has yet to resume throwing. He is dealing with shoulder weakness.

OVERHEARD

"The Mayor's Cup will do funny things to you."
–Red Sox manager Terry Francona on Papelbon, who threw a pickoff attempt down the right-field line Sunday when nobody was covering first base.

PRESS BOX

Red Sox
How will Doug Mientkiewicz be remembered?

Lowell wanted to challenge Adrian Beltre.

Rays
The Rays shuffle around heart of their order.

Will a high-tech approach lift the Rays back to the top of the AL East?

MLB
Proposed "Cubs tax" is a dead issue.

Some Phillies fans are catching Sox supporters in terms of enthusiasm.

OUTLOOK

The Rays have crushed Red Sox pitching this spring, and much of it has happened with regulars facing regulars. Beckett would love to put an end to that, but at the same time will not want to show Tampa Bay too much; the teams meet for four games in just three weeks.

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