Royals-Red Sox Preview

Likely to miss the postseason for a third straight year, the

Boston Red Sox are looking to the future.

Josh Beckett was originally scheduled to start Saturday night

against the visiting Kansas City Royals, but he’s already left town

as part of a stunning blockbuster trade.

Mired in fourth place in the AL East, 13 1/2 games behind

first-place New York and 8 1/2 out of the final wild-card spot,

Boston (60-66) seems prepared to write off the season and revamp

its roster.

After rumors of the deal emerged Friday night, the Red Sox sent

high-priced stars Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Beckett, plus

infielder Nick Punto, to the Dodgers for first baseman James Loney,

top pitching prospects Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa,

infielder Ivan DeJesus and outfielder Jerry Sands.

Los Angeles reportedly claimed Gonzalez and Beckett off waivers

this week. Those two and Crawford have contracts worth a combined

$261 million from 2013-18. With that money off the books, the Red

Sox gain financial flexibility going forward.

“I think they’re looking to put the ballclub in a better

situation next year,” Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said.

“I’m not saying that we’re going to be in a better situation

without those players. We are about to find out.”

After Gonzalez was scratched from the lineup Friday, Pedro

Ciriaco delivered a two-run double in the seventh inning to help

Boston snap a four-game skid with a 4-3 win over Kansas City.

Ortiz went 2 for 4 with two RBIs in his first game after missing

more than a month with a strained Achilles as the Red Sox improved

to 7-15 in August. The star slugger is batting .436 (17 for 39)

during a 12-game hitting streak.

He’s 6 for 17 (.353) with two doubles against the Royals this

season.

“You can’t say enough about that guy,” Boston reliever Andrew

Bailey said. “And for him to come off the DL and to be such a

sparkplug in our offense, he was huge.”

Aaron Cook (3-7, 4.79 ERA) is expected to start on three days’

rest in place of Beckett. The veteran right-hander is 1-5 with a

6.12 ERA in his last six starts – yielding 11 hits in five innings

of a 5-3 loss to the Angels on Tuesday – and he’s never made two

starts in five days.

He’s 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA in two starts against the Royals, who

counter with Jeremy Guthrie (2-3, 3.23).

Though Guthrie is 3-7 with a 4.56 ERA in 17 starts versus

Boston, he has not allowed an earned run over 22 2-3 innings while

going 2-0 in his last three outings overall. The right-hander took

a no-hitter into the seventh before he was charged with two hits

and two unearned runs in 7 2-3 innings while not factoring in the

decision of a 5-2 win over Chicago on Sunday.

“Just making good adjustments that are allowing me to make more

quality strikes,” Guthrie told the Royals’ official website. “I’m

giving myself a chance to succeed.”

Ortiz is batting .342 (13 for 38) with three homers and five

doubles against Guthrie.

Eric Hosmer homered and Alex Gordon had two hits with an RBI on

Friday for the Royals (55-69), who have lost three of four. Gordon

is batting .386 (17 for 44) with eight doubles in 12 career games

at Fenway Park.