« October 4, 2007
October 6, 2007 »
October 5, 2007
Dice-K continues to struggle
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka wipes his brow in the first inning.
BY JIM DONALDSON
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON – Dice-K some day may be worth every penny of the $103 million it cost the Red Sox to sign him.
But not Friday night.
Continuing his late-season slide, Daisuke Matsuzaka, the highly-hyped – and highly-expensive – Japanese pitching sensation, was considerably less than sensational in his major-league, postseason debut, failing to get through the fifth inning.
He was pulled from the game with the Red Sox trailing, 3-2, and runners on first and third, with two outs. He was tagged for seven hits, walked three, and struck out three while throwing 96 pitches, 62 of them for strikes.
It was the sort of start that lately has been all-too-typical for the 27-year-old right-hander.
After winning seven of his first nine decisions to start the season, Matsuzaka is 8-10 since May 30.
His monthly earned-run average has increased every month since June. After posting a dazzling, 1.59 figure that month, he went up to 3.62 for the month of July, 4.45 for the month of August, and had a woeful, 7.62 mark in September.
Matsuzaka struggled often last month, when he was knocked out in the third inning at Baltimore, gave up five runs in six innings at Tampa Bay, and surrendered seven runs in five innings to the Blue Jays in Boston, although he was credited with the win in that game because he was spotted to an early, 10-1, lead.
He also was racked for six runs in six innings by the lowly Devil Rays – who had the worst record in major-league baseball – in a mid-August start at Fenway.
For the month of September, Dice-K was tagged for 32 hits and 24 runs in 28 innings.
Overall, he posted good numbers – a 15-12 record, with 201 strikeouts in 204 innings. He issued just 80 walks and allowed 191 hits, less than one per inning.
But his recent ineffectiveness has to be a serious source of concern to the Red Sox, who have him penciled in to start the decisive Game Five, if necessary, of their A.L. Division Series with the Angels.
“He went through a lot of things for the first time,” Boston manager Terry Francona said prior to Friday night’s game. “He was thrown culturally. Think about it – every time he opens his mouth, even to talk to one of his teammates, he has to think his way through it. There is that hurdle.”
And that’s hardly the only one Matsuzaka has had to face.
“New training methods; different methods,” Francona said. “Where do we meet in the middle?
“Now, about his pitching. He went through a period where he lost some real tough games – 1-0, 2-1. Pitched really well. Then he went about five starts where all his pitches started running together. When he got into a bind, it was hard and harder. His slow stuff started to run together.
“His last outing (a win over the Twins in which he gave up just two runs, on six hits, over eight innings) there was a lot of definition to his pitches again, which is good – four, five different pitches that have different looks, different locations, different speeds, because that’s the way he needs to pitch. He can throw his fastball when he needs to, but his off-speed can be so devastating.”
That’s what the Sox were counting on from Matsuzaka when they shelled out nine figures to bring him to Boston from the Seibu Lions.
It could be devastating, as well as costly, to the Sox if Dice-K doesn’t pitch that way in the postseason.
Posted by Jim Donaldson at 11:56 PM | Permalink
Photo: Vinik in the afterglow
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Danny Vinik, of Boston, center, was the fan that prevented Angel catcher Jeff Mathis from catching a foul ball in the fifth inning. It was also the play that kept Manny Ramirez at the plate with two outs.
Posted by Donna McGarry at 11:33 PM | Permalink
Boston's new folk hero
AP photo / Charles Krupa
Danny Vinik of Boston, left, catches a pop foul off the bat of Boston Red Sox's Manny Ramirez before Los Angeles Angels catcher Jeff Mathis, right, can reach in to catch it during the fifth inning of tonight's game.
BY JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- His name is Danny Vinik, and he’s Boston’s newest favorite son.
The 17-year-old son of one of the Red Sox’ limited partners, he was the fan who outbattled Angels catcher Jeff Mathis for a foul ball in the fifth inning, keeping Manny Ramirez’ at-bat alive and eventually leading to Boston’s tying run last night. Ramirez wound up walking and the subsequent fly ball to center by Mike Lowell, instead of being the third out, was a sacrifice fly that drove in Dustin Pedroia from third.
“I still can’t believe it,’’ said Vinik. “I just reached over, I don’t really remember.’’
Even though Vinik is just 17, fans are trying to buy him beers, shouting "The next president of Red Sox Nation. Forget [Jerry] Remy [who won the redsox.com election]."
Another fan screamed, “He’s the anti-Bartman.’’
“That sounds good to me,’’ said Vinik when that fan referred to Steve Bartman, the Cubs fans who caught the foul ball in Chicago, keeping outfielder Moises Alou from catching it and leading to a game-winning rally by Florida in Game Six of the 2003 NLCS.
Vinik was sitting with his dad, Jeff, in the front row in Jeff Vinik’s season tickets. Fans were taking his picture and asking for his autograph.
“This is unbelievable,’’ he said.
Due to the intense coverage of Red Sox playoff baseball, a makeshift photographer’s well was built in front of some of the field boxes. Because of that, Mathis couldn’t get all the way to the permanent wall for what could have been a much easier play.
Vinik said he’s already received a ton of phone calls about his play.
Ironically, Jeff Vinik, a Red Sox season-ticket holder and limited partner for the club, had an opportunity to catch a foul ball at a Red Sox game four years ago, and when he didn’t Danny gave him some grief, telling him at the time “I would never drop a foul ball.”
Danny proved that last night.
“I had a chance and I dropped it,” said Jeff Vinik. “He didn’t miss it. It was a good catch. I hope his high school coach saw it.”
The play did not go unnoticed with the Red Sox players after the thrilling 6-3 walk-off victory.
“That was awesome,” said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “I saw it from third base. That guy’s great. I don’t know what his name is, but he needs a tour around here. I heard he’s one of the owners’ sons; he’s probably sitting there on purpose.”
“Oh my God,” added David Ortiz. “He’s going to go down in history. He made it happen."
Posted by Joe McDonald at 11:09 PM | Permalink
| Comments 5
Photo: Time for a change
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Sox starter, Diasuke Matsuzaka, right, is taken out of the game by Sox manager Terry Francona in the fifth inning.
Posted by Donna McGarry at 11:07 PM | Permalink
Photo: Cost the Sox two runs
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
J.D. Drew slides but can't make the catch on a ball that falls in for a double for Angels Garret Anderson in the top of the third inning.
Posted by Donna McGarry at 10:37 PM | Permalink
Red Sox fans loving the Indians
AP photo / Mark Duncan
Indians' Casey Blake, left, and Victor Martinez greet Kenny Lofton (7) after he scored the winning run on Travis Hafner's 11th inning single to beat the New York Yankees, 2-1, in Game 2 of an American League Division Series baseball game tonight in Cleveland.
It was the top of second inning between the Red Sox and Angels tonight when the Cleveland Indians finally defeated the New York Yankees 2-1 in 11 innings. When the winning run was scored, the fans at Fenway erupted in joyous glee because Cleveland is now one win away from clinching its five-game series for a trip to the ALCS.
When the fans rejoiced, Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka had to step off the rubber, and Angels' batter Chone Figgins moved out of the batter's box. Figgins followed with an RBI-double.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 9:57 PM | Permalink
Photo: Tiant on the mound again
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
Former Red Sox pitcher, Luis Tiant, prepares to throw out a ceremonial first pitch before tonight's game.
Posted by Donna McGarry at 9:35 PM | Permalink
| Comments 1
Bench Player Banter
By Joe McDonald
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON _ The life of a bench player is never an easy one, especially if you’re a member of the Boston Red Sox because chances are you’ll see limited playing time.
There aren’t too many guys who can handle that role here, but the Red Sox have done a solid job the last two seasons, especially this one putting the right group of guys in the dugout who complement the starting nine.
While rookie Dustin Pedroia has enjoyed a tremendous first season, there is Alex Cora on the bench. While Kevin Youkilis has been as steady as they come at first base, Eric Hinske sat back and waited to get the nod.
As Red Sox manager Terry Francona usually says, there’s a difference between being a veteran team and being an old team.
Boston is a veteran club, mixed with the youthful enthusiasm that has kept this club on an even keel this season. That attitude starts at the top with GM Theo Epstein, filters down to Francona and works its way through the clubhouse.
The end result is an A.L. East Division title with the best record in baseball.
“We treat everybody like they’re important,” said Francona.
There was a point earlier in the season when the Sox were in Tampa playing the Devil Rays, and Pedroia was given a rare night off. Cora played second and late in the game needed to execute a sacrifice bunt, but failed to do so and eventually Boston lost the game.
Fast forward to the clubhouse where Cora was waiting for the local media, so he could publicly take the blame for the loss. Francona later called his utility infielder a true professional, one of the best in the game. The same can be said for Hinske.
In fact, Francona spoke at length about the importance of everyone on the bench prior to last night’s Game Two of the ALDS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In his fourth season as manager in Boston, Francona said yesterday he hasn’t had to deal with any in-house problems.
“We had a pretty veteran bench for much of the year,” he said. “I don’t remember one time during the year either putting out a fire, or putting out a perceived fire.”
Guys like Hinske, Cora, Bobby Kielty and Doug Mirabelli get it. They know their place. Would they want to play more? Sure, who wouldn’t? But Francona has done a good job, keeping those players fresh so when they are needed, either due to an injury or for a day off, they’ll be ready.
“They have all put our team’s goals ahead of their own,” said Francona. “And, that’s not easy to do all the time. We’ve got a bunch of professionals and they’ll do whatever you’ll ask them. . . They have made my life a lot easier.”
The bench guys always hit on the off-days, and when a pitcher needs to work a simulated game, they’re there.
“Ask any starter and they’ll have nothing but compliments for these guys,” added Francona.
There have been players in Boston in recent years who haven’t accepted that role with open arms, including outfielder Jay Payton and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. Francona mentioned Payton specifically, saying he’s a good kid, just had trouble handling the bench role.
Even the young guys in the Red Sox organization, who have been introduced into this environment in the latter half of the season, fit in nicely. Players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Brandon Moss have both made contributions, while staying out of everyone else’s way.
Because of that entire team concept, the Red Sox find themselves playing baseball in October. And, it’s probably a good possibility one of those role players will make a significant contribution very soon.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 9:20 PM | Permalink
Photo: A big hug from Big Papi
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
David Ortiz hugs former teammate, and current Angel, Orlando Cabrara before the game tonight.
Posted by Donna McGarry at 8:37 PM | Permalink
Injuries? What Injuries?
Both the Red Sox and the Angels are suffering through some nagging injuries. Heck, every remaining baseball player at this time of the year is bruised and banged up. But, it's October and nothing will keep these guys from playing in the postseason.
The Red Sox have been hampered with injuries all season. Slugger David Ortiz has been a virtual walking ice pack. Still, the players have been able to play through the pain thanks to the help of the club's training staff of Paul Lessard and Mike Reinold.
“They do a great job,” said first baseman Kevin Youkilis. “I work with these guys on a regular basis and they get us ready to play. They do an unbelievable job working with us and communicating with management.”
I'll have more on the relationship between the players and training staff in Sunday's Journal.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 8:35 PM | Permalink
Tavarez lost? Francona almost injured.
Red Sox pitcher Julian Tavarez was walking the lower concourse less than two hours prior to tonight's game. While the Red Sox were taking batting practice in preparation for Game Two of the ALDS, Tavarez was in full uniform walking in the midst of fans on his way back to the clubhouse.
His presence clearly took fans by surprise as some did a double-take. In fact, one young fan attempted to get his autograph before security stop him.
Former Red Sox pitcher Lenny Dinardo did the same last summer, but there was no security around to help him. He stood at the entrance of the clubhouse and signed plenty of autographs.
*Red Sox mananger Terry Francona was almost hit in the head by a line drive during BP earlier tonight. He was running off the field when J.D. Drew pulled the ball that barely missed the manager.
As Francona ran into the dugout he said: "That'll be enough of that."
Drew is still in the lineup tonight.
*Red Sox legend Luis Tiant threw out the ceremonial first pitch tonight. He gave fans his vintage delivery and threw a strike to Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo, who served as his batterymate.
Posted by Joe McDonald at 8:21 PM | Permalink
Garret Anderson's Vision OK
The Angels' Garret Anderson is suffering from conjunctivitis in his right eye, which has left it quite swollen, seemingly a major obstacle for any hitter, especially for a left-handed hitter because the right eye is his "lead" eye, the one closest to the pitcher.
But Anderson is in the starting lineup in left field and batting cleanup tonight even though he is by no means over his bout with the problem.
"His eye looks puffier and puffier but his vision is getting better and better," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "He had an exam today and his vision is fine. He's very comfortable with what his vision is and he's ready to play."
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 6:37 PM | Permalink
A New DH For The Angels
With Vladimir Guerrero (triceps) able to play in the outfield, Angels manager Mike Scioscia had to find a replacement for him as the team's designated hitter for tonight's Game 2 of the ALDS, and he wound up selecting Kendry Morales.
Morales, an infielder, is a switch hitter. He batted .311 in 90 at-bats against right-handed pitchers for the Angels in splitting time with Triple A Salt Lake and the Angels. Overall he batted .341 in 255 at-bats for Salt Lake.
"This gives us a left-handed bat who is swinging the bat very well against right-handed pitchers," said Scioscia. "This is a lineup we wanted to take a look at in September but we were not able to because Vlad (had to serve as the DH). This makes our lineup a little deeper with an extra left-handed bat."
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 6:28 PM | Permalink
Lugo's Ups and Downs
Shortstop Julio Lugo, who signed a four-year, $36-million contract, was happy with his choice of teams as a free agent last winter.
"He said the other day that this is why he came here," said Boston manager Terry Francona as Lugo and the rest of the Red Sox got ready for Game 2 of the ALDS.
This was not a totally smooth first season in Boston for Lugo, however. He slumped so badly offensively (0 for 33 at one point), that he lost his leadoff job and batted ninth for the most part from the middle of June on. He finished at .237, though he did swipe a team-high 33 bases.
"He got off to a rocky start here and in Boston, you're not allowed to do that (because of fan and media scrutiny)," said Francona. "That bothered him for a while but then he started playing the game the way he can. Over (the last) 80-90 games he's been the player we thought we were getting."
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 6:15 PM | Permalink
Tim Wakefield, who was left off the ALDS roster because of soreness behind his right shoulder, was feeling better after playing catch on Thursday, during the Sox' optional workout.
Manager Terry Francona said the knuckleballer played catch from about 90 feet and came through that session in fine form. The Sox aren't going to rush him. They are hopeful that Wakefield could be healthy enough to be added to the roster for the next round of the postseason, if Boston makes it that far.
But Francona admitted he couldn't predict if Wakefield would be ready for the ALCS, which would open next Friday night.
"I'm hopeful he will (be healthy enough), but I don't know that anything's a lock," said Francona. "I know he's sore."
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 6:07 PM | Permalink
Schilling, Beckett Leave Early
Curt Schilling, who will be starting Game 3 of the ALDS on Sunday in Anaheim, noon California time, was sent to the West Coast last night, several hours before the scheduled first pitch of tonight's Game 2 at Fenway Park, so he can be better rested for his outing.
Boston manager Terry Francona figured that, depending on the length of tonight's game, the Red Sox won't be arriving at their hotel until around 7 a.m., California time.
Schilling also will be joining Francona for a 2 p.m. West Coast time press conference tomorrow.
The veteran right-hander did not have to fly alone, though, Josh Beckett, who turned in a dominant win in Game 1 on Wendesday night, accompanied Schilling. Beckett would pitch Game 4 on Monday, if that game is necessary in the best-of-five series.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 6:01 PM | Permalink
Angels Lineup, Game 2 ALDS
AP photo/Chris Carlson
Hugo Arosco washes down a baseball banner at Angel Stadium of Anaheim in Anaheim, Calif., today as the Los Angeles Angels prepare to host the Sox in Game 3 on Sunday. The teams are at Fenway tonight for Game 2.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 5:59 PM | Permalink
Sox Lineup -- Game 2 ALDS
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 5:02 PM | Permalink
Tonight's Red Sox lineup
Dustin Pedroia, 4
Kevin Youkilis, 3
David Ortiz, DH
Manny Ramirez, 7
Mike Lowell, 5
J.D. Drew, 9
Jason Varitek, 2
Coco Crisp, 8
Julio Lugo, 6
Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP
We'll post the Angels once we get it. . .
Posted by Joe McDonald at 3:39 PM | Permalink
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: All eyes on Dice-K (updated)
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. Today's topics: Daisuke Matsuzaka's pre-playoff preparation; the Angels' first crack at Dice-K; Kelvim Escobar's health; Vladimir Guerrero back in right field; the benefits and drawbacks of extra time off after a win; and the high-scoring playoff games on Thursday.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On Matsuzaka's first matchup with the Angels: "I think as long as Daisuke's arsenal of pitches is intact and working, then he definitely has the edge, moreso than most pitchers, because he can throw so many different pitches and give you so many different looks. But, of course, he's got to command the ball and get ahead. ... This would seem to be a pretty good lineup to face for him because they don't drive the pitch count up the way maybe the Yankees or Indians do, and that's been a problem for him, where he has these long innings, where teams work every at-bat carefully and get some walks. The angels are not likely to do that; they go up and swing pretty early in the count, and that should play into Daisuke's plans."
Is Escobar healthy for tonight? "They've got all kinds of nicks and bruises over there, with Matthews and Guerrero and Garret Anderson -- all three outfielders with some injury or another. And there has been some physical concerns for Escobar down the stretch, but apparently they were able to give him a bit of a break in that final week, and he seems ready to go."
On Thursday's games: "The Phillies-Rockies series, you figure it was only a matter of time with those two teams in that ballpark before you had one of those games with 15 runs scored. Those two teams are built on offense. They didn't get there through pitching, although they do have some good pitching, but they're offensive teams first and foremost. And you put them in Citizens Bank ballpark, where the ball flies out of there -- it wasn't surprising that they broke out. In Cleveland, Wang did not get his sinker down and the Indians took advantage of that. And, you know, the Cubs and Diamondbacks have some offense, although if you had said one of those teams was going to score eight runs, I think most people would have figured it was going to be the visitors, not the home team."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 1:01 PM to McAdam
Red Sox numbers vs. Escobar
Unlike John Lackey, number-two Angels starter Kelvim Escobar has done a good job of holding the Red Sox' big bats in check during his career. Look out for Lugo and Crisp, though. Escobar has not faced the Red Sox this season.
Manny Ramirez, 8 for 34, .235 Avg, 6 BB, 3 2B, 1 HR
Jason Varitek, 7 for 22, .318 Avg, 8 BB
David Ortiz, 5 for 26, .192 Avg, 3 BB, 1 2B, 1 HR
Coco Crisp, 5 for 14, .357 Avg, 3 BB, 2 2B, 3 BB
Mike Lowell, 5 for 15, .333 Avg, 1 2B
Bobby Kielty, 2 for 12, .167 Avg
Eric Hinske, 2 for 11, .182 Avg
Julio Lugo, 4 for 7, .571 Avg, 2 BB, 1 HR
Alex Cora, 0 for 4
J.D. Drew, 1 for 5, .200 Avg, 1 BB
Kevin Youkilis, 1 for 6, .167 Avg
Doug Mirabelli, 1 for 4, .250 Avg
Dustin Pedroia, 0 for 4
Kevin Cash, 0 for 2
Posted by Mike McDermott at 10:11 AM | Permalink
Cali view (part 2): Angels ready to follow plan off a cliff?
By GREGG PATTON
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.)
BOSTON - Whatever arsenal of pitches Daisuke Matsuzaka brings to Fenway Park tonight, one thing is for sure.
The Angels haven't seen it.
"You're not going to be totally prepared until you experience it," said Angels Manager Mike Scioscia Thursday of the Boston right-hander's bag of tricks.
"The edge goes to the pitcher until you see some pitches, get in the batter's box. We need more batter's box offense."
That's for sure. The Angels offense put only four of 31 batters on base against Josh Beckett in their American League Division Series opener, which gave new meaning to their "small ball" offense. Wednesday night it was more like "microscopic ball."
So that must mean the Angels will, at least for this one night, change their approach, right? As a team, they don't take many pitches, but isn't this one of those exception-to-the-rule things? As a general philosophy, the Angels have never met an 0-0 pitch they didn't like. But if you haven't seen a pitcher, doesn't it make sense to take the first pitch? Wait until you see a strike?
Not even for leadoff hitter, Chone Figgins.
"I don't want to get down in a hole," said Figgins. "We want to get on him before he gets on us. We want to create the tempo, don't let him create his."
Spray-hitter Reggie Willits is the one Angel known for working a count. Surely, the rookie outfielder sees the value in being patient against a pitcher you haven't seen before. Easy for me to say.
"I don't think anyone's approach will be any different," he said. "You can't change yourself or the team because of one guy.
"Everybody has an individual thing they do well. Asking guys to change what they do is like asking me to go up there and hit home runs."
Live by the early hack, die by the early hack. Even for a pitcher who frequently loses touch with his control.
Matsuzaka was the wildest of the Red Sox starting pitchers this year. He walked at least three batters in 17 of his 32 starts.
By comparison, Beckett walked three batters only three times in 30 starts. Curt Schilling walked three guys once in 24 starts.
Even knuckleballer Tim Wakefield put the ball through the strike zone more efficiently, walking just 64 guys in 31 starts. The Japanese rookie walked 80 batters. Wakefield's dancing floater hit only four hitters all year. Matsuzaka plunked 13 batters with pitches.
But the Angels gotta be what they gotta be.
When asked if he thought the team would be more patient tonight, hitting coach Mickey Hatcher mused, "I think we will, probably, the first time around (the order)."
Then he smiled.
"Yeah, write that we'll be taking the first pitch. In fact, write that we'll be taking three pitches. Get that out there."
The stubborn Angels clearly are ready to follow their game-plan right off the postseason cliff. Another loss to Boston puts them down 0-2 in this five-game series.
If it seems a little loony, so be it. Attacking pitches is what got them this far. Suddenly they're going to be the walk-don't-run Red Sox?
The Angels pride themselves on their aggressiveness at the plate, and it isn't as statistically depressing as you might expect. Five teams in the American League walked fewer times than the Angels, so we know they have a discerning edge.
Even more telling is the team's on-base percentage. Only Boston and New York in the AL were better at reaching base than the Angels and their .345 mark.
Slashing at good pitches early has its benefits - happy hitters with higher averages.
"I know a lot of leadoff hitters see a lot of pitches," said Figgins, who gleefully admitted he isn't one of them. "I get a 1-0 pitch, I'm ready to swing."
They don't swing at everything, just strikes, with the obvious exception of Vladimir Guerrero, who has his own notion of what's hittable, and what isn't, and who's going to tell him any different?
"The one guy we know won't back off is Guerrero," said Hatcher. "He might hit one on the bounce out of the park."
Like everyone else, the team's best hitter has no plans to adjust his postseason approach.
"No, I always swing hard and I'll continue to swing hard," said Guerrero through an interpreter Thursday.
Anyway, it sounds like a showdown for the ages - the team that won't walk against the pitcher who hands out free passes like Halloween candy.
It's crazy, but whoever loses that battle.will probably win.
Posted by Mike McDermott at 9:05 AM | Permalink
Cali view: Angels, seeking jump-start, will shuffle lineup
By MATT HURST
The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.)
BOSTON - After being shutout - and shutdown - in Game 1, the Angels will make some slight adjustments in the hopes of getting something, anything, going against a pitcher they've never faced before.
For the first time since Sept. 4, Vladimir Guerrero should start in right field after testing his sore right triceps with throws from right to third base during Thursday's workout and deeming it healthy enough to play. That will push Chone Figgins to center and either Juan Rivera or Kendry Morales will be the designated hitter.
"It's gone. It's nothing I have to live with at least," Guerrero said through an interpreter about the triceps pain that hampered him from early September through the end of the regular season. "That's one reason I wanted to hold back longer. If I had any pain right now I probably would not force Mike (Scioscia) to do it, to put me in the outfield. I don't feel anything right now."
Much of the decision to either start Rivera or Morales against Daisuke Matsuzaka will depend on how the team feels who has the best shot to break through against the Japanese sensation that the Angels missed in 10 meetings with Boston this season.
Matsuzaka allowed a higher batting average to right-handers this season but gave up more homers, RBI and walks to lefties. Morales, a switch-hitter, batted .311 left-handed with all four of his homers while Rivera hit .286 in 14 at-bats vs.
Rivera, though, has the luxury of being able to pull balls off the Green Monster while some areas of right field - the 380-foot power alley and 420-foot triangle in deep center field - don't help Morales' case. Another way Rivera could get into the lineup is as the left fielder because Garret Anderson's right eye was still puffy with conjunctivitis.
Anderson said after Wednesday's game that "I can't see well, but I'm going to play," then said Thursday that "It's about the same. No change."
"That's not the word he gave to us, so unless something changed during the game, he told us that his vision is fine," Scioscia said. "Unless something unforeseen happens, he's a guy who has been swinging the bat as well as anybody in baseball for the last 200-300 at-bats, we need him to contribute. Obviously if his eye is not where it needs to be, it's something to consider."
As Orlando Cabrera exited the clubhouse following Thursday's workout he had a DVD in his hand, likely video of Matsuzaka, something all of the Angels said they will watch. But, just how much info can they process in their minds about the pitcher, who went 15-12 with a 4.40 ERA, without actually facing him?
"Video will give you a little piece of the puzzle," Scioscia said. "The real biggest piece of the puzzle is the batter's box experience, that's what we're going to have to do."
Said Figgins: "For some guys they like to but for me I don't. I just like to watch what his ball kind of does, his curveball, changeup, slider, whatever he throws just to see how he moves. And then after that get in the box and get ready to hit."
Echoed Anderson, "When you see a guy you haven't seen it's just weird because I'm a feel guy. I try to just know what he has and what he throws and not really worry about what he likes to do to finish guys off. Then you'll find yourself guessing up there and I don't want to guess."
Posted by Mike McDermott at 8:55 AM | Permalink
Baseball Today: Friday, October 5
A ROLL OF THE DICE-K: That's the headline over Sean McAdam's story in this morning's Journal and it perfectly summarizes the Red Sox' feelings on the eve of Game Two. ''The Red Sox know that Daisuke Matsuzaka (above, AP Photo) will start [tonight],'' writes McAdam. ''[But will] it be the one who allowed two runs or fewer in 17 of his 32 starts this season? Or will it be the one who allowed five or more runs in 10 different starts? Will it be the one who struck out seven or more in 17 starts? Or the one who walked three or more in 17 outings? Not even the Red Sox know for sure.'' And if they don't know, you can be sure the Angels don't, either. Steven Krasner gets their feelings as they prepare for their first look at Matsuzaka. Dice-K's opponent tonight will be the rejuvenated Kelvim Escobar; Krasner talked to him, as well.
The answers will start coming at 8:37 p.m., but we'll be cranking out information on this blog long before that. Check back starting in mid-afternoon for all the latest from Fenway. We'll also have in-game updates, and an extensive, online-only postgame report from McAdam, Krasner, Joe McDonald, Jim Donaldson and yours truly, much of which won't make the newspaper due to deadline constraints. So if you're not in the habit of visiting here on weekends, it's worth a trip back tomorrow (and Sunday, and on the holiday on Monday). There'll be a lot to see.
QUIET CONFIDENCE: That was the mood of the day during the workout yesterday at Fenway Park. Find out why, along with many other items, in our Red Sox journal from McAdam, Krasner and Joe McDonald.
DON'T GET TOO CONFIDENT: Writing on SportingNews.com, Tigers (and ex-Red Sox) reliever Todd Jones picks the Angels to win the World Series.
CHANGE OF ROUTINE: Yesterday's day off, after just one game in the series, was the first sign of how different this year's postseason schedule is. McAdam talked to some of the Sox about it; the consensus is it helps the pitchers but hinders the everyday players, who are used to playing . . . well, every day.
PLAYING BY DIFFERENT RULES: McAdam reports the new postseason-roster guidelines -- which dictate that any player removed from a roster due to injury in mid-series is ineligible for the next series, as well -- was one of the factors in the decision to leave Tim Wakefield off the ALDS roster.
MR. MVP: McDonald reports that Mike Lowell has been this season's MVP for the Red Sox, and talks to many of his teammates who tell you why. Even so, none of it is any guarantee he'll be returning next season. What do you think?
MR. PRESIDENT: That's what we'll be calling Jerry Remy from now on, I guess. It's the top of a number of little items in a feature we call Quick Pitch.
MR. CLUTCH: To the Angels, that describes David Ortiz. It's the top note in Krasner's Angels notebook.
CENTER OF ATTENTION: The Boston Globe's Amalie Benjamin profiles Coco Crisp.
CLOSER FOR LIFE: That's what the Globe's Bob Ryan is calling Jonathan Papelbon as he recounts how we got from there (a time in mid-January when Papelbon told Ryan he wanted to be a starter) to here (Paplebon finishing another sterling season in relief and declaring the back of the bullpen is where he always wanted to be).
IN THE ZONE: Terry Francona estimates Red Sox hitters only chased one pitch out of the strike zone Wednesday night. (Boston Herald) That sort of plate discipline impressed him, and he thinks it's an encouraging sign for the rest of the postseason.
SCOUTING REPORT: The blog Fast Balls does a close examination of Eric Gagne's pitching patterns and concludes his ''changeup gets tattooed when he gets it up in the zone against lefties. Also, it does look like the slider is mainly a show-me pitch to righties.''
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE: From our sister publication, the Riverside Press-Enterprise: Beat writer Matt Hurst reports the Angels are putting Vladimir Guerrero back in right field tonight and hope the corresponding lineup changes will jump-start their offense. On the Angels blog, Gregg Patton has an interesting outsider's take on the Boston sports scene.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH: The story of the playoffs -- and maybe the story of the year -- is unfolding in Colorado, where the Rockies, writes the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck, are ruining ''their image as the Little Engine That Could'' as they flattened the Phillies, 10-5, yesterday to take a 2-0 lead in the NLDS. Colorado has now won 16 of its last 17 games and, says Renck, is looking ''more like the 1998 Yankees than the 1969 Mets.'' Even so, the Phils' Jimmy Rollins assures the world that ''no one is panicking'' in the Philadelphia clubhouse. (Philadelphia Inquirer) You should be, responds the Rocky Mountain News' Bernie Lincicome, because you're finished.
PLAY OF THE YEAR: In a move that may make them America's Team during this postseason run, the Rockies players have voted a full playoff share to Amanda Coolbaugh, whose husband, Mike Coolbaugh, was killed when hit by a foul ball while coaching first base for the Rockies' Double-A Tulsa squad on July 22. (mlb.com)
SEIZING THE MOMENT: The Indians, writes the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes, took Kenny Lofton's advise and did just that yesterday as they crushed the Yankees, 12-3, in Game One of their ALDS series. The Yankees, as you'd expect, are talking bravely about it being just one game (New York Daily News); Johnny Damon notes that ''last I saw, we're a pretty good team'' (LoHud Yankees blog; audio included) and, on the same blog, Peter Abraham points out the Yankees have won all five previous ALDS matchups in which they lost the first game. Maybe so, but FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal thinks the Yankees are in trouble.
SAVE US: Now the Yankees turn to old hand Andy Pettitte for Game Two redemption. (New York Daily News) For all the talk about the Yankees' young pitching, the Post's Joel Sherman notes that Joe Torre's job may hang on how the veterans perform in this series.
NOT CAMERA READY: Doug Mientkiewicz was almost knocked out of the game -- and perhaps the series -- by a television camera operator. He was okay, though, and played last night. (New York Daily News)
URBAN LEGEND: Writing for the New York Sun, Steven Goldman says the notion that Alex Rodriguez has been a postseason flop ''is greatly overstated.'' Response from Indians fans: Oh yeah? (New York Post)
THE NAME GAME: Chien-Ming Wang was hammered by the Indians, and was dubbed Chien-Ming Gong by the New York Post's George King. Colleague Mike Puma's insult of choice: Chien-Ming Wrong.
EIGHTY-SEVEN YEARS AGO . . . Maine's Stanley Mudge switched allegiances from the Red Sox to the Yankees because Boston sold Babe Ruth to New York. He's still rooting for the Yanks at age 93, though -- in true, "Why, in my day . . . '' fashion -- it doesn't sound like he has much use for any of the modern players no matter which team they're on.
PAY UP: That's what the Yankees are trying to get New York taxpayers to do for souvenirs and bar tabs during the 2005 playoffs. (New York Post)
WE ARE! The Daily News reports that New York fans are gobbling up Yankee merchandise, while sales of Mets item have all but stopped.
AND SPEAKING OF YANKEE FANS . . . they count LeBron James as one of them . . . much to the consternation of folks in Cleveland. (AP via SI.com)
JOY AND MISERY: It's joy for the Diamondbacks, who took a 2-0 lead in their NLDS series by beating the Cubs, 8-4. (Arizona Republic) It's misery for the Cubs, who, says the Chicago Sun-Times' Jay Mariotti, are ''buckling under the pressure of more variables than they can handle.'' Adds Mariotti: ''[Nothing] -- and I mean nothing -- would be more humiliating than to lose a playoff series as pathetically as the Cubs are losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks. To call this a choke job would be an insult to stranglers everywhere.''
STAYING PUT? Speculation has been rampant all year that Tony La Russa will be leaving the Cardinals, but FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says it ain't necessarily so.
OPINION TIME: The Baltimore Sun's Roch Kubato thinks the Orioles should make a run at Andruw Jones . . . The Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant doesn't believe the Rangers will offer the injured Akinori Otsuka a 2008 contract . . . WFAN's Ed Coleman has three solutions to the Mets' pitching woes: 1. Get Johan Santana. 2. Get Johan Santana. 3. Get Johan Santana.
QUICKLY: The Brewers say their top offseason priority is re-signing relievers Francisco Cordero and Scott Linebrink (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) . . . Gary Sheffield will have shoulder surgery. (Detroit Free Press)
AND FINALLY . . . I'm with the blog The Fantasy Baseball Generals, which is aghast at a new birth-control pill called Yaz.
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 6:51 AM | Permalink