BOSTON -- Jonny Gomes, who was front and center in last night's brawl, explained his side of the story to reporters:
"With Coco’s slide, it was almost premeditiated. He did say that and we read the papers and we watch TV, so I think everyone was on their toes.
"Like I said, nothing ever good comes out of this. We don’t want to hurt anybody and we don’t want to get hurt . . . but when you mix it up with a bunch of testosterone with 25 grown men, odds are punches are gonna get thrown if you have the opportunity.
Shields admits he deliberately hit Crisp, blasts Coco
BOSTON -- Rays pitcher James Shields, ejected after he hit, and then fought, Coco Crisp in the second inning, was unapologetic about his role in last night's incident.
“I’m all about protecting my players,” he said. “I think what (Crisp) did (Wednesday) was an absolutely dirty move, bush league and not supposed to be in the professional game of baseball. I’m out there to protect my players no matter what the cost is. If I have to get out in the second inning, then I have to get out in the second inning. I felt I did it the right way and he came out at me and things went down.”
Shields said he wasn't surprised Crisp charged the mound.
“No, not really,” he said. “That just shows the kind of character he is. He’s not a professional player. I lost all respect for him.”
He also admitted he deliberately hit Crisp, which will no doubt earn him a lengthy suspension. But he didn't seem to care about that, either.
“We’ve been getting stomped around the last 10 years and that’s not going to happen any more,” said Shields. “I had to let him know early and right away and he decided to come out."
He said his teammates "did great. We’re all in this together. We’re going to play together and we’re going to fight together.”
BOSTON -- Terry Francona indicated in his postgame press conference that the injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury (wrist) and Manny Ramirez (hamstring) are probably not serious. He was more optimistic about Ramirez, who may not miss any time, but said the team is hopeful Ellsbury is merely day-to-day.
BOSTON -- An eventful night turned even more eventful when Manny Ramirez had to leave the game in the seventh inning, apparently after re-straining his tight right hamstring.
Ramirez, serving as the designated hitter, took a pitch that made the count full in leading off the inning. As he did so, his leg seemed to give on him. He did a little hop in the batter's box and flexed the leg, bringing manager Terry Francona and trainer Paul Lessard back out of the dugout yet again.
Ramirez drew a walk. He trotted gingerly to first base. Francona came out and talked briefly to him, no doubt telling him not to push his hamstring running on the bases. After Mike Lowell flied out on the first pitch, backup catcher Kevin Cash ran from the bullpen to the Red Sox dugout. One pitch into Sean Casey's at-bat, Cash replaced Ramirez on the bases.
BOSTON -- Tempers were flaring all over Fenway Park last night.
And it wasn’t just the Sox versus the Rays.
There also was a little Sox versus Sox dugout action, with Youkilis and Ramirez getting into a heated verbal battle that forced teammates, coaches and trainers to separate the duo.
The intramural strife occurred after the bottom of the fourth, in which Boston had tallied three runs for a 7-1 lead. Two of the runs came on a single by Ramirez.
It was unclear what caused the issue, with Tim Wakefield and Lessard forcefully escorting Ramirez away from Youkilis and down the stairway to the tunnel that leads from the dugout to the Sox’ clubhouse.
BOSTON – Jacoby Ellsbury, the Sox’ exciting rookie outfielder, was forced out of the game because of a strained right wrist, suffered while making a spectacular diving catch in right-center in the fourth inning.
Ellsbury, who moved from left field to center field when Coco Crisp was ejected for his part in a second-inning bench-clearing brawl, went a long way across the outfield in tracking down Evan Longoria’s leadoff drive in the fourth.
He made an all-out dive, fully extending his right arm and snaring the ball an inch or two about the turf. As he made the catch, though, his glove stuck in the grass briefly, enough to bend back his right wrist as he rolled over it.
Ellsbury held onto the ball and quickly took off his glove, flexing the fingers on his right hand, in obvious discomfort. Manager Terry Francona and trainer Paul Lessard went out to right-center to check on him.
After a while, Ellsbury walked off the field with Francona and Lessard. X-rays taken at the park were negative and he will be evaluated further today.
Ellsbury’s injury left the Sox thin in the outfield. Crisp was gone, Chris Carter already had been summoned from the bench and Manny Ramirez was resting his sore hamstring by serving as the designated hitter.
So Kevin Youkilis came off the bench and played right field, with J.D. Drew moving from right to center.
If the Sox lose Ellsbury for any length of time, they’ll be minus power (David Ortiz, left wrist) and speed (Ellsbury), not to mention a likely suspension coming for Crisp that will put the fleet outfielder on the sidelines for several games.
In the wake of Ellsbury’s injury, outfielder Brandon Moss was taken out of Pawtucket’s game in Charlotte in the third inning, an indication the Red Sox are likely to recall him today.
BOSTON – Coco Crisp was drilled on his right thigh by a 1-and-0 pitch from Tampa Bay starter James Shields in the second inning Thursday night.
And the bench-clearing brawl was on, a combustible situation waiting to happen because of charges of “shady” play, a hard takeout slide and a bruised left thumb from the game the night before, featuring Crisp, a couple of Tampa Bay infielders and Rays manager Joe Maddon.
After getting hit, Crisp took a few short steps toward first, but then flicked away his bat, knocked off his helmet and charged the mound. Shields knocked off his cap and as Crisp neared the mound, Shields threw a wild right at Crisp’s head. But Crisp ducked back, avoiding the blow and then the Red Sox center fielder threw a right of his own, which connected with the outside of Shields’ right (pitching) shoulder.
The action was fast and furious after that, all of it taking place right around the pitcher’s mound, most of it on the turf.
Tampa Bay catcher Dioner Navarro put a bear hug on Crisp from behind and dragged him to the ground as the benches and bullpens emptied, players running as hard as they could to join the fray, either as peacemakers or as combatants.
The Rays clearly were expecting something to happen because they were on the top step of their dugout and on top of Crisp in an eye-blink, led by burly and not-very-speedy designated hitter Jonny Gomes.
Gomes jumped on Crisp as he was going down and threw a haymaker, hitting Crisp underneath his left shoulder. Speedy Carl Crawford zipped in from left field and got down on the ground, throwing a couple of quick rights in the direction of Crisp’s head.
Boston third-base coach DeMarlo Hale, meanwhile, ran from his post and tackled Shields from behind, body-slamming him to the turf as the players from the respective bullpens joined the action. The last ones out of the Red Sox dugout were Bartolo Colon, trailed by Manny Ramirez.
It took a while for order to be restored, with Crisp finally crawling out of the scrum, his shirt torn down the front. Manager Terry Francona stayed in front of him, making sure hostilities didn’t heat up.
As in most such cases, many punches were thrown, but it didn’t appear as if all that many landed.
What was clear, though, was that Tampa Bay was willing to sacrifice its ace starting pitcher to settle a score and send the message to the Red Sox that they are not the doormats they have been in the first 10 years of the organization’s existence.
It was about respect for the perennial last-place Rays, who entered this three-game series on Tuesday night in an unaccustomed spot in the standings – in first place, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox. Tampa Bay lost the first two games, falling a half-game behind Boston, but it was Crisp’s actions Wednesday night that had Maddon incensed.
Crisp suffered a bruised left thumb sliding head-first into second base on a successful stolen-base attempt in the sixth inning Wednesday night. Crisp accused Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett of a “shady” play, dropping his knee in front of the bag as Crisp slid in, causing the Sox center fielder to mash his thumb against Bartlett's leg.
That incident led to an incident in the eighth inning. Crisp slid hard into second baseman Akinori Iwamura on an unsuccessful stolen-base attempt. That takeout slide precipitated a shouting match between Maddon (from the mound) and Crisp (in the Sox dugout) as a pitching change was made later in the inning.
Maddon claimed Crisp's slide was made with an intent to injure. Crisp said he was sending a message, though it was intended for Bartlett.
So there were expectations before last night’s game that there might be some payback or left-over hard feelings. In the first, Shields hit Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia with a pitch. Was that retribution for Crisp’s upending of Iwamura the previous night? Second baseman for second baseman?
Maybe, maybe not, but there was no doubting the purpose of Shields’ 1-and-0 pitch to Crisp, which was a fastball off the upper part of Crisp’s right thigh. Shields didn’t head-hunt. He followed old-time baseball etiquette by hitting Crisp on the leg. And Crisp knew before the game that he was likely to be a target.
But that didn’t stop the brawl from erupting. Tampa Bay’s Shields and Gomes were ejected as was Crisp and the game continued with Boston leading, 3-0.
Another flare-up came in the fifth when Boston starter Jon Lester hit Crawford – the Ray who jack-hammered a couple of punches to Crisp’s head in the mound pig-pile -- with a pitch with two outs and none on and the Sox on top, 7-1.
Lester, though, nicked Crawford on the upper part of his right arm with a breaking ball that didn’t break, so plate umpire Jeff Kellogg didn’t feel the need to eject Lester for throwing at Crawford.
Nor was Lester ejected after he buzzed Cliff Floyd up and in as the veteran led off the seventh.
PawSox first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss has been removed from Pawtucket's game in Charlotte. He was serving as the DH when he was taken out in third inning.
Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury suffered a strained right wrist in the fourth inning at Fenway Park tonight and was removed from the game. Coco Crisp was ejected for charging the mound after getting hit by a pitch in the second inning.
So, it's a safe bet Moss will be on his way to Boston.
Can't take credit for this; the work was done by Carter Gaddis of the Tampa Tribune on the newspaper's excellent Rays Report. But here's a Reader's Digest list of past Red Sox-Rays fights. (Except for the 2006 showdown, which occurred in Fort Myers in an exhibition game, all these incidents happened at Tropicana Field.)
March 27, 2006: Julian Tavarez vs. Joey Gathright after a tag play at the plate.
April 24, 2005: Trot Nixon vs. Dewon Brazelton after benches emptied when Tampa Bay's Lance Carter a) threw a pitch behind Manny Ramirez, who then homered, and b) threw at the head of the next batter, David Ortiz.
Sept. 28, 2004: Bench-clearing incident after Scott Kazmir hit Ramirez and Kevin Millar in consecutive at-bats. Bronson Arroyo had hit Aubrey Huff and Tino Martinez earlier in the game. Kazmir was ejected.
July 18, 2002: Rays reliever Esteban Yan is the only player ejected after Tampa Bay’s Brent Abernathy and Ramirez are both hit twice by pitches at.
Aug. 29, 2000: The grand-daddy of them all: Pedro Martinez hits Gerald Williams leading off the game, and three separate bench-clearing incidents ensue as the Rays attempt to exact revenge. Eight Tampa Bay managers, players and coaches are ejected from the game; no Sox are tossed. Martinez takes a no-hitter into the ninth, when it's broken up by John Flaherty.
Again, great work by Carter Gaddis. Click the link for more details on each incident.
Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was removed from the game in the top of the fourth inning after he made a diving catch. He suffered a strained right wrist -- his catching hand -- and X-rays taken at Fenway Park came back negative. He will be evaluated again on Friday.
BOSTON -- Jacoby Ellsbury has been taken out of the game in the top of the fourth inning after he rolled his right wrist while making a diving catch off Evan Longoria in right-center.
With Coco Crisp ejected after the second-inning fight, the Sox moved J.D. Drew to center field and put Kevin Youkilis in right. Chris Carter, making his major-league debut, is in left field. (Ellsbury had started the game in left with Crisp in center, but Ellsbury moved to center when Crisp was tossed.)
Rays starter James Shields hit Crisp in the thigh with the first pitch he threw him as Crisp led off the bottom of the second inning. Crisp charged the mound and a bench-clearing fight ensued. And unlike your typical baseball fights, this one lasted a while and some serious punches were thrown.
Crisp ducked under a roundhouse right from Shields as he reached the mound, and hit the Tampa Bay pitcher in the shoulder/neck area with a right jab before he found himself buried under a pile of Rays. He was tackled and taken to the ground by catcher Dioner Navarro, and Jonny Gomes, Akinori Iwamora and Carl Crawford all jumped in and threw punches at Crisp as he was pinned by Navarro.
In a separate pile, Shields was taken down by some members of the Red Sox. Third-base coach DeMarlo Hale was front-and-center in this skirmish.
When order was finally restored, Crisp, Shields and Gomes were ejected. Discipline is likely from the American League.
Grant Balfour replaced Shields as Tampa Bay's pitcher, and both teams were warned that further incidents would result in more ejections.
The Red Sox lead the Rays, 4-1, in the top of the third.
The Red Sox selected Casey Kelly as their first pick (30th overall) in the first round. The 6-foot-3, 194-pounder is a shortstop/right-handed pitcher out of Sarasota High School in Florida. Casey is the son of former major-leaguer Pat Kelly.
BOSTON -- Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft is underway.
Walking around the Red Sox clubhouse, however, you would never know it. The draft is on every TV, but it’s not like the players are watching intently as they do the NFL draft.
Tucked away in the bowels of Fenway Park is where the real action is happening.
General manager Theo Epstein, director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod and vice president of player personnel Ben Cherington are leading the way for the Red Sox. Minutes before the draft began at 2 p.m., the three were seen walking along the warning track in front of the Green Monster, maybe just taking their last breather before the long task of picking the organization’s future.
The Red Sox have enjoyed tremendous success in the draft under this current baseball operations department. Epstein has a passion the draft and the fruits of his labor – along with the rest of the staff – have certainly paid off.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona spoke briefly this afternoon about his experience with the draft when he was a special assistant to baseball operations for the Cleveland Indians in 2001. He called it a "humbling experience" and "really intriguing" how organizations prepare for the draft.
Case in point: The Red Sox selected Dustin Pedroia – the 2007 American League Rookie of the Year – as their first pick (65th overall) in the second round of the 2004 draft.
In 2005, the Red Sox struck gold. Jacoby Ellsbury was their first selection (23rd overall) followed by Craig Hansen (26th overall), Clay Buchholz (42nd overall), Jed Lowrie (45th overall) and Michael Bowden (47th overall).
"When they talked about Pedroia, they were right on," said Francona. "Buchholz, Masterson and every kid they talked about in spring training you could see they paint a pretty good picture. I guess that’s what scouts are supposed to do . . . Because it’s easy to fall in love with your players for sure, and rating your own players is difficult. Our guys have done a very good job of that."
The local media has been invited to meet with Epstein at 5:15 to discuss the Sox’ first two picks and I’ll have more later on.
BOSTON -- John Havlicek, a former Boston Celtics great and NBA Hall of Famer, is scheduled to throw out tonight's first pitch, several hours before tip-off to the Celtics-Lakers Game One of the NBA championship series in Boston.
Havilcek played 16 years for the Celts (1962-1978) and was a member of 8 championship teams.
BOSTON -- Sean Casey is starting at first base tonight in part because manager Terry Francona doesn't want the veteran to get rusty and also in part because Youkilis hasn't had any success against Tampa Bay's starting pitcher, James Shields.
Youkilis is 0-for-14 in his career against the hard-throwing Shields, a right-hander.
Casey, 1-for-3 in his career against Shields, is batting .351 (26-for-74) overall. This is his first start since May 28 in Seattle.
BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia is in your basic garden-variety slump, says manager Terry Francona of the second baseman's 7-for-49 (.143) 12-game skid that has dropped his average from .304 to .273.
"It's like all guys go through," said Francona. "He's trying too hard. It's the human nature part. It's a little bit of a lot of things."
Wednesday night's game had several of those "things" that seem to go hand-in-hand with a slump.
Pedroia lost a first-inning home run when umpires ruled his slicing drive down the right-field line was foul even though replays seemed to show the ball passed by the Pesky Pole on the inside, which would have made it a homer.
He walked in that at-bat, but in the third inning, plate umpire Paul Emmel called a high pitch a strike, to Pedroia's displeasure. And then Pedroia waved and missed the next pitch for a strikeout, barking at Emmel over his shoulder all the way back to the dugout. Pedroia ultimately went 0-for-3.
"He gets a little feistier, a little mad (during a slump) like everybody else, except Manny (Ramirez)," said Francona. "We know he's a good player. He'll get hot again. He'll find a hole and take a deep breath. But when he grabs his glove, we know he'll go out there and make a play that will help us win a game."
Crisp in the lineup for now; will see how thumb feels
BY STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- Coco Crisp is in the starting lineup, but that could change depending on how well his bruised left thumb feels when he takes batting practice.
Crisp suffered the bruise sliding head-first into second base on a successful stolen-base attempt in the sixth inning of Wednesday night's game against the Rays. Crisp accused Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett of a "shady" play, dropping his knee in front of the bag as Crisp slid in, causing the Sox center fielder to mash his thumb against Bartlett's leg.
That incident led to an incident in the eighth inning in which Crisp slid hard into second baseman Akinori Iwamura on an unsuccessful stolen-base attempt, leading to a shouting match between Rays manager Joe Maddon (from the mound) and Crisp (in the Sox dugout) as a pitching change was made during the bottom of the eighth.
Maddon claimed Crisp's slide was made with an intent to injure. Crisp said he was sending a message, though it was intended for Bartlett.
Boston manager Terry Francona declined to offer any second-day comments about the issue.
"Joe looked aggravated. Coco looked aggravated. I went to the bathroom. We'll move on and try to win tonight's game. It wasn't that big of a deal. I don't have much to say about it."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Beating all comers at Fenway
Click the play button below to hear Sean's comments, recorded this morning. The topics: the Red Sox' 12-game home winning streak, the need for instant replay in baseball, Coco Crisp's injured thumb and Curt Schilling's rehab progress.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
The Crisp injury: "It comes at a time when they are somewhat short in the outfield to begin, with given Manny Ramirez's hamstring issues, which don't appear to be great, but the last couple of nights they've taken advantage of the vacancy in the DH spot to get him out of the field and not have him run around as much as he might ordinarily. If Crisp is unable to play the outfield that would require either Manny to go back to left field, or perhaps even a roster move where Crisp goes on the DL and Brandon Moss or someone else with the ability to play the outfield would be summoned. They really can't afford to be too short-handed."
On Schilling's rehab: "I think at this point it's going well until it doesn't go well, if you know what I mean. I'm not sure [the Red Sox] knew exatcly what they were going to get from him physically this season given what he's had to overcome. People should keep in mind that even though it was an encouraging first step [Schilling throwing off a mound yesterday], he's not throwing any breaking balls; he's throwing probably three-quarter speed fastballs at this point. So there is a long, long way to go. ... A best-case scenario would have Schilling ready some time in August. So we're at least two months out from him being able to contribute at any level, and unfortunately there are a number of stops on the road back at which he could run into some problems. But so far so good."
HAPPY TO BE HOME: At Fenway Park? Or in first place? Whichever one the Red Sox consider to be their true address doesn't really matter, because they're enjoying a bit of dual occupancy after last night's 5-1 dispatch of the Rays, which, as Sean McAdam notes, was their 12th straight win at Fenway . . . a streak, incidentally, that started with a three-game sweep of Tampa Bay on May 2-4. The Sox' home record is an incredible 23-5; more than anything, that's why they also sit atop the A.L. East standings this morning. Their road record being what it is (a not-so-incredible 14-20), it's hard to get worked up over being in first place, and by only half-a-game, at this stage of the season, especially since they still actually trail the Rays by a game in the loss column. (Baseball Musings' David Pinto, writing for sportingnews.com, examines why the Sox are so much better at home than on the road.) But you can only win the games in front of you; fixing their road woes is another task for another time. For now, it's home sweet home. In either location.
AD INFINITUM: The list of blown home-run calls by umpires continues to grow, and the Sox were the victims last night. Steven Krasner relates how they missed a first-inning homer by Dustin Pedroia, huddling together before calling foul a ball that clearly passed to the left of the foul pole. Note to Bud Selig: Instant replay can't get here fast enough.
If he doesn't -- and the odds are pretty steep against it -- then one of the greatest pitchers of our generation has reached the end of the trail. A tip of the hat, John, for a wonderful career. If we don't see you in Atlanta next year, see you in Cooperstown in five.
GOING THE FULL NINE: Francisco Rodriguez says he wants to play nine more years, until age 35. (mlb.com) Or, rather: He wants to be a closer for nine more years.