BOSTON -- In the movie, "The Natural," the main character, played by Robert Redford, breaks his bat, nicknamed "Wonderboy." There was concern his hot-hitting luck would disappear with the splintered "Wonderboy."
Last night, hot-hitting J.D. Drew shattered his bat on a soft liner to shortstop in the fifth inning. Was that the end of his magic?
Drew didn't think so.
"It is of no consequence. It's not the arrow that's the difference," said Drew with a chuckle.
Drew, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a run-scoring double over the first-base bag in the first inning, is batting .500 (16 for 32) with five homers, four doubles, a triple and 13 RBI over that stretch. He said he doesn't recall if all of that damage was done with the bat that shattered last night.
"I don't know how long I was using that bat. II usually use a bat until it breaks, but I have no idea the last time I broke a bat," said Drew.
In his final at-bat last night, a new piece of ash in his hands, Drew walked in the seventh.
BOSTON -- Veteran Mike Timlin struggled once again, turning a 6-1 game in the ninth inning into a save situation for Jonathan Papelbon.
Not that all of it necessarily was his fault last night, but Timlin's 1,032nd career outing was a continuation of the troubles the 42-year-old right-hander has been having all season.
Last night Timlin was touched up for two runs, one of which was earned, on three hits, inflating his earned-run average to 6.16 in 21 appearances totaling 19 innings. Timlin has allowed a whopping 34 baserunners (25 hits, 9 walks) in those 19 innings.
The damage last night came on back-to-back doubles by Aubrey Huff and Kevin Millar, opening the inning. Of the leadoff batters Timlin has faced in his 21 innings, 10 have reached base safely.
Timlin then racked up two outs on a groundout to second and a scorched line drive to first, but second baseman Dustin Pedroia botched an hard-hit grounder for an error, keeping the inning alive. And pinch hitter Oscar Salazar ended Timlin's night by rolling a seeing-eye single through the shortstop hole, making it a 6-3 game and forcing manager Terry Francona to use Papelbon, who earned his 19th save.
Timlin and his catcher, Kevin Cash, were left bemoaning some bad luck.
"He made some good pitches," insisted Cash, who entered the game in the sixth for Jason Varitek (sick). "Probably the only pitch he might want back would be the one to Millar. He left that out over the plate a little too much."
"That's the way it has been all season," said Timlin, in his 18th year in the big leagues. "I've been throwing good pitches and not getting a lot to show for it. I got a couple of ground balls tonight. I believe in my guys behind me more than you'll ever know, but when I pitch, it doesn't seem to be happening for me. That's all."
Timlin was working for the first time in six days and only for the second time since May 30. That, though, wasn't a factor, he said.
"That's an excuse. You gotta be prepared every time you come in. You've got to be sharp, throwing strikes. I'm just getting beat up. That's all," said Timlin.
Pregame notes: Matsuzaka's bullpen session goes well
BY JOE McDONALD
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON -- Daisuke Matsuzaka spent the afternoon throwing a bullpen session, which he says, went well. He'll throw again on Friday. Manager Terry Francona said he will sit down with Dice-K after batting practice today to discuss next week's plan, meaning a possible minor-league rehab start.
Francona did not watch the session, but pitching coach John Farrell reported Dice-K had a very aggressive bullpen.
Red Sox pitchers participated in a session of pitchers' fielding practice, commonly known in the baseball world as PFP. With the upcoming interleague games against the Reds and Phillies, Francona felt it was best to "refresh" the practice. Defenses will likely see more bunting during interleague play, so the Red Sox wanted to spend some time today working on fielding.
The pitchers have also been in the batting cage this week. Josh Beckett, Tim Wakefield and Jon Lester can all handle the bat pretty well. Justin Masterson and Bartolo Colon have interesting swings.
Prior to PFP this afternoon Wakefield was describing his only career home run, which he hit whole playing for the Pirates in 1993. He hit it at the old Astrodome, some 420 feet into the left-center field seats.
Beckett, who played five seasons in the National League with the Marlins, has two career homers. He hit one for Florida in 2005 and the other came with the Red Sox, when they were playing in Philadelphia, in 2006.
Manny Ramirez is serving as the club's designated hitter again tonight. His hamstring is still sore, but come Friday he'll have to play through it or his bat will not be in the lineup due to the interleague games.
As the earlier post on this blog reported, David Ortiz was sworn in as an American citizen today in Boston. The Red Sox slugger denied the report when asked about it in the clubhouse -- even though photographers captured the moment at the courthouse (left) and Ortiz spoke to reporters there -- but Red Sox spokesman John Blake confirmed the story.
Francona didn't even know. When asked about it during his afternoon meeting with the local media, the manager asked, "Is that why he had a sports coat on? I didn't know."
Fellow Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez became a U.S. citizen in May of 2004 and then ran out to left field to start the game with a small version of an American flag in his hand.
BOSTON (AP) - A Red Sox Nation slugger has found a new nation to call home.
David Ortiz and 220 other immigrants became U.S. citizens Wednesday at a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.
The 32-year-old slugger from the Dominican Republic held an American flag in one hand as he recited the Pledge of Allegiance with the other new citizens. He was joined by many members of his family, including his father, Americo, who said in Spanish afterward he was proud of his son.
Ortiz has been out of the Red Sox's lineup since June 1, when he injured his wrist. He has been with the Red Sox since 2003, helping to power them to two World Series championships in the past five years.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Everything's not okey dokey
Click here to watch the video of Sean's comments, recorded this morning. The topics: Last night's loss, the struggling Hideki Okajima and his accountability issues, the improved state of the bullpen in general, and Kevin Millar's inability to cut the cord with Boston.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Teammates' reactions to Okajima not answering questions about his poor outings: "I've got to believe that most of those guys in there -- who are standup guys, and who are around and are acountable for what they do and don't do -- take note of the fact that Okajima does not feel the same responsibility, and I think a number of them were struck and perhaps offput by Okajima's puzzlement a few weeks ago over why he still comes into games in the middle of innings. ... Rather than express frustration over his own inability to perform in such situations, he seemed kind of angry that he was put in them in the first place, and that seems to be misplacing the problem there and blaming it on someone else."
On Millar's continuing affection for the Red Sox: "If I'm an Orioles fan, I'm wondering what side is this guy on. I don't think he means any harm by it. He clearly enjoyed his few years here in Boston and has a hard time letting go, but if I'm a teammate or a fan, I'm probably looking at it differently in Baltimore."
When it was over the Sox, relates McDonald, were 10-6 losers to the Orioles but, far more importantly, a disconcerting issue was raised: Wither Hideki Okajima? He had another abysmal outing -- one-third of an inning, two hits, two walks, three runs -- and it had Sean McAdam asking if Okajima "was . . . a one-year flash in the pan?" When Okajima "can’t locate with precision," writes Sean, "his stuff isn’t good enough to overmatch hitters." He certainly didn't overmatch anyone last night, making the 2007 words of some scouts -- "who predicted [Okajima] would become more hittable the more opposing teams saw him" -- prophetic . . . and worrisome.
C.C. OF SURPRISE: On his Hacks With Haggs blog, Joe Haggerty reports ESPN's Jayson Stark threw the Red Sox into some C.C. Sabathia trade talk, saying on the Mike and Mike In The Morning radio show that the Indians are "heavily scouting" the Sox. And since they don't play Boston until September, it can't be game scouting.
Six hundred home runs is quite a milestone -- only five other players (Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa) have ever done it, and Bonds and Sosa are widely believed to have had medicinal help in clearing the bar -- and just getting there is an achievement to be celebrated. But this was more. This was the virtual rediscovery of a player deserving of the praise we'd unfairly heaped on others during baseball's blighted past.
Congratulations, Junior. You earned it.
MAINTAINING THE PACE: The Red Sox lost no ground to the Rays in the A.L. East standings, as James Shields was knocked around a bit in a 6-1 Angels win over Tampa Bay. (Tampa Tribune)
NEW MEANING TO THE TERM 'ON THE BUMP': The Tampa Bay Rays can do with more with their fists than pummel Coco Crisp:
RIGHTING A WRONG: Remembering the time Cito Gaston left him warming up in the bullpen without bringing him into the game -- and thus depriving Mike Mussina, then with the Orioles, of pitching in front of his hometown fans in the 1993 All-Star Game at Camden Yards -- Cameron Martin of ComcastSportsNet wonders if Terry Francona would select Moose to start this year's All-Star Game, which is being played in Mussina's current baseball home (Yankee Stadium).
MOOSE TALES: John Feinstein's latest book, Living On The Black, focuses on the 2007 seasons of Mussina and Tom Glavine, who were both in New York last year and were both staying in the major leagues on their brains and guile thanks to fastballs that had long since deserted them. Ken Davidoff of Newsday relates some of the Mussina stories, which include examples of his contempt for Carl Pavano and how then-pitching coach Ron Guidry stopped speaking to him when he was removed from the starting rotation last August.
OH, SHADDUP: Tino Martinez has a piece of advice for those -- like Johnny Damon -- who feel the need to comment on the Joba Chamberlain situation: Zip it. (New York Daily News)
REACHING OUT: Andy Pettitte says he hasn't spoken to Roger Clemens since the controversy over performance-enhancing drugs erupted over the winter but says he hopes they'll talk soon. (New York Daily News) As for whether that will happen this weekend, when the Yanks go to Clemens' (and Pettitte's) hometown of Houston, Pettitte replied: "I have no idea. I don't know what to tell you about that."
LET ME PUSH THE DETONATOR BUTTONS: Tim Marchman of the New York Sun, in an interview with the blog The Biz of Baseball, provides an antidote to the flood of tears being shed over the imminent demises of Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium by saying he's "utterly appalled" by both parks. He's particularly appalled by Yankee Stadium: "Yankee Stadium is on the merits one of the worst places in the country to watch a ballgame, and there’s really little that’s more hilarious in baseball than the pretense that this giant concrete bowl is some magnificent cathedral and monument to the glories of the game."
'L' BEFORE 'W': The New York Daily News reports the Mets had a players-only meeting before last night's game against the Diamondbacks and passed around a sheet that contained such inspirational phrases as "team above self" and "We B4 I." Then they went out, blew a four-run lead and lost to Arizona, 9-5. Even so, Moises Alou says the Mets "definitely" are a playoff- team. (New York Post)
PLENTY OF BLAME TO GO AROUND: With the Mets' season swirling down the sink, focus is beginning to shift away from Willie Randolph and onto Omar Minaya. (New York Daily News)