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June 16, 2008
Postgame: Okajima Works Spotless Inning
By STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA -- Hideki Okajima has been struggling lately, making things problematic for manager Terry Francona as to when to being him in.
It's difficult to trust a guy who has allowed 11 of 14 inherited runners to score to come in with runners on base. And in a late-inning setup role, with Manny Delcarmen pitching so well, it's also difficult to stick with him at the first sign of trouble even if he starts an inning.
Last night, though, Francona found a relatively stress-free opportunity to give the left-hander some work. And Okajima, who had been scored upon in his last two outings -- 4 runs in only 2/3 of an inning -- worked a spotless inning last night.
Okajima fanned two, including Ryan Howard, who already had homered twice and tripled.
It may not have been much, considering the Sox were trailing, 8-2, but it sure couldn't have hurt Okajima's confidence.
Posted by Steven Krasner at 10:31 PM | Permalink
Youkilis Scratched -- Back Spasms
Kevin Youkilis has been scratched from the Sox' starting lineup because of muscle spasms in the middle of his back.
Catcher Jason Varitek has been moved up from seventh to sixth in the batting order. Sean Casey will replace Youkilis at first base, and he'll be batting seventh.
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 6:13 PM | Permalink
BY STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA -- Curt Schilling, who struggled through a throwing session Friday in Cincinnati, apparently has had a setback in his attempt to come back from a serious shoulder injury.
Manager Terry Francona, who described Schilling's session Friday night as "blah," rather somberly sidestepped a question this afternoon about the next step for the veteran right-hander.
"He's stuck for the moment," said Francona. "We'll have to get with him the next day or so and figure out where we need to go (in his rehab)."
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:59 PM | Permalink
Ramirez returns to left field
BY STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
PHILADEPHIA -- Manny Ramirez, who was unable to start the last two games in Cincinnati because of a tight right hamstring, is back in the lineup in left field tonight against the Phillies.
Manager Terry Francona said Ramirez approached him on the flight from Cincinnati and told him he was ready to play. That, to Francona, meant that Ramirez felt he could play an entire game and not have to leave in the middle because of hamstring issues.
Ramirez was in good spirits in the clubhouse this afternoon, where his teammates were intently watching the Tiger Woods-Rocco Mediate U.S. Open playoff round.
He was asked how he was doing.
"I'm alive!" said Ramirez with a great big smile. "I'm alive!"
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:55 PM | Permalink
Ortiz swaps cast for removable splint
BY STEVEN KRASNER
Journal Sports Writer
PHILADEPHIA -- David Ortiz, who had been in a hard cast since June 2 to protect the partial tear of the tendon sheath in his left wrist, had the cast cut off Monday and replaced with a removable splint.
This will enable the Sox' designated hitter to perform some range of motion exercises to help with his rehabilitation. While it is far too soon to place a timetable on Ortiz's return to the lineup, manager Terry Francona said the switch from a hard cast to a removable one constituted a step in the right direction.
"I would say this is a very good thing. They (doctors) weren't going to do it unless he was pain free, so I'd say that's a real good sign."
Francona said he wasn't going to assign any specific date to pencil Ortiz back in the lineup.
"It goes on how he feels, not our estimated time of arrival," said Francona.
Ortiz suffered the injury in an at-bat in Baltimore on May 31. He had to leave the game after taking a swing.
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:43 PM | Permalink
Starting Lineups, June 16
Late Change -- Youkilis out (back spasms), Casey in
-- Steven Krasner
Posted by Steven Krasner at 4:38 PM | Permalink
Baseball Today: Monday, June 16
MISSED THE MEMO: They don't have David Ortiz, obviously, and Manny Ramirez' balky hamstring prevents him from playing the field, which keeps him totally out of the lineup in National League parks. So, naturally, you'd think the Red Sox would have trouble generating offense. Well, that may have been true Friday night, when they managed just a single run in a 3-1 loss to the Reds, but the Sox were operating on all cylinders the rest of the weekend. They got back-to-back, 10th-inning home runs from Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp on Saturday, erasing the pain of a particularly irksome Jonathan Papelbon blown save, as they pulled out a 6-4 victory. (Over at Joy of Sox, Allan Wood has more info on the Sox going back-to-back in extra innings.) And yesterday they got home runs from four different players -- including both Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury (above, meeting at home plate after Ellsbury's homer) -- to back the shutout pitching of Josh Beckett, David Aardsma and Mike Timlin as they ran away with the rubber game of the series, 9-0. All the games are recounted by Steven Krasner, who points out that Boston's batting exploits may have been aided by the Great American Ballpark, also known as the Great American Smallpark for how it plays. ("This place is a bandbox," writes Steve, "a pitcher’s nightmare but a hitter’s delight, especially to right-center.") But the Sox needn't worry. Now they're in Philadelphia for three nights and, writes Kraz, "[the] Phillies’ ballpark is another bandbox."
DOESN'T MATTER: Or maybe it's not the venue. David Pinto of Baseball Musings shows that the Sox' team batting average and slugging percentage have gone up since Ortiz went down.
DARE WE SAY IT? The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo wonders if these next three games might prove to be a World Series preview.
GOD SAVE US: Even if they are, Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer isn't looking forward to them because they signal the "annual invasion of the denizens of Red Sox Nation. (Motto: In Us We Irritate.) It is a nation whose currency is based on being cloying, self-important, pompous, overly loud and, regrettably, ever-present, and the economy is great. Axis of Evil? You make your list of nations that belong and I'll make mine."
GETTING SO MUCH BETTER ALL THE TIME: Francona reports Ortiz' wrist is now pain-free, and he'll be examined today to see what the next step in his rehabilitation will be. (Boston Herald)
SIDE ORDER OF SPEED: Lost amid the fireworks yesterday was Ellsbury's breaking of the franchise's 100-year-old record for stolen bases by a rookie, with details provided by Krasner. Ellsbury's on a never-before-seen -- at least by these eyes when it comes to Red Sox players -- baserunning roll, with 14 stolen bases in his last 14 starts, and the proof of just how unique it's been is in the pudding of the names he's erasing from the record book; who's ever heard of these guys? (I mean, Amby McConnell? Really.) At the rate he's going Ellsbury will finish the year with 74 steals, which won't just break the Sox' record for stolen bases in a single season (54, by Tommy Harper in 1973) but shatter it into a million pieces. As it is, he's two bags away from tying Patsy Dougherty and Tris Speaker for 10th place on the Sox' single-season list . . . and that milestone (35 steals) was last reached 98 years ago. The Worcester Telegram's Bill Ballou says Ellsbury has a chance to be "a once-in-a-generation player," but I wonder: How many generations back do you have to go to find Amby McConnell and Patsy Dougherty?
NUMBER ONE: Papelbon was one strike away from his 20th save Saturday afternoon, but Edwin Encarnacion drove a hanging splitter into the seats in left field for the game-tying home run. All that did, however, was give Craig Hansen the chance to record the first save of his big-league career, and he delivered.
NEVER LET ANYONE OUTSIDE THE FAMILY KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING: Speaking of Papelbon, Terry Francona was none-too-pleased with his public pronouncement that hostilities between the Red Sox and Rays aren't over. As for the Rays, they were more surprised than anything else. (mlb.com)
IRON PIGS ON DICE-K'S MENU: Daisuke Matsuzaka will make a rehab start for the PawSox tonight in Lehigh Valley.
FATHER'S DAY TALES: The holiday gave J.D. Drew a chance to be thankful for his 2-year-old son's return to health. (Boston Herald) Closer to home, it also gave PawSox manager Ron Johnson a chance to reflect on how baseball has enabled him for forge a bond with his son, Astros farmhand Chris Johnson. Laura Meade Kirk tells how RJ -- who divorced Chris' mother when Chris was very young -- credits baseball for allowing the two to reconnect. "I do wonder sometimes, if it hadn’t been for baseball, if we’d have been able to come back around," he told her. And Chad Finn of Touching All The Bases -- sitting in seats remarkably close to where a friend and I had season tickets for 25 years -- tells a touching story of taking his daughter to her first game.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: The Rays failed to complete their sweep of the Marlins as Edwin Jackson was hit hard in a 7-3 loss. (St. Petersburg Times) Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune says that for Tampa Bay to stay a contender, Jackson -- and the Rays' other young players -- "have to step up and stay up."
NOW THAT WOULD BE A FIRST: When did you ever hear a star player -- in this case, Ken Griffey Jr. -- say he'd waive his no-trade clause to go to Tampa Bay? (Tampa Tribune) Griffey's agent, though, says there's nothing to it. (St. Petersburg Times)
BOY, WE SURE DON'T MISS YOU: The blog Rays Index is watching Elijah Dukes' latest incident with the satisfaction of knowing that he's someone else's problem now.
LOSE WHEN YOU WIN: The Yankees won 13-0 yesterday and completed a three-game sweep of the Astros, but there are no smiles in Yankee Universe this morning. Not when Chien-Ming Wang injured his right foot and had to be helped off the field. (New York Daily News) The New York Post is reporting the Yankees think it could be a Lisfranc fracture, which would probably end his season. So the C.C. Sabathia talk, which was loud enough before Wang went down (nj.com), will now begin escalating to 130-decibel levels. But Shysterball's Craig Calcaterra wants to know why the Indians would trade Sabathia at all since they're only "5.5 games out . . . I probably don't think about unloading Sabathia until the All Star break, and then not at all if the margin is around the same or smaller. Why? I know my team is better than it has shown, and I have no faith in the While Sox keeping it up all year." The LoHud Yankee Blog's Peter Abraham looks at the various options to replace Wang, Sabathia included.
MEANWHILE . . . Sabathia, still in an Indians uniform, outpitched Greg Maddux and led Cleveland over the Padres. (Akron Beacon Journal)
UH, OH: It's never a good sign when a manager begins publicly blaming players and players answer by subtly blaming the manager. But that's the scenario that seems to be unfolding in Houston in light of the Astros' three straight losses to the Yankees. (mlb.com) Phil Allard of nyyfans.com thinks Cecil Cooper, the manager in question, deserves some blame, especially for a specific tactical decision in Friday night's game.
THE NEVER-ENDING DEBATE: Now it's Jim Kaat who thinks Joba Chamberlain should have stayed in the bullpen. (yesnetwork.com)
IF IT'S MONDAY, HE MUST BE SAFE: In the minute-by-minute referendum on Willie Randolph's job performance, yesterday's doubleheader split with the Rangers means he's still on the job . . . at least for today. (New York Daily News)
STATE OF THE GAME: Many of my favorite baseball writers -- some of whom I link to on a regular basis -- participated in a "State of Major League Baseball 2008" discussion on The Biz of Baseball blog.
THE UNSPOKEN TRUTH: Peter Abraham -- one of the people who was part of that discussion -- says the end of the performance-enhancing drugs era "is changing baseball in ways both subtle and conspicuous." And, in light of the ban on amphetamines, one of them is that "young players -- the kind who don't need a prescription to have energy -- are quickly becoming the biggest factors in the game." It's a fascinating take, and well worth your time. (Journal American)
STAND UP AND BE COUNTED: Allen Barra, writing in the New York Sun, says the players he helped over the years should push for Marvin Miller to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
AT LAST, REINFORCEMENTS: Fernando Rodney has rejoined the Tigers and Joel Zumaya may be there by the end of the week. And Gary Sheffield could be just days away. (Both stories Detroit Free Press)
TRAGEDY AVERTED: It looked a lot worse than it ended up being, as the Cardinals say Yadier Molina has a mild concussion after an horrific home-plate collision with the Phillies' Eric Bruntlett. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
LOCAL BOYS: Rocco Baldelli is recovered to the point that he'll soon begin a Class A rehab assignment. (minorleaguebaseball.com)
TRADE TALK: Suddenly there's a lot of it floating around, and not all of it involves C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees. To wit: A.J. Burnett says he'd accept a trade from the Blue Jays to the Cubs (Toronto Globe and Mail) . . . The Angels are looking for offensive help (Orange County Register) . . . As the Pirates' season disintegrates, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette expects teams to make pitches for Jason Bay and Xavier Nady, among others . . . Now it's the Mets allegedly interested in Brian Fuentes. (Denver Post)
OLD FRIENDS: Trot Nixon is back in the majors, having been picked up by the Mets (Newsday) . . . Billy Werber, who played for the Red Sox way back when, celebrates his 100th birthday. (Palm Beach Post)
AND FINALLY . . . Tim Russert, the NBC journalist who died suddenly Friday, was a Red Sox fan and the team mourned his passing. (Boston Globe)
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 6:55 AM | Permalink
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