Projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam: From the Nashville meetings
Sean McAdam checks before he leaves the winter meetings in Nashville to tell us where the Red Sox are with Johan Santana, and to talk about other deals around baseball. Click the play button below to listen and watch the show.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Kings of the baseball world
Click here to listen to today's version of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. The topics: putting the Red Sox' latest triumph in perspective; many players deserving of MVP honors; keeping the nucleus of the 2007 team together; the feel-good story of Mike Lowell; Alex Rodriguez's big announcement; why you shouldn't expect the Sox to try to hard to land A-Rod; and how the 2004 Sox would match up with the 2007 Red Sox (hint: They'd do better than the Rockies).
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
Postseason kings: "The funny thing is that for all the stumbling and bumbling the Red Sox did in the postseason for so many years, and so many heartbreaking defeats, now it seems like they've really got the hang of this October thing, and have had two great postseasons for themselves in the span of four years."
Gazing into the future: "They have a nucleus that is younger, and I guess more established at the same time [than the 2004 Sox]. The 2004 team within weeks had lost 40 percent of the starting rotation when Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez left via free agency. There are a couple of decisions -- Lowell, Schilling ... -- but for the most part the core of these guys is going to be back, and I think in general the Red Sox find themselves in more stable shape than they were three years ago."
Third-base plans: "I actually don't think they're going to be significant players in the A-Rod sweepstakes. I thought differently a half-season ago ... when people were talking about it, forecasting that A-Rod may yet land in a Red Sox uniform. I just think that they understand that it would take such a significant chunk of the payroll, even for the Red Sox, to get involved in this. ... They clearly would like to retain Mike Lowell, and I think they will try to do that. But if somebody comes in and blows them out of the water with a four-year, $50 million contract, then I think the Red Sox are going to have to think twice about matching that."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Defending their home turf
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. The topics: dominating bullpen performances by Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon; Mike Lowell's heads-up base-running; Ubaldo Jimenez's "effective wildness"; the weather forecast for Denver; the Ortiz-Youkilis-Lowell debate; and the National League's home-field advantage in interleague games.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On Okajima and Papelbon: "Three and two-thirds innings from their two best relievers, the guys who have led the bullpen all season, to shut down a pretty good lineup like that is impressive indeed. And last night seemed to be an indication, if any more is needed, that Okajima has benefitted from that 12-day hiatus at the end of September, when the Red Sox sensed he was getting fatigued and thought it best to shut him down in anticipation of just such an appearance as last night."
Lowell going from first to third on J.D. Drew's single to right: "When he hit second base, it didn't seem as if there was any way that he'd be trying to go to third on Brad Hawpe, but I think he noticed that Hawpe was taking kind of a side-saddle angle to the ball and decided to maybe surprise people. And the ironic thing there is, during the afternoon, when they brought a player from each team in to speak at the press conference, Lowell was ... jokingly asked whether in the thin air he felt any faster on the basepaths at Coors Field. And he said, 'No, I never feel fast.' But certainly last night, smart base-running made up for that speed he may have lacked."
The starting lineup in Colorado: "I think a lot is going to depend on how Ortiz feels, and specifically how that right knee feels. I was a litle surprised yesterday to hear Francona say that if Ortiz can handle it, and that's by no means assured, that he would like to have him play all three games. Obvioulsy it's no surprise that you would want Ortiz's bat in there as much as possible ... but the practice has been, in road interleague games in National League cities, to rotate those three where everyone plays two games. And everyone sort of naturally assumed that [Francona] would follow that. But I think, given what's at stake here, he wants to if he can have Ortiz in there for all three. ... It looks like the decision comes down to what you do with Youkilis and Lowell, and my guess is because of Lowell's edge defensively, I would imagine that he would play two games there and Youkilis one if indeed Ortiz is OK to play all three at first."
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. The topics: the Rockies' past success against Josh Beckett; how to tell if the Rockies are rusty; what to expect from Jeff Francis; surprises on the Sox' postseason roster; the disappointing finish to Tim Wakefield's season; and how the Red Sox are preparing Jon Lester to return to the starting rotation.
Following are excerpts from Sean's comments.
How to tell if the Rockies are rusty: "I think it almost might manifest itself in an opposite form. You might see their hitters being a little more aggressive than they normally would -- swinging early in the count, trying to make things happen -- almost that excess energy that you have when you've had a week and a half-long layoff. ... But I think that once they get into the flow of the game, get through the first inning, you'll probably see that start to settle down."
Postseason roster surprises: "I guess it wouldn't have shocked me, from a talent standpoint, had they replaced Doug Mirabelli with Kevin Cash, who I believe the Red Sox regard as a better catch-and-throw guy than Doug Mirabelli. Obviously Mirabelli's value to the Red Sox is often linked to Tim Wakefield, who will not be on the roster now. I think that maybe that was somewhat of a political move, in that Mirabelli is a popular veteran who's been around a number of years, and it might have been tough to take him off the World Series roster. ... The other one, obviously, is adding the pitcher to replace Wakefield -- they went with Kyle Snyder; I think most people would have expected that spot would have gone to Julian Tavarez. But interestingly, Tavarez was apparently not at the ballpark yesterday. Whether there are some personal issues, whether he was told he would not be on the roster and was upset -- I'm merely speculating there -- but I think the fact that they went with Snyder over Tavarez was something of an upset."
Wakefield: "He's 41 years old, this is his second opportunity to be part of a World Series team, and while he will obviously be part of that team, he won't be taking part in the games. And for someone whose career is probably starting to wind down, although knuckleballers have a history of being able to pitch into their mid-40s, it was a huge blow. He was pretty upset about not being able to compete in the Division Series, but I think that he thought, and so did the Red Sox, that if he took that time off, it would help him later on, and it turned out it did not. The shoulder continues to bother him, and there was a question of, if he made one start, could he make another five days later. And the consensus seemed to be that was unlikely. So it was a tough decision for them and tough for him. I think it's probably the right move for the team, but you could see that he was in a lot of emotional pain yesterday."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Countdown to the World Series
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. The topics: Game Seven on Sunday night, the resurgence of Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis; whether the Red Sox or the Rockies have more momentum entering the Fall Classic; how the young Rockies will handle the Fenway pressure cooker; unfamiliar faces on the Colorado staff; overall edge to the Red Sox; and the workout schedule today.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On Joel Skinner holding Kenny Lofton at third Sunday night: "It certainly seems like it changed the game, because Lofton would have scored the tying run. It turns out that Casey Blake grounds into the double play on the next at-bat, and the Red Sox get out of it with some help from third-base coach Joel Skinner. Consequently Blake makes that error at third, and maybe that's because he's thinking about the play that didn't get made and the double play that he hit into in the top of the inning. It's hard to say; you can't really rewind the tape and assume that things are going to unfold the same way, but certainly whatever momentum Cleveland had going into the top of the seventh seemed to completely dissipate after the error in judgment by Skinner."
Would you rather be the well-rested Rockies or the surging Red Sox? "I think the Red Sox' situation is probably more advantageous. Two days off seems just about right -- enough time to catch your brearth so that you're not playing one game right after another. You're at home, so you don't have to change cities until later this week. Conversely, the eight days [of rest for Colorado] does seem excessive. Obviously there's nothing the Rockies can do about that -- that resulted from their sweeping the Diamondbacks in the NLCS and being a very dominant team. But you would think that, for a team without a lot of playoff experience and a lot of guys there for the first time, the eight days might be a lot of sitting around and maybe thinking about things a little too much. If I could pick A or B, I think the Red Sox are a bit more fortunate in their timing."
Prediction: "I don't think there's much question -- I don't think I'm being parochial here -- that the Red Sox have more talent on paper. They have more experience, they have more power, they have an edge in the closer's role, their rotation is deeper and more experienced. But we've seen before -- last year a Detroit Tigers team seemed to be clearly superior to the St. Louis Cardinals, and they lost the World Series. So it isn't all about talent and who looks better on paper this time of year; it's who plays the game better, who's playing better when the series begins, momentum, a lot of the intangibles. I expect a pretty competitive series, although I think the Red Sox will eventually prevail."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Beckett and Manny carry them through
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. The topics: Josh Beckett's magnificent playoff run; how he's succeeded this postseason while other big-name pitchers have failed; the Kenny Lofton argument; Manny Ramirez, locked in for the first time all year; Manny's near home run and the case for instant replay; and why Coco Crisp may still get the call in center field on Saturday.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On Beckett: "To look at what Beckett has accomplished in his three [postseason] starts -- where he's gone 23 innings, given up just three runs, struck out 26 and walked only a single batter while winning obviously all three starts -- it would be pretty tough, I would think, to have anyone in any other team's history match or top that, nevermind anyone in recent Red Sox history."
On Ramirez: "Manny made a reference on the night he hit that walk-off home run to beat the Angels, in Division Series Game Two, that he hadn't felt like he had a good rhythm or that his swing was locked in all season. But I've got to believe that that has changed now, because he is just red hot, at a time when his team needs it the most. It's often a pretty good indicator that Manny's locked in at the plate when you see him powering the ball to right center. And that's where the home run went in Game Four in Cleveland, and that's where the near home run went last night that missed going out by literally less than an inch."
Ellsbury vs. Crisp: "I had a feeling that if they won [Game Five] ... and Crisp didn't contribute, that they might be willing to go with Jacoby Ellsbury starting in Game Six. But I'm starting to rethink that, not because Crisp did anything to maintain his status as starting center fielder, but if you look at the World Series and looking down the road, I think that the Red Sox have to be looking at the fact that there are two left-handed starters for the Rockies in the World Series, and I think if you open the door by sitting Crisp in either Game Six or Seven, or both, then it's kind of hard to go back to him because you need him and his switch-hitting ability to face a couple of left-handed starters, maybe as many as four times in a seven-game World Series. So that's a long, roundabout way to say I think that, although he did nothing at the plate, they may stick with Crisp because they're looking down the road and trying to see the big picture here."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Turning to history for inspiration
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. The topics: the weather forecast in Cleveland; whether the Sox are more likely to win three straight because they have done it before; the mysterious disappearance of the Boston offense; Cleveland's MVPs; Josh Beckett's ability to pitch deep into tonight's game; Manny Ramirez's post-home-run posing and interesting comments to the media; and the back story to the Yankees' continued dance with Alex Rodriguez.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
Tonight's weather: "It could be a factor. There's a forecast for some rain, and maybe even thunderstorms, throughout the day. So it's something to monitor. As we speak it's just overcast, and they could certainly play through this, but it could be something of a situation given what they're projecting."
Do past playoff comebacks give the Red Sox comfort in the present? "It's not going to win the series for them, but as Terry Francona said yesterday, in this situation you are looking for anything to give you something of an edge. And i think that because there are eight or so guys on this team who were here in '04 and went through it against the Yankees, they can perhaps draw upon that experience sort of as a reminder, I guess, that it can be done. Beyond that, you've got to go out and make good pitches and come up with clutch two-out hits, and a lot of the things the Red Sox haven't done the last two games. But I think it's the kind of thing that can boost you a little bit when you remember that not only has it been done, but you've been part of it before."
On Manny's comments ('We're going to play and if it doesn't happen, we'll come back next year and try to do it again.'): "They kind of sound callous, I think, when you read them on a printed page ... But I think if you know Manny's nature, and sort of fun-loving approach to things, then that's kind of within the context of who he is and how he approaches things. It shouldn't signal that he literally doesn't care; it's just evidence of how sort of casual he is about just about everything. But I think that he wants to win, and sometimes, I think, he just expresses himself in a unique way.
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. The topics: the starters' failure to get out of the fifth inning; Wakefield's misplay of Asdrubal Cabrera's ground ball up the middle; Cleveland's ability to create big innings; the likelihood of lineup changes in Game Five; how fatigued is Beckett? and how are the younger players coping with their struggles.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
What did these three short outings have in common? "I'm not sure it's any one thing. I think that you have to kind of break it down, and in the case of last night, as Terry Francona said in the postgame, this was sort of circumstantial. First of all, the Indians did not exactly tattoo Tim Wakefield. It was a succession of missed opportunities -- the dropped popup by Youkilis in foul ground on Sizemore; the ball that Cabrera hit that hit off Wakefield's glove that might have otherwise been an out or two. And then take into account, as Francona said, that he didn't keep Wakefield in the game the way he might have during the reghular season. He pitched OK; certainly the same can't be said of either Schilling or Matsuzaka. I think you have to take each one individually, but the bottom line is that, given the significance of these games, at no point did anyone get five innings plus, and it's difficult to win a series like that."
The Game Five lineup: "I think you'll see Kielty again in right field against C.C. Sabathia tomorrow night. That's what they did in Game One because of Kielty's history of success against Sabathia in particular, and add to that that J.D. Drew has struggled against lefties all year. So that's virtually a certainty, that Drew will be on the bench and Kielty will be in right. Then the other question is: Do you sit Crisp for Jacoby Ellsbury? And the problem there, of course, is that as much as you'd like to get Ellsbury into the game, it's pretty tough to have him go in there against a left-hander, and one of the best left-handers in the game. I don't know, to tell you the truth, which way [Terry Francona's] going to go. I would imagine it's on the table and being discussed, but that seems like that would be kind of a roll of the dice, even though Crisp has not had a good series at all."
Is fatigue an issue with Beckett? "I think, with regular rest, you're not running any risk. He might not be 100 percent, but then again I'm not sure anyone is, and certainly Sabathia is example 1-A of that. This is a guy who threw 240-plus innings, which is almost unheard of in this day and age, during the regular season and is approaching 260 innings given his two postseason starts already. So I think that fatigue is starting to creep in everywhere."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: A weak effort in Game Three
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk. The topics: letting Jake Westbrook off the hook; lack of production at the top and the bottom of the order; don't expect J.D. Drew to come out of the lineup; Daisuke Matsuzaka's postgame dejection; sticking with Tim Wakefield; and facing Paul Byrd.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On possible lineup changes: "Before last night's game I asked about the possibility of [Jacoby] Ellsbury getting some playing time, specifically over Drew ... Terry Francona was pretty adament that that change didn't seem to be in the offing. Whether Crisp is vulnerable because of his lack of production, we didn't get into. I have to think that, given how much they value Crisp's defense, that change won't be made. But maybe if they lose again, and go down 3-1, then that's the opportunity to really shake things up. But I got the feeling last night that [Francona] wasn't leaning toward any sort of shakeup, and was going to stay with his regular lineup."
On Matsuzaka's postgame reaction, and his overall performance: "Dejected would be putting it mildly. Some two hours after he had come out of the game, he was sitting in front of his locker when we were in the clubhouse, just sort of staring blankly, still in uniform. He didn't take questions from the media, simply provided a pretty generic statement ... I thought some of those familiar problems reared their head again, including a lack of aggressiveness, and kind of nibbling and not trusting his stuff, and some of the things that have been the hallmark of Matsuzaka most of the season. And I think it's got to be considered a significant disappointment that in two postseason starts, he has not found a way to get out of the fifth inning."
Reaction to starting Wakefield tonight: "I guess the best way to put it is that I understand it, and it's sort of a sign of the times ... I don't know that you're ever going to see happen [again] what happened in 2003, when Jack McKeon brought Josh Beckett back on three days rest for game six of the 2003 World Series. And of course we know what happened there -- he shut them out in Yankee Stadium and the Marlins won. It seems that the game has changed to a degree where teams are incredibly protective of their pitching, particularly their young pitching in which they have a lot invested -- the Red Sox have $40 million invested in Josh Beckett. ... [and then, there is] the issue of, if you use Beckett tonight and he gets you even, that's fine, but how trustworthy are the guys behind him, how reliable are they? So they've decided to stay in turn, cross their fingers and hope that Wakefield pitches well tonight. If it pays off, it'll look very smart. If not, there will be a lot of second-guessing that could take them well into the winter."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Lineup, pitching rotation news
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. Today's topics: how the Red Sox' and Indians' destinies have been linked; Cleveland's youth movement; the biggest reason that the Indians are better now than they were back then; Bobby Kielty getting the start in right field; Curt Schilling promoted to Game 2 starter; Tim Wakefield's status for Game 4.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
Starting Kielty over Drew on Friday: "That seems to be the logical move for the Red Sox to make. Kielty is a guy that when he was brought in was cited for his ability as a swtich-hitter to hit lefties particularly well, and this would seem to be an opportunity for him to use that skill."
Starting Schilling in Game 2: "People were making kind of a big deal about Schilling sort of leap-frogging in front of Daisuke to become the number-two starter, but it seems to me that's the move to make after he performed as well as he did in his start on Sunday in Anaheim in the clinching game. And meanwhile, Daisuke struggled, obviously, in Game 2. As Terry Francona said, in all likelihood if the series goes anywhere near the distance, they'll both probably make two starts anyway, so let's not make too much of this. But I think it is telling that, if you're looking at getting off to a good start, trying to get a 2-0 lead at home, that they think Schilling will give them a better opportunity of doing that, and I agree."
On Wakefield's simulated game yesterday: "He threw 75 pitches, and from what I understand felt pretty good coming off but. ... They are keeping their options open, but indications were that it was a positive day for him."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Indians moving on; Yankees going home
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. The topics: why the Indians will be a tougher foe than the Angels; Cleveland's ability to drive up pitch counts, and what that means for Dice-K; why Schilling should get the start in Game 2; why the Red Sox' 5-2 record against Cleveland this year means little to nothing; the extra rest for both teams and how that might affect things; and who will stay with the Yankees, and who will go.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Why the Indians will be tougher: "In boxing they say style makes a fight, and in baseball there's a little bit of that matchup issue that goes into making a good series. For some reason the Angels can beat the Yankees in the postseason, but they can't seem to beat the Red Sox, and it's kind of a weird thing to try to figure out. But the Red Sox have the Angels number -- they've swept them twice in the last four years now -- and in terms of the Indians, I think that their starting pitching is more dominant, with Sabathia and Carmona. I think their lineup is certainly more formidable. The Angels have kind of an agressive, pesky offense, where the Indians are a little bit more like the Red Sox -- maybe not in name recognition or marquee value -- but there's some guys, from Hafner to Martinez and others, that can really do a lot of damage, and drive the ball and produce runs, and that's something the Red Sox didn't have to worry about in the last series."
Have the Sox given an indication of who starts after Beckett? "No, but you'd find it hard to believe, having watched the two of them pitch in the first round, that you wouldn't now put Schilling ahead of Dice-K in the rotation."
The Yankees' future: "I think they will do everything in their power, and that's considerable given the Yankees' resources, to keep Posada and Rivera both. Those guys are irreplaceable. There's no way you can go out and get a catcher who is familiar with the staff and is as good offensively as Posada. ... I think he has made it clear that, all things being equal, he would like to stay with the Yankees. And the same is true with Rivera, who may not be what he once was, but is still in the elite school of closers. ... Pettitte's a little hard to figure out; he has an option [and] can come back at, I think, $16 million and pitch another year. Clemens -- I've given up trying to forecast what he's going to do. ... As far as Joe Torre goes, I think this is probably the end."
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."
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk. The playoffs start today, and McAdam takes a look at the predictions around the baseball world, and why many folks (except for those in Philadelphia -- what's that all about?) are betting against the Angels in this series.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Sean's Red Sox-Angels preview
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Today's topics: workouts and Fenway Park; first-time playoff participants; Kevin Cash added to the playoff roster; the Angels' banged-up outfield; John Lackey's struggles at Fenway Park; and Orlando Cabrera's most significant homecoming.
The celebration: "We get into this debate, it seems, all the time about what's the proper way to celebrate a wild-card spot, a division title, a Division Series playoff victory. ... Ultimately I'm not sure that's our call. I think the players react accordingly. Terry Francona has spoken up in the past about [how] you can't script these things, they just have to take place. And I thought one of the nice things about Friday was that it so involved the fans ... the 3,500 or so people that had stayed behind to watch the Yankees and Orioles play out on the big screen, then kind of got invited to the party with the players coming on the field and onto the dugout."
The team's health: "Manny looks to be fine. Youkilis still looked like he's battling that wrist a little bit, but I think that's unavoidable for a while. ... Some of the nagging stuff that cost guys a game or two here or there seems to be taken care of, and that's certainly the way you want it before the postseason gets under way."
Ellsbury: "Drew has kind of turned it around here in the last couple of weeks, and that debate that was raging seemingly early in the month -- Do you start Jacoby Ellsbury over J.D. Drew? -- that kind of has run out of some gas, if only because Drew has shut people up because of his production the last two or three weeks. But if he takes an 0-for-4 Wednesday and Friday, and doesn't look particularly good, then they have the option of giving Ellsbury a start, maybe, in Game 3. He certainly will go in in the late innings defensively for Manny in the games in which they are ahead, and of course he'll be used as a pinch runner when they see fit."
On Manny's return: "I think one of the most encouraging things is Manny's ability to hit the ball to center and right field, which as most people who follow the Red Sox know is kind of when you can tell that Manny is locked in at the plate -- when he's hitting the ball either up the middle or just to the right of right-center. That's where almost every ball he's hit in the last two games has gone, and that tells me he's locked in pretty good."
On Lowell: "I don't think there's any question he's been their MVP. ... For the past month or so he has been the cleanup hiter in the absence of Manny Ramirez, and he also has been a guy that helped carry the team when Ortiz really wasn't producing and driving the ball."
The four-way battle for the final roster spot: "I was a bit surprised when someone with some reason to be familiar with this told me to not leave Bryan Corey off that list. I hadn't really thought of him as being much of a factor here, but he certainly has pitched well enough in September and gotten their eye. But this is a guy who, remember, didn't make the team out of spring training and was in Pawtucket all year until the rosters expanded, and to think that he might now be one of 11 pitchers on the postseason roster is a bit of a surprise to me -- that's something I hadn't even factored in. ... The Buchholz thing is so strange, because he's only pitched three times since the first of the month, and you don't know what to expect out of him or where he is physically. ... My guess is -- just because of experience, his bounce-back ability and versatility -- maybe its Tavarez, but I'm really throwing a dart against a wall."
On Ramirez: "I think, certainly, this afternoon the plan is to have him do the exact same thing: bat high in the order, probably second, to give him as many at-bats early in the game as possible, and then get him out of there. It's all about getting his timing down without exposing him too much, too soon."
On Youkilis: "He admitted that he is not 100 percent ... He said there's still some soreness, a little swelling there [in his wrist] ... I don't think there's going to be 100-percent strength to the wrist for a little while. And it will be interesting to see how that affects his ability to drive the ball. Youkilis is not a home-run hitter, obviously, but he is capable of hitting a lot of doubles, and in the next few days it will be interesting to see how well he seems to be able to hit the ball in the gap, whether he can drive the ball off the wall and really put strong swings on pitches. He indicated that what he was looking for over the next few days was just some steady progression, to the point where he is close to 100 percent by the time the playoffs get going."
Gagne: "He certainly didn't have the kind of problems commanding last night that he did against the Blue Jays [a week ago] ... It kind of looked like he got squeezed a little bit on that walk ... Certainly [he was] not all over the place like he was up in Toronto, but ultimately its results, and 25 pitches to get two outs is not what they're looking for in the eighth inning of close games."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Postseason permutations
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. Today's topics: the status of Youkilis and Ramirez; where Ellsbury fits into the lineup if Ramirez returns; the offense's surprising resiliency; Wakefield's rotation spot secure; which relievers might be left off the postseason roster; Curt Schilling's chance for redemption; and the challenges posed by Oakland and Minnesota.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
Would the Sox consider Ellsbury in center for the postseason? "I just think that they are so comfortable with Coco Crisp's defense, and I think Ellsbury's pretty good defensively, but not yet in Coco;s class in patrolling center field. I think that Crisp has been such a constant for them in his defensive coverage, and when you get into the playoffs and you've got to catch the ball, and make all the plays, and win low-scoring games, and plays get magnified -- I have a hard time believing that they would take Coco out of that position."
Why Wakefield as the number four guy, and not Lester? "I think that maybe there was a time a couple weeks ago, when Lester had a particularly strong start, that there was at least the outside possibility of him eclipsing Wakefield, in no small part because it would give them a lefty starter, and that might present a different look to a couple of those teams they might match up with. But I think that Lester's continued struggles with pitch count and pitch efficiency have ultimately probably not only cost him a spot in the rotation, but it's possible he may not be on the postseason roster, at least for the first round, because he doesn't have any experience coming out of the bullpen, and if he's not going to start, I'm not sure there's a lot of incentive to have him on the roster."
And who would benefit from Lester not being on the roster? "I guess we can go back and forth on who benefits from that. Tavarez is one guy. Javy Lopez is another. I'm not sure what the attraction is with Lopez, other than being able to show the other team that you have a second lefty in the bullpen, behind Hideki Okajima. But left-handers are now hitting almost .300 for the year against Lopez -- .298 in fact -- and he gave up the huge home run the other day to Carlos Pena that sort of forced the late-inning comeback. And that's just the latest of incidents in which he's had difficulty in big spots against lefties. So it's one thing to be able to say that you have a lefty specialist out there, but if he's not getting the job done, how valuable is that?"
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Momentum? We don't need no ...
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. Today's topics: the importance of momentum heading into the playoffs; the importance of health heading into the playoffs; how the Yankees got back in this thing; how the Mets are playing themselves out of this thing; waiting on Youkilis and Coco; Josh Beckett goes for 20; how Sean handicaps the Cy Young race; and the Red Sox facing Scott Kazmir.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
Do the players place much value on momentum? "I think it's human nature to think that you need to be pointing in the right direction before you get into these big games. You want to have a little traction going, you want to have your issues taken care of, you want to be kind of firing on all cylinders -- that's human nature, even though recent history suggests its not absolutely necessary."
The Red Sox' performance as the lead has shrunk: "They haven't been swept by the worst team in baseball, the way the Tigers were last year in the final weekend in Kansas City. ... They probably shouldn't have been swept by a team like Toronto the last few days, but this is more about, I think, the Yankees being relentless, and being on an incredible run, than the Red Sox necessarily blowing anything."
How would Beckett respond to getting win number 20? "I think it will be special for him. He has studiously avoided talking about any sort of personal gains -- Cy Young, 20 wins, leading the team in victories, any of that stuff -- but I think that should he get it tonight, or in his next start after this, he'll talk about its significance. I think for a pitcher it has to be something that is a momentous occasion."
On Jonathan Papelbon: "This is two bad outings in a row for him: last Friday against the Yankees, of course, coming in the eighth inning; and then last night giving up the grand slam. He'd gone all year without allowing any inherited runners to score; his last two outings, five inherited runners have scored. So that shows you how quickly it has turned around, and not in a good way, for Jonathan Papelbon."
The good news: "It could be that things could turn around pretty quickly, I think, for both Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp. I wouldn't be surprised to see certainly Youkilis back in the lineup as soon as tomorrow night, when they resume play against Tampa. Crisp may need another day or so, but then again a day off with some additional treatment could really help."
How worried should we be about Manny? "To the point where most of us thought he would be back by now and he isn't, and he probably won't be back any sooner than Tuesday, at which point there's only six regular-season games left, I think you have to start questioning what's going on here. But being that there is a week and a half -- really given the playoff schedule they can't play a playoff game until two weeks from yesterday, so there's still enough time -- but from a Red Sox standpoint they would certainly like to have him back in the lineup to get his timing down at the plate, find his rhythm against live pitching and have some real at-bats before he has to ramp it up for real on October 3."
Game Story: Gagne blows late lead, Sox fall to Jays
TORONTO – To succeed in the post-season, the Red Sox firmly believe they need an effective Eric Gagne in the late innings.
But while they showed patience in the veteran reliever last night, their short-term prospects took a serious blow.
Gagne turned a one-run lead into a two-run deficit in the eighth inning, resulting in a crushing 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, enabling the surging New York Yankees to climb within 2 ½ games of the Sox in the American League East.
Gagne, obtained in a July 31 deadline deal, retired the first two hitters in the eighth before issuing a walk to Frank Thomas. After a single to left by Aaron Hill, Gagne got ahead of Matt Stairs 0-and-2 before walking him to load the bases.
He then walked Gregg Zaun to force in the tying run, then surrendered a two-run double which eluded J.D. Drew in right.
A two-out solo homer from Julio Lugo in the top of the ninth wasn’t enough for the Sox to complete the comeback.
``I don’t know how to put it into words,’’ said a downcast Gagne, his voice barely above a whisper. ``I felt good physically. But I walked Thomas and after that, I couldn’t throw a strike. You can’t get people out if you don’t throw strikes.
``It’s a little bit of everything. I don’t know. I’ve got to go out and stop thinking. It’s frustrating. I don’t know what to tell you.’’
Manager Terry Francona got closer Jonathan Papelbon up after the single by Hill, but left Gagne on the mound as the lead was frittered away.
``It seemed like (after walking Thomas), it looked like he wanted to throw the ball through the backstop,’’ said Francona. `` He got a little revved up and it didn’t end very well.’’
Francona said he resisted going to Papelbon because ``that’s (Gagne’s) inning to get out of. There are a lot of long-term reasons to keep him out there and have success. When it doesn’t work, it hurts…We just have to get it right. We want him to give us strong innings, so we’ve got to just get it right.’’
``We need him these last two weeks to get ourselves where we want to be,’’ echoed catcher Jason Varitek.
Last night marked the third time in the last five games that the Sox have let a game get away from them in the eighth inning.
They led the Yankees 7-2 Friday night before Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon imploded and the Sox lost 8-7. Sunday night, Curt Schilling yielded a three-run homer to snap a 1-1 tie in the eighth.
``Those happen (to all teams) at some point,’’ said Varitek. ``You don’t want to see it happen now. Now, we have to gut it up and get it done.’’
The loss spoiled a terrific start by Jon Lester, who pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed a single run on three hits.
Lester needed 28 pitches to get through the first inning, when he issued two walks and allowed two hits. But after the first, he retired 16 of the next 18 hitters he faced and the Jays didn’t get a runner into scoring position.
``He got himself into a bind,’’ said Francona, ``and then was able to get out of it. As he commands, he can be a really good pitcher.’’
The Sox couldn’t do much against A.J. Burnett, but until Gagne’s struggles, they did enough.
In the fourth, Varitek, who snapped an 0-for-18 slump with a second-inning single, stroked a double into the left field corner, scoring Mike Lowell who had reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a walk to J.D. Drew.
Back-to-back two-out hits in the fifth – a single by Dustin Pedroia and a double to center by David Ortiz gave the Sox their first lead of the night.
But after the double by Ortiz, the Sox didn’t collect another hit until Lugo’s line-drive homer to left with two out in the ninth as Burnett fanned two Sox hitters in the sixth and seventh each and finished with 11 strikeouts.
Scott Downs came in for the final out and caught Jacoby Ellsbury looking at a called third strike.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Sox-Yanks (the final chapter?)
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk with Sean McAdam. The topics: the importance to the Red Sox psyche of showing they can beat New York; the possibility of Manny Ramirez returning this weekend; Daisuke Matsuzaka's chance to show he belongs; the first taste of the rivalry for Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury; and potential retaliation for Joba Chamberlain's pitching escapades last month.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
The stakes this weekend for the Red Sox: "From a confidence standpoint it would be good for them to reverse this trend of the last couple months, where the Yankees seem to be winning the games when they have to. The Red Sox dominated the season series earlier in the year ... but it has been all Yankees since midseason. And it would certainly behoove the Red Sox to maybe try to win a couple and take back a little back of that momentum in the event that these two teams meet in the ALCS, as a lot people think is going to happen."
Will Manny play? "I think we've all learned not to try to predict Manny Ramirez's behavior, but I'd be surprised, because that kind of injury is something that can linger for a long time. It can be easily aggravated, and there's nothing beyond the momentum that we talked about earlier that makes it important for the Red Sox here to try to win these games. Certainly they'd like to, but to get Manny back on the field, perhaps prematurely, would seem kind of silly."
On Dice-K: "There's some doubt creeping in about how and where he fits into the team's postseason pitching plans, and independent of how big tonight is, or the opponent, I think he has to show that he can turn this around and be counted on when the postseason begins."
Was Ortiz burdened by his lack of late-game heroics before last night? "I think probably. Particularly with the absence of Manny Ramirez the last couple of weeks, it has sort of fallen on Ortiz, and to a lesser degree I'd say Mike Lowell, to shoulder the offnesive load for this team. But it is kind of hard to believe that we could get to game 145, or whatever it is, before Ortiz has that kind of late-inning heroics which we've almost taken for granted the last few years."
Speed in the lineup: "They're still not going to be running around the bases with abandon and challenging Rickey Henderson anytime soon. But just the ability to take the extra base, to put guys in motion sometimes, to be aggressive, to maybe force some mistakes on the part of the defense, is a weapon that the Red Sox have seldom had the luxury of relying on."
Will Mussina return to the Yankees' rotation? "I'm sure that's on the table here. ... They do have some depth now with Kennedy and Hughes, who give them more options in the rotation. If Mussina can pitch like he did last night, then obviously his experience and many postseason starts can be a benefit as they head into October, but I would say that they probably need to see more than one good start to have him in their plans, because they do have other options now."
Importance of getting the top playoff seed: "In the event that they play the Cleveland Indians, as they would if the season ended today, and say the Angels were to knock off the Yankees in the other Division Series, having homefield against the Angels would save them a trip to the West Coast, to say nothing of the fact that they have played the Angels far better at Fenway than they have out at Anaheim. ... It's a lot easier to go out once to Anaheim for games three, four and five than it is to go out there to start the series for games one and two, and know that if it gets extended you have to go back for games six and seven."
Wakefield's second poor start: "That has to be at least somewhat ominous, because Wakefield's history is one of being either very good or cooling off, and as you're heading down the stretch here, it's not a good sign that he's had two pretty rough starts in a row. So they'll see if they can maybe correct some of that on the side and get him headed in the right direction as October approaches."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Good stuff from Schilling
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Today's topics are: Curt Schilling's performance Monday night; no output from the offense; Scott Kazmir's standing among the top A.L. hurlers; Tampa Bay's late-season surge; Daisuke Matsuzaka's immediate future; and Manny Ramirez's health.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
Schilling:"It certainly looked like he has made the transition, or is successfully making the transition, from power pitcher to a guy who's got to survive a little bit more on finesse. He's learning how to do that, and the results show that."
Can Tampa Bay get better next year? "It will come down to pitching, and beyond Kazmir and [James] Shields, who emerged this year as the number-two guy, I think what they really need is some good young pitching to continue to develop."
Will Dice-K miss a start? "I think that might be something under consideration after this start. I think they want to have him make this one -- first of all, they want to have him throw today and break down some things on the side to see what they can do to improve his command, which has obviously been one of the issues. He will make his start Friday. ... [then] he would have to pitch on regular rest next time, which would be Wednesday in Toronto, and I get the feeling they're not going to have him do that."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Another winner from Buchholz
Click here to listen to the full audio report, as Sean McAdam joins us for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Today's topics: Clay Buchholz's gutsy relief performance last night; Tim Wakefield's shaky return from the disabled list; the emergence of Kevin Cash as an alternative to Doug Mirabelli; Coco Crisp's trade value; Kevin Youkilis' record-tying no-errors streak; Red Sox Gold Glove candidates; and revelations involving Rick Ankiel and human growth hormone.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments?
Buchholz: "It's only been three major-league appearances, but I would say that this guy's mettle has already been tested and shown to be more than good enough to pitch at this level."
Crisp: "The Red Sox could be dealing from a real position of strength [this offseason]. They've got a superb defensive outfielder with a somewhat limited offfensive portfolio, but still someone who has speed and some other dimensions to use. He's under control for three years, it's an affordable deal, and the Red Sox can sit back and get the best offer they can, and then have Ellsbury be the center fielder next year."
Gold Glove candidates: "Obviously there are two players, maybe even three, who deserve Gold Glove consideration on the Red Sox: Crisp, who's made one error this year; Youkilis, who has not made any; and I think you have to look at Dustin Pedroia at second base."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Tired Okajima; Jacoby's the man
Click here to listen to the full audio as Sean McAdam joins us for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. The topics: the worn-down Hideki Okajima; Curt Schilling's up-and-down night; why Jacoby Ellsbury is a better option (for now) than J.D. Drew; Manny Ramirez's health; and the possibility of Matt Clement pitching again in a Red Sox uniform.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On bullpen fatigue: "Certainly the unavailability of Gagne for the about the last 10 days now has impacted things. His very acquisition was designed to take some of the workload off Okajima in the second half, and because he was in turn ineffective and then unavailable, they've had to run Okajima out there on a pretty regular basis, and that's something they wanted to avoid. I think that, should Gagne come back -- and he will have a bullpen [session] today and probably be, I would imagine, available starting tomorrow night -- if he can come back and be healthy and effective, that probably straightens it out."
On Ellsbury: "I think he has really caught [the team's] attention with his poise and ability to fit right in, and not be overwhelmed by circumstances. And correspondingly, Drew -- I think everyone has waited for that explosion ... and it hasn't happened, and you start to wonder if it's going to happen this year. And if you start comparing the two, I'm not sure that J.D. Drew, with about eight years in the big leagues, has all that much over Jacoby Ellsbury beyond than experience right now."
On Ramirez: "Frankly I would be surprised if you saw him any earlier than that next road trip, which goes to Toronto and Tampa. I guess it's possible he might be available for the Yankees series next weekend, but clearly he's not ready to partake in the Tampa Bay series when they come back home if he hasn't even started baseball activities. ... I think the important thing right now is that he gets his timing down at the plate when he comes back enough to get himself into the postseason feeling ready, and having faced some live pitching, and most importantly healthy again."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Ellsbury, Papelbon and Buchholz
Sean McAdam rejoins us today for our latest edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Today's topics: different ways to beat the Blue Jays; Jonathan Papelbon goes back-to-back-to-back; Jacoby Ellsbury's surprising power surge; how the Red Sox plan to use Clay Buchholz; and the availability of Eric Gagne.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On Papelbon: "I think it's a terrific sign that in the first week of September, he's taken on his biggest workload of the season. That tells me that they've done a pretty good job preserving him, and as they get into the stretch run, they don't have to be as careful."
On Ellsbury: "He's hit as many home runs (2) in 31 major-league at-bats as he hit all season in 436 minor-league at-bats. And he talked about that last night, saying that when he went back down after coming up [in mid-summer], he changed some things in his swing ... started using his legs a little more in terms of his approach at the plate, started generating a little more power, and we've seen that."
On Buchholz: "They're kind of hoping -- and it's really only that; I don't think they have any great expectations here -- but they're kind of hoping that they catch a little lightning in a bottle in the final three weeks. I don't want to say he can duplicate what Francisco Rodriguez did with the Angels in 2002, but maybe he can be Jonathan Papelbon with the Red Sox in 2005."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: A depressing series; look out next time
Just back from New York, Sean McAdam joins us for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics: the two big problems about this week; the Yankees' late-season dominance of the Red Sox; Joba Chamberlain vs. Kevin Youkilis; the reversed call on the double play in the seventh inning; the always disappointing J.D. Drew; and an encouraging start from Curt Schilling.
Following are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On the sweep: "The Red Sox know that the Yankees would be pretty formidable in October, and that's half of the problem of what happened the last three days. Not only did the Red Sox not pull away and wrap up the division, but they had an opportunity to really damage the Yankees' playoff hopes ... and they failed to do that."
On the Chamberlain incident: "I think there's definitealy some carryover effect there. ... A number of [Red Sox] players in the clubhouse were talking about, 'There's still three games left,' and 'This is to be continued,' and 'We'll revisit this.' And for whatever reason, Youkilis seems to be in the middle of this all the time. You remember that he got buzzed by Scott Proctor [earlier this season], and yesterday for reasons no one can quite figure out he was the target of Joba Chamberlain."
On Drew's awful series: "You'd be hard-pressed to remember three games in which Drew had worse at-bats. I think there was one single in the first game that was hard hit from Drew, and that was about it. Everything else was the sort of rollover groundball to the right side, or in yesterday's case the groundball to the left side that started the infamous double play [involving Youkilis being called safe, then out]. ... For Drew not to be able to come through and not fill the void [left by Manny Ramirez's absence] is just one more series of disappointments in what has been an always disappointing first seaosn in Boston."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Back to the old anemic offense
Sean McAdam joins us from Yankee Stadium for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Today's topics of conversation: can this team succeed without Manny Ramirez? Terry Francona's decision to stay with Beckett into the seventh last night; Curt Schilling's keys to success today; the Yankees' playoff hopes getting better and better; Julian Tavarez vs. Clay Buchholz; and who might get called up from the minors in the week ahead (aside from Jacoby Ellsbury, Brandon Moss and Buchholz).
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Life without Manny: "Certainly a six-game lead with 30 to go is fairly comfortable, but if Manny is out indeed for an extended stretch, it's going to be a little bit more difficult, there's no getting around that."
On staying with Beckett: "I don't have any problem with him going out for the seventh. In fact, as angry as Beckett was for leaving that curveball out over the middle of the plate for A-Rod to hit out, he still said he felt strong and good and could have finished the inning."
On potential call-ups: "Certainly [Royce] Clayton. That was the reason he was signed, to give them an experienced middle infielder down the stretch if anything were to happen to Cora, Lugo or Pedroia. Clayton is someone who could play either position and has done so for a long time in the big leagues. ... Kevin Cash. Doug Mirabelli is eligible to come off the disabled list this weekend, but Cash will stick around to give them the flexibility of a third catcher. Maybe one other pitcher ... but for a team in contention, they would not want to have too many people hanging around here who aren't going to be useful."
NEW YORK – This was a battle of Texas gunslingers – a past Red Sox ace matched against the present one – and on this night at least, old was better than new.
Roger Clemens, 45 years old and a dozen years after the Red Sox presumed his best days were behind him, limited the Sox to a single run over six innings while Josh Beckett, stalled in his attempt to become baseball’s first 17-game winner was knocked around for a career-high 13 hits as the Yankees grabbed a 4-3 victory.
Gaining momentum in their late-season pursuit of the front-running Red Sox, the Yankees carvied another game off the Sox’ lead. The Red Sox hold a six-game edge in the American League East heading into this afternoon’s series finale and must still face the Yankees’ best pitcher – Chien-Ming Wang.
The Sox gave themselves a late-inning chance when Kevin Youkilis hammered a homer into the seats in left off Kyle Farnsworth. The homer was the 14th of the season for Youkilis – establishing a personal best – and the fifth in a row away from home.
But the Sox fell short in their comeback, repelled by ageless Mariano Rivera, who recorded a four-out save. Rivera
Beckett, who suffered his first loss since July 31, yielded 13 hits, a career-high and the most number of hits allowed by a Red Sox starter since Curt Schilling gave up 13 on April 22, 2004 against Toronto.
Though the Yankees only scored in two of the seven innings in which Beckett pitched, the start was a game-long battle for him. Beckett didn’t have a single inning in which he retired every hitter he faced and only twice – the fourth and the fifth innings – did he face the minimum number of hitters.
When Alex Rodriguez hit a looping liner to left that got out in a hurry with two down in the seventh, Beckett’s night was through. He trudged off the mound to the derision of the partisan crowd and for an inning on so, stood at the far end of the dugout, his hands on his hips in apparent disbelief.
The Red Sox were held hitless by Clemens through the first five innings. But with one out in the sixth, the Sox snapped to no-hit bid and spoiled the shutout with a mighty swing from the bat of David Ortiz.
Ortiz drove a pitch from Clemens into the upper deck in right for his 25th homer of the season and fourth in his last five games.
The Sox hinted at a bigger inning when, with Clemens tiring, a two-out walk to Kevin Youkilis and a sharply-hit single to right by J.D. Drew gave the Sox baserunners at the corners.
But Clemens got Jason Varitek to hit an inning-ending roller to second, and was then finished for the night.
Beckett gave up a career-high 13 hits, four of them in the third when the Yankees bunched together three runs.
With Jorge Posada (single) aboard, Beckett was nearly out of the inning after Jason Giambi fouled out to first for the second out. But the inning was extended with a walk to Robinson Cano.
A single to center from No. 9 hitter Melky Cabrera produced the first run of the night and Cabrera then moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
Beckett and Johnny Damon then engaged in an epic at-bat, with Damon expertly fouling off pitched before slicing a groundball through the shortstop hole, delivering both baserunners.
The Sox’ starter then didn’t help himself in fielding a topper to the left of the mound from Derek Jeter. A wild throw to first got past Youkilis at first base, enabling Damon to take third and Jeter to move to second.
Beckett then ended the inning by getting Bobby Abreu to ground to second.
Clemens was wild early, but the Sox couldn’t take advantage.
He walked Drew and Varitek in succession with two out in the second, but Coco Crisp ended the threat with a groundout to first.
In the third, Clemens walked Eric Hinske to lead the inning, but after a groundout by Julio Lugo and a bunt try by Pedroia advanced Hinske to second, then third, Ortiz stranded him there by flying out to the warning track in left.
Varitek drew a second walk leading off the fifth, but never moved from first as Crisp struck out swinging, Hinske flied to center and Lugo grounded to third.
Through the fifth, the Sox had managed to four baserunners – without benefit of a hit.
NEW YORK – The news about Manny Ramirez’ injury became slightly more ominous yesterday when it was revealed that the outfielder is suffering from an oblique strain, and not, as the Red Sox first said, back spasms.
Ramirez was examined yesterday by both Dr. Stuart Hershon, the Yankees team physician, and Dr. Larry Ronan, one of a team of doctors employed by the Red Sox. They found that Ramirez was suffering from a slight strain of the left oblique muscle.
Ramirez first felt soreness in the area last week, sitting out the final game of the Red Sox series in Tampa. After playing the first three games of the four-game series in Chicago, Ramirez also sat out Sunday.
He was taken out of the game after the seventh inning Tuesday night.
A club source estimated that Ramirez could miss anywhere from ``days to weeks’’ with the injury, though the former is more likely than the latter. Ramirez told the Associated Press yesterday afternoon that he could be out of the lineup ``(M)aybe a week.’’
Oblique strains have been known to sideline players for weeks and, on rare occasions, months.
Manager Terry Francona said only that Ramirez was ``day-to-day’’ and acknowledged that he almost certainly wouldn’t play today, the series finale.
Ramirez is expected to be further examined tomorrow when the team returns home from its three-city road trip.
With reserve outfielder Bobby Kielty also temporarily sidelined with back spasms, stemming from a collision with the bullpen wall in Fenway two weeks ago, the Sox were short of players last night.
Eric Hinske was the starting left fielder last night, but the Sox had only three available outfielders last night, with shortstop Julio Lugo available in a pinch.
Rosters expand Saturday, and while the Red Sox would like to have their call-ups finish the International League season – which concludes Monday – the team doesn’t want to be caught shorthanded, either.
Jacoby Ellsbury will probably join the Sox Saturday, with Brandon Moss due Tuesday.
The Sox have changed their minds about Saturday’s starter.
The plan had been to give Clay Buchholz his second major league start. But because Buchholz has struggled in his last two outings and, correspondingly, Julian Tavarez has sparkled in his last two spot starts, the Sox are now giving the ball to Tavarez to face Baltimore.
There was also some concern about fatigue with Buchholz. He’s pitched 125 1/3 innings at Portland and Pawtucket and another six in Boston in his major league debut two weeks ago, easily the most he’s thrown in a single season.
Buchholz will still be added to the major league roster when it expands and could draw another start later in the month should the Sox clinch and want to rest some of their rotation regulars.
With Roger Clemens (353 career wins) as the opposing starter, last night marked the 25th time since Walter Johnson retired in 1927 that the Sox had faced a 300-game winner. The last two times it’s happened, Greg Maddux was the opponent: June 10, 2005 with the Cubs and this past June 22 with San Diego…Going into last night, the Sox’ bullpen had a scoreless streak of 5 2/3 innings and had allowed just three earned ruins in its last 26 2/3 innings, leading to a 1.01 ERA in that span…Seen in the crowd last night: actors Kevin Bacon, Penny Marshall, Alec Baldwin and lefthander Paul McCartney.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: The Yankees win; how badly hurt is Manny?
Sean McAdam joins us from New York for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics include: Daisuke Matsuzaka's inability to keep the game tied; Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch; Manny Ramirez's back injury; lineup options for the Red Sox should Ramirez be held out of tonight's game; Joba Chamberlain; and tonight's Josh Beckett-Roger Clemens matchup.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's commments:
On Matsuzaka: "Ironically one of the things that was included in the scouting report about Daisuke when he came over is that he was good in big-game situations and would bear down, and frankly we haven't seen that lately."
On Ramirez: "It was a little ominous I guess -- or maybe not -- to see Dr. Stuart Hershon, who is the longtime Yankee team physician, leaving the Red Sox clubhouse emerging from the trainer's room. One supposes -- and that's all it is -- that he was examining Manny. ... Whether that was precautionary, or to administer x-rays, or what, we dont know. I think that it's a little up in the air whether we'll see him today or even tomorrow."
Tonight's pitchers: "Two kind of Texas gunslingers, almost a generation apart. ... Josh Beckett grew up in Spring, Texas, idolizing Roger Clemens. He says he has a box full of baseball cards that are Roger Clemens' alone. It will be the first time that they've faced one another."
Game story: Damon the difference in 5-3 Yankee win.
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
NEW YORK -- Embarrassed by their blowout loss the night before in Detroit and forced to contemplate the prospect of settling for the wild-card, the New York Yankees bought themselves more time – if nothing else – in the chase for first place in the American League East on Tuesday night.
Johnny Damon, whose last home run here in a Red Sox uniform spelled the beginning of the end for the 2004 Yankees, kept his team’s fleeting hopes alive with a two-run homer in the seventh off Daisuke Matsuzaka, handing the desperate Yanks a 5-3 decision over the Red Sox.
''We had a tough day yesterday,’’ said Damon, ''so this is a good way to kick off a homestand. Granted, we’re still back of the Red Sox, but we need to worry about ourselves and win ballgames and that’s exactly what our club went out and did today.''
The Red Sox saw their four-game winning streak stopped in its tracks, while the Yankees sliced a game off the Red Sox’ lead in the American League East, which now stands at seven games. It was New York’s fourth win in the last five meetings between the two.
''We’re still approaching things the way we need to,'' said Jason Varitek, whose solo homer in the top of the seventh tied things at 3-3 before Damon helped the Yankees regain the lead. ''The only thing we’re worried about is playing good baseball.''
The Sox’ offensive support of Matsuzaka has been an issue for much of the season, with the team limited to two runs or fewer in 12 of his previous 16 starts. But another ominous trend – the pitcher’s own inability to protect leads or preserve ties – surfaced again last night.
He surrendered a 1-0 lead in Tampa Bay last Wednesday in a 2-1 loss, then last night twice re-gifted the lead after the Sox had come from behind to tie the score.
''I think all responsibility for our losses belong to me,'' said Matsuzaka, who lost his fourth straight start to drop to 13-11.
Matsuzaka attempted to ride a fastball in on Damon with pinch-runner Wilson Betemit on second, but didn’t get it far enough in and Damon pulled it down the line to the inviting right-field porch.
''He didn’t locate it,'' acknowledged Francona of the offending pitch.
Down by two with two innings to go, the Sox got their first look at Yankee phenom Joba Chamberlain, who allowed a leadoff walk to Kevin Youkilis and a two-out single to Mike Lowell before overpowering J.D. Drew for third out.
Mariano Rivera struck out the side in the ninth for the save.
The Sox never led and spent the game playing from behind, a reversal of the season-long chase in the standings.
Trailing 2-0 early, the Sox began their climb back with a leadoff opposite-field homer from Manny Ramirez, giving him at least 20 home runs for 13 consecutive seasons.
The Sox pulled even in the third when Julio Lugo shot a triple into the left-center gap to open the inning, then trotted home when David Ortiz launched a sacrifice fly to deep left.
In the fourth through the sixth innings, the Sox put the leadoff man on twice and got a one-out single once, but failed to advance any of the runners to second – much less home.
More times than not, Matsuzaka has an inning in which he struggles with his command in his strarts, and last night, it came right away.
Damon has led with a single to center and was joined on base one out later by Bobby Abreu, who drew a walk. Matsuzaka then buried a pitch into the small of Alex Rodriguez’ back, drawing a chorus of boos from the stands and filling the bases.
He got countryman Hideki Matsui to hit into a fielder’s choice as Damon scored. But he failed to limit the damage there, as Jorge Posada laced a double down the left-field line, delivering Abreu.
Matsuzaka retired 12 of the next 13 before Derek Jeter took him out the opposite way, snapping a long homerless streak for the Yankee captain.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: What's still at stake in New York
Sean McAdam is on his way to New York for this week's Sox-Yanks series, and he stops on his way to talk to us for the latest edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics: a role reversal in the old rivalry; the Red Sox motivation the rest of the way; how the Red Sox have kept their division lead; the Yankees' options in the starting rotation; and tonight's Pettitte-Matsuzaka matchup.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On the Yankees, apparently chasing the wild card: "The shoe's on the other foot here, I guess, as we get into the final month of the season, because for the last nine years it has been the Yankees finishing first and for most of those nine years the Red Sox finishing second, and getting in as the wild card on three or four different occasions. And now it is reversed, and it looks like the Red Sox are on their way to their first division title since 1995, and the Yankees are going to have to get in as a wild card for the first time since 1997."
Motivators for the Red Sox: "I think that they are mostly motivated by trying to get this thing wrapped up as quickly as possible, and obviously that's going to take a few weeks. ... You remember the last time the Red Sox got into the postseason, in 2005 -- when they actually tied the Yankees but lost out on the tiebreaker and became the wild card -- because they had to work so hard right down to game 162, they didn't have time to get their pitching lined up, and that resulted in Matt Clement getting a game one assignment against he White Sox, and we all know what happened there."
Matsuzaka going tonight: "I think it will be interesting, because he hasn't faced [the Yankees] for a couple of months now. Clearly the Yankees are expert at driving up pitch counts, because they can be so selective and patient at the plate, and this will be a good indication to see if Daisuke has learned to deal with that a little better."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Four blowouts in Chicago; a bad decision in Detroit
Sean McAdam joins us today for our latest edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics today: the Red Sox' weeklong offensive explosion; the return of David Ortiz's home-run power; the continued success of the pitching; the stunning decline of the White Sox; Manny Ramirez's health; and Friday night's late, late game in Detroit.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
The Red Sox lineup, hot from top to bottom at last: "It took a hundred and twenty something games or so, and it's difficult to perhaps isolate what they were able to accomplish from who they were facing -- they were up against arguably the two worst teams in the American League right now -- but I think that they strung together enough good at-bats, got some terrific performances from Mike Lowell and David Ortiz in particular in the last week, and who knows. This may be them finally kicking it into high offensive gear, it may have been an aberration, but in any event it was a stretch that saw them go 6-1 and add to the lead over the Yankees rather than have it shrink."
On Ramirez's being held out of Sunday's game: "I think there was some soreness [in his back], and it was also the attraction of giving him consecutive days off prior to a big series here. He had sat out Wednesday, and this is a rare stretch where he missed two games in five."
On the Detroit game Friday night: "I saw that Major League Baseball was not happy that the White Sox and the umpires on hand didn't wait longer on Thursday night, when the first Red Sox game of the series was rained out after a 2 1/2-hour rain delay, in a city that experienced significant damage because of the storms. There were hundreds of thousands of people without power overnight, there were thunder and lightning strikes well into the night. When I got back downtown into my hotel, there was lightning as late as midnight or 1 o'clock. There's no way that game could have or should have been played, and to think that they waited until 11 o'clock in Detroit the next night as part of a reaction to that is stunning. I do not understand the thinking there."
Game story: Red Sox score 21 runs in sweep of Chisox
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
CHICAGO – The forecast for the day was bleak. For the Red Sox, the reality was far sunnier.
Expecting to dodge the rain the entire day, the Sox instead played under blue skies and shone themselves Friday, sweeping the White Sox in convincing fashion – 11-3 in the first game and 10-1 in the nightcap.
The two victories meant they would lose no ground in the standings to the Yankees, who were playing the Tigers in Detroit late Friday/early Saturday after a 4-hour and 2-minute rain delay. When the Yankee game started, the Sox' lead was six games, five in the loss column.
The 21-run surge for the Sox may signal an offensive awakening for the Red Sox, who in the last week have scored eight or more runs five times. In the night game, the Sox belted three homers – two from David Ortiz – for the first time in almost a month.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, yesterday marked the first time since in a half-century that the Sox had scored 10 runs or more in two games on the same day. They last did it against the Kansas City Athletics on June 23, 1957.
For the two games, the Sox pounded out 28 hits. Ortiz homered in the fourth to put the Sox ahead 2-1, then hit a second shot – this one solo -- an inning later. Later that same inning, Kevin Youkilis socked a 410-foot wallop to left, just his second homer in the last 22 games, a three-run drive that increased Boston's lead to 9-1.
Curt Schilling went six innings in the second game to pick up his second straight win, allowing just one run on three hits in what was clearly his best effort since coming off the disabled list earlier this month.
For the two games, the Red Sox bullpen pitched a combined 6 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.
The sweep gave the Sox a 4-1 record to date on their last long road trip of the season.
Accustomed to playing before sellout crowds, with their nomadic fans often outnumbering those of the home team, the Sox in the early game saw a U.S. Cellular Field that was almost silent, with perhaps a couple of thousand fans in the seats, the result of a makeup date from the night before.
The energy level was almost non-existent.
''This,'' Mike Lowell would say later, ''was like a Thursday day game between the Marlins and Pirates . . . with the threat of rain.''
Lowell, of course, lived through more than a few of those in his seven seasons in Florida. So, too, did Josh Beckett, yesterday’s starting pitcher.
Perhaps, then, it was no surprise that Lowell and Beckett were two of the principal contributors to the Red Sox’ first-game win.
Lowell, now regularly installed as the Sox’ No. 5 hitter, produced three hits, two runs and two RBI while Beckett overcame a shaky first inning to become baseball’s first 16-game winner.
Beckett gave up a two-out double in the first to A.J. Pierzynski, then walked three straight hitter, a temporary lapse in control that was hardly typical. In his previous 13 outings, Beckett hadn’t walked more than two hits in a game .
''His stuff was good,’’ said manager Terry Francona. ''He just made a few mistakes. A guy hit a double and then he lost the strike zone.’’
Beckett, however, rediscovered it in time, catching Juan Uribe on a called third strike and limiting the damage to one run.
''Three walks in an inning – I wasn’t too excited about that,’’ Beckett said. ''I was lucky to get out of it with just one run.''
He then held the White Sox scoreless until the fifth, while the Red Sox offense caught up against Chicago starter Jon Garland.
Beckett wasn’t typically sharp, perhaps owing to the fact that he was pitching with seven days’ rest, the result of the spot start by Julian Tavarez Sunday and Thursday night’s rainout.
''It’s easy to be great when you have great stuff,’’ said Lowell. ''But what counts is what you do when you don’t have your best stuff. Josh was able to grind it out today.’’
There were plenty of offensive sparks. Six different hitters produced multihit games, led by Lowell with his three hits. Additionally, six different players chipped in with at least one RBI, including Bobby Kielty who didn’t get into the game until the eighth and produced two sacrifice flies in two plate appearances.
Lowell, in particular, has taken to the No. 5 spot in the batting order. A notorious first-half player, Lowell has hit a sizzling .375 in August and has 15 RBI in 21 games.
''I love hitting fifth,’’ said Lowell, who has displaced J.D. Drew in most games in that spot. ''I think my mindset works better there. I like it. My production, my power, my mindset is right for that. And hitting right after Manny (Ramirez) and David (Ortiz), you’re going to have opportunities (to knock runs in).’’
And the miniscule crowd and early afternoon start? It didn’t impact the Red Sox, who generated their own energy.
''At this point in the season,’’ Lowell said, ''every game is important to us.’’
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Greetings from rainy Chicago
Sean McAdam is waiting, like the rest of us, to see whether the Red Sox play two games, one game or no games today out in Chicago. In the meantime, he joins us by phone for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics: the weather forecast, the scheduling possibilities for the rest of the weekend, the pitching possibilities for the rest of the weekend, the promotion of Javy Lopez and the demotion of Jon Lester, and the health of Dustin Pedroia.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Today's weather: "There were people with the White Sox yesterday saying that, if anything, the weather today was going to be worse than it was yesterday, which is a little hard to believe given what we saw yesterday. But their report showed it raining from early afternoon today until past midnight, so it is going to be a definite challenge getting -- nevermind two -- but just one in today."
What might the schedule be if games are postponed today: "I'd say at this point that they're keeping all their options open. The tricky part is that Saturday is the Fox game of the week, with a 2:55 (3:55 Eastern time) start here on Saturday, which makes it impossible to do a separate-admissions doubleheader, because you need close to three hours in between the two games to do that, and of course you couldn't have a game scheduled to start at 9 o'clock local time. So the options would be to play a regularly scheduled, one-admission doubleheader, which would cost the White Sox a gate, on Saturday. There's talk that they can't do a day-night doubleheader [on Sunday] because of the collective-bargaining agreement, because Sunday is getaway day for the Red Sox. So they would have to do another single-admision doubleheader on Sunday, and then looking forward, there is a mutual off day on September 24, so the teams may have to resort to coming back here and playing one or number two."
The roster moves: "With the Yankees, there's just a ton of left-handed hitters in that lineup, and Terry Francona didn't feel comfortable going into that series with only Hideki Okajima in the bullpen as a lefty to go to. So Lopez gives him that matchup lefty that they haven't had since Lopez was sent down earlier in the month, and as Terry Francona said yesterday, there has been some inconsistency with Jon Lester certainly -- as his E.R.A., which is nearly 6, attests -- but they understand that's part of the process ... This way, it gives them a lefty for both series [against Chicago and New York]. It only costs Lester one start, and then he's back on September 2 and presumably with the club and in the rotation the rest of the way."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: No support for Matsuzaka
Just before boarding a plane for Chicago, where he will watch the Red Sox' four-game series with the White Sox, Sean McAdam spoke to us for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Today's topics: Daisuke Matsuzaka's chronic lack of run support (two runs or fewer scored by Boston in 12 of his last 16 starts); Jason Varitek's inability to get anyone home (stranded eight men on base); Dustin Pedroia's importance to the lineup; Curt Schilling's strange suggestion that he might join Tampa Bay; and the Baltimore Orioles' fine display of pitching yesterday at Camden Yards.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On Matsuzaka: "The identity of the pticher on the mound should not impact the productivity of the lineup ... and yet 12 out of 16 is something of a trend, and you wonder if there's anything to that. I think it's probably just happenstance and bad fortune for Matsuzaka, but certainly with 13 wins, he could have at this point won conservatively another four or five if they had scored some runs for him."
On Schilling: "The strange thing of course is that he would talk about Tampa Bay as a possible landing spot. For someone who is as competitive as he is, and someone who kind of forced his way out of both Philadelphia and Arizona because the team was no longer competitive, why he would want to go and pitch for a team that has never won more than 70 games in a season is a bit curious."
What crazy games have you covered (similar to the 30-3 Rangers win yesterday): "What's the I'd say the closest that I came to that was a World Series game in 1993 between the Blue Jays and Phillies ... it involved more than 30 runs ... and it really kind of turned into a softball game, and I thought kind of made a mockery -- here's supposed to be the fall classic, and the best that baseball has to offer, and the pitchers just couldn't get anybody out, and it was one of those games that took 4 1/2 hours. This is a little different obviously, the stakes aren't as high, but I think on a night like that, no matter what side you're on -- if you're covering the Rangers or the Orioles, winners or losers, you try to find some of the quirks and some of the oddities that are going on in front of you and try to have a little fun with it."
Sean McAdam joins us again for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics today: last night's win at Tampa Bay; Jonathan Papelbon's consecutive 30-save seasons; Chris Carter's arrival and what it might (or might not) mean to the team in September; and Daisuke Matsuzaka's preference for longer rest.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On last night's game: "The offense definitely was the story last night. Lester made a couple of mistakes, leaving hanging breaking balls that were hit for multi-run homers -- first it was Carlos Pena and then Iwamura later in the game -- and it was not the kind of start that he turned in last week against the same Tampa team. Then again, it's a reminder that this guy is not yet a finished product, as there's been some inconsistency here. But the offense once again produced runs in the early going, which is something that this team has not done a lot of in the last couple of weeks."
On Papelbon's achievement: "It's a great testament to Papelbon, given how uncertain things were just about a year ago at this time. ... For Papelbon to come back and have the kind of season that he's had -- with some restrictions placed on him in terms of usage -- is quite a positive sign for the Red Sox."
On Carter: "I'm not even sure, despite the fine season that he's had in Triple-A, that he'll be a guy they'll bring up. From people I've talked to, as good a hitter as he is, he's pretty suspect defensively and he needs some work at first base. He has played some outfield before in his career. He'd be a left-handed bat; I just don't know that they would necessarily want somebody who has not had a single big-league at-bat to be thrown into a pennant race and have him pinch hit or come off the bench."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam (updated with excerpts): Cash delivers; Lowell's red-hot
Sean McAdam is back for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Today's topics: Kevin Cash comes through; Tim Wakefield dominates, then leaves early; Mike Lowell stays red-hot, and how that affects the Sox' offseason plans at first; Wily Mo Pena's classy gesture; and Chris Carter, shipping up to Boston.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On Cash: "After that first inning, I think a lot of Red Sox fans watching were having Josh Bard flashbacks ... after a little bit of an adjustment period, Cash took to it pretty well. There were a couple of balls glancing off his glove, but for the most part he kept the pitch in control, and Wakefield was masterful for seven innings."
On the chances of Lowell returning next year: "It will come down to, I think, the length of the commitment that Lowell is seeking, and of course how much money he wants. I think if he were to go to the Red Sox right now and say that ... let's use Jermaine Dye's contract as sort of a bookmark -- if he went to them and said he wanted a two-year, $22-million deal, I'm pretty certain they'd be happy to do that. If on the other hand as he hits 33 he is loking for his first real free-agent payoff, then I think it is going to be difficult for them to justify all that money. And of course the wild card in all that is the status of Alex Rodriguez, whom many people expect the Red sox will at least pursue somewhat if he opts out of his contract."
On Carter: "He was an All-American at Stanford, a pretty high pick, and someone who was having a very good year at Triple-A Tucson ... and as we talk about this Mike Lowell situation, it does give the Red Sox one more option, which would be to move Youkilis over to third base next year -- and this is operating under the assumption that Lowell doesn't return and A-Rod doesn't sign here ... and have Carter be the first baseman. I think somebody who's having the kind of success that he's had in Triple-A sounds like he's ready to take a shot at the big leagues."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Missed opportunities; a big week ahead
Sean McAdam joins us as usual for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics today: troubling signs from a weekend series split; sticking with Eric Gagne; Kevin Youkilis slumping down the stretch again; one last chance to build some distance with the Yankees; and Johan Santana leaving after eight with 17 strikeouts.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On the Sox' weekend performance: "They do seem to be showing a little bit more of that ability to come back late in the game. We saw them do it Saturday night -- not terribly late, in the sixth inning -- and score 10 unanswered runs against the Angels; and of course the second game of the day-night doubleheader on Friday, when they came back and took the lead for the first time late in the eighth inning only to have Eric Gagne blow up and lose it in the ninth. It seems like for every one posititive that you can take out of this weekend you could find some disturbing signs as well."
On Gagne: "There seems to be pretty good velocity on the fastball ... but [hitters] do seem to be laying off that. And even in his heyday with the Dodgers, it was the change-up that proved to be his out pitch coming out of the bullpen. Some people thought he threw more yesterday in striking out three in a scoreless inning that did include a couple of hits, although neither of them were hit hard. He was working on the side on some mechanical adjustments, whether that had something to do with the change-up grip or something that was making his off-speed pitches not as effective. But perhaps he found something yesterday and maybe started to turn a corner."
On Youkilis: "Maybe he's showing himself to be a guy who tapers off, or perhaps even runs out of gas, in the second half. I think that because he is so emotional, that he is a guy you have to watch pretty carefuly in terms of his energy level, because he leaves so much out on the field. We saw him taper off pretty badly in the second half of last year, his first full season, and a lot of people -- myself included -- thought that maybe that was attributable to a number of injuries. ... This year he's seemingly healthy, other than some bumps and bruises, and the same pattern is emerging, where in August he just seems to hit the wall."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Doubleheader day; remembering Tony C.
Sean McAdam joins us for another version of projo SoxTalk today, as the Red Sox prepare to begin a big four-game series with the Los Angeles Angels. Click here to listen to the audio file. The topics of conversation: today's pitching matchups, Dustin Pedroia's Rookie of the Year candidacy, MLB's decision to forgive Jason Giambi, and the 40th anniversary of Tony Conigliaro's gruesome injury at Fenway Park.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments. By the way, I want to correct something that I said to Sean -- the anniversary of the Conigliaro play is tomorrow, not today:
On the Rookie of the Year competition: "The number of rookies who have an impact on teams every year seems to grow exponentially. You used to kind of get used to guys getting a lot of playing time for second-division teams ... because they were not in contention and they could afford to run some young players out there. But now, I think in part because of the economics of the game, where even a team with a big payroll like the Red Sox at $135 or $140 million or so sees the value in having one of their starters be a 380,000 a year player. ... I think it's going to be a very close balloting between the pitchers on the Red Sox [Okajima and Matsuzaka], [the Angels' Reggie] Willits and [the Devil Rays' Delmon] Young and Pedroia, and I'm sure one or two others as the season plays out. But it's a pretty crowded and competitve field."
MLB's decision not to suspend Giambi: "I think it's probably the smart thing to do for Bud Selig, because otherwise you'd be sending the message that if you have information to give us that would help us to sort through this mess, we're going to take it and then we are going to turn around and discipline you and punish you for your past involvement in steroids or other enhancements. I think some of these guys need to have the signal that there's a statute of limitations in place here, and that they're not going to be putting themselves in any sort of professional or legal liability or risk by coming clean when they're asked the question."
On Conigliaro: "Everyone remembers that grotesque picture of Conigliaro in the hospital with his eye totally black, and the seams of the baseball visible still a couple of days after. It was as sickening a feeling as you can get. ... Of course the thought that we continue to have some 40 years later is, what sort of career might Tony C. have had? There are people, including Jim Palmer, who believe that Conigliaro -- given his power, the ballpark in which he played and his youth -- was going to be a 500-plus home-run hitter by the time his career was over, and maybe even someone who would threaten the all-time home run record."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Ninth-inning struggles; a Buchholz preview
Sean McAdam joins us once again for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio. The topics: the Red Sox' struggles against pitchers they see for the first time; the Red Sox' struggles in the ninth inning; what to watch for in Clay Buchholz's debut; big weekend series in both Boston and New York; and the party-spoiling Baltimore Orioles.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Struggling against pitchers they face for the first time: "It's kind of a pattern that we see all the time. ... Terry Francona said that maybe we're making too much of it; if you look at it league-wide that most teams struggle against pitchers they're seeing for the first time. The edge always seems to go to the pitcher in those matchups. But beyond anecdotally, it's almost like the Red Sox are more susceptible than others, and yesterday was a prime example."
On the ninth-inning struggles: "I think that so much of their comeback aura was associated with Ortiz that with his declining production, whether it be from the shoulder, the knee, or how teams are pitching him, it just seems like a lot of that magic revolved around him, and it's no longer there this year."
Welcome, Clay Buchholz: "You get a guy who is not your classic power pitcher build, a little more on the wiry side. He has a plus fastball that he can throw in the mid 90s and up, he has a plus curveball that is his second best pitch, but he's got command of three or four pitches. He has showed the ability to make people swing and miss at every level, including Triple A. ... Red Sox fans have been hearing about this guy for the last year-plus, and now they'll get to see him up close and on a major-league mound."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Comeback win; remembering Rizzuto
Sean McAdam joins us today from Fenway Park for the latest edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics: last night's come-from-behind win, Jon Lester, Mike Timlin, Wily Mo Pena, Barry Bonds' threat to sue Curt Schilling, and Phil Rizzuto.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On Lester's economical outing: "That has been a problem for him throughout his brief major-league career. It seems like he gets his pitch count up early, goes deep into counts, walks too many hitters, falls behind. All those things he corrected last night. ... He seemed to get ahead with his fastball, was aggressive, mixed all his pitches in pretty nicely. That's the Jon Lester that the Red Sox hope they see far more of in the coming years."
On moving Wily Mo Pena: "Technically they don't have to do anything until Friday, at which point we expect that they will bring Clay Buchholz up to make his major-league debut. The turning point here timewise: They need to clear a roster spot for Buchholz, and then Buchholz's spot will be given, presumably, to Bobby Kielty. I think they are trying in the last two days here to see if they can find anybody who will take Wily Mo Pena and give them something, anything, in return. But ... they might have to designate him."
On Phil Rizzuto: "He'll be remembered as sort of a link to the Yankees past, in much the same way that Johnny Pesky serves that role for the Red Sox. ... In Rizzuto's case it was a glorious era for the Yankees, with all those world championships that he was a part of. ... He was exactly who he came across as on TV: kind of a little eccentric, kind of goofy, not always paying close attention to the game as a broadcaster; but someone who became synonymous with those great Yankee teams and certainly a terrific goodwill ambassador, not only for the franchise but for the sport itself."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Wakefield's Tampa dominance; what to do with Gagne
Sean McAdam rejoins us today for the latest edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics: Tim Wakefield's amazing 18-2 record against the Devil Rays; Eric Gagne; Bobby Kielty; Wily Mo Pena; and Clay Buchholz.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On Wakefield's 18-2 record against Tampa Bay: "Even [Rays manager] Joe Maddon, who has been there for a handful of these over the last couple of years, was stunned by that statistic after the game. I don't know if there's any plausible explanation, maybe the fact that the Devil Rays have certainly the last few years been comprised of very young and inexperienced hitters who don't have the patience for the knuckleball. I suppose you could factor in that Wakefield loves to pitch in domes and infield stadiums, where the action on the knuckleball is better, and of course in theory half his starts would come at Tropicana Field -- a domed stadium in St. Petersburg. But it may not be anything more complicated than the Devil Rays aren't very good, and when Wakefield's knuckleball is on, it's tough for any team to hit."
Will Gagne's role change? "They seem content on using him exactly as they had envisioned. Terry Francona said the worst decision I could make would be to do the easy thing, and that is, not pitch him in those [key] spots. But they know that Eric Gagne's much better than he looked in those two games in Baltimore, and they think it's important to stay behind him and show confidence in him, and know that he's going to come out of it pretty soon."
Why no one seems to want Wily Mo Pena: "It's one thing to take a gamble on Pena and not have to give up too much, because the Red Sox' asking price is obviously pretty modest here. but the problem becomes -- thanks to his service time and his arbitration eligibility -- he becomes a $4-million player next year. ... And people are saying, 'Do I really want to pay Wily Mo Pena $4-plus million in 2008,' and that is what scares a lot of teams off."
Game Story: Wakefield stops the bleeding as Sox win 3-0
BOSTON – On Saturday, a day after the Red Sox had coughed up a four-run lead with six outs to go, the Red Sox turned to Josh Beckett in the hopes that the presumptive Cy Young Award favorite would make sure that the crushing defeat from the night before wouldn’t carry forward.
When the same kind of late-inning loss stung the Sox Sunday afternoon, the Sox had a less obvious stopper on the mound. But Tim Wakefield, who recently turned 41, was no less dependable than Beckett.
Holding the Tampa Bay Devil Rays hitless for the first six innings, Wakefield tossed eight shutout innings and steered the Red Sox back on course with a 3-0 victory, his 14th of the season.
``Unfortunately, we had some games won there (in Baltimore),’’ Wakefield said.
``That’s baseball sometimes. That’s why you play 162 games. And I think it was very important to come back home and get some momentum going our way on this homestand.’’
It helped, of course, that the opponents were the Devil Rays, who came into last night with the worst record in baseball, having lost five of their first six games with the Red Sox this season. It helped, too, that Wakefield was 17-2 lifetime against the Rays.
Wakefield and catcher Doug Mirabelli had the suspicion that Wakefield’s knuckleball, as unpredictable as any pitch in the game, might be particularly good in his bullpen session prior to the game. Just how good wasn’t clear until the game began, however.
``He came out of the bullpen with a good one,’’ said manager Terry Francona, ``and took it right into the game. It was pretty obvious that he had a good feel early on.’’
Indeed, Wakefield retired the first nine Rays in succession before walking Akinori Iwamura to start the fourth. After the free pass, Wakefield began another streak, getting the next seven in a row.
After six, the Rays were still hitless. Wakefield said he became aware of the no-hitter after five.
``It’s such a close ballgame,’’ he said, ``you’re just trying to keep runners off base, especially the top three guys in the (Tampa) lineup that can run really, really well. Dougie and I were on the same page together, mixing some good pitches in when we needed to.’’
The no-hit bid didn’t last much longer. Carl Crawford singled through the hole between first and second to lead off the seventh and quickly stole second base.
When Crawford advanced to third following a flyout to center by Carlos Pena, the shutout bid and the Sox’ lead were both soon at stake, with the Sox clinging to a 1-0 advantage.
But Wakefield got Delmon Young to swing at strike three, stranding Crawford and preserving the slim margin, a strikeout that the normally placid Wakefield called ``huge…probably one of the biggest of my career.’’
The Rays managed just one more hit – a harmless one-out single from Jonny Gomes in the eighth – before Wakefield gave way to closer Jonathan Papelbon, who recorded his 28th save and fifth in his last five scoreless appearances.
For six innings, the one run the Sox managed off Tampa Bay’s James Shields stood up. Julio Lugo (three hits) led off with a single and scored all the way from first on David Ortiz’ booming double to the triangle in center.
In the seventh, two-out walks to Mirablelli and Hinske set the table for Lugo, who singled up the middle, scoring Mirabelli.
``He swung the bat well,’ said Francona of Lugo, who has boosted his batting average to .238. ``I think he probably gets a little excited to play these guys (Lugo played for the Devil Rays from 2003 through the middle of last season). I think most players do against their former friends and teammates. I think that’s usually the case.’’
A run-scoring single from Mike Lowell in the eighth extended the lead to 3-0.
``Our offense did a great job scoring enough runs to bring in Pap to close it out,’’ said Wakefield.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: A win tonight would be nice
Sean McAdam joins us from Anaheim for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Today's topics: the Red Sox' second loss in as many games at Anaheim; why winning tonight would still mean a good start to this road trip; the fatigued Coco Crisp; J.D. Drew's coming audition in center field; the reaction to Barry Bonds in Anaheim; and whether baseball brawls actually can inspire a team to play better.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On the bad start in Anaheim: "I think [the Red Sox] understood that the first six games of this nine-game road trip were going to be pretty difficult. They were playing two teams above .500 and two teams that play very well at home, and the Red Sox played well enough to get off to a good start -- two out of three in Seattle. And I think if they can manage a win tonight and avoid that sweep, I think a 3-3 record through the first six would not be terrible, even though they've obviously lost some games in the standings."
On Drew's center field debut with the Red Sox: "It may be that this is a sort of look at coming attractions here, because while Drew will not be playing a lot of center field, he likely will become the first option when Kielty gets here. If something happens to Crisp or they want to make a move during a game, it more likely will be shifting Drew from right to center and then having Kielty play right."
The reaction to Bonds in Anaheim: "They did show the home run [at the stadium] ... they got it up there pretty quickly. ... Immediately [after fans saw Bonds] some booing began, and then the at-bat was shown, and as the ball was heading out to center field, there were certainly more boos than cheers. I looked around -- I did see some people standing up and applauding, but certainly the boos far outweighed the cheers here. In terms of Henry Aaron's video tribute [in San Francisco], I was quite surprised. He had gone out of his way in the weeks and months leading up to this to just disassociate himself from the whole chase. ... It was pretty clear reading between the lines that he himself was doubting the legitimacy of Bonds' home-run accumulation. Then again, Henry Aaron, as anyone who has known him or followed his career [knows], is the epitome of a class individual, and I think in the end he decided that it was better to make some sort of statement and not remain silent when the record was shattered."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Still the team to beat? (updated with excerpts)
Sean McAdam joins us from Anaheim for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics: Curt Schilling's first game back, Brandon Moss' difficult major-league debut, how the Sox will use Bobby Kielty, who is best primed for the playoffs in the American League (Sox fans will like this), and baseball's most cherished records.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Schilling: "Certainly for six innings, with two runs, first time back on a major-league mound for about seven weeks, you have to look at that as a positive. He did end up making the mistake -- two actually -- in the seventh, hanging the splitter to Izturis and then giving up the double. I don't know if he was tired, but certainly a couple of mistakes on the same pitch late. But overall, given what he's been through and how long he's been sidelined, I think generally you would have to say there was more good than bad."
Kielty: "I don't think they envision him in the way that they might have used Jermaine Dye had they obtained him at the trade deadline. I think Kielty will play some, particularly against lefties -- he's been pretty tough against left-handed pitchers throughout his career -- he really will eventually literally and figuratively take the place of Wily Mo Pena. He'll be a guy who plays against some tough lefties that Drew has some trouble with. He's a good enough outfielder that he can come in for defensive purposes probably for any of the three -- whether it be Ramirez, Drew or Coco Crisp. He could be a bat off the bench in the late innings. ... He's more of a fourth outfielder, just a more versatile and more athletic one than Wily Mo Pena."
Which A.L. team is best positioned for the playoffs? "I have to think, given all their strengths, that the Red Sox are the team that probably is in a position to do the most damage in October. They have a deep enough starting rotation. Certainly the addition of Gagne has given them an even deeper bullpen in the back innings. I guess the concern would be the offense, which continues to sputter at times. But I think they're the most well-rounnded of contenders, and everybody else it seems has some strengths but also some obvious weaknesses."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: No longer winless in Seattle
Sean McAdam is back for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics today: the Red Sox' consecutive wins at Safeco Field; the Mariner Moose mishap; Terry Francona's uniform dispute with major league baseball; the return of Curt Schilling; and tonight's opponent, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On the Red Sox' pitching staff: "The Red Sox now have a balanced rotation, in which they have three 13-game winners -- including Josh Beckett, who is one of just two 14-game winners in the American League, just one of three in the game along with C.C. Sabathia and Carlos Zambrano (note: John Lackey also won his 14th yesterday) -- and Beckett was exactly what they needed yesterday, keeping the Mariners in check until the Red Sox got going offensively."
On the moose nearly hitting Coco Crisp with his ATV: "We watched that unfold from the press box, and that really could have been a very serious situation. ... [Crisp] was remarkably even-handed about it. I think most players would have been far more angry that they had just escaped what could have been a serious injury. The Red Sox were understandably livid about it. Bill Bavasi, the Seattle general manager, was concerned enough to call down within two minutes of it happening and apologize to the organization on behalf of the Mariners."
On Schilling's return: "I think just first time out he's probably going to be limited to somewhere [between] 85-90 [pitches]. ... The comments from [pitching coach John ]Farrell [click here to read them] I think can be viewed somewhat as a reminder to Schilling that he has to do the work to keep the shoulder strong, and I think sort of a softened indictment that he wasn't doing that earlier in the season. I think they had the luxury of shutting him down in mid-June because they didn't like what they saw, but they also had the comfort of a sizable lead at the time. How many teams can say to a pitcher who didn't have anything stucturally wrong, 'Go ahead and take six weeks and get stronger, and come back and help us in the final two months.'? But that's essentially what the Red Sox did."
SEATTLE – After going 13 months between wins at Safeco Field, the Red Sox yesterday managed their second win in less than 24 hours.
The secret? Nothing more complicated than strong starting pitching, a foundation for the team’s success all season in building the best record in the major leagues.
The day after Daisuke Matsuzaka limited the Mariners to two solo homers in seven innings, Josh Beckett was just as impressive yesterday, checking the Seattle Mariners on a single run over 6 2/3 innings, directing them to a comfortable 9-2 win.
The victory was Becektt’s 14th of the season, making him just the second American League starter to reach that figure this season. Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia is the only other A.L. starter to have hit that plateau.
``I thought his stuff was real good,’’ said manager Terry Francona. ``When he got into pitcher’s counts, he was throwing a lot of fastballs down (in the strike zone) and put it in the back of (the Seattle hitters’) heads. It gave them another pitch to think about (beside his curveball).’’
Beckett has been superb on the road this season, improving to 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA in eight outings this year. As the Sox rebound from their mid-season hiccup, they have their entire starting rotation to thanks.
Over the last 16 games, during which the Sox are 12-4, their starters are 9-3 with a 3.59 ERA.
As a staff, Boston’s starting pitchers lead the majors in wins (56) and strikeouts (537), and quality starts are the rule rather than the exception.
Beckett was strong from the beginning yesterday, striking out two in the first, three more in the second and another two in the third, finishing with nine for the afternoon.
He stranded two in the first, didn’t allow a leadoff walk in the second to advance and bailed out of a first-and-second, one-out jam in the third to keep the Mariners off the scoreboard as the Sox offense worked away against Seattle starter Miguel Batista.
He got some help from an alert Julio Lugo, who initiated a pickoff try in the fourth that cut off what could have been a big inning.
Raul Ibanez was on second thanks to a leadoff single and a two-out single from Yuniesky Betancort.. Noting that Ibanez was straying too far from the bag, Lugo put a play on, knifed behind the baserunner and drew the throw from Beckett.
Rally – and inning – over.
``It’s one of those deals we practice in spring training that we very rarely use,’’ said Beckett. ``That was all Lugo. He saw some daylight and got in behind (Ibanez) and then did a good job kind of blocking the bag.’’
The pickoff took some steam out of the Mariners’ attack. They managed a run off Beckett with three singles in the sixth, but by then, the Red Sox were tacking onto their lead.
As the staff’s nominal ace, Becket halted his own mini-losing streak (two straight losses), while extending the team’s momentum, giving them two wins in their first of three road series.
``That’s what we need to focus on from here on out – winning series,’’ said Beckett, whose ERA dipped to 3.31. ``If we can keep doing that, we don’t have to worry about anyone catching us.’’
Though the Sox stranded a staggering 13 runners on base, they had more than enough offense in support of Beckett. Every starter except Jason Varitek had at least one hit and eight different hitters knocked in at least one run.
Manny Ramirez had two RBI, giving him 27 since the All-Star break and David Ortiz added an RBI of his own.
``That gives us that one-two punch,’’ Francona said. ``We become a lot more dangerous when they get going. When they start swinging like that, even on days when we’re not scoring, we have a chance to get to (starters) and maybe get them out of there because of how those guys make pitchers work.’’
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Evaluating the Gagne trade; more deals ahead?
Sean McAdam and Mike McDermott discuss the latest Red Sox news today on projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Today, the topics of conversation include the Eric Gagne trade and what it means going forward; the end of Brendan Donnelly's season; the team's remaining options for upgrading the offense and trading Wily Mo Pena; potential waiver deals around the league; Baltimore's winning strategy against Josh Beckett; and the Orioles' unusual move to stress the fundamentals.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
The Gagne trade: "I think they upgraded smartly and efficiently, and I think that Gagne helps in one of two ways. Number one, he gives them another viable closing option on nights when Papelbon is unable to take the ball in the ninth inning, and given that Papelbon has the shoulder that they have to be careful about in terms of workload, I think that's a nice backup plan for them. Secondly and most obviously, he gives them another setup option, along with Okajima, for the seventh and eighth innings. They used Okajima an awful lot through the first two-thirds of the season and as spectacular as he's been, I think there's a little bit of concern that they may be pushing it a little bit when it comes to his use."
On potential offensive options: "[Just-released Oakland outfielder Bobby] Kielty has had very good success against left-handed pitching, and that's something that would help them in any sort of platoon with J.D. Drew. Whether they can find a taker for Pena, I would imagine they could. ... it's more a matter of what expectations are, in terms of what they could get in return. I think someone would take a chance on him, and he'd surely get through waivers, but I wouldn't be expecting a big bundle of talent coming back this way if someone does take him."
Baltimore now takes infield practice. Why did this routine basically die out in the majors? "It's probably in the last 10 years you've seen it disappear. Teams just through time and effort had to sacrifice something in their day, and it seemed like infield was what got sacrificed. ... There are a lot of old-time baseball people that would like to see that come back, and see more of an emphasis on defense and fundamentals and paying attention to the little things, because they can add up."
Projo SoxTalk is back today with Sean McAdam. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Sean looks at the trade market as it stands this morning, at how the Red Sox would stack up as currently constructed in a playoff series, at what Jermaine Dye's potential arrival would mean for J.D. Drew, and at the coming three-game series with the Orioles.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On the trade outlook: "If anything happens, and I'm not convinced it's going to, it will probably come down to the 11th hour here, sometime mid- to late afternoon, before -- whatever you want to call it -- someone blinks or there's some movement. But as of now, as we speak, things are still on hold, and at this point I guess it wouldn't be a great shock if the Red Sox didn't do anything -- not for lack of effort, but right now they're just finding the asking price and the obstacles a bit too high."
How would these Red Sox fare against a playoff foe? "I think that's exactluy why they are so interested in someone like Jermaine Dye, is that if they are having difficulty scoring runs throughout the regular season against some pretty poor pitching staffs, like Tampa Bay or Texas, then what's it going to be like when you're matched up against a deeper and more quality staff, like the Tigers or Angels. ... They realize it's not going to get any easier, certainly, in October facing those teams, and it would be nice to have another weapon and some more power, but at this point they think the asking price is too high, and given that Dye in particular is seen as a two-month rental here, they're reluctant to give up young pitching to get him."
Would Dye's arrival bruise Drew's ego? "I'm sure it's something they thought about, but I also think that right now they're looking at a situation where they think they're good enough, or could be good enough, to win it all, and that has to be your concern now, and then you worry about ego and bruised feelings afterward. But given that Drew is contractually tied to this team for four more years after this, I think it's sommething that has to be on their mind, because the last thing you want to do is ... (make) an improvement for the short term, but be stuck with an unhappy player who doesn't think you have confidence in him for four years going forward."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Red-hot Manny; Lester vs. Gabbard
On the Friday after a big Red Sox win, Sean McAdam is back for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics include Manny Ramirez's hot streak; Wily Mo Pena's four-hit night and whether it increases his trade value; what the Red Sox can expect from Curt Schilling's return; who loses his spot in the rotation when Schilling comes back; and, of course, Ty Wigginton.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
On Ramirez: "He is as hot as any player in the game in the two weeks since the second half has begun, and the Red Sox can only hope it continues, because he is good enough to be the guy that can impact the entire batting order."
On Pena: "I'm sure there was some scout there from the Pittsburgh Pirates or the San Diego Padres, or one of the four or five teams interested in Pena, looking at last night and convincing himself that this is what this guy can be, and it's true, but the question is: How often? ... From the Red Sox standpoint the timing [of last night's big performance] probably couldn't have been any better, because maybe some team will delude themselves into thinking that they're going to get a lot more of this, rather than get it infrequently like the Red Sox have for two seasons."
On Schilling: "I think the key in this six-week shutdown is that he's had the time to rebuild the shoulder and strengthen that area, which I think frankly he had been lax in doing through the first two and a half months in the season, which is why you could see such inconsistency from him. ... Now that he's been shut down from major league competition for about a month and a half, and has been put on a throwing and strengthening program, they believe he's getting back to the point where he should be, and thus more consistent."
On Gabbard vs. Lester: "I think we're going to see something of a pitch-off here coming up in the next few days. We'll see how Jon Lester fares in his second start tomorrow night, and then Gabbard's next turn comes along Wednesday back at Fenway against Baltimore. And I think they're going to look at the way the arrows are pointing for these guys, are they up or down?"
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: The future of the Sox-Yanks rivalry
Sean McAdam is back once again for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics of discussion: The Red Sox' frustrating loss to Fausto Carmona and the Cleveland Indians; the latest on the trade market; whether the Yankees still need to make a deal; and the coming influx of young pitching talent in the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On last night's game: "When you face a pitcher like Carmona on a night like last night, where he clearly has terrific stuff going, you have to force the issue a little bit. You have to be aggressive; you have to try to create some things. You certainly can't sit back and expect that you're going to come up with a three-run homer against him or a big inning, so you have to peck away, and even with the speed of guys like Crisp and Lugo, that isn't the kind of game that the Red Sox do well with."
Trade prospects: "I think it's more likely that the Red Sox work out someting at a lesser level than Teixeira. There is some interest in Ty Wigginton with Tampa Bay, who can play three of the four infield positions, probably even play a little bit in the outfield or DH, and would be a nice versatile bat off the bench. But I'm also told that Tampa Bay has for now got its asking price too high. There continue to be talks with Pittsburgh surrounding the Wily Mo Pena for Salomon Torres exchange, but unless a Teixeira trade or something else kick-starts activity, I think were probably going to see most of what we see -- and I don't expect that to be a lot -- take place on Monday or Tuesday."
On the Sox and Yanks of tomorrow: "Both teams I think have sensed where the market has gone on free-agent pitching, having both been burned and rewarded on the free-agent market. ... The best way to combat that, of course, is to develop your own. So as they continue to do on the field, both the Red Sox and Yankees have mirrored one other in their approach to the draft the last few seasons, focusing ... predominantly on stockpiling as many young arms in their systems as possible, and now that those guys are in Double-A and Triple-A, and not far off from contributing at the major-league level, there's going to be an interesting influx of talent coming up the next couple of years with homegrown pitching prospects."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Lester's win; do the Sox need a trade?
Sean McAdam is back for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the audio file. Sean talks about Jon Lester's winning performance last night, Coco Crisp's blazing-hot streak, the Red Sox' bullpen situation (Do they still need help, give the emergence of Manny Delcarmen, the addition of Julian Tavarez and the improvement of Mike Timlin?), and tonight's matchup of Daisuke Matsuzaka and C.C. Sabathia.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On Lester: "He was able to get himself out of some jams with a double play and some strikeouts, got some swings and misses, and just seeing him out there healthy on the mound last night was an achievement and a step forward. ... To get him that 4-0 lead right out of the chute in the first gives him some breathing room. It's nice for any pitcher to have that lead before he takes the mound, but given all the things that I'm sure Lester was battling and trying to keep himself on an even emotional keel, to have that backing going out in the bottom of the first must have given him a sense of security."
On Crisp: "The thing I see at the plate is that he's back to becoming a very aggressive guy who is very difficult to throw a fastball past. That was one of the things they liked about him when they made that trade, was Coco was able to get around on just about any fastball -- very quick wrists -- and you see him up there now being aggressive and driving the ball."
Do the Red Sox still need bullpen help? "There's less necessity to overpay. It doesn't mean they couldn't improve themselves by going out and getting another experienced arm, because I think there's still some issues about Delcarmen's experience ... until Delcarmen has some September or even postseason experience, you wonder how he's going to respond to the pressure cooker. And though Timlin has pitched well, I think they have to be worried a little bit about his durability. He's been on the DL with shoulder issues twice in the last year, and given that he's 41 with a ton of innings under his belt."
Sean McAdam joins us once again today for another edition of projo SoxTalk (Mike McDermott is filling in for Art Martone for the next two weeks while Art is on vacation). Click here to listen to the full audio file. Sean discusses a good weekend for the Red Sox offense, David Ortiz's shoulder injury, tonight's season debut of Jon Lester, and the trade rumors involving Wily Mo Pena and Salomon Torres.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Good news for the Sox' offense: "It certainly seems as if, if the first 10 games into the second half is any inidcation, that Manny Ramirez is ready to get on one of his hot streaks, and that couldn't come at a better time, first because he's always important in that lineup, and second because they're going to have to do without David Ortiz for the next couple of days."
On Ortiz's strained shoulder: "There's a fear that this is something that could linger if they don't give it enough time, which is why I don't think you'll see him until at least Wednesday or Thursday, and it wouldn't surprise me if they kept him out of the entire Cleveland series to have him ready to go for the weekend in Tampa Bay. ... The last thing they want is for this to further inhibit his swing for the final two-plus months of the season."
On the news of Lester's call-up: "I was a little surprised ... I think it was kind of a confluence of events. You've got Julian Tavarez struggling to not win a game over his last five starts, with an E.R.A. of about 6, and they saw this as the opportunity to give Lester a couple of starts. I don't think it necessarily is anything permanent, because when Curt Schilling returns to the rotation in early August, probably the sixth in Anaheim ... they're going to have to choose between Gabbard and Lester."
On the Pena-for-Torres rumors: "In a lot of ways that makes sense. I'm not sure that Pena is enough, because I've heard the Pirates have a perhaps unrealistic expectation level as to what they can get for Torres, but I do know that the Red Sox are interested."
BOSTON – Statistically speaking, it couldn’t match the offensive onslaught that took place in the Bronx over the weekend, where the New York Yankees scored 38 runs in their last two games alone and 45 in their last three.
Still, given how desperate the Red Sox were for a well-placed or well-timed hit earlier in the week, their 29 runs, all in pursuit of three straight wins over the Chicago White Sox, will more than suffice.
The lineup’s awakening doesn’t guarantee anything going forward, but it served to remind the Sox what they’re capable of.
``I think we just keep it (focused) on what we did today,’’ said manager Terry Francona after the Sox held off the Chicago White Sox 8-5, ``because you just don’t know. I’m sure Cleveland’s pitching will have something to say about how we swing and our approach. You just show up and try to score enough runs today and, sure, we hope there’s always momentum or carryover.
``But guys feel good at the plate, and that’s good.’’
Earlier in the week, of course, that was hardly the case. Starting July 13, one game into their first homestand if the second-half, the Sox went through a stretch of seven games during which they scored more than five runs only once. Starting June 1 until yesterday, the Sox hit only .248 with runners in scoring position, landing them 12th in the American League in that category.
Things bottomed out when, while hosting Toronto, Kansas City and the first game of the White Sox’ series, they averaged just three runs over five games.
But after breaking out Friday night, the Sox kept hitting all weekend, hardly missing David Ortiz, who continues to rest a bruised left shoulder.
``Things are going good,’’ agreed Kevin Youkilis. ``We weren’t too worried about hitting with runners in scoring position and stuff like that. You guys keep track of that. The big thing is just winning ballgames; it doesn’t matter how you do it.’’
It helps, though, to stake your starting pitcher – Tim Wakefield, in yesterday’s case -- to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, thanks to a three-run homer from Manny Ramirez.
It didn’t hurt to get another three-run homer in the fifth – this one from Mike Lowell, who hadn’t homered – solo or otherwise – since July 5, before the All-Star break.
Those runs proved especially useful when Wakefield began to falter and Manny Delcarmen, the first of three pitchers out of the Boston bullpen, was uncharacteristically ineffective as the White Sox narrowed an 8-1 laugher into an 8-5 squirmer. Hideki Okajima had to strike out A.J. Pierzynski with the based loaded in the seventh to preserve the lead.
No one has come to symbolize the offensive rebirth more than Ramirez, who in addition to his first inning homer, contributed a sharp run-scoring single in the sixth. In the just-completed 11-game home-stand, Ramirez hit .385 (15-for-39) with 13 RBI. Having gone without a home run for a stretch of 16 games – the final 15 of the first half, and the first game of the home-stand – Ramirez has now homered in four of his last 10 contests.
Now that the tablesetters such as Coco Crisp (..346 over his last 20 games) and Julio Lugo (.457 over his last 12) are getting on base, the responsibility falls to Ramirez, Lowell (just three homers in his last 31 games) and Youkilis (just two RBI on the homestand) to drive them home.
The next seven games are on the road, beginning with four in Cleveland -- who went into yesterday tied for 10th in the A.L. in team ERA – and ends in Tampa Bay, which was on the receiving end of the Yankees’ weekend eruption.
``It’s starting to come around,’’ said Youkilis of the team’s offense. ``Now, we just have to keep it going.’’
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Those trusty Devil Rays
Sean McAdam takes a break from today's appearance on WEEI to join us for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. In today's conversation with Art, Sean talks about the woeful state of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who will start the All-Star Game for the American League, the decision to call up Jeff Bailey and what that means about Kevin Youkilis' quad injury, Jacoby Ellsbury's short and memorable stay, and the coming showdown series with the Tigers.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On the Devil Rays: "If you had some sort of fire sale, there would be people lined up to bid for the likes of Carl Crawford and Delmon Young and Scott Kazmir and, of course, Rhode Island's Rocco Baldelli when he's healthy. But for whatever reason the pieces fitting together are not moving the team as a whole forward anymore, and it seems their ignominious achievement of not having ever won more than 70 games is not about to change this season either."
On who starts the All-Star Game: "To me it's down on merit to probably four guys: Sabathia, Dan Haren from Oakland, Verlander from Detroit and Beckett. It lines up so that three of those guys -- Verlander, Sabathia and Beckett -- all pitched yesterday, so they would have plenty of rest. So that's not going to be the deciding factor ... I don't know. It's a tough decision, and Terry Francona was saying he doesn't envy Jim Leyland going through it, because he did it a couple of years ago as the manager of the American League champions in the 2005 All-Star Game. My guess is that it is either Beckett or Sabathia, but that's just totally a gut feel, and I don't have any hard evidence to back that up."
Is Youk more hurt that we thought? "I don't know if it's hurt more than we thought, but it's certainly an opportunity for them to rest Youkilis for the final three games of the first half, and not have him make that any worse by playing in three games leading up to the break. Bailey is a converted catcher who has been mostly a dh and first baseman the last couple of years, a little bit of power from the right side, and Terry Francona has always liked him. He goes out of his way to sort of make note of him in spring training every year. And he'll get an opportunity to, I don't know about start, although I think Detroit has three lefties going this weekend, but at the very least it gives them some depth if they want to continue to play Hinske, which they'll do at first."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: All the tools in the box
Sean McAdam joins us once again today for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The Red Sox are not a perfect team but, as days like yesterday show, they have a lot going for them, and they are not a team that has a whole lot of glaring weaknesses right now. Today, Sean talks about the reserves coming through once again, the possible emergence of Manny Delcarmen as a right-handed setup man, and why the team doesn't have an urgent need to trade for a replacement for the injured Curt Schilling.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On yesterday's win, despite an unusual starting lineup: "It shows their depth, particularly at a time when the middle of the order -- guys like Ortiz and Ramirez -- don't seem to be contributing much. ... Sitting out a player or two for a couple of games is not catastrophic, because they have people who are comfortable coming off the bench in a reserve role and contributing when they're asked."
On Delcarmen: "They could use someone from the right side [to get to Jonathan Papelbon], and they've been talking about maybe targeting that as their top trade wish as the July 31 deadline gets closer, but it's conceivable that in the next three and a half weeks or so, Delcarmen could emerge as that guy internally, and have the Red Sox focus elsewhere on filling needs when July 31 rolls around. Certainly he's pitched well enough. You can see that Terry Francona has confidence in him to bring him into big spots."
On filling in for Schilling: "I think they believe they're going to be OK. They get through the end of this weekend in Detroit, that's the end of the first half, and then really you're only looking at about three weeks in the second half before Schilling would come back. And I think that when you look at the margin of error that they have in the standings, with their double-digit lead over their closest competitors, the fact that even back-end-of-the-rotation guys like Julian Tavarez and Kason Gabbard, who filled in and took Schilling's spot, have performed far better I think than anyone could have hoped for, and then consider that Jon Lester is only a short trip up 95 away ... there certainly isn't the sense of urgency that you've got to go out and get somebody to come in for a month or so."
Sean McAdam joins us once again for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Leading off the conversation today is the topic of Jacoby Ellsbury, who helped provide fans a night to remember last night. We also look at more evidence that this is not 1978, and the fans' surprising tribute to Julio Lugo.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On Ellsbury: "He brings some excitement to the ballpark with his speed and athleticism, and the kind of things that Red Sox fans have not seen a lot of in recent history. He's an exciting guy, someone who can beat out a routine groundball for an infield hit and more remarkably, as we saw last night, score from second base on a wild pitch. I'd venture to say that's probably happeed less than five times in Red Sox history."
On the team's depth: "They've had Kason Gabbard make three starts this year, and he's won two of them. Hinske hasn't played a whole lot, but he comes through with a bases-loaded triple that essentially wins the game last night, after Texas had come back to close within a run. And then the excitement provided by Ellsbury, the draft pick from a couple of years ago. It does speak to the fact that, you know, this is not roll the balls out there and run the same nine guys into the ground from April to October.
On the reaction to Lugo hitting leadoff: "There really wasn't much in the way of boos. There was kind of muted applause [for Lugo's first at-bat], but they weren't really outwardly booing him. And then he had the walk, he had the sacrifice, he had another walk, and when he came out for the last at-bat in the seventh, people were really getting behind him. There was a chant of 'Let's go Lugo' during the at-bat. And then he grounded out, and then he heard some boos, so the sentiment returned. But I'd say for a guy who hasn't gotten a hit in two and a half weeks, they've been going pretty easy on him so far."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Hitting woes don't get them down
Sean McAdam joins us once again for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Sean says that despite the team's horrendous hitting struggles, there's no despondency in the lockerroom (maybe that's because no one else in the American League East is applying any pressure to the first-place Sox). He also discusses the promotion of Jacoby Ellsbury, the All-Star snub of Kevin Youkilis and Coco Crisp's injured finger.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On the club's reaction after yesterday's game: "I didn't sense any dejection. I think, first of all, people were a little preoccupied with the All-Star announcements, and the five Red Sox players who made it and the one who still might. In terms of the offense not producing, you know, you heard a lot of the same, 'We know we're better than this; we know were capable of scoring runs, we're just in a bad spell and inevitably we're going to break out of it.' And so it was kind of brave talk and not a lot of worry. But this has gone on more than this series, longer than this homestand, and longer than they would have liked."
On Ellsbury's promotion: "I was a little surprised, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It gives Ellsbury a little exposure to the big leagues. He's played a couple of games, already got his first hit out the way. You bring him in to sort of a friendly environment while they're at home here, leading up to the All-Star break, and then he can go back in the second half and return to Pawtucket. I'm sure he'll be back in September when the rosters expand."
On the severity of Crisp's injury: "It's the kind of thing that seems to have gotten more serious in the last couple of days ... initially they didn't think it was going to be any more than waiting to see how it looked on Friday, after the day off. Now he's missed three games. They do have the ability, of course, to go back and put him on the disabled list retroactively, and I guess with each passing day that becomes more of a possibility."
Game Story: Sox offensive woes continue in 2-1 loss to Rangers
When it happens every once in a while, its expected. When it happens a few times, its a trend. When it goes on for as long as it has, its downright troubling.
For the past month, the Red Sox have had difficulty scoring runs. And while it hasnt cost them greatly in the standings, it has cost them some games. Including yesterdays.
Limited to nine hits and a solo run, the Sox lost to the Texas Rangers 2-1 yesterday, the 13th time since June 5 that the Sox have mustered two runs or fewer.
``You go through cycles where it seems like scoring runs is very difficult, said Terry Francona. ``Well straighten it out and well put a bunch up. Its frustrating on a day like today because weve got enough pitching and were having a tough time putting runs across the plate.
That would seem to be an understatement. In dropping five of their last six, the Sox have scored two runs or fewer three times. And against the Rangers, who came into the series ranked next-to-last in the American League in ERA, the Sox have scored just one run over the last 16 innings.
The lone sign of line yesterday came in the fifth when singles by Alex Cora, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis accounted for the only Sox run. Otherwise, they were unable to break through, leaving a runner on third in the fourth, two runners on in the first, seventh and eighth.
For the game, Red Sox hitters were a woeful 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. For this series, which concludes tonight, the Sox are 5-for-34.
A one-out walk to Pedroia brought David Ortiz to the plate in the ninth, representing the winning run. But Ortiz popped out to first, stranding a runner and typifying the Sox ineptitude in scoring chances.
``Were not having the kind of at-bats were capable of, remarked shortstop Alex Cora.
Julian Tavarez was the tough-luck loser, allowing just one earned run in 5 2/3 innings. Then again, Tavarez might be accustomed to the non-support in nine of his 15 starts this season, his teammates have scored two runs or fewer while hes in the game.
``Its not always going to work for you, said J.D. Drew of his teams offensive malaise.
``Its just the way the baseball season is. Its so long. There are times when you just cant find your stroke. But all of a sudden, it will all come back.
``When our pitching staff only gives up a couple of runs like this, we need to score more runs. We have to find a way to get some more runs. We know what were capable of. Weve got a good lineup, up and down. Its just a matter of getting going again. You dont know what its going to be. But then something just clicks and youre off.
Not soon enough for a team that is two games under .500 since June 1 about the time the offense went into hibernation.
As befits the team with the best record in baseball, the Red Sox were rewarded with five spots on the American League All-Star roster yesterday with the potential for one more before the week is out.
David Ortiz was chosen as the first baseman in voting by fans, while outfielder Manny Ramirez, third baseman Mike Lowell, starter Josh Beckett and closer Jonathan Papelbon were chosen in voting by managers, coaches and players.
Yet another possible participant, Hideki Okajima, is one of five finalists for the final spot on the roster. Fan balloting on MLB.com began last night and continues until Thursday at 6 p.m.
“I’m proud of them and proud for our organization,” said manager Terry Francona. “We’re going to be well represented as we should be. We have a lot of good players and I hope we get a sixth.”
Ortiz (.314-13-49) will be appearing in his fourth straight All-Star Game, including three in a row as a starter. He drew more than 2.8 million votes, fifth most along players.
Beckett, who received the most votes of any starting pitcher in the A.L., will make his first All-Star appearance.
“It’s a big deal and I’m really excited,” said Beckett. “It’s going to be fun and I’m looking forward to it.”
At 11-2, 3.38, Beckett could be chosen as the starting pitcher. He’ll likely contend with C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander for the honor.
“It’s not up to me,” said Beckett. “I don’t have any control over it, but it would be another exciting feat for me.”
Papelbon (19 saves, 1.50) was chosen for the second straight year, making him only the fourth Red Sox player to make the squad in each of his first two seasons. The others: Frank Malzone (1957-58), Carlton Fisk (1972-73) and Fred Lynn (1975-76).
“This is a huge milestone for me, said Papelbon. “Obviously, you want to be one of those guys on the All-Star team, year in and year out.”
Lowell (.297-12-55) was chosen for the fourth time, but first time in the A.L. He finished second in player voting at third base behind Alex Rodriguez and becomes the first Red Sox third baseman since Shea Hillenbrand to make the team.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Lowell. “It was really good news. It’s definitely something that is fun to do.”
Ramirez (.285-11-43), who finished sixth in player voting among outfielders and fourth among fans, was named to his 11th All-Star team. He’s been selected in each of his seven years with the Red Sox, though he declined to take part three of those times.
Finally, there’s Okajima, who eclipsed his more famous countryman, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and has a one-in-five shot at being named.
“I appreciate all the Red Sox fans and fans in Japan for their support,” said Okajima. “I hope everyone keeps supporting me and cheering for me. If I’m selected into the All-Star game, it will be a great honor.”
SEATTLE The long road trip ended in the Northwest, but somewhere between San Diego and here, things somehow went south for the Red Sox.
In Atlanta and San Diego, the Sox continued their road mastery of National League teams, winning both series and racking up a 4-2 mark through the first six games.
But at Safeco Field, the bottom dropped out. Seattles 2-1, 11-inning heartbreaker yesterday capped a three-game series sweep for the Mariners, the first suffered by the Sox this season.
The setback yesterday was the eighth in a row for the Sox at Safeco, who must return here in another five weeks.
``Its the way (the Mariners) played us, emphasized Terry Francona, ``not the ballpark.
``Things just kind of bounced their way, said closer Jonathan Papelbon, who stranded two runners inherited from Hideki Okajima in the ninth, then blew away the Mariners in the 10th. ``Neither team deserved to lose that game.
But the Sox did, again.
Yesterdays loss was all the more maddening because of the circumstances.
Daisuke Matsuzaka was brilliant through nine innings, checking the Mariners on one run and just three hits. His command was nearly spotless with eight strikeouts and one walk.
But once more, the Sox failed to provide offensive backing. In his last five starts, during which hes 2-2 with one no-decision, the Sox have scored a total of five runs.
``I feel like I pitch better when its a tight game, said Matsuzaka, who saw his ERA drop to 3.80, ``so I cant complain about (the lack of support).
The one run against Matsuzaka was circumstantial. Coco Crisp, who has played almost flawless center field all season, made an aggressive play on a sinking liner by catcher Jamie Burke in the third. But the ball trickled behind him and Burke got to second with a double.
Ichiro Suzuki then flared a single into shallow center and Burke, running with two outs, scored from second.
The Mariners didnt score again until the 11th. Reliever Joel Pineiro, a former Mariner, was thought to be unavailable thanks to a twisted ankle, suffered before the game Monday night.
After retiring Burke on a groundout, Pineirto walked Ichiro, then left a fastball up in the zone for Jose Lopez, who drilled it off the fence in left, scoring Ichiro easily with the winning run.
``I left a pitch up, said Pineiro. ``I was trying to get a ground ball. It was supposed to be down and away, but it was up and away and he got the good part of the bat on it.
Through the first six innings, the Red Sox were held scoreless by rookie Ryan Feierbend and reliever Sean Green, though it wasnt for lack of effort.
``Early in the game, said Francona, ``we hit balls all over the ballpark and we had nothing to show for it.
In the seventh, the Sox finally broke through, with a single (J.D. Drew), sacrifice and Mariners error (Julio Lugo) and a sacrifice fly (Crisp).
But too often, the Sox batting order sputtered. David Ortiz was 0-for-5. He flied to left with two on and two out in the third, grounded to second with the bases loaded in the fifth, flied to right with a runner on first in the seventh and fanned to end the ninth. Four of his five at-bats ended Red Sox innings.
Cleanup hitter Manny Ramirez was no more productive, going hitless in five at-bats, though thanks to Ortiz, he led off in four of those at-bats.
The Sox put the leadoff man on base in the eighth and 11th, but stalled both times. In the eighth, with Youkilis (walk, passed ball) on second and two out, the Mariners elected to intentionally walk J.D. Drew to get to slumping Julio Lugo, whose has gone longer than Elvis without a hit.
Francona had lefty Eric Hinske on the bench, but the Mariners had southpaw Ryan Rowland-Smith warming and didnt want to a poor matchup. Predictably, Lugo struck out, running his hitless streak to 30 consecutive at-bats.
As a team, the Sox were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 baserunners.
``We hit some balls well today, said catcher Jason Varitek. ``But we just didnt get it together offensively.
In the first two nights, the Sox wasted 11 runs in the two losses. When they could have used some of that sock yesterday, it was nowhere to be found, sending the Sox home with a losing record on the trip, a condition they couldnt have imagined Sunday night as they left San Diego four nights ago.
SEATTLE -- Daisuke Matsuzaka ended the month of June with a sparkling 1.59 ERA, but you wouldnt know it by looking at his won-loss record.
Matsuzaka escaped with a no-decision yesterday in the Sox 2-1, 11-inning loss, but deserved far better. He tossed nine innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits along the way.
But because the Sox didnt score for him, he didnt get the victory he deserved.
So what else is new?
In those five June starts, the Red Sox scored a grand total of five runs for him. The miracle was that Matsuzaka managed to win two of those starts last Saturday against the Padres (2-1) and June 16 against the San Francisco Giants (1-0).
The last time the Sox scored more than two runs in a game while Matsuzaka was still on the mound was May 25, when they got beat Texas 10-6.
Matsuzaka shrugged off the issue of run support after the game.
``I feel like I pitch better when its a tight game, he said, ``so I cant complain about that.
Said manager Terry Francona: ``That stuff can go in cycles. You pitch according to the score. He did everything he could today; we just didnt score. But he wasnt hanging his head.
The American League All-Star team will be chosen Sunday, before Matsuzaka gets a chance to add to his win total (9). His ERA, wins and strikeouts (110) are worthy of selection, but with teammate Josh Beckett (11-1, 3.07) a lock, and a handful of starters deserving (C.C. Sabathia, John Lackey, Justin Verlander, Dan Haren), Matsuzaka might be passed over.
The Sox made a determination yesterday that Curt Schilling (shoulder tendonitis) wont pitch again until after the All-Star break.
Schilling is eligible to come off the DL Wednesday, July 4, but hasnt thrown since being shutdown following his last start, June 18 in Atlanta.
Hell be re-examined Monday by the medical staff, at which time a throwing program will be laid out.
``He can throw now, said Francona, ``but we want him to be able to finish the season and be a consistently good pitcher.
``Ill do whatever I have to do (to get back), said Schilling as he packed his bags after yesterdays loss.
Yesterdays appearance a losing one, as it turned out was the first here for ex-Mariner Joel Pineiro.
Pineiro rolled his ankle Monday during stretching exercises and was thought to be unavailable, but at gametime, told the staff he could pitch if needed.
By the 11th, with the bullpen chewed up the first two games of the series and Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon already used, he was the choice.
``It was sore, said Pineiro of the ankle, ``but once you get out there, you dont think about the pain.
As for facing his former teammates in his former ballpark, he said: ``I thought more about (being here) the first day. Today, my mind was just focused on making a good pitch.
Yesterday was just the fifth hitless game in the last 44 for Kevin YoukilisThe Sox are 19-5 in day games this season, the best percentage in baseball. They are 12-0 at home and 7-5 on the roadLeftover from Tuesdays loss: the 14 hits the Sox collected were the most theyve had in a loss since Aug. 18, 2006, when they lost 14-11. Also, the seven runs scored were the most in a defeat this season and the most since a 10-9 setback to Kansas City on Sept. 8, 2006Coco Crisp has his 18th multi-hit game of the season and has lifted his average to .262Crisp was cut down stealing in the first for only the fifth time this season. Hes 15-for-20 in attempts this year.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: What Youk brings to the table
Sean McAdam is back this morning for another edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. As he gets ready for today's afternoon series finale in Seattle, he discusses Kason Gabbard's shaky performance last night, Daisuke Matsuzaka's history with Seattle, and the tremendous year that Kevin Youkilis is having.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On Gabbard last night, did he get rattled? "Both Gabbard and Francona thought it was more a matter of delivery when he got into his stretch with a base runner on, and that he couldn't kind of straighten it out. Gabbard said he was a little too quick with his fastball. I don't think it was him being rattled or unnerved; Gabbard had pitched in the big leagues before -- in fact he had made his major league debut in this very ballpark last year -- so it doesn't seem as if it was anything that affected him psychologically or anything, it was just some poorly timed mechanical flaws that made it difficult for him to throw strikes."
On Matsuzaka vs. Seattle: "He got them in the first home series of the year, there was a one-game makeup [of a rainout] back in May where he pitched, and now this, and it is pretty rare for someone outside your division to face you three times in the first 75 games or so. And it will be interesting to see -- given that they do have a little bit of history here, and of course anytime these two teams meet often the focus is the matchup between Matsuzaka and Ichiro, so that's its own little subplot there -- but other than teams outside the American League East, there haven't been a lot of teams that have gotten multiple looks at Dice-K, so it will be interesting to see what kind of adjustments they make and, correspondingly, what he does."
On what Youkilis brings to the Sox: "I think a great deal on both sides of the ball. He grinds out at-bats, never gives an at-bat away. Last couple of nights he's been one of the few bright spots offensively: he had the two-run double in the ninth in the opener here on Monday, had a couple good at-bats last night. It seems like he never slumps. He's always collecting one or two hits. I think he has hit safely in somethihg like 39 of his last 43 games. He's developed a little bit more power this year and ability to drive the ball. And then there's the defensive side, where he's playing a position that is not his natural position, but Youkilis has put the time in and made himself an above-average, certainly, first baseman in a relatively short period of time."
SEATTLE – Even after a recent torrid stretch that has seen him lift his batting average to a respectable .258, Coco Crisp’s season can’t be truly measured on the stat sheet.
The stats can show that he has boosted his average 37 points in the last 11 games; that he’s second in the American League with four bunt hits and tied for fourth with four sacrifices; and that he’s been successful in 15 of his 19 stolen base attempts.
But the true measure of Crisp’s 2007 season is found in more arcane numbers, not readily available or found on a web site. According to data compiled and maintained by one major league club, Crisp is playing the best center field of any outfielder in the major leagues – and by a long shot.
The club, which asked not to be identified, uses a complicated metric to measure defensive play, including range and coverage. Based on its findings, tabulated monthly, Crisp is playing at a ``plus-24’’ level in center field, meaning that through the end of May, Crisp had already recorded putouts on two dozen more players than the average center fielder.
While the data can’t be easily extrapolated for an entire season – there’s no guarantee that Crisp will finish at a plus-72, for example – he’s on pace to easily top last year’s best full-season grade, a plus-30, earned by Willie Taveras, then with Houston.
Similarly, Crisp could equal the best numbers achieved by Mike Cameron and Andruw Jones, each of whom had graded out near a plus-60 in their prime.
``Regardless of what the numbers say,’’ said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, `` I know how well Coco has played out there. Sometimes, the numbers can fool you a little. But I can see with my own eyes how good he’s been.’’
Crisp wasn’t nearly as proficient in the field last year, his first in Boston. The spacious center field in Boston was new to him and Crisp’s play was tentative at times.
``If you ask me,’’ said one scout recently, ``I think he just needed a year to get used to center again (Crisp has played left field in 2005, his final year in Cleveland). It take some adjusting – the ball comes off the bat differently. For one things, it’s hit right at you and that can be tricky. But he’s a much better center fielder this year than a year ago.’’
When the Sox dealt for Crisp after the 2005 season, they envisioned him as a worthy successor to Johnny Damon, who left as a free agent to the New York Yankees. What they got, instead, was someone seemingly unsuited for both of Damon’s roles – center fielder and leadoff hitter.
At the plate, Crisp wasn’t nearly patient enough. In the outfield, he showed only brief flashes. An astounding diving catch against the New York Mets’ David Wright last June was unquestionably the season highlight. But that sort of highlight-reel catch was infrequent.
This season, they seem to be an almost weekly occurrence.
``I think he’s just more familiar, more comfortable, more confident out there,’’ said third base coach DeMarlo Hale, who also doubles as the Red Sox’ outfield instructor.
``He’s a talented young man with the speed to close on a ball quickly. And we’re seeing that more and more.’’
Crisp, who has declined to be interviewed in recent weeks, reported to spring training as a more assertive defender. He’s spent more time going over scouting reports to help him better position himself and is more knowledgeable about his own pitchers, giving him help in anticipating where a pitch might be hit.
A season ago, from his perch in the dugout, Hale had to direct Crisp in the outfield from batter to batter. This year, Crisp has often adjusted his positioning in center before Hale has a chance to move him.
``And he’s taken more of a leadership role out there with Manny (Ramirez) and J.D. (Drew),’’ Hale said. ``He’s communicating with them and making sure they’re covering the space between one another.’’
Even by conventional measures, Crisp’s play has been outstanding. Going into last night, he had yet to commit an error in center and the number of putouts he had recorded (205) without an error was second only to the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki, who had 218.
Crisp , cf
Ichiro Suzuki, cf
Jose Lopez, 2b
Jose Vidro, dh
Richie Sexson, 1b
Kenji Johjima, c
Jose Guillen, rf
Adrian Beltre, 3b
Yuniesky Betancourt, ss
Willie Bloomquisrt, lf
Felix Hernandez, p
... Manager Terry Francona gave Manny Ramirez the night off just to rest, noting that Manny has played more games than any other Red Sox player to date...Nick Hagadome is at Safeco Field meeting Red Sox players and personnel...Hagadome, a standout at the University of Washington is expected to finalaize his first pro contract in the next few days...SS Julio Lugo is out of the lineup, which isn't a surprise.
On the Fuentes story: "I don't think there's any question that their number-one priority ... is to improve the bullpen. Not a closer, obviously, and Okajima has emerged as a terrific setup man, but I think they realize they need some additional late-inning help. My only surprise is that Fuentes is left-handed, as Okajima is, and you would think they'd be looking more for a righty setup man. But I think they're looking for people that can get big outs late in the game and, you know, they'll sort it out later."
Was Schilling throwing Theo under the bus? "I think some forethought went into that remark. I'm not saying [Schilling] had it drawn up on the playboard and was ready to unleash it at any moment, but you could see that he had thought about this, given the question was fairly, you know, innocuous, and he seemed pretty poised to make his point. And it'll be interesting to see what the reaction is from the front office and Theo Epstein, and how this impacts the rest of, you know, their relationship the rest of the way, because it certainly did seem a little over the top."
On Lester: "You talk to people in the Red Sox organization, and while I think there was public sentiment to bring up Lester because of, you know, everything he's been through and what a terrific story it's going to be when he does finally rejoin the major league team, the fact of the matter was that [Kason] Gabbard had pitched better and deserved it."
SAN DIEGO -- The pitching matchup was a thing of beauty, housed in a spacious, forgiving ballpark, played under a brilliant California summer sun.
Josh Beckett entered the duel as the American Leagues winningest pitcher. His opponent, Jake Peavy, went into this afternoon's game leading the National League in the same category.
But Beckett enjoyed one significant edge: He didn't have to face the Red Sox lineup; Peavy did.
The Red Sox offense, while spotty of late, succeeded in wearing Peavy down and running his pitch count up. When he left after just five innings, he had thrown a staggering 111 pitches. Along the way, the Sox strung together three runs in the third, then tacked on another against the bullpen, capping a 4-2 win for the Sox over the San Diego Padres.
''Obviously, he's one of the best in the game,'' said Terry Francona of Peavy, ''and we made him work hard. Fortunately for us, one of the other best (pitchers) is on our team. And he was great. He had to be.''
That's because, with Peavy as an opponent, Beckett's margin for error was slim. So Beckett made very few mistakes, shutting out the Padres in seven of the eight innings he pitched. A two-run, pinch-hit double from Termel Sledge in the fifth was the only mark against him.
''Anytime you go against Jake Peavy,'' said Beckett, baseball's first 11-game winner, ''it's going to be a tough day. We were fortunate to a get a couple of big hits.''
In the third, the Sox strung together three consecutive singles to right from the top third of their order -- Coco Crisp, Alex Cora and David Ortiz. Crisp scored on Ortiz' hit, while Cora was delivered on a sacrifice fly from Manny Ramirez.
Two more singles followed from J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell, with Ortiz sliding in just ahead of the throw from outfielder Jose Cruz. Jr.
''We tried to make him elevate,'' said Lowell. ''He's got good sink and he's an elite pitcher, but we were able to string together a lot of professional at-bats against him.''
''These guys just grind,'' said Beckett of his teammates. ''Not many guys get through five innings with 95-100 pitches. We grind at-bats out and wear people down.''
The Sox managed just five more hits over the final six innings, but one was a solo homer to center by Jason Varitek off Scott Linebrink, giving the Sox come cushion.
The Red Sox stretched their lead to 11 games in the American League East. Toronto has moved past New York into second place as the Yankees lost today for the fifth time in six games.
Beckett, who remains unbeaten (6-0, 1.14 ERA) on the road, got into his only jam in the fifth inning. He issued a walk to Kevin Kouzmanoff to start the inning, then yielded a single to center to Geoff Blum.
The Padres sent up Sledge to hit for Peavy and the outfielder stroked a double to the gap in right-center, scoring both baserunners. After a groundout moved Sledge to third with one out, the Sox brought the infield in and kept Sledge anchored at third when Michael Barrett grounded out to Julio Lugo at short.
Beckett then ended the inning by overpowering Adrian Gonzalez for the third out.
''I definitely didn't want to waste (the run support) the guys gave me,'' Beckett said. ''I wanted to make every pitch count. I threw a lot of fastballs on the outer half and mixed in some changeups and curves.''
Beckett credited a mechanical adjustment he made Friday in a side session as a key to his success. Pitching coach John Farrell, in conjunction with a former catcher at home in Texas, noticed that Beckett was collapsing in his delivery to the plate.
''I was throwing a little uphill the last few games,'' he revealed, ''so I really worked on powering the ball down (in the strike zone) with some angle to it. It was just one of those adjustments you make.''
That helped produce eight groundball outs from among the first 16 he recorded. In the seventh, however, he left a pitch up in the zone to Kouzmanoff, who seemingly crushed it to left. But Ramirez drifted back and made the catch on the warning track.
''That was one of those deals where I thanked God we were playing here (in a roomy outfield),'' Beckett said.
And that Peavy was the one facing the more disciplined and discerning lineup yesterday.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: The secret to the Sox' success
Sean McAdam joins us from San Diego for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the audio. On the day after an off-day, and with Boston's first-place lead back up to 10 1/2 games, Sean and Art Martone talk about some of the keys to the team's commanding position, and look ahead to what should be a fine series with the top team in the National League, the San Diego Padres.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
On the Red Sox' starting pitching: "They've had very few games where the starter's out of there in the fourth, fifth, or even sixth inning. ... That's how the Yankees got themselves in that hole. People talked about, 'Well they didn't have good setup relief,' and I think there's still some point to that, but there were too many times early where either some of the rookie starters or even some of the veterans were not getting them even through six innings, and when your starters are getting knocked out of the game in the fourth and fifth inning night after night, then that takes its toll on a bullpen, no matter how good it is. And that's something that the Red Sox have been able to avoid. It just seems like their starters almost as a matter of faith get them through the sixth, often deeper."
On the Red Sox' defense: "They make plays. They don't give away runs. They're not spectacular in terms of their range, but you would say that they're probably not substandard in any position, except perhaps left field, where Manny has the capability to turn in a spectacular play but also can botch some routine ones."
On the Padres series: "I think it will be a good test. I don't think this is a great offensive team, the Padres, and I think that frankly some of their pitching stats are reflective of, a, the National League, and b, the home ballpark they play in. But there's no denying that they've been impressive, and they too are pretty sound and don't beat themselves. And the Red Sox, for a team that has scuffled to score runs regularly the last couple weeks, it will be interesting to see how they respond to both the big ballpark and the good pitching staff."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Don't count on Lester coming up
Today on projo SoxTalk, Sean McAdam and Art Martone take a look at some of the roster moves that might await the Red Sox as they look to fill Curt Schilling's spot on the roster. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Expect an outfielder to join the team for the trip to San Diego, and then they'll need a pitcher to go Tuesday night in Seattle. Sean says that he's not counting on that pitcher being Jon Lester. Sean and Art also discuss last night's power display, J.D. Drew's injury, the continuing success of Julian Tavarez and the continuing struggles of Julio Lugo.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On who will pitch Tuesday: "I don't think it's a slam dunk that its Lester. In fact, if I were to guess right now, I would say it might more likely be Kason Gabbard. When they optioned Lester a couple weeks ago and stopped the clock on his rehab assignment, and then optioned him back to the minor leagues, the message they sent him was, 'Make us bring you up.' And in the last two outings, he hasn't done that. And I think maybe people have a sort of too-much-too-soon attitude in terms of expectations here, and forget what this guy has gone through physically and mentally in the last seven or eight months. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if he got to remain in Pawtucket for another month or two, or another five or six starts. ... I think Gabbard did nothing but earn himself another look with that start he made against Atlanta last month."
On the Red Sox offensive surge: "You're seeing guys like Coco Crisp have much better at-bats. He hit the home run last night, a three-run homer, that came on the heels of his four-hit, two-home run game on Monday night in the opener. So he seems to be coming around. Drew, although he only remained in the game last night for two at-bats, had a homer and doubled for the short time he was in there, and they're hoping that the quad tightness isn't anything to worry about. So it does look like a couple of these guys are coming along. On the other hand, I think it's two more at-bats for Julio Lugo and below the .200 mark he goes, and you wonder how long they can watch that happen."
On J.D. Drew being taken out of last night's game: "Francona said it was more precautionary than anything. Petco Park, in fact the next two ballparks they play in -- Petco in San Diego over the weekend and Safeco up in Seattle Monday through Wednesday -- are probably the two biggest ballparks in the major leagues: a lot of ground to cover in the outfield; big, open pitcher's parks. And so knowing that Drew has a lot of real estate to patrol the next week here, they didn't want to chance it and have him stay out there in a game that was already pretty much in hand by the second innning. But I'm sure they're going to watch it carefully, but right now they don't think its going to be too much of a lingering issue."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Schilling headed for the DL?
Sean McAdam is back as Art Martone's guest on projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Sean and Art talk about Josh Beckett's excellent start last night, but the main topic of conversation is Curt Schilling: Will he go on the disabled list, and if he does, who replaces him in the rotation?
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On Beckett's performance: "It would have been interesting to see had he been able to go longer, but with the 50-minute rain delay the Red Sox didn't want to take any chances in bringing him back, and certainly the game seemed pretty much in control. But for six innings he was very dominant: four hits, only one runner past second base, and not only made sure that the Red Sox' losing streak didn't grow past one, but made sure that his own personal losing streak stopped there too."
On Schilling: "My guess is that they're going to shut him down for a little while, see if he can build up his shoulder muscles, strengthen that area a little bit. And you know, it's probably not a bad thing when you're going on 41 to have a little break in the middle of the season. I don't know that anyone expected him to hold up for 35 starts, given the number of innings in that arm. I think the good news is that there is no labrum or rotator cuff issues, probably just a weakened shoulder area that can benefit from some rest, and I wouldn't be surprised if today or tomorrow they announce that he's going on the disabled list for 15 days."
On who would take Schilling's spot: "They could have Lester pitch Sunday in Schilling's next turn, in San Diego, and then have him continue to take Schilling's turn next time, and then when Schilling returns it would only be a bump of a day moving from the number-one spot in the rotation to presumably the number five, bumping Julian Tavarez more permanently. The other thought is, maybe they bring somebody else up and spot him for those two starts, whether that be Kason Gabbard, whether it be Davern Hansack, David Pauley, those are three options, and I'm sure that's part of the discussion that's going on now."
Sean McAdam is back with Art Martone for today's edition of Projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Speaking from Atlanta after witnessing Curt Schilling's latest rough outing, Sean talks about the possibility that the Red Sox' pitching ace might be injured. He also speculates that this may be the beginning of the end for Mike Timlin, and talks about Coco Crisp, who shunned the media last night despite having a stellar performance at the plate.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Is Schilling injured? "You start connecting the dots -- the velocity being off, not being able to get people to swing and miss, being hit hard, stuff being flat -- and when someone said [after last night's game], 'Are you hurting, is there anything physical here,' -- I mean, I'm trying not to read much into it and put words into people's mouths -- but on I think two occasoins when he was asked, he didn't say, I'm fine, there's no physical issues.' He kind of quickly changed the subject and said, 'It's not any one thing.' ... It's hard not to think that there might be something there, the way he kind of dodged the question."
Could Mike Timlin be nearing the end? "In a word, yes. I mean, there's a lot of miles on that shoulder and elbow from all the work the last few years. Until he went on the DL in the second half of last year, he had had four straight 70-appearance seasons, and would have had a fifth last year, and you can't do that in your late 30s and into your early 40s and not pay the price eventually."
On why Crisp wasn't talking to the media: "I'm completely mystified. He had a four-hit night, a two-home run night for the first time in his career, unquestionably his best night of the season, and when we came into the clubhouse he had already given word to John Blake, the Red Sox public relations official, that he wasn't going to be taking any questions or talking to anybody, and no one seems to understand why. He's done this a number of times over the last couple of weeks."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: More lineup changes to come?
Sean McAdam is back today on Projo SoxTalk to discuss the Red Sox revolving door at the leadoff spot, and to look ahead to what should be a very colorful weekend at Fenway with the San Francisco Giants coming to town. Click here to listen to the audio file. Sean does not see signs of panic in Terry Francona's frequent lineup shuffling, and adds some perspective on Barry Bonds' chase of Hank Aaron's home run record.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
Is Terry Francona panicking with his lineup switches? "No, I don't think so. i think that obviously Terry Francona is trying to get the offense going; it has been pretty lackuster for the last week and a half. Seven of the last nine games they've scored two runs or fewer, and I guess the only surprise was that he didn't stick with Pedroia in that top spot for longer than that first night. But he has said that sort of extenuating circumstances and moving some people around have led to a little experimentation. And even late last night after that loss, he was unsure about what the batting order would be for this evening. So who knows, there could be more changes coming."
On fans' reactions to Bonds: "Certainly there are enough questions about how Bonds has come to this record or neared this record, and I think if you're a fan of baseball, nevermind a fan of any particular individual, you find yourself a little caught in the middle. Not from a fan or rooting interest, but from a historic standpoint, you know, on the one hand you're about to see one of baseball's and sports' in general most cherished records change, and that in itself is baseball history. But then you start thinking about the circumstances involved, and you wonder if it's anything to celebrate."
BOSTON -- Suddenly, it has all gone wrong for the Red Sox.
For the past 10 days or so, they couldnt hit. But now, over the last two nights, they havent been able to pitch, either.
Like Curt Schilling the night before, Josh Beckett let the game get away from him in the early innings. Beckett, who hadnt lost a start before last night, was bashed for a season-high 10 hits and six runs as the Sox suffered their third loss in the last four tries, 7-1 to the Colorado Rockies.
Bostons loss, coupled with the Yankees ninth-straight win earlier in the day, narrowed the Sox lead in the A.L. East to 7 ½ games.
Beckett was bidding to become the first Red Sox pitcher to begin a season 10-0 since Ike Delock in 1958. Instead, he found himself trailing before his teammates got a turn at bat.
Two innings later, Beckett loaded the bases with a single to Kaz Matsui, a double to Matt Holliday and a walk to Todd Helton, then promptly unloaded them with a grand slam into the Monster Seats from Garrett Atkins.
``(Expletive) pitch, sighed Beckett. ``No other word for it."
The lead grew to 5-0 when Matt Holliday smacked a solo homer in the fourth. It was the third homer in the last two nights by Rockies hitters.
``We made some mistakes at the wrong time," agreed catcher Jason Varitek. ``The big one was the Atkins home run. We stay away from that and were in that ball game."
Instead, the early deficit proved too much for the suddenly slumping offense to overcome.
Entering last night, Beckett had received the strongest run support 7.3 runs per nine innings -- of the Red Sox five regular starters this season. But the teams offensive drought continued unabated. Another lineup combination this one featuring J.D. Drew as the teams fourth leadoff hitter in the last four games couldnt generate much punch.
In the three-game series with Colorado, the Sox scored a total of five runs. Over the last 9 games, the Sox have scored more than two runs in a game exactly twice. Since leaving for the West Coast on June 3, the Sox have averaged slightly better than three runs per game.
Subtract their 10-run outburst against Arizona a week ago in the series opener at Chase Field, and that number dips to 2.5 runs per contest.
``Were not scoring in bunches, but we will, asserted Terry Francona. ``You always get tested over 162 games. Well keep at it; its about the only thing we can do. Well keep going and get ourselves through it.
``Its not good, man," said David Ortiz. ``We havent been hitting for (anything), so hopefully, we'll get better."
The Sox were a woeful 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position last night and stranded 14 baserunners.
The night might have turned around for the Sox with some better luck in the second.
With the bases loaded and just one out, Drew hit a rocket up the middle. But rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, shifted behind the second base bag, extended himself and snared the knee-high line drive, freezing the baserunners.
``Were looking at a 2-1 lead and being in the middle of a big rally (if the ball gets past the infield)," lamented Francona. ``Then they turn around in the top of the next inning and hit the grand slam. Thats a big swing right there, obviously a pivotal point in the game.
Beckett blamed poor command within the strike zone for his ineffectiveness and first loss of the season.
``It was a fun run, he said of his 9-0 start.
The Sox had some early-inning opportunities against Colorado lefty Jeff Francis, but couldnt collect a hit when it counted.
Boston stranded two in the first, left the bases loaded in the second and stranded two more in the fourth.
``I wouldnt necessarily call it a slump when were hitting balls at people at different times," said Varitek.. ``If that ball goes through for J.D., we have ourselves a different ball game. Things always have to match up. You have to pitch well when you swing the bats."
And for the time being, the Sox are doing neither.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Wakefield's baffling streakiness
Sean McAdam and Art Martone break down last night's Red Sox win on projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. The topics of discussion include Tim Wakefield's return to effectiveness, the lineup shuffle, and Jonathan Papelbon's fine ninth inning.
Here are a few excerpts from Sean's comments:
On Wakefield last night: "He worked quickly, kept the knuckleball down, did everything you would want him to do, and he had good command of the knuckler. And that was vintage Wakefield. If Colorado hadn't come up with that run, we may have been looking at the first sub-two-hour game at Fenway in some time. But as it turned out it worked out OK for the Red Sox."
On Wakefield's streakiness: "I've been watching him pitch with the Red Sox since he came here in 1995, and he doesn't have a lot of explanation for when things go right or wrong."
On keeping Papelbon sharp: "I think it's settling in, so that he doesn't go five or six days in a row without pitching, which is what had happened prior to getting into trouble with the Yankees and giving up that home run to Alex Rodriguez on the last homestand. They've been trying to get him a little bit more regular work and that's not easy to do, because they have to sort of navigate that fine line between keeping him sharp and making sure they don't overuse him and are conscious of his shoulder strength and all the things that went wrong last year. But whatever they did, I think [last night] he looked fresh, he was aggressive, he was throwing strike one to every hitter, he wasn't falling behind, his command was sharper. That was as good as we've seen Papelbon since the first week of the season."
Sean McAdam is Art Martone's guest once again on projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Sean and Art discuss Curt Schilling's terrific effort yesterday, they look ahead to interleague play and break down how the Red Sox did on the first day of the MLB Draft.
Here are some excerpts from what Sean had to say.
On Schilling's performance: "He wasn't overpowering, clearly. He only had four strikeouts, but he had incredible command yesterday. He seemed to be getting ahead of hitters, not going to a lot of three-ball counts, being able to throw several pitches for stirkes. And I think we're continuing to watch the late-career evolution of Curt Schilling. He's not a 95-96 guy anymore; he's more likely to be 91-92 and mix in the changeup nearly as much as the split-fingered fastball, which used to be his out pitch. So he knows he's not the prototypical power pitcher anymore at 40, but he's still smart enough and still good enough at locating his fastball that he can get good hitters out."
On interleague lineup changes: "Their three most productive guys all year have been Lowell, Youkilis and Ortiz, and starting tonight and continuing in Atlanta and San Diego in their nine interleague road games, no DH. And so that means they go into kind of that rotation, where those guys play two of three games. They're lucky that they have the flexibility to put Youkilis at third, so one night you'll have Youkilis and Ortiz, then you'll have Lowell and Ortiz, then you'll have Lowell and Youkilis. But clearly, not having your three best guys, or your three most productive guys, in the lineup at the same time is not your optimium scenario.
On top draft picks Nick Hagadone and Ryan Dent: "If there's a cliche in pro sports, it's a scouting director and general manager saying, 'We never thought he'd be there when our turn came up, and sure enough, we got that about the two guys they took. But they did say that when the day started, those were the two that they hoped to get at 55, or those were among the guys they were still hoping to be there at 55 or 62."
Sean has a lot more to say about Hagadone and Dent, so be sure to check out the audio.
Sean McAdam is today's guest on projo SoxTalk with Art Martone. Click here to listen to the full audio file. He talks about the Red Sox' needs in today's MLB Draft, and also tries to put the the Red Sox' West Coast struggles into perspective.
On the losing streak: "I think it shows that this is not a great offensive team, at least not as the parts are currently performing, but I think we probably knew that a little bit. It seems unlikely that this is going to be a 900-run team the way they were from 2003 through 2005, and it's really sort of manifested itself the past few nights. ... I would say that it would be more alarming if their pitching were getting hit, but because it seems to be offensive-related, I think you can more easily write it off as the inevitable cold spot that this batting order seems bound to run into."
On where the Red Sox will be looking in the Draft: "Theo [Epstein] did say that even though they have restocked their inventory of young arms a lot in the last few years, with people like Buchholz and Bowden and others, that really you have to take as much pitching almost, or more pitching than you think you'll ever need, because you draft 10 of these guys and about two or three end up getting to the big leagues."
There's a lot more from Sean, on the Draft, in particular, so be sure to check out the audio.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Stung by another soft-thrower
The day after an ugly Red Sox loss, Sean McAdam joins projo.com sports producer Mike McDermott for today's edition of projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Sean tries to explain how Lenny DiNardo could have shut down the Red Sox' offense. Other topics of conversation: Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew and Tim Wakefield.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments.
On the loss to DiNardo: "Last night continued sort of a season-long trend with [the Red Sox] having difficulty with soft-throwing left-handers, even ones who were teammates for a couple of years, in this case Lenny DiNardo. If you go back and look at it, it seems like -- in the mind's eye anyway -- that about half their losses have come against those kinds of guys. And really it doesn't make a lot of sense; there are enough good right-handed hitters on that team -- from Manny Ramirez to Kevin Youkilis to Mike Lowell -- and switch-hitters, like Jason Varitek, who are actually hitting better from the right side. But for whatever reason, lefties throwing junk at them seems to really tie them up."
On struggling Wakefield, tonight's starter: "I know that [pitching coach] John Farrell and he have been looking at some tapes to see if there are any mechanical issues. He said he didn't feel comfortable throwing out of the stretch against the Yankees, so I'm guessing they've worked on that on the side and we'll see if they can't make some fine-tuning."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: A postmortem on the weekend
Sean McAdam is our guest this morning for Projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. He talks about last night's (let's face it) impressive Yankee win, and what it does and does not mean for the American League East race (or lack thereof). Sean is still waiting to see if the Yankees can put together a good stretch of games; he's unconcerned about Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon; and he's impressed by Josh Beckett.
Here's some excerpts from what he had to say:
On the Yankees: "That was I think probably a pretty significant win for them. I'm not sure in the big picture if it means much in the standings, or gets them pointed in the right direction again, but I think if for nothing else than their psyche and confidence after what's happened the last couple of weeks, having a dramatic ninth-inning victory like that and getting to Papelbon and winning the second straight series against the Red Sox is probably just what they needed."
On Papelbon: "Papelbon has essentially had two bad outings -- about one a month here -- and I think even the best teams can put up with that."
On Beckett: "I think the good news for the Red Sox, if you're looking big picture here, is that Beckett had no problem executing his breaking pitches despite the finger issue that sidelined him for a couple of weeks last month. He did get his pitch count up and yet managed to get them into the seventh inning, which looked like that might have been a stretch back around the fourth or fifth."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Red Sox Yankees preview
Sean McAdam joins Art Martone on today's edition of Projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the audio file. They take a look at the coming weekend series at Fenway, and try to figure out what to make of the Yankees' struggles.
Sean McAdam is today's guest on Projo SoxTalk with Art Martone. Click here to listen to the audio file. Sean discusses Dice-K's tough outing last night (he feels Matsuzaka was probably feeling some effects from the illness he experienced over the weekend in Texas) and the state of the Yankees coming into Fenway for the weekend (he doesn't see them making up their 13 1/2-game deficit). He also has some interesting comments about Alex Rodriguez's latest adventure in Toronto, when he apparently tricked infielder Howie Clark into believing that he was being called off a popup.
Here's some of what Sean had to say about Rodriguez:
"Last night certainly brought back memories of 2004 in the ALCS, trying to swipe the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove on a play at first. It's really the kind of thing that is not looked upon well by fellow players, whether they be opponents or teammates. And the amazing thing is A-Rod does these kind of things, and then seems surprised that people take exception to it. You just dont see major league players attempting to distract an infielder from catching a ball by yelling at him and giving the impression that it's a teammate that's closing in and calling him off. There was universal condemnation from the Blue Jays and, as often is the case on this stuff, not a lot of support from his own teammates."
Projo SoxTalk with Art Martone: Looking ahead to Beckett
Today on Projo SoxTalk, Art Martone looks at the highlights of last night's Red Sox win over Cleveland, including Curt Schilling's impressive outing, the questionable call that helped Boston out in the ninth, and Trot Nixon's nice reception. He also tells fans what they should look for from Josh Beckett tonight, and speculates about what might happen should Beckett struggle. Click here to listen to the audio file.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Tough nights for Schilling and Roger
Once again, Sean McAdam is Art Martone's guest on today's edition of Projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. After a rough night in the Bronx, he discusses the concerns about Curt Schilling's recent ineffectiveness. On the flip side of the coin, he talks about Roger Clemens' unspectacular outing in Texas, and about what J.D. Drew might expect at Fenway if he doesn't start hitting soon. Here are some excerpts:
On whether Schilling is concerned about his performances: "I think he should be. For much of his career, he has succeeded by being able to locate his fastball with incredible precision. He just has pinpoint control, and not only does that get him ahead in the count and put hitters on the defensive and in pitcher's counts, but it also makes all his other pitches, particularly his split-finger, work much better. But when he isn't able to establish the fastball for strikes, he's really working at a disadvantage, as we've seen the last few times out."
On Clemens last night: "Anyone expecting that Roger Clemens is going to hop back in here and be throwing 94-95, I think they're in for sort of a rude awakening, because his velocity seemed to be pretty average, and obviously in that first inning when he walked in a run, his command was not what it should be."
On Drew: "We talked about Cleveland coming in next week, and that of course means the return of Trot Nixon. And if Drew doesn't start kicking it into gear over this weekend in Texas, and Nixon, who was always a very popular player, comes back in next weekend, it could start getting a little uncomfortable for Drew."
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Tavarez wishes Lester nothing but the best
Today's guest on Projo SoxTalk is Sean McAdam. Click here to listen to the full audio file. He reviews last night's Red Sox win in the Bronx, and talks about how Julian Tavarez is handling the possibility of going back to the bullpen. Answer: Graciously. Here's some of what Sean had to say.
On Tavarez: "He really said some remarkable stuff after the game last night, because, people were sort of reminding him that [Jon] Lester was on his way, and that he'd be here in a couple of weeks, and given how well Tavarez has pitched on a number of starts, would that be tough for him to accept. And he really sort of went off on this soliloquy about how the most important thing to him was that Jon Lester was well again and healthy, and that if he's going to be here, he's going to be one of the top young pitchers in the league, and he deserves to start, and I'll be happy to give my place over to him. It really was almost heartwarming to hear one major league player speak about another like that."
On Dustin Pedroia's postgame comments about A-Rod: "I'll be interested to see how much play this gets today, because it was sort of one of those minor after-the-game things, but because some people wrote about it, because that clip of Pedroia will no doubt be on ESPN, I suspect it will take off a little bit today, and there will be a horde of New York reporters descending on Dustin Pedroia in the clubhouse today wondering if he thinks Alex Rodriguez is a cheap-shot artist. There's a little bit of blood in the water here, so we'll see how it plays out."
On why tonight is almost a must-win for the Yanks: "In a perfect world for the Yankees, they needed to sweep to really make any headway here. Even if they win tonight, there's a net gain of just one game in the standings, and for a team that started and is now once again 10 1/2 out, that's not a lot of forward progress."
NEW YORK – Right fielder J.D. Drew remained in the lineup last night, but also remained in a dreadful slump.
Drew went into last night hitting only .169 (14-for-83) in his last 24 games, dropping his batting average from .375 to a season-low .244, and things didn’t go any better in his first couple of trips to the plate as Drew began the night 0-for-2.
Last night also marked the one-month anniversary since Drew’s last homer. He has just two so far.
``He’s kind of scuffling right now,’’ acknowledged manager Terry Francona. ``I’d say it’s a mixture of bad luck and not being consistent with his swing. But from where I sit, he’s got a track record and he’s going to hit. We just have to be patient. Sometimes, you just have to ride it out.’’
Drew said he had tried ``a little of everything’’ to bust out of the slump, but hasn’t hit on the right combination.
``It hasn’t been a very good month,’’ admitted Drew. ``I feel like I’ve hit some balls good and have nothing to show for them. It’s just a matter of keeping composed and doing the things you’ve always done to be successful.’’
Drew, who opted out his contract with the Dodgers to sign a five-year, $70 million deal with the Sox, has been guilty of trying too hard at times.
``Obviously,’’ he said, ``you can easily outthink yourself at times like this. That’s the tendency when things are going bad. There are enough people out there trying to get you out; you don’t need to add one more person to that list.’’
He’s studied video and taken extra batting practice in an effort to break out.
``You’ve still got go out there and battle and make adjustments,’’ Drew said. ``We’ve got more than four months to go.’’
Manny Ramirez’s first-inning homer – a three-run belt to left – enabled him to continue to climb the charts for Yankee killers.
Ramirez ranks fifth, just one homer behind Carl Yastrzemski, for most career homers against the Yankees with 51. Jimmie Foxx is first with 70, followed by Ted Williams (62), Hank Greenberg (53) and Yaz (52).
He’s also fifth in RBI (150) against the Yankees since 1957, trailing Yaz (163), Al Kaline (157), Brooks Robinson (154) and Harmon Killebrew (153).
Ramirez has 26 homers at Yankee Stadium, the most of any player over the last 51 years. Rafael Palmeiro (23), Boog Powell and Jim Rice (22 each) are next.
Josh Beckett, who has been sidelined for the last 10 days because of an avulsion on his right middle finger, is on pace to make his scheduled start Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians.
Beckett plans to throw a five-inning simulated game in the bullpen this afternoon and will do without a bandage on his finger. Beckett will throw all of his pitches to make sure that he can throw his curve without incident.
Kevin Youkilis extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a first-inning single. That’s the second-longest current hitting streak in the big leagues, behind only Derek Jeter (16 games before last night)…Mike Lowell’s fourth-inning solo homer, off the foul pole in left, was his fifth in the last 12 games…Matt Clement, who underwent rotator cuff surgery late last fall, is in Fort Myers tasking part in extended spring training. Eventually, he’ll rejoin the major league club to continue his rehab program…Mike Timlin (shoulder) played catch yesterday and will have another mound session today…Yankee legend and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra visited the Red Sox clubhouse briefly and signed balls for Coco Crisp and Javier Lopez…General manager Theo Epstein is here, but peeled off yesterday to do some scouting for the upcoming draft, which takes place June 7…When Coco Crisp fanned in the fourth, Yankee starter Mike Mussina passed Warren Spahn to move into 23rd place on the all-time strikeout list with 2,584.
Projo SoxTalk with McAdam: Yankee fans mellowing? Steinbrenner mellowing?
From New York, Sean McAdam joins Art Martone for today's edition of Projo SoxTalk. He talks about last night's frustrating Red Sox loss, and also about the changed atmosphere in New York (at least temporarily changed) now that the team has been struggling. Click here to listen to the full, seven-and-a-half-minute audio file. In the meantime, here are a few of Sean's comments.
On Wakefield's performance: "[It was] just one of those nights where he was unable to throw the pitch for strikes consistenly -- he walked five -- and then when he did throw the ball in the strike zone, too often it was up in the zone and pretty inviting to hitters like Rodriguez and Giambi."
On chastened Yankee fans: "There wasn't that sort of cockiness that you get, where Yankee fans are taunting Red Sox players before the game and sort of walking in there with their chests stuck out. They were a little bit less ferocious than they usually are, given the way their team is playing."
On whether Steinbrenner's in firing mode: "It's now entirely impossible to predict what George Steinbrenner is going to do. And that used to be the case on another level: He was so volatile, so explosive, so unpredictable, that they could lose three in a row to Kansas City sometime and he'd fire the pitching coach just for the pleasure of doing it. Now he's unpredictable in another way, in that he's kind of lost his bite, and he doesn't overreact the way he used to."
Sean McAdam is today's guest on Projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Sean sets up this week's Red Sox-Yankees series, laying out the stakes for the New York team, and sums up yesterday's fine performance by Kason Gabbard.
Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments:
On Gabbard: "Gabbard's a guy that really caught their attention not only last year when he came up and made three starts, but also by how well he pitched in sprint training. So I don't think they were too surprised by how effective he was."
On the Yankees: "I think for their own confidence and well-being, and sort of chipping away at this lead, that they reallly need to get two out of three. Even that will only net them a game in the standings, but to get it down from double digits where it is now, 10 1/2 and 10 in the loss column, would at least get them pointed in the right direction, and then they tell themselves Clemens is not far behind, and then of course they get another crack at the Red Sox coming up in two weekends back at Fenway. But as much as people say there are four plus months left in this season, after Wednesday night the season series between these teams will be half over, and the opportunities for the Yankees to make up ground head to head against the Red Sox will start to slip away. So I think they've got to make some inroads in the next three nights."
Sean McAdam is Art Martone's guest on today's edition of Projo SoxTalk. McAdam discusses what appears to be the imminent call-up of Kason Gabbard (below) to take Josh Beckett's scheduled start tomorrow against Atlanta. Click here to listen to the full audio file.
Here's some of what Sean had to say: "Certainly all signs point to Gabbard. He was limited to five innings in his last start [on Monday]. He'd be going on somewhat short rest, but I think all they'd be looking for tomorrow night given the circumstances would be five or six innings. And I would expect that the roster move to correspond to make room -- assuming that they don't decide to put Beckett on the DL, and I don't think they want to do that just yet because it would take him out of at least one more start -- is they would return Javy Lopez to Pawtucket. He's this year's yo-yo guy, because he is not out of optoins and can be moved back and forth at will. So my guess is that Lopez goes down for a couple of guys and Gabbard comes up, and then they flip flop them."
Sean also discusses why he thinks it is unlikely that Wily Mo Pena becomes the regular right fielder, even if J.D. Drew ends up being out longer than expected.
Today on Projo SoxTalk, Sean McAdam joins Art Martone to talk about the Red Sox' blazing-hot start, and to talk about what challenges might lie ahead. Click here to listen to the full audio file. One thing that could change is the Red Sox' luck. Here's what Sean has to say on the subject of injuries:
"The one thing I would caution people, is to remind them that this team has basically been untouched by injuries so far. They have not had Mike Timlin, but given the emergence of Hideki Okajima as their primary setup guy, they haven't needed Timlin as badly. There've been nagging injuries to Coco Crisp and players here and there, but 33 games in, they've been remarkably healthy, in direct contrast to both the Blue Jays and Yankees -- their prime competitors."
But on the other hand, when it comes to the batting order...
"Lowell and Ortiz are really the only two guys who have put it together yet, which makes you think that in addition to the good pitching they've gotten, if they start getting the lineup firing on all cylinders, then maybe they win some of those low-scoring games they've lost, like that 2-1 game against (the Twins' Johan) Santana on Saturday."
Today, Sean looks into the adjustments that Daisuke Matsuzaka made to improve his luck, and at some of the ways the slumping J.D. Drew is trying to get better results.
He also spoke about Dustin Pedroia and the uproar over Curt Schilling's and David Ortiz's Barry Bonds/steroid comments. Here are two excerpts.
On the streaking Pedroia: "I think a lot of it is just confidence with him. I don't think there's much question looking back to April that he was pressing a little bit, perhaps trying to prove that he belonged and was worthy of having a spot in the lineup for a team that expected to contend for the pennant. There's been a lot said and written about his swing, which looks overly long for someone his size, but it's always worked for him. A couple of nights ago Pedroia said that he's also doing a little bit better job in the batter's box, maybe waiting on the pitch that extra fraction of a second and not being too jumpy -- sort of out in front of the pitch, he was pulling a lot of pitches foul. He seems to be making more solid contact and I think just getting a little bit more comfortable in the lineup with the more success he has."
Why the off-field fiasco probably won't be a distraction: I think Terry Francona has probably had his fill of it the last few days, because a lot of the questions get directed at him, and he's probably feeling some heat from above in the front office and ownership to try and keep a tighter rein on these guys. I think we've seen back to the days of the 2004 championship team that this is a pretty loose place. I think players have made their peace with the various personalities. Teammates know that Schilling is opinioniated, is going to say things that get attention. I think that the core of this team has been togehter long enough to just shrug that off for the most part -- ignore the off-field stuff and focus on baseball."
Click here to listen to today's edition of projo SoxTalk, in which Sean McAdam joins Art Martone to talk about the local nine. The Blue Jays are stumbling badly, and there may be some bad blood brewing in this series. Kevin Youkilis left last night's game after being beaned (he nailed a home run earlier in the game), and there was quite a lot of speculation about whether it was an intentional hit-by-pitch. Here's what Sean has to say on the subject:
"I know that Youkilis is getting tired of being hit, and it was particularly painful for him last night because the spot he got hit in -- sort of the mid-thigh of his left leg -- was just a little bit lower from where he had gotten a contusion Sunday against Minnesota. He already has been hit five times in 31 games, and it's getting a little old for him, to say nothing of how painful its been.
"He wasnt sure why he was singled out, although obviously he hit the home run earlier in the game and had a pretty productive night at the plate. It may just have been his spot in the lineup when (Toronto) decided to wake themselves up, but both benches were warned, there was nothing that transpired after that. But he just feels like he has a target on his back, for whatever reason, and wishes it would end."
Stay tuned. McAdam also discusses reports that Toronto starter Tomo Ohka -- a former Red Sox import from Japan -- has a chip on his shoulder about all the attention that his opponent in tonight's game, Daisuke Matsuzaka, has gotten. Martone and McAdam also discuss Josh Beckett and the further evidence that a trade between the Mets and the Devil Rays a couple years ago may be one of the most lopsided of all time.
Projo SoxTalk: Sean McAdam on Beckett, the Blue Jays and the Yankees
Live from Toronto, Sean McAdam is the guest on today's edition of Projo SoxTalk. Click here to listen to the full audio file. Here are some excerpts from Sean's comments. Editor's Note: Tonight will be Josh Beckett's first appearance of 2007 against the Blue Jays.
On Beckett: "He has been much more consistent, and I think we're seeing a guy who's in the middle of sort of determining for himself the difference between being purely a thrower and a guy who is really learning how to pitch in his second year in the American League. And you can see some changes in his approach: not so reliant on his fastball, doesn't throw it up in the zone to challenge hitters when things get tough, mixes in his secondary pitches far better, relies more on Jason Varitek and trusts him more to call the game. So I think all those things are positive signs."
On the last-place Toronto Blue Jays: "I think they are looking at this homestand that starts tonight with three against the Red Sox as a pretty key series, or a pretty important stretch for them, even though it is only the second week in May. They have some ground to make up in the American League East already. They're seven and a half games in back of the Red Sox and should they get swept, they could be double figures behind the front-runner by the end of the week, and you certainly don't want to be in that situation on May 12."
On the Yankee bullpen, the day after Mariano Rivera's latest blown save: There aren't a lot of other reliable arms in there. In fact, Scott Proctor looks to be one of the few guys that Joe Torre can trust, and for the second year in a row he runs the risk of really running Proctor into the ground in the first couple of months in the season, because he doesn't have anyone else he can trust. So that may be one of the rude awakenings that Clemens discovers when he comes back late this month: that it is not Mike Stanton and (Jeff) Nelson and some of the guys that they had working as ace setup guys to get to a younger Mariano Rivera. Now it is an untested bullpen -- sort of patched together -- and an aging Mariano Rivera who is having difficulties.
Here is how Sean describes the reaction to news of Clemens' deal yesterday in the Red Sox clubhouse:
"You had a bunch of guys who were a little stunned by the timing of it. We had been led to believe that the decision-making process might not come to frutiion until later this month. I think some guys were privately astonished at the amont of the deal: $28 million prorated, which makes Clemens the highest-paid single-season performer ever in team sports, I think, at least in North America. And I think from a team standpoint the feeling was, well it would have been nice to have him, but we have a pretty good pitching staff here, and we can win without him. And you kind of got the sense that that might be something of a rallying point for the team as the season progresses -- that, you know, Roger took the big money to go to New York, but the Red Sox would like nothing better than to prove to him that he made the wrong choice."
And here's McAdam's assessment of the impact of the deal on the Yankees:
"It certainly provides a temporary psychological boost to them. You know -- they've been scuffling, they've been calling kids up from Double A to make their major league debut simply to have a starting pitcher. So the arrival of what is now or what will soon be the winningest active pitcher in baseball, and the eighth-winningest pitcher of all time, seven Cy Youngs and all of Clemens' pedigree has to I think boost the Yankees' chances and their morale. They can see that, you know, he's off in the distance and is coming to their rescue. But I think once you get past all the excitement, you have to ask how different will it be for Clemens pitching in the American League East again after pitching in what is arguably the worst division in baseball for the last two years."
On Josh Beckett's back, which was sore as the game went on last night: "It seemed to flare up. It seemed he caught his spike a little bit in a follow-through and almost sort of wrenched his back for a little bit, and I think he might have otherwise gone a little later into the game. But they wanted to be a bit careful there, and that's why they took him out after seven."
On Coco Crisp: "One of the positive things for the Red Sox is, he seems to be using his speed more. He's being very aggressive. You see him stealing bases; he's hit a couple of balls that were sort of glorified chops down the line, but once they get out of the infield he's capable of turning into extra bases -- doubles, even triples in some instances. I think people remember that big triple he hit against the Yankees in the first series at Fenway a couple of weeks ago, a ball that might otherwise have been fielded by the first baseman, but when it got by Doug Mientkiewicz and rolled into the corner, Crisp's speed is such that he can really take advantage of that. And even when he was hitting leadoff last year, it seemed like he didn't do more of that, and maybe they were correct in putting him at the bottom of the order. It sort of frees him up a little more, and now that he's making better contact than he was in the first few weeks, it's sort of all coming together for him."
On American League Rookie of the Month Hideki Okajima: I think if you had told people at the start of the season that the American League Rookie of the Month for April was going to be a Japanese pitcher, the assumption would have been that it would be Daisuke Matsuzaka. He was the one who came on with all the billing and expectation and hype. He's pitched pretty well, but Okajima has been kind of a revelation in the bullpen. He has been unquestionably their most consistent set-up guy.
"They've used him everywhere from the sixth to the eighth inning, and everyplace in between. He's gotten lefties and righties out, and the numbers are staggering, you know, he's got a batting average against of below .100. He's got an E.R.A. under 1.00. He can get lefties and righties out, and he's been really the biggest find of the first five weeks of the season, and it was nice to see him get recognized for that."
Sean McAdam joins Art today on Projo SoxTalk, the day after the Red Sox' stunning 10-inning defeat at the hands of the Oakland Athletics. Click here to listen to the full audio file. A lot of people probably thought they could go to bed when Jonathan Papelbon entered the game in the ninth inning with a two-run lead and with the bottom of Oakland's light-hitting order coming around, but we all know what happened. Sean says it didn't appear that Papelbon was hurting on the mound -- just that he didn't have it.
"Both (Papelbon) and a number of teamates mentioned that he just didn't seem to have the good command of his fastball, which is something that usually is pretty key for him," McAdam said. "He wasn't locating with a couple of his pitches and that came back to haunt him."
McAdam went on to discuss manager Terry Francona's comments yesterday on the Alex Cora-Dustin Pedroia second-base controversy. At the end of the game, Cora pinch-hit for Pedroia (he was intentionally walked).
"I was a little surprised that Francona was as candid as he was on that topic, because he sort of cut off any debate at the knees whhen this subject has been brought up previously, saying that Pedroia is the guy who is going to play the position and Cora's around as a utility guy and to hep him," McAdam said. "But yesterday he kind of acknowledged that it is getting harder and harder not to let Cora play after he has games like he did Sunday at Yankee Stadium, where he hit a home run and a triple ... He's been just terrific, more than they could have anticipated. I think it's important though, and I think Francona is taking into account, to remember that Cora's a .245 lifetime hitter, and for the terrific month of April that he had -- and the Red Sox are happy that he had such an outstanding first month -- he sort of is what he is, which is a very capable utility guy who can play three different infield positions, but someone who is unlikely to keep hitting at a .360 clip over the long term."
McAdam also gives his take on rumors out there today that Oakland may be shopping their supremely talented but often injured young pitcher Rich Harden to the Red Sox.
Today, Sean McAdam, at soggy Fenway Park, discusses the Red Sox' strong offensivve performances against Los Angeles, and examines Jonathan Papelbon's changed role. Click here to listen to the audio file.
Sean McAdam calls in this morning from Texas, where the Red Sox are set to play the visitor in the Rangers' home opener. McAdam breaks down Daisuke Matsuzaka's dazzling debut and lets you know what you might look for in the coming series. Click here to listen to the audio file.
Welcome to the big leagues, Daisuke. It was 28 degrees here a little while ago, though it should ``warm'' to near 40 by gametime.
The lineup for the Sox is standard:
Naturally, anticipation is running high here. Strange sight on the field: In front of the KC dugout is a tractor and a few members of the grounds crew. In front of the Red Sox dugout, approximately 75 media members, mosty Japanese, all positioned to get a shot of Matsuzaka emerging from the dugout.
In today's edition of projo Sox Talk with Art Martone, Sean McAdam calls in from Kansas City. He says it's the weather is the coldest he can ever remember before a major league baseball game. Click here to listen to the audio file.
Greetings, all. It's cold here, with game-time temps expected to be around the freezing mark. That's almost a 50-degree drop from first pitch in Monday's opener.
Sox lineup is the same as Monday:
KANSAS CITY -- The weather here is as beautiful as it was in Florida last week: 80 degrees, sunny, just perfect baseball weather. A great day for an opener.
In his pregame meeting with the media, Terry Francona said Julian Tavarez will pitch a simulated game tomorrow. He'll be working against the extras: Eric Hinske, Alex Cora, Wily Mo Pena and Doug Mirabelli.
Francona also said Mike Timlin, recovering from a strained oblique muscle, will pitch a camp game tomorrow in Fort Myers. After that he will join the Pawtucket Red Sox on a rehab assignment and will pitch the seventh inning in their season opener Thursday in Charlotte. Then he will be the starting pitcher (though will only work an inning or two) on Saturday, also in Charlotte.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Red Sox announced this morning that reliever Craig Hansen, who struggled to the tune of a 15.43 ERA this spring, has been optioned to Pawtucket (International League). Fellow reliever Bryan Corey, a non-roster invitee who pitched well (1.50 ERA in 10 appearances), was returned to the minor-league camp.
Kyle Snyder was told he's made the team and will be part of the pitching staff when the season starts. Snyder will pitch out of the bullpen.