|04.22.15 at 2:51 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With Rays right-hander Nate Karns on the mound, the Red Sox will send out the American League version of their Opening Day lineup. Back in the batting order will be Xander Bogaerts and Mike Napoli, who each had the first game of the three-game series off.
Not in the lineup is jack-of-all-trades Brock Holt, who made two spectacular plays at shortstop in the Red Sox‘ 1-0 win over Tampa Bay Tuesday, but has gone hitless in two straight games for the first time this season. Holt is still hitting .414 with a .916 OPS.
|04.22.15 at 9:27 am ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher and current ESPN analyst Curt Schilling joined Dennis & Callahan Wednesday to discuss the Boston Marathon and how the Red Sox look in the early weeks of the season. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Among the topics discussed was Hanley Ramirez‘ defense. While the free agent acquisition leads the Sox with five homers and 12 RBI, his play in left field has not been promising after spending the vast majority of his career as a shortstop.
Schilling said Ramirez’ struggles are not for lack of trying and credited the 31-year-old for not making a stink out of his situation.
“It’s hard, and I’m not making excuses, but at this point in your career, bravo that he hasn’t said boo about moving,” Schilling said. “But he’s putting himself in a position to be embarrassed and playing as hard as he can play. There’s nothing you can do about that.
“There’s nowhere else in my mind to put him defensively, because, for me, left field in Fenway — and I say this because it’s the only word I can come up with — might be the easiest outfield position because there’s so much less ground to cover. You’ve got to figure out the wall, you’ve got to figure out angles and the ladder, but that doesn’t take that long. And you’ve got one of the best defensive coaches in the game in Brian Butterfield, so I’m hoping he gets that left field thing because I’m not sure there’s options there.”
“Manny was actually – when he wanted to be – was very, very good,” Schilling responded.
The Red Sox sit atop the AL East with a 9-5 record, making them the only team in their division currently above .500. Schilling said the first impression hasn’t surprised him, but that the team’s starting pitching hasn’t been where he’s expected it to be.
“I don’t feel any different,” he said. “The first three weeks, four weeks, first month, I always try to sort it out and look and decide. Their starting pitching, which I expected to be better, hasn’t been, which is something that’s probably a little worrisome.”
Four of the team’s starters have ERAs of 5.74 or higher, with Rick Porcello sporting a team-worst 6.63 mark.
“When you bring contact pitching into the American League East, I’ve always found it works less than you’d like it to,” Schilling said. “[Wade] Miley, he did alright last night, and Porcello, but it’s tough. It’s tough to be a guy who relies on defense to get outs in this division.”
|04.22.15 at 8:16 am ET|
Kelly leads all Red Sox starters in ERA (2.13), WHIP (0.711) and batting average against (.119). In 12 2/3 innings over two starts, Kelly has allowed just three runs and five hits while striking out 11 and walking four. He got the win against the Yankees in his first outing but was handed a no-decision against the Orioles last time out as the Sox scored just two runs until the bullpen was called on. Kelly and Justin Masterson are the only two Boston starters who have not been charged with a loss this season.
In the outing against the Orioles, Kelly threw 5 2/3 innings of two-run baseball, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out three. One of the hits was the righty’s first home run allowed, a solo shot to Caleb Joseph. He threw 118 pitches in the start after throwing 93 in seven innings in the outing against the Yankees.
“He had great stuff,” manager John Farrell said after the game. “They did a good job of staying within the strike zone, not chasing some fastballs just off the edge. A number of foul balls that run the pitch, or run some deeper counts. I thought once he got into the fifth inning he started to use his curveball a little bit more to slow some hitters down. He still maintained his stuff throughout the 118 pitches thrown. Probably a little bit more than I would have liked to take him tonight but still he kept his power throughout.”
Wednesday will be Kelly’s first start against Tampa Bay.
|04.22.15 at 12:56 am ET|
This time — in the Red Sox‘ 1-0 win over the Rays Tuesday at Tropicana Field — Holt made his presence felt with two sparkling defensive plays at shortstop. The first was a diving stop up the middle, ending with a rocket throw to first to end the second inning. The second came in the seventh, when he also dove, but this time toward third, forcing an even stronger toss to Daniel Nava at first for the inning-ender.
Both plays were about as good as even the best shortstop could hope for.
“The thing that really has stood out the last year or so as we’ve gotten to the left side of the infield is his arm strength,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “He pops up and makes good strong throws and we didn’t know how strong his arm was because he came to us primarily as a second baseman. Over the course of a couple of years he’s lengthened it out, he’s gained some arm strength and it shows up tonight.”
While he didn’t end up with a hit for just the third time in his nine games, Holt did manage a perfectly-executed ninth inning sacrifice bunt. The lefty hitter is still hitting .414 with a .916 OPS.
And when it was all said and done, with the team bus ready to head back to the hotel, there was just one more question to be asked: where was he going to play Wednesday?
“I don’t know,” Holt said.
It’s a game that’s all the rage these days — guess where Brock Holt will play. Not how will he play, because that’s become a constant. Not will he play, since Farrell has made it a point to find a way to find him a spot.
It’s strange to say, but you could make a case that Holt has looked as good, if not better, than every single one of the “regulars” he has given a breather to thus far this season. The latest example was against the Rays, with Holt making a pair of plays that would have been classified as among the best of Xander Bogaerts’ career.
In case you weren’t soaking in, what we’re witnessing with Holt is a baseball oddity.
In the last two seasons, Holt has played eight positions, making just seven errors (6 of which came at third base).
So what, and where, now?
Let’s play the game …
The guess for Wednesday is that Holt doesn’t get the start. The Red Sox are facing right-hander Nate Karns, who hasn’t faced any of the current Sox and isn’t more effective against one side of the plate compared to the other.
Pablo Sandoval will be hitting left-handed. Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia have both had recent days off. Mike Napoli figures to be back after a rest. All outfield spots seem to be locked up, with Shane Victorino finishing his Tuesday night with a double, and Hanley Ramirez and Mookie Betts both seemingly carrying some offensive momentum heading into Game 2 of the series.
We could be wrong, but the next time we see Holt in the starting lineup might be Thursday against Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi. At what position? Well, let’s put one of the regular defenders at the designated hitter spot, giving David Ortiz the day off. Ortiz is 1-for-10 against Odorizzi, and will have spent the previous two days trucking around the Tropicana Field turf.
Welcome to the most popular guessing game in New England these days (with Holt trying to guess right along with everybody else).
“I want to play,” Holt said. “John does a good job of telling me pretty early the day before that I’ll be in there and where I’m playing. So i can get ready that way. I want to be in there as much as I can. Obviously there are some really good players on this team so I’m just here to help out whenever and wherever I can.”
|04.21.15 at 9:57 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Who knows if Wade Miley will be an ace, but Tuesday night he did what aces do.
Miley, who was coming off a horrific 2 1/3-inning, seven-run outing, didn’t allow a single run in his 5 2/3 frames. The quick-working southpaw held the offensively-challenged Rays to three hits, striking out three and walking four.
Miley has never lost an April road game, having now gone 3-0 with an 0.47 ERA (19 IP, ER) in three starts against the Rays. This time around, he threw first-pitch strikes t 18 of 22 batters.
His counterpart, Archer, was just as tough, limiting the Red Sox to a lone unearned run. The righty fanned nine in just 5 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits, putting his ERA at 1.07 for the young season.
The Red Sox only managed to put a dent in Archer’s line thanks to some aggressive baserunning by Mookie Betts in the third inning.
With one out and Betts at first with Ryan Hanigan 90 feet away at second, Dustin Pedroia grounded back to Archer for what looked like a sure-fire, inning-ending double play. But Betts slid hard into second baseman Ryan Brett, forcing the rookie’s to throw errantly to first for the game’s only run.
“Just breaking up a double play,” Betts said. “Talking to some of the guys, the little things we talk about, ways to affect the game in some way. That was my opportunity, nothing dirty, just going in to try and break up a double play.”
“The one thing our guys have done a great job at is doing just that, breaking up a double play,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “We stress the importance of it, but he’s such an instinctual baserunner. He’s got good speed so he’s able to get down on the pivot man in good time. A good hard slide to give us the error at first base and another unearned run ends up being the difference in this one. So a good night on the basepaths.”
The Red Sox have scored 71 runs this year and 19 have been unearned (26.8 percent), with their opposition committing 21 errors.
The last time the Red Sox won 1-0 courtesy an unearned run was April 21, 2005. The Sox also went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, marking the first time they went hitless in that many at-bats in such a situation and won since April 24, 2004.
SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Miley. With the help of solid defense behind him, the lefty looked a whole lot more like the pitcher first time around the rotation than what the Red Sox got in his second start of the season.
Here is what went right (and wrong) in the Red Sox win:
|04.21.15 at 8:30 pm ET|
“I have to watch that video to see what point I touched him because I don’t remember, to be honest with you,” Ortiz said. “I don’t really remember. And I wasn’t even arguing with him. I was talking with the third base umpire. If it happened, I don’t know when it happened and I didn’t try that because trust me, I know. It might be one move that I made or whatever. But I don’t know.”
Throughout the hours leading into the Red Sox series opener with the Rays, Ortiz seemed content in letting the situation play out. The message the DH truly wanted to get across was in regards to his relationship with umpires in general.
Ortiz pointed out that in recent years he has made it a point not to confront umpires, with his previous ejection before Saturday’s exit coming July 27, 2013. He has been tossed three times since 2008, and 10 times in his career.
“I don’t want to argue with umpires,” he said. “I don’t think that’s what people come to see. They’re good guys. I don’t think anything they do is personal with anybody. I don’t see it that way at all. Things happen in the game in situations, your adrenaline is kicking in at 1000 miles per hour, you’re trying to win a ballgame and things happen. It happened in the game so what can you do about it.
“I get bad calls all the time, but I don’t bitch about it all the time. You can even ask the umpire. You know what I’ve been doing lately, and nobody even knows it? Whenever an umpire makes a bad call on me I go to my next at-bat and I let him know, ‘That pitch you called that last about ‘¦’ And he would be like, ‘OK, I’m going to pay attention to it. I’m going to watch it.’ That’s it. That’s it.”
Ortiz offers the example of this past weekend to support his case. Even with the designated hitter’s frustrations with umpire Jerry Meals — first as Friday’s home plate umpire, then from third base where the umpired ruled that Ortiz swung — he noted that the two had civil conversations throughout Sunday’s tilt.
“Even that guy that I was arguing with, yesterday we met up at second base and we talked to each other fine. Everything was cool. That’s it,” Ortiz said. “It’s not like people want to make a scene like this is some personal stuff. No. You’re involved in a baseball game where you’re trying to win. You see an umpire miss a call, your adrenaline gets in the way.”
The DH added, “I don’t like arguing with umpires in general. I hate it. I hate it more than what people think I do. I have a good relationship with them. I have no complaints with umpires. But like I say, it’s a game that we play, you’re trying to win and whenever you feel like something is wrong you’re going to have to say something about it and then you move on.”
Ortiz also touched on a byproduct of the weekend’s events — comments on Twitter from Baltimore television analyst Jim Palmer who suggested the DH was being selfish in getting tossed.
The Sox slugger implored such observers to take better stock of the situations.
“All these people who criticize and talk all the trash they want, they need to stay away from that,” Ortiz noted. “That’s in between players and umpires. It’s in the moment thing. I don’t think going into a game thinking about what he did the day before. I most of the time talk to the umpire that we disagreed on something the day before and we move on. It’s just part of the game.”
|04.21.15 at 3:40 pm ET|
Holt, who comes into the game hitting .462, will hit eighth against Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer.
Also getting the start is Daniel Nava, who slots in at first base for Mike Napoli. Napoli is 1-for-12 against Archer, while Nava comes in hitting .556 (5-for9) with four walks against the righty.
Here is the rest of the Red Sox lineup with Wade Miley on the mound for the visitors:
|04.21.15 at 3:40 pm ET|
Major League Baseball announced Tuesday afternoon David Ortiz has been suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for making contact with home plate umpire John Tumpane during the bottom of the fifth inning of Sunday’s loss to the Orioles.
Ortiz was ejected for arguing balls and strikes as he disagreed with third base umpire Jerry Meals, who said he went around on a check swing. The designated hitter dropped his bat in the middle of the at-bat, and after a short argument with Meals was ejected by Tumpane with Ortiz apparently making contact with him.
There was also a disagreement in the first inning between Ortiz and Meals on another check swing.
Ortiz has filed an appeal, so he will be in the lineup Tuesday in Tampa.
|04.21.15 at 2:00 pm ET|
Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and Orioles analyst Jim Palmer joined Middays with MFB Tuesday to discuss his tweets from over the weekend about David Ortiz and him being ejected from Sunday’s game for arguing balls and strikes after a check swing. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Ortiz didn’t like what Palmer said and responded on Monday. Tuesday, Palmer clarified what he meant, and said he has a lot of respect for Ortiz and what he is as a player, as well as what he’s done for the Red Sox and baseball in general.
Palmer felt Ortiz should have used better judgement and not have gotten thrown out because of his value to the Red Sox.
“I just think as a player, your allegiance and your better sense should be in line with what your ball club is trying to do,” Palmer said. “David Ortiz is one heck of a hitter. On his way 500 home runs, he may be the best DH ever. He’s won a lot of games. You think back when he went 11-for-16 in the World Series and had an on-base percentage of 75 percent of the time, was one of the reasons why the Sox won the series in 2013. I don’t think anyone forgets that.”
Added Palmer: “I think maybe it’s a lesson, if I am Mookie Betts — and David may end up getting suspended for this because of his actions afterwards. It will be very interesting what Major League Baseball does. He’s a mentor. He’s a role model for all the young Red Sox.”
Palmer said he also felt like third base umpire Jerry Meals overreacted and may have played a role in Ortiz becoming more and more upset.
“It was an overreaction by [Jerry Meals], but David is the guy that allows the Red Sox to win ball games not the umpire and I just think he lost his cool a little bit,” Palmer said. “I have no animosity towards David. I think he’s a fantastic player. I know what he’s done in the community. I know how important he’s been to the Red Sox. That wasn’t my point. I was just tweeting about what he did on Sunday and I think what I’ve alluded to over the last 48 hours I’ve made that perfectly clear.”
|04.21.15 at 12:40 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — One year ago, Kevin Cash was beginning his second season as Indians bullpen coach. That came after two years as an advance scout for the Blue Jays. And just before that — five years ago — he found himself retiring from big league baseball at the age of 32 after appearing in 29 games as Red Sox backup catcher.
“Not at all,” said Cash by phone when asked if he could have imagined at this time last year he’d be in his current position. “It’s very weird. Not in the slightest.”
What transpired over the course of just a few months turned Cash’s world upside down without warning.
First came an interview with the Rangers for their managerial opening. Then Texas offered him its bench coach job (which he declined). Then came another call, this one from the Rays for another interview to manage. All the while, there remained the distinct possibility he could find his way back to the Red Sox as bench coach if Torey Lovullo was hired to manage in Minnesota.
All of it came with very little warning, happening in seemingly a blink of an eye.
“[Ron Washington] stepped down and Texas gave the Indians the head’s up that they would be calling when the season ended. I don’t want to say I had doubts, but it wasn’t certainly like I was gung-ho that I could do this because I wasn’t even remotely thinking about it,” Cash said. “Obviously Tito [Cleveland manager Terry Francona] allowed me to do a lot of things that a typical bullpen coach doesn’t do, so that helped. But I know I wasn’t sitting there thinking I could be a big league manager, by any means.”
A couple of interviews are one thing, but actually getting the job is another. Yet that’s exactly what the Tampa native did, with a little help from his former employers.
“The way [the Indians] prepped me was basically unheard of,” Cash said. “I went in and did a mock interview. I got dressed up. They told me to put a suit and tie on and made me as uncomfortable as possible and asked me some very difficult questions.
“It without a doubt helped. It was very, very nerve-wracking because they asked some very direct and pointed questions about the Indians team. Why did you do this? Why did you say this to this player? Why weren’t you able to connect to this player? It put me on the spot. The way they prepped me, it wasn’t going to get much more intense.”
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