|07.13.09 at 12:06 pm ET|
ST. LOUIS — Roy Halladay, described as “maybe the best pitcher in the American League” over the past several years by Tampa Bay and A.L. All-Star Manager Joe Maddon, addressed the swirl of trade rumors around him. He was introduced by emcee Bob Costas as “representing, at least for now, the Toronto Blue Jays,” which elicited a laugh from the Toronto ace who admitted, “I’m not looking forward to this (press conference).”
“It’s tough. Obviously, I’m somewhere that I enjoy being and have spent my entire career. There’s a lot, I think, that goes into it. I think as a player, there’s a will to win. There’s that will to do it in October. Basically, that’s all this is about. I’d like that chance. I’m not saying it won’t be Toronto. It’s what’s best for the organization,” said Halladay. “But it has been tough. I do enjoy Toronto very much.”
Halladay made a number of subsequent points, among them:
–The trade banter has been “awkward” for Halladay to deal with. He’s trying to stay out of the process and let the Jays front office explore scenarios.
–All things being equal, he would rather remain in Toronto. He considers the relatively quiet Toronto market ideal for his personality. That said, he is open to a bigger market if it means a chance to win.
“Toronto has been phenomenal to me. I consider it home…That’s what’s made Toronto great for me. It is quiet. It is a great place,” he said. “(But) there’s a point in your career where you’ve got to ake a chance, try (change), and win…I’ve always been able to separate the field from off-field.”
–He described it as a “flip of the coin” whether he would be in Toronto come August 1. He recognizes that the Jays will only move him if it entails a significant organizational improvement, meaning the sort of prospect package that other teams would be reluctant to part with.
–He does not have a list of teams that he’s established for where he’d accept a trade.
“I haven’t really put together teams,” said Halladay. “I haven’t had to put together places I would want to go.”
–He has not made any decisions about whether or not he would require a contract extension to approve a no-trade clause.
“All I can tell you is my priority would be winning,” said Halladay. “I’ve been fortunate to be taken care of financially down the road.”
–He would not mind going to the National League, based on the challenge of pitching in the A.L. East.
“I’d rather hit than have to face Jeter and A-Rod and Matsui,” he said.
|07.12.09 at 10:06 pm ET|
But the 24-year-old righty didn’t quite replicate those numbers as he went only 5.1 innings against the Syracuse Chiefs, giving up four earned runs off eight hits. Though the All-Star pitcher exited the game to thunderous applause from the McCoy Stadium crowd in the sixth inning, his head was down and he clearly seemed disappointed with his outing.
‘Today was just the kind of day where, it was nice that I got into the sixth inning and you like to see that, but not in the kind of fashion where you have to minimize damage,’ Buchholz said. ‘But you’ve always got days like that.’
Sunday was also the day that Buchholz was not just being monitored by Pawtucket’s parent team, the Boston Red Sox, but also by scouts from the Toronto Blue Jays ‘ a team who has recently shown interest in the young pitcher as they look to possibly move ace Roy Halladay before the trade deadline.
Two Toronto scouts were in attendance at Sunday’s game.
But Buchholz has been through this sort of thing before, namely in 2006 when the Sox were in negotiations with Florida over the trade that sent Hanley Ramirez to the Marlins in exchange for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, among others.
‘It’s been that way for the last three years now, I’ve been involved in a lot of trade talks,’ Buchholz said. ‘It’s good to have your name thrown out there, it just means you’ll be able to help other clubs.’
Now he’s the focal point of a trade that could potentially add the Cy Young Award-winning Halladay to an already lethal Boston pitching staff, and likely thrust the Sox to the title of ‘World Series favorite.’
Still, Buchholz has never had a problem concentrating on simply playing the game, and his appreciation for the Red Sox organization hasn’t been affected by the recent speculation.
‘It never really was an issue for me,’ he said. ‘The Sox have been very loyal to me, so I can’t do anything except be loyal back. It’s been a good couple years in my career so far, and everything happens for a reason, so if something like that was to happen then you just have to take it for what it’s worth and you go on with your career. But I plan to be with the Red Sox for a long time.’
Almost immediately following Pawtucket’s loss to Syracuse (a loss that was charged to Buchholz), Red Sox Manager Terry Francona announced that Buchholz would pitch in the first game of the team’s upcoming series against Toronto ‘ the very organization that could soon boast Buchholz as their up-and-coming ace if a deal with Boston is completed. But for now, the righty just has his sights set on Friday at the Rogers Centre.
‘It’s going to be good, I’ve actually pitched in Toronto a couple times already. I know the atmosphere and I think it’ll be a fun day for me. I’m going to go out there and pitch like I’ve been pitching here and not really care about the results as much as everyone out there in the process of it’¦ We’ll see what happens from there.’
|07.12.09 at 9:19 pm ET|
Freshly called-up rookie Aaron Bates didn’t look much like big league material during his first handful of at-bats in the majors.
The big right-handed hitter was 0-for-6 to start things off with four flailing, floundering strikeouts, and that didn’t bode well for a 25-year-old slugger that was hitting .182 for Triple-A Pawtucket at the time of his promotion to Boston. But Bates played steady, soft-handed defense at first base during those first few games, and finally broke through with his first big league hit — an RBI single — in the bottom of the eighth inning Saturday night.
Bates collected that first career Major League hit and RBI single with a solid knock up the middle in the eighth inning Saturday, and it all seemed to be another nice Fenway rookie story when he spoke after the game of sending his memento baseball to his mom.
Instead of getting satisfied with himself, however, Bates got greedy and added to his first time with a pair of doubles and an RBI in Sunday’s 6-0 victory over the Royals. Bates looked overmatched while fanning four times in those first six big league at-bats, but he was hitting solid line drives to all parts of the baseball field on Sunday. It helped that Bates had faced well-traveled Royals starter Bruce Chen three or four times this winter in Puerto Rico, and finally didn’t have to squirm and struggle for a little pitch recognition.
Bates was leaving the Sox clubhouse on Sunday afternoon headed for Kennebunkport with his girlfriend to celebrate the All-Star break, and Sunday’s performance left a very good taste in the first-year player’s mouth. He finally felt like he’d shown a bit of what he could eventually bring to the table in the big leagues: a powerful right-handed, middle-of-the-order hitter with a nifty glove and a punishing swing.
“You don’t every try to do too much. I try not to get too result-oriented because I get into a little bit of trouble when I do that,” said Bates. “I’ve been fortunate to be around some of the best players in the game. There’s six All-Stars here, and I’m just learning as much as I can and really trying to be a sponge. I try to pick guy’s brains. Sometimes I even think I’m asking guys too many questions, but I want to learn as much as I can while I’m here.”
How ironic that the rook struggling simply to make contact in his first few games becomes the first Red Sox player to record a three-hit effort in his first five big-league games since Nomar Garciaparra turned the trick way back on Sept. 1, 1996.
‘He got a hit (Saturday night) and so often when guys, they get a hit, they loosen up and they feel good about themselves,’ said Sox manager Terry Francona. “He swung the bat great. When we called him up he was having a tough time in Triple-A for the past 10 days or two weeks. He took some really good swings today.
“The thinking was (in bringing him up) that he’s certainly a strong kid. He’s got some pull power. You tell he felt good about himself today. Hits the ball to center, hits two balls to the right, pulls a ball down the left of the line. When you see (somebody) use the whole field and you hit the ball square like that, you are feeling pretty good. It lines up really well. It should benefit him and us.”
The dividends for the Sox actually began on Sunday when Bates finally settled into his big league groove.
|07.12.09 at 6:29 pm ET|
PAWTUCKET – Following a 5-4 loss in his final start for Pawtucket before the All-Star break, Clay Buchholz was named Friday’s starting pitcher when the Sox head north to Toronto. (A pair of Toronto’s pro scouts were in attendance to scout Buchholz during Sunday’s outing, in which he gave up five runs (four earned) in 5.1 innings.) After the game, the 24-year-old righty had this to say about his promotion:
‘The first time I ever got called up was the day before and I couldn’t go to sleep at night and had everybody calling me. At least now I’ve been there before…
‘It’s going to be good, I’ve actually pitched in Toronto a couple times already. I know the atmosphere and I think it’ll be a fun day for me. I’m going to go out there and pitch like I’ve been pitching here and not really care about the results as much as everyone out there in the process of it. Like I said, it’s going to be a fun day…
‘It’s going to be a nice little ride for me and we’ll see what happens from there.”
For the next few days leading into the second half, Buchholz plans to relax with his fiancee on Cape Cod.
|07.12.09 at 4:42 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after Sunday’s game that Clay Buchholz will get the first Red Sox start following the All-Star break. Buchholz, who allowed five runs (four earned) on Sunday for Triple-A Pawtucket while taking the loss, is 7-2 with a 2.36 ERA in the minors this year. With two Sox starters (Tim Wakefield and Josh Beckett) in the All-Star Game, the Sox wanted to set up a rotation that would potentially provide all of the team’s starters extra rest entering the second half. The order following Buchholz to open the second half will be Brad Penny, Jon Lester, John Smoltz, Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield.
Sox manager Terry Francona indicated that it will likely be a one-start promotion for Buchholz, and that the right-handed prospect will be sent back down to Pawtucket following Friday’s start against the Blue Jays. The spot start will give the other five members of Boston’s starting staff an extra built-in day of rest to start the traditional second half of the baseball, and will presumably give the Sox big league coaching staff an ability to gauge the hurler’s improvement from last season.
“It’s right on his day and it really, I think, sets up our rotation a little bit,’ said Francona. “We wanted to be consistent with our guys’ rest. There’s a day off a week in with, everybody will get one turn through. We wanted to see Buch pitch too. There are just a lot of reasons for it.
“Coming out of the break that is typically a tough game, especially when you have four days off. I think there is some validity to giving Buch the ball and let him go.”
WEEI.com’s Alex Katz confirmed that two Blue Jays scouts were on hand to watch him pitch in Triple-A Pawtucket during Sunday’s outing.
More, including reaction from Buchholz in Pawtucket, is to come.
|07.12.09 at 2:43 pm ET|
ST. LOUIS — Casey Kelly is unique.
The Red Sox‘ 2008 draft pick has been dominant for three months as a pitcher at two minor-league stops, forging a 7-5 record and 2.08 ERA with Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem. But since June, he has been taking batting practice and occasional grounders at shortstop in preparation for a second half in which he will be a shortstop (and designated hitter to give his arm some rest).
Since his naming to the Futures Game was as a pitcher, Kelly was not able to work out with the position players and take batting practice.
“I wish,” he said of taking B.P.
That, however, is just about his only regret of his season to date.
“All the pitchers, I think, hate me, because I get to take B.P. and I get to take groundballs. I think every pitcher in baseball would love to do that. When I do it twice a week, I love it,” said Kelly. “I think it’s amazing that I get to play two positions in one season. I don’t think a lot of guys get to do that in their careers. It’s kind of unbelievable to me. It’s a whole lot of fun. It’s kind of crazy, and at times you’re like, ‘What’s going on?’ But I wouldn’t want to have the season any other way. To pack two seasons into one with the pitching and shortstop, it’s incredible.”
Today (assuming the game is resumed – it is currently pouring in St. Louis) will represent Kelly’s last day as a pitcher in 2009. He will head to Fort Myers after the game where he will prepare for an assignment as a shortstop. Though he moved up to High-A Salem of the Carolina League as a pitcher, Kelly recognizes that he may end up moving backwards for his season as a position player.
“I should have left my stuff in Greenville,” he joked.
After he plays through the rest of the minor-league season at short, Kelly will continue this year as a position player in fall instructional league. If the team wants to get him more at-bats, Winter League assignment (perhaps in Hawaii) could be a possibility.
For now, however, Kelly has one hope for today’s Futures Game in St. Louis.
“I definitely hope to show everyone that I’m a pretty good pitcher,” he said.
Thus far, he’s accomplished that, in somewhat extraordinary fashion.
|07.12.09 at 1:36 pm ET|
Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia briefly addressed the media Sunday morning after releasing a statement that he was going to miss the MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis next week to instead be with his wife Kelli in the hospital. Pedroia’s wife has experienced complications with her first pregnancy, and the reigning AL MVP waited until the last minute to see if her condition improved enough for him to travel and play.
Instead Pedroia — who was elected to start at second base for the American League for the second consecutive year — will stay behind in Boston with his wife, and Haverhill native and Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Pena will take Pedroia’s vacant spot on the AL roster.
“Obviously I need to be with my wife right now,” said Pedroia. “That’s more important. I’m extremely honored to be selected by the fans and I wish I could be there. I hope everybody understands. Our organization — Tito and everybody — have been unbelievable. Obviously it’s a tough time for me and my wife right now, and we’re just trying to deal with it as best we can.
“(Kelli) is kinda the same right now. That’s one of the reasons — I was hoping she would get better — and that’s why I put it off until now. But hopefully the next few days she gets better. I’m hoping.”
The Sox second baseman was also happy for his one-time teammate, as Pena was elected to his first American League All-Star team and will compete in the home run hitting contest. Pena heads into Sunday leading the AL with 24 home runs this season.
“That’s great and I’m extremely excited for (Pena), and I hope he enjoys the experience,” said Pedroia. “That’s awesome. I’m pulling for the American League for sure.”
|07.12.09 at 1:16 pm ET|
He briefly spoke to reporters about his decision prior to Sunday’s game with Kansas City.
|07.12.09 at 11:37 am ET|
‘After consulting with Tito, Theo, Phyllis Merhige of Major League Baseball and my wife, Kelli, I have decided to withdraw from this year’s All-Star Game in St. Louis. I will instead stay in Boston with my wife as we tend to a family health matter.
“This was certainly not an easy decision. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the game of baseball and for the All-Star Game and am incredibly honored that the fans voted me this year’s starting second baseman for the American League. I am disappointed that I will not be able to enjoy the amazing experience with the other All-Stars, especially with my Red Sox teammates, but it is important that I put my family first at this time.
“I want to thank Major League Baseball as well as Tito and Theo for supporting me in this decision. I also want to thank the fans for their understanding and the continued support they have shown throughout my career.’
|07.12.09 at 7:15 am ET|
By Alex Katz
Bruce Chen‘s been bouncing around the majors since Boston last hosted the All-Star Game in 1999. During his ten-year career, Chen has been the hallmark of mediocrity, going 35-37 with a 4.63 ERA for nine major league teams, including Boston in 2003 and most recently, Kansas City.
Against Boston, Chen seems to replicate that mediocrity with a lifetime record of 3-4 and a 4.54 ERA in 13 games against the Sox. The 32-year-old lefty hasn’t had much success against the rest of the league either this season: in three starts, Chen is winless with an inflated 6.88 ERA in 17 innings.
Boston’s pitcher, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have the same issues as his counterpart. Ace Josh Beckett, who’ll be pitching in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, is having a career season at 10-3 with a 3.62 ERA and is aiming for his 100th career victory. It also doesn’t hurt that Beckett is 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA lifetime against the Royals.
With a two-game lead over New York heading into the All-Star break, the Sox have a chance to distance themselves from the Yankees with a win over Kansas City Sunday, perhaps securing their spot atop the AL East until October.
ROYALS VS. BECKETT
Jose Guillen (23 career plate appearances against Beckett): .273 average/ .261 OBP/ .318 slugging, 3 strikeouts
David DeJesus (14): 2-for-13, walk, 2 strikeouts
Mark Teahen (12): 4-for-11, walk, 4 strikeouts
John Buck (6): 0-for-6, strikeout
Miguel Olivo (4): 0-for-3, strikeout
Billy Butler (3): 0-for-3, 2 strikeouts
Alberto Callaspo (3): 1-for-3, strikeout
Ryan Freel (3): 1-for-3
Mitch Maier (2): 0-for-2
Tony PeÃ±a (2): 0-for-2, strikeout
RED SOX VS. CHEN
Julio Lugo (28 career plate appearances against Chen): .320 average/ .393 OBP/ .360 slugging, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Mark Kotsay (19): .438/ .526/ .813, homer, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Jason Varitek (18): .429/ .556/ 1.000, 2 homers, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts
David Ortiz (17): 3-for-13, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Nick Green (11): 2-for-10, walk, strikeout
Kevin Youkilis (11): 3-for-10, walk
Jason Bay (3): 0-for-2, walk
Rocco Baldelli (1): 0-for-1, strikeout
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