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Francona: Not so fast on six-man rotation

06.18.09 at 9:29 pm ET
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With the rains falling before Thursday afternoon, presenting the chance of a rainout and another day off for the starting rotation, Red Sox manager Terry Francona was asked about the status of six-man rotation as John Smoltz looks forward to his return next Thursday at Washington.

‘€œThis six-man rotation is getting little bit of a life of its own,” Francona said. “We haven’€™t quite got there yet. Smoltz just got done yesterday. We’€™ll make decisions in the best interests of our team.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jed Lowrie, john smoltz, Red Sox, Terry Francona

Papelbon: Of course I want to stay in Boston

06.18.09 at 5:13 pm ET
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In a wide-ranging interview with SiriusXM Radio on Thursday afternoon, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon said he wants to stay in Boston long term but needs to look out for his own best interests.

Papelbon was asked if he would ever consider playing for the Yankees if the Red Sox don’t re-sign him prior to free agency following the 2011 season.

“Oh, of course,” Papelbon told Jody MacDonald and Bert Blyleven. “I mean, I think if we can’€™t come to an agreement on terms here in a Red Sox uniform, I mean I think that’€™s pretty much the writing on the wall. If they can’€™t come to terms with you they’€™re letting you know that, ‘Hey you know what? We can go somewhere else’ and I think it’€™s the same way on the other side, ‘Hey if ya’€™ll can’€™t come to an agreement with me then I can go somewhere else.’

“Not only the Bronx, but anywhere. I think anywhere is a possibility. You always have to keep that in the back of your mind because you can’€™t just be one-sided and think that, ‘Oh I’€™m going to be in a Red Sox uniform my entire career,’ because nowadays that is very, very rare and hopefully we can because there’€™s no question I would love to stay in a Boston Red Sox uniform but I have to do what’€™s best for me and play in an atmosphere where I’€™m wanted and play on a team where I’€™m wanted and that’€™s all I can really say about that, you know?”

The Red Sox control the right-handed closer through the 2011 season.

With Joba Chamberlain still starting in New York for the Yankees, Papelbon said he has no interest or intention of making a pitch to move back to the starting rotation anytime soon, saying that his days in between starts in 2006 made him “crazy.”

He also said that the Red Sox have a great clubhouse that helps keep players like him on an even keel, and that manager Terry Francona has done a great job of keeping the bullpen fresh.

Read More: Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox,

Red Sox vs. Marlins Match-Ups, 6/18

06.18.09 at 12:29 pm ET
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The Red Sox head into Thursday’s game playing some of their best baseball of the season. Their starting rotation is firing on all (six?) cylinders (ignoring Matsuzaka’s struggles for the pun’s sake), they’ve scored at least six runs in their last four games, and they’ve got a big stick back in the form of one David Ortiz (.400 BA, .920 SLG, 4 HR since June 6).

MARLINS VS. JON LESTER (5-5, 4.76)

All eyes will be on Jon Lester tonight as he continues what has been an incredible strikeout run. After striking out 11 Phillies Friday night, Lester became the first southpaw in Red Sox history to strike out at least 10 batters in three consecutive games. Entering tonight, Lester has 96 K’s on the season, placing him behind only Justin Verlander (110) and Zack Greinke (106) for the American League lead.

Meanwhile, Lester is on pace to absolutely demolish the team record for strikeouts by a lefty, as Alex Speier saw coming from a mile away. Bruce Hearst set the record back in 1987 with 190, but Lester projects to fan a whopping 239 this season.

The Marlins are generally unfamiliar with Lester. Here are the stats:

Wes Helms (3 career at-bats vs. Lester): 1-for-3, strikeout
Hanley Ramirez (3): 1-for-3, homer
Dan Uggla (3): 1-for-3

For what it’s worth, the Marlins as a team are second in the Majors with 540 strikeouts on the season.

RED SOX VS. RICKY NOLASCO (2-6, 7.62)
A Boston victory tonight will make for the team’s second sweep in the last three series but in their way stands struggling Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco.

Originally drafted by the Cubs in 2001, the California native was sent to Florida in a 2005 deal for Juan Pierre. After winning 15 games atop the Marlins rotation last season, Nolasco got off to a miserable start in the ’09 campaign. The month of May was especially brutal for the righty. In his last two starts of the month Nolasco gave up eight earned runs in consecutive losses to the Brewers (3.2 IP) and Rays (2 IP).

Since then, Nolasco has begun to show some signs of life, tossing back-to-back quality starts against the Giants and Blue Jays in the month of June (0-1). While current Red Sox starters are new to facing Nolasco, perhaps this could be an opportunity for Mark Kotsay to see some time in the outfield given his extra-base hits in both plate appearances against the 26-year-old.

Jason Bay (10): .200 average / .200 OBP / .200 slugging, strikeout
Julio Lugo (3): 1-for-3, strikeout
Rocco Baldelli (3): 0-for-3, strikeout
Mark Kotsay (2): 2-for-2, double, triple

Read More: bruce hearst, Jon Lester, ricky nolasco,

Orr scores points with Bay

06.18.09 at 12:54 am ET
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Jason Bay plays with his back to the Green Monster all the time as the Red Sox left fielder.

But he wasn’t about to turn his back on the opportunity that presented itself as he took the field in the seventh inning Wednesday.

Bay was called over the door of the Green Monster by none other than Bobby Orr, the greatest hockey icon in Boston history. The two exchanged handshakes and Bay was like a kid all over again. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bobby Orr, Bruins, jason bay, Red Sox

That’s a wrap: Smoltz finished in minors

06.18.09 at 12:38 am ET
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John Smoltz is officially done with his rehab assignment and is ready to join the Red Sox next week. Finally.

‘€œI know I lead the team in innings watched,’€ said Smoltz with a laugh after his four-inning start Wednesday night in Pawtucket.

The right-hander was impressive in his final rehab outing, as he focused on his changeup — a pitch he admitted he still isn’€™t totally comfortable with– to get by when it mattered.

‘€œI had to work on [my changeup] awfully hard because that’€™s not a comfortable pitch,’€ said Smoltz. ‘€œThat’€™s not my pitch that I would go to [in the past].’€

Smoltz had said previously that in order to have continued success at the major league level he would need to become more of a finesse pitcher. If the second inning on Wednesday was any indication, he is certainly on track. Smoltz baffled Cole Armstrong with a change clocked at 82 mph to get the Knights’ catcher swinging to end the inning.

‘€œToday was more encouraging having gone through not being at my best, feel-wise,’€ said Smoltz. ‘€œIt really comes down to trying to find a way to execute the best pitch at the right time.’€

In his four innings of work, Smoltz threw 61 pitches, 36 strikes of which went for strikes. He allowed a run on three hits while walking one and striking out two. He’€™ll go for the Sox in D.C. a week from Thursday.

Read More: smoltz pawsox,

Buchholz: I never requested a trade

06.17.09 at 11:10 pm ET
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The future of Clay Buchholz has been a hot topic the past couple of days because a recent New England Cable News interview with the pitcher left some wondering if Buchholz wants out.

‘€œI’€™ve had talks with my agent the last month and a half, two months,’€ Buchholz told NECN. ‘€œThere’€™s nowhere to go.’€

On Wednesday, however, Buchholz waited until the cameras were off before elaborating on what exactly those talks were.

‘€œIt wasn’€™t anything specific about me calling [my agent] and telling him, ‘€˜Hey, get me out of here,’€™” said Buchholz. ‘€œIt was just more or less asking him, ‘€˜Hey what’€™s going on? What can I do to change the situation?’€™ and his answer was, ‘€˜Really nothing because there’€™s not really anywhere to go.’€™

‘€œMy goal is to pitch in Boston,’€ Buchholz added. ‘€œ[The media] might have went a little out of context with it because I’€™m getting a little frustrated, but on the up and up that’€™s where I want to be. Fenway is the best place to pitch and the Red Sox are the best team to play for. I don’€™t see me being anywhere else except for Boston, so that’€™s where I want to be.’€

The proclamation may sound like backtracking, but it came as a genuine admission from a kid who doesn’€™t want to get traded. After laughing at the notion that he was trying to ‘€œtalk his way out of town,’€ Buchholz said that he’€™s been assured he’€™s safe by the Boston brass.

‘€œIf I do happen to get traded it’€™s going to be for the betterment of Boston,’€ said Buchholz. ‘€œIf that’€™s what they’€™ve got to do, then that’€™s what they’€™ve got to do, but I’€™ve been told by a couple of people that are high up in the front office that I’€™m here and I don’€™t see myself going anywhere in the future unless it’€™s for somebody that they really think can help the team.’€

Buchholz apologized for any ruckus that the interview caused, and showed the same enthusiasm towards his eventual return to the big leagues that he did in spring training.

‘€œThat was a little bitterness coming out of me, but I can’€™t be too bitter,’€ said Buchholz. ‘€œI’€™m still pitching healthy and I’€™ll get my shot sooner or later.’€

Read More: Buchholz,

Red Sox Beat Marlins, 6-1

06.17.09 at 10:20 pm ET
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The Red Sox added on another run in the eighth thanks to Dustin Pedroia’s bases-loaded single (his second of the game), and Jonathan Papelbon — after permitting a leadoff double in the ninth — settled to complete the relay of four Sox relievers across four scoreless innings to close out a 6-1 victory over the Marlins. The Sox will turn to Jon Lester to complete the series sweep on Thursday against Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco.

The Sox pitching staff as a whole continued its excellence. With Brad Penny permitting just one run in five innings, Boston’s rotation now has a 3.23 ERA over its last 16 games.

The offensive damage came from Pedroia (3-for-5, 3 RBIs) and Jacoby Ellsbury (1-for-3, two walks, homer) at the top of the order.

Ramon Ramirez’ excellent adventure

06.17.09 at 10:13 pm ET
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As scoreless innings with two strikeouts go, Ramon Ramirez‘ performance in the top of the eighth inning earned very low style points. Still, the Red Sox will not quibble with the results.

Ramirez walked Hanley Ramirez and gave up a single to Jorge Cantu to put runners on first and second with no outs in the eighth, a development that was sufficient to prompt both Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon to start warming in the bullpen. But Ramirez prevented further harm, eliciting a pop-up from Jeremy Hermida and getting back-to-back strikeouts from Dan Uggla and Cody Ross to end the inning. Ramirez kept the Sox’ 5-1 lead intact, though he also burned 32 pitches in the process, a development that will almost surely render him unavailable for Thursday or perhaps even Friday.

Buchholz sees Smoltz’ four innings and raises him four K’s

06.17.09 at 10:04 pm ET
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If that was Clay Buchholz at his worst, somebody get this kid to the majors.

Despite allowing a two-run homer to Cole Armstrong that resulted in boos from McCoy Stadium, Buchholz overpowered Knights hitters in his four innings of work. After getting Wilson Betemit to strike out swinging to end the eighth, the PawSox righty totaled six K’s in relief of PawSox starter John Smoltz. In total, Buchholz threw 80 pitches, 47 of which were strikes. He allowed two hits and walked two while throwing two wild pitches.

Buchholz has expressed hints of frustration in talking to WEEI.com and NECN in recent weeks. Check back for what Buchholz has to say after what proved to be a sloppy-yet-impressive outing.

Read More: Buchholz PawSox,

Ellsbury keeps rolling

06.17.09 at 9:34 pm ET
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Jacoby Ellsbury is quietly amidst a run that is every bit as exceptional as anything he has done since breaking into the majors in 2007.

In the bottom of the seventh, Ellsbury jumped on a fastball up and on the inner-half of the plate and absolutely blasted it, sending a liner over the right-field bullpens for his third homer of the year. He has also walked a pair of times in today’s game, tacking on a stolen base for good measure. The homer was Ellsbury’s second in four games, and continued a phenomenal June in which Ellsbury has hit .375 with a .469 OBP, 1.019 OPS and seven steals.

If Ellsbury sustains this pace for another two weeks, this could be his best month in the majors. His current single-month bests:

AVG – .361 (Sept. 2007)
OBP – .396 (May 2008)
OPS – .927 (Sept. 2007)
SB – 18 (May 2008)

After seven innings, the Sox are ahead of the Marlins, 5-1.

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury,
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