|04.08.11 at 2:03 pm ET|
|04.08.11 at 1:11 pm ET|
MLB Network analyst Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon to talk about the Red Sox on Opening Day at Fenway Park. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Millar isn’t too concerned with the Red Sox’ 0-6 start.
“This team’s good. They’re going to be fine,” he said. “They’ve gotten off to a tough start. OK, great. They’re coming back home. They’re coming back to their music. They’re digging in their batter’s box. And if you’re the Yankees, you’d better take advantage of them right now. If you’re the Red Sox, the Yankees are coming to town at almost the right time, because this team will be good.
“I don’t care what anybody says. They pitch, they have bullpen and their offense ‘¦ when that heats up there in Fenway Park, they’re going to score runs ’til the sun goes down.”
Millar said the Sox’ biggest concern is the batting order. “I don’t think they know where to hit everybody,” Millar said, noting that David Ortiz deserves to be higher than sixth. “I don’t want to hear about his bat speed is getting slower,” he said. “This guy’s a real threat.”
On the Red Sox’ 2004 World Series championship team, Millar was known as the player who kept his teammates loose. He suggested that the team might need a similar character in the locker room now.
“Who’s the guy in that locker room that goes up and tries to put a light on the situation?” Millar wondered. “Who’s going to get butt-naked right now and stand on a stool and start clapping their hands? I don’t know. Do they have that guy?”
Added Millar: “When you’re inside those doors and everything’s closed, somebody’s got to get on their chair and fire this team up. Now, who’s that guy? ‘¦ Someone needs to fire these boys up. That’s all. You’re 0-6. Who cares?”
Regarding criticism of manager Terry Francona for not showing enough emotion, Millar said that’s not the style that has made him the most successful manager in team history.
“One thing about Tito is he’s got a way of just keeping things light,” Millar said. “As much as sometimes the media doesn’t like it ‘ they want to see him throw TVs and throw the tables ‘ that’s not him. He’s going to come out and crack a joke. He’s going to tell you that you’ve got terrible shoes on today. He’s going to look at your outfit. That’s what he does. That’s his gift. He’s got a way of keeping things light.
“Now, it’s who in that clubhouse is going to take the stance to fire the boys up. Who is it? It might be little [Dustin] Pedroia.”
|04.08.11 at 1:09 pm ET|
“Home openers are so cool for anybody that likes baseball,” Francona said. “I’d be lying a little bit if I [didn’t] say we’re not happy with where we’re at. So that takes a little fun out of the pageantry. We have to remind ourselves it is a long year and it’s our responsiblity to make it good and not to be hanging our heads and be pouting and feel sorry for ourselves. But I do think think things like Opening Day are more fun when you feel like you’re on a roll.
“I know when planes go over, when stuff like that happens I’m usually by then thinking, ‘Let’s go. Let’s pitch, get them out and get those planes out of here.”
There will be a military plane flyover as part of the Opening Day fesitivites that begin approximately 30 minutes before first pitch. As for the worst Red Sox start since 1945, Francona said the team can’t afford to feel sorry for themselves right now with the Yankees in town for a three-game weekend series.
“I think you have to respect the loss a little bit in the clubhouse,” Francona said. “Once you get out of there, I don’t want them to be hungover with a loss. That’s not what we’re shooting for. I think anytime we win or lose, we try to learn from mistakes and get better. I wouldn’t want to walk back there and see everyone hangling their heads. I think they’re aware of where we’re at, they’re human, they know we’re scuffling but I don’t think that’s the way to go out there and play better, is go out there and feel sorry for themselves and woe is me.”
|04.08.11 at 12:00 pm ET|
A couple of bullpen moves on Friday for the Sox, as Dennys Reyes was designated for assignment and Matt Albers (strained right lat) was placed on the DL.
Terry Francona was asked about the decision to DFA Reyes, who had posted a 16.20 ERA and 2.40 WHIP in four appearances.
“It was obviously a pretty short look,” said Francona. “It’s hard to have a lefty, one lefty, that wasn’t throwing the ball over the plate. We love Doubront — he wasn’t ready to pitch when we left — so I think getting Felix here is something we’re excited about. I know it was a short leash with Dennys but we need to try and win some games.”
Though it appears the long-term plan for the Sox is to have the 23-year-old Doubront as a starting pitcher, Francona is pleased he is back up in Boston and pitching out of the bullpen.
“I love him in the bullpen this year,” said Francona. “I was hoping he’d be in out ‘pen the whole time. I think he fits in very well. … The kid can pitch a little bit and doesn’t back off.”
Francona mentioned that the Sox — short on left-handed pitching in the bullpen — considered calling up Hideki Okajima, but feels Aceves can be used “to get lefties out also.”
Jacoby Ellsbury was dropped to eighth in the order, and Carl Crawford was moved to the leadoff spot. Francona told the media that the move had less to do with Ellsbury’s early struggles and more about Adrian Gonzalez.
“Not so much a demotion [for Ellsbury], but I wanted to get Adrian up to the 3-hole, so he hits in the first inning, and that’s really the best way to do it.”
|04.08.11 at 9:33 am ET|
It’s going to be OK. Look at this:
* – The Red Sox have had six-game stretches where they scored 16 runs or fewer twice in each of the last three seasons. Care to take a guess as their average runs scored over the ten games immediately following each of those six-game slumps? 5.8. Their average runs in all their games over the last three seasons? 5.2.
* – It’s easy to find offensive stats that have the Red Sox at or near the bottom of the league right now. Here are a few that you might not have heard about:
– They’ve been at least a little unlucky, as they are hitting just .529 (9-for-17) on line drives, the lowest average in the AL. Of course, a valid objection to this defense would be their league low 17 line drives and 11 percent line drive rate.
– The Red Sox’ first batter of the inning is now 5-for-47, good for a .106 average. Their .350 OPS is over 250 points worse than the NEXT WORST team (Minnesota, .601).
– Not only is Boston’s bottom of the order (7-8-9 spots) struggling (hitting .155), but they have only one extra-base hit (a double), for an “isolated power” (slugging percentage minus batting average) of .017. Every other AL team’s 7-8-9 spots have at least four extra-base hits (Texas’ has 11), and each has an isolated power of at least .076 (Oakland).
– On full counts, it’s bad enough that the Red Sox have gone just 4-for-21 (.190) when they’ve made contact. But they’ve also struck out 10 times vs. just five walks (0.50 walks per strikeout). Last year on 3-and-2 counts, they walked 274 times vs. only 195 strikeouts, an average of 1.41 walks per strikeout.
– The Red Sox have a total of one RBI in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings combined. In the 6th, they are 1-for-19 (.053). What’s more, they are a combined 5-for-41 (.122) in the 8th and 9th innings with 1 RBI. And keep in mind that they have batted in all six 9th innings this season.
|04.08.11 at 8:33 am ET|
Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino stopped by for a visit with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning at Fenway Park as the team prepares for its home opener against the Yankees. The Red Sox take an 0-6 record into the game. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“No one anticipated this kind of start because it is so rare a team starts like this,” Lucchino said. “But it certainly is far too early to throw in the towel, and we are certainly not doing that. We are too good a team to play at this level.”
Lucchino agreed that the team could have benefited from more competition for jobs in spring training. “I do love competition. I do think it’s slightly better to keep people hungry than to keep them happy,” he said. “We try to do both when the situation presents itself.”
Lucchino took a jab at those who predicted smooth sailing for the Sox this season. “What interests me about this season is that a few weeks ago the media was anointing us the greatest club ever and all of this, and they seem to show no faith in their position ‘ not that we were ever the greatest club, but how could we fall so far so fast?” he said. “I think the answer is, a little patience is required.”
Added Lucchino: “It was ridiculous [to make those predictions]. … There’s an unpredictability to this game, No. 1. And No. 2, there are other very good teams out there.”
Red Sox players implored the fans to back the team as it returns home. “I actually am not worried about it,” Lucchino said of the Opening Day reaction. “I think that the fans will show their mettle here today, and that there will be this notion that, ‘We, the fans, can help. We, the fans, will create an atmosphere that shows our support for this team through thick and thin.’ There will be some booing here and there. ‘¦ I want to see the energy that comes from the fan base. There’s an excitement that you can’t deny on Opening Day anyway.”
Lucchino attended former Red Sox general manager Lou Gorman‘s funeral Thursday and said he’ll miss watching games with the longtime baseball executive. “The man had a legion of friends inside and outside baseball,” Lucchino said. “It won’t be the same. ‘¦ He spent a lifetime just making friends.”
Gorman passed away on the morning of the Red Sox’ season-opener last Friday. “I went down to see him [in the hospital] the day before, the Thursday before Opening Day on Friday,” Lucchino said. “He had made his peace, and one of the last things he said to me is, ‘You’ve got to have a great season this year. You’re going to have a great season this year.’ “
|04.08.11 at 6:51 am ET|
How should Fenway fans react when the Red Sox are introduced Friday afternoon?
- Feel the love: It's crucial to show unconditional support with a boisterous ovation (71%, 228 Votes)
- Boo the bums: Let them have it for being a bunch of overpaid incompetents (14%, 46 Votes)
- We're not all in: Polite applause with a smattering of boos would be OK (8%, 25 Votes)
- Silence is golden: Booing is too much, but they don't deserve applause, either (6%, 19 Votes)
- Pink hat heaven: I'm just going in hopes of seeing Neil Diamond wearing his Dodgers jacket again (1%, 4 Votes)
|04.08.11 at 3:41 am ET|
On Thursday, Jon Lester and the Indians’ Fausto Carmona both rebounded from bad first starts with stellar second outings. On Friday, John Lackey and the Yankees‘ Phil Hughes will look to do the same in Boston’s home opener. Lackey gave up 10 hits and nine earned runs over 3 2/3 innings in a loss to the Rangers, while Hughes gave up five hits and five earned runs over four innings in a loss to the Tigers.
Hughes is 2-3 with a 4.97 ERA in 13 career games (including six starts) against the Red Sox. Both of those wins came last season, when he went 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA in five games against Boston.
Current Red Sox are hitting .248 off Hughes. J.D. Drew, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis have had the most success against him, as all three are hitting .300 or better with a home run and four RBIs. At the other end of the spectrum, Dustin Pedroia is hitting just .077 in 13 at-bats and Jason Varitek and Jed Lowrie are hitless in a combined six at-bats.
Lackey has plenty of experience against the Yankees — his 19 starts against them are the fourth most for him vs. any team — but the numbers don’t really favor either side. He has a 6-8 record and 4.43 ERA, including a 1-1 mark and 3.20 ERA in three starts last season.
Seven current Yankees have faced Lackey more than 40 times and the team is hitting .259 as a whole against him. Mark Teixeira has done the most damage, as he has a .349 average, two homers and 11 RBIs in 72 plate appearances. Alex Rodriguez has a team-high four long balls off Lackey, but he’s hitting just .188 with 27 strikeouts in 64 at bats. Lackey has fanned both Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher 20-plus times as well.
|04.07.11 at 10:23 pm ET|
The Red Sox are set to call up righthander Alfredo Aceves and place fellow righty Matt Albers on the disabled list, according to multiple media outlets. Albers has pitched well over the first six games of the season, tossing two scoreless innings, but reportedly has a sore lat muscle. As for Aceves, the former Yankees reliever was one of the last players cut in spring training.
|04.07.11 at 5:42 pm ET|
CLEVELAND — The tone in the Red Sox‘ clubhouse was clearly one of frustration following their 1-0 loss to the Indians Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field. The defeat moved the Sox to 0-6, the franchise’s worst start since 1945, when they began the season at 0-8.
“I’m frustrated. We all went to bed at 3 o’clock. We don’t just put our head on the pillow at 11:30 and go to sleep and say everything’s great. We’ve got 15 All-Stars or whatever the hell we’ve got on this team. That’s not how it is, man,” said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. “This is our lives. We’re going to get home right now and my wife’s going to look at me and say ‘Expletive], you’re 0-6. You guys stink. We all bring this [expletive] home with us, man. We care. We’ll figure it out. We have to. We don’t want to let anyone down. That’s it.”
“We’ll figure it out,” he explained. “We’re going to win a lot more games than we’re going to lose, I’ll tell you that. We’re not going to be 0-162.”
Regarding how the fans might react upon the Red Sox’ return home, both Pedroia and David Ortiz remained optimistic the hometown support would do their team good.
“We need ’em,” the second baseman said. “We need someone on our side. Carl [Crawford] and [Kevin Youkilis] Youk and J.D. [Drew], they were getting yelled at the whole time. It’ll be good to have someone cheering for us for a change. You’re either two feet in now or you’re two feet out. Let us know now, because we’re coming.”
“They’re going to be fine,” said Ortiz of the Fenway fans. “There’s not two Red Sox teams, there’s only one. You have to cheer for this one if you’re a Red Sox fan, right?”
For more Red Sox news, go to the team page at weei.com/redsox.
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