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Peter Gammons on M&M: ‘Dangerous’ to put Adrian Gonzalez in outfield

06.22.11 at 1:10 pm ET
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MLB Network and NESN analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about the Red Sox. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

One of the big topics lately has been how the Red Sox will handle interleague play on the road when they cannot use a designated hitter. Either David Ortiz or Adrian Gonzalez will be forced to sit so the other can play first base, or Gonzalez will have to play in the outfield, something he has only done once during his career.

‘€œI think [Terry Francona] might use Gonzalez for a couple of games, one in left field in Philadelphia and one in left field in Houston, which are both short,’€ Gammons said. ‘€œOtherwise, I don’€™t think they will get too fancy. I think they will rely on their pitching to get by. It’€™s tough, they are both in the top five offensive players in the American League, but as long as baseball plays by two different rules, this is one of the things you have to live with.

“I just think it’€™s dangerous. If Gonzalez runs into a wall or something, you lose him for three weeks. That’€™s a lot worse than losing two out of three in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.’€

If the Sox were to make it to the World Series, they would be faced with this dilemma again. Gammons said Gonzalez likely would not play in the outfield in a World Series game. He noted back in the 1993 World Series, the Blue Jays sat John Olerud and Paul Molitor in order to go with the best defensive team.

Gammons was asked about outfielder Josh Reddick and what he sees his role with the team going forth.

“I think he’s a guy that can hit .270, .280,’€ he said. ‘€œHe has improved a lot as far seeing the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and swinging at strikes. He’s got a wide bat. He’s a very good outfielder who is exceptional at charging the ball and throwing. To me, that’s his greatest skill. In some ways I think of him of being a fourth outfielder, but I think a pretty good one. I don’t think he has the ceiling of Ryan Kalish, but I do think he can be a pretty useful player.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, bobby jenks, Daniel Bard, David Ortiz

Dave Roberts on D&C: Padres don’t want to rush Casey Kelly to majors

06.22.11 at 10:02 am ET
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Padres coach Dave Roberts joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning, prior to the third game of San Diego’s interleague series with the Red Sox at Fenway Park. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Roberts was a part of the Red Sox’ 2004 World Series championship team, and he said he never had a similar experience during his major league career. “No, I haven’t,” he said. “And I played on some very good teams, a lot of fun teams with some good guys and some nice ballplayers. But as far as the atmosphere here every single night and the group that we had and what we accomplished, it doesn’t compare.”

Roberts continues to maintain an optimistic approach despite the Padres’ slow start this season.

“Obviously, everyone knows that it’s a different market, San Diego and Boston,” he said. “But we’re going to go out there and keep playing and try to play the game the right way and see what happens after 162 games.”

The Padres acquired two high-profile Red Sox minor leaguers as part of the trade for Adrian Gonzalez in the offseason. Anthony Rizzo already has joined the major league club, while pitcher Casey Kelly remains in the minors. Roberts said it doesn’t appear likely that Kelly will be added to the major league roster this season.

“I think at some point, but I don’t know if he’s a September call-up candidate,” Roberts said. “He’s having a nice year in Double-A. He’s moving along, he’s moving along. But I don’t think they want to rush him. I think that Rizzo, he was just playing so well that he forced our hand. Casey, I had a chance to see him in spring training. There’s a lot to like.”

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo, casey kelly, Dave Roberts

The decline of J.D. Drew?

06.22.11 at 9:09 am ET
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At a time when Josh Reddick has been giving evidence of a maturing approach at the plate, J.D. Drew has been unable to make any kind of offensive impact for the Red Sox. His game-ending punchout on Tuesday night — a check swing on a 95 mph fastball against Padres closer Heath Bell — placed a punctuation mark on a season-long drought.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona maintains that he still expects that Drew will go on one of his annual hot streaks in which he proves capable of hitting home runs in bunches. Yet while that possibility certainly looms, it is also fair to ask whether Drew is simply in a state of career decline at age 35. Certainly, his standing among his peers suggests as much.

For years, Drew’s numbers have suggested a player who is subject to an unfair degree of criticism. This year, however, statistics offer him no quarter.

There are 68 outfielders in the majors who have had at least 200 plate appearances. Of those, Drew ranks in the bottom 20 percent in nearly every offensive category.

Drew’€™s nine extra-base hits are tied for 64th ‘€“ just one ahead of notorious batter’€™s box lightweight Juan Pierre. His .230 average is 61st; his .328 slugging percentage is 63rd; his .660 OPS is 57th. Though his .332 OBP ranks in the middle of the pack, his 19 runs (in a lineup that leads the majors in scoring) are second to last and his 18 RBIs are 57th.

Moreover, there are other telling aspects that speak to a decline in his other tools. He has become a more conservative baserunner as his speed has diminished, as he’€™s taken an extra base (first to third on a single; first to home on a double; second to home on a single) just 17 percent of the time, less than half the 38 percent clip at which he did so last year.

In fact, 2011 marks the third straight year of decline in the rate at which he’€™s taken an extra base. That trend points to the toll taken by the game on his legs at age 35. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: J.D Drew, josh reddick,

Wednesday’s Red Sox-Padres matchups: John Lackey vs. Clayton Richard

06.22.11 at 8:20 am ET
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John Lackey and Clayton Richard will take the mound in Wednesday’s series finale between the Red Sox and Padres in a matchup of two pitchers who have had their fair share of struggles this season. While Richard has been more effective statistically, a severe shortage of San Diego run support gives the win-loss edge to Lackey, who’s made some major improvements since his elbow injury.

Lackey (5-5, 7.02 ERA) has shown new life since his return from the DL, recording convincing wins in each of his last three starts. The Red Sox offense provided an average of 10.6 runs in those three games, but Lackey never gave up more than four.

The right-hander struck out eight over six innings in a win against the Blue Jays on June 11, and most recently he went eight innings while surrendering four runs and striking out five against the Brewers. Before being sent to the DL after a 9-3 loss on May 11, Lackey was 2-5 with an 8.01 ERA. Since returning on June 5, he’s 3-0 with an ERA of 5.03.

Lackey doesn’t have much experience against the National League, although he’s seen plenty of Jason Bartlett from his days in Tampa Bay, and Orlando Hudson from his time in Toronto and Minnesota. In 26 career plate appearances, Bartlett is hitting .320 with a double, three triples, and an RBI. Hudson is batting .261 with a triple and three RBI. Lackey has dominated Ryan Ludwick in just six plate appearances, holding him hitless and striking him out three times.

In terms of ERA, Richard (2-9, 4.35 ERA) has pitched consistently better than Lackey this season, but a lack of run support has deflated his record tremendously. In Richard’s nine losses, the Padres have averaged 2.3 runs. The offense provided more than enough run support in his two wins, scoring eight runs on May 16, and 11 runs back on April 2.

The Padres have lost in Richard’s last six starts, although the left-hander has posted a respectable 4.18 ERA this month. However, he was knocked around by the Twins in his last outing, surrendering six runs on 10 hits through five innings. Richard’s current numbers don’t justify his performance in 2010, when he finished 14-9 with a 3.75 ERA.

As for his experience against Boston, the three-year pro hasn’t faced a current Red Sox hitter more than seven times. Mike Cameron leads the way with seven plate appearances, going 2-for-6 with a walk, a double, and a home run. Marco Scutaro has had the most success in just six plate appearances with two walks, two hits, and a home run.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clayton Richard, john lackey, Padres, Red Sox

Pitching coach David Ortiz has some words of advice for Alfredo Aceves

06.22.11 at 1:02 am ET
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Maybe David Ortiz could’ve saved Curt Young some trips to the mound Tuesday night by offering him some friendly advice for Alfredo Aceves during his 42-pitch nightmare of a second inning.

As it turned out, Ortiz spoke to Aceves after the Red Sox dropped a 5-4 decision to the Padres at Fenway Park and tried to get the open-minded pitcher to look at things from a different perspective.

“I was just talking to him. Sometimes you overlook some things as a pitcher and to me, like I tell him, hitting is not easy,” Ortiz recounted. “When you get yourself in trouble thinking about what you want to throw, that gives the hitter opportunity to have more than just the half-second you have for thinking. Sometimes it works your way, sometimes it doesn’t. But other than that, I think he came out good.”

The popular question after Aceves walked five straight in the second inning to force home two runs and give the Padres their first lead of the night, 2-1, was whether anyone had seen such a lapse before.

“I’ve seen that before,” Ortiz said. “It’s not the first time, it’s not going to be the last one.”

To be honest, though, it’s been a while since it happened in the majors. Cleveland’s Jason Davis was the last to accomplish the dubious feat on April 24, 2005, in the eighth inning at Seattle.

But Ortiz wasn’t so concerned about history as he was pumping up his teammate. And after watching Aceves rebound from the second inning and finish five innings with 99 pitches (53 strikes), he felt like his starting pitcher deserved some credit for showing his talent and his guts.

“Alfredo has got good stuff. He just got caught in a situation,” Ortiz said. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alfredo aceves, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, David Ortiz

Closing Time: Padres 5, Red Sox 4

06.21.11 at 10:55 pm ET
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So this was the San Diego pitching staff that everyone was talking about.

One night after the Padres bullpen had collectively allowed 11 runs to the Red Sox, including 10 in one inning, relievers Chad Qualls (win), Mike Adams (hold) and Heath Bell (save) closed the door on a Boston team that had put up double-digits in three of its last five games heading into Tuesday night’s affair. Boston had reigned in a 4-1 early deficit by the sixth inning, but the trio of San Diego hurlers held down the fort for the remaining 3 1/3 innings as the Padres held on for a 5-4 win.

The Red Sox dropped just their third game in their last 17 contests dating back to June 3 while the Padres broke a streak of six consecutive losses.

Here’s what went wrong and a few things that went right for the Red Sox in Tuesday night’s loss.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Alfredo Aceves‘s start fell apart in the second inning, even after he retired the first two batters on seven pitches. The spot starter, the replacement for Josh Beckett who was out with the stomach bug, walked the next five batters he faced, allowing two runs to score in what would be a 42-pitch inning. He would allow two more runs the following inning while his attempts to throw strikes were slapped to the outfield.

Aceves’s six walks on the night were a career-high as was his pitch total of 99. His five-inning, four-run performance wasn’t horrible for a starter taking the hill on an emergency basis, but the control issues are certainly concerning for the Red Sox going forward.

–The biggest culprit offensively for the Red Sox was their performance with men on base. The team strung together 13 hits but stranded 11 runners in the losing effort. The biggest culprits were the most unusual suspects. Adrian Gonzalez stranded six of his teammates on the basepaths while David Ortiz left five men on. The team as a whole was just 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position in the loss. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, alfredo aceves, David Ortiz, josh reddick

Red Sox vs. Padres Live Blog, June 21

06.21.11 at 6:37 pm ET
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The Red Sox are amidst a historic offensive run. On Monday, the team plated 14 runs for the sixth time in 29 games, becoming the second team since 1900 to put up two touchdowns in a 30-game span. The only other team to accomplish the feat was the 1930 Yankees, who scored 14 or more seven times in 20 games. The team is now 42-18 since its 2-10 start, its best 60-game stretch since closing out the 2004 season with a similar finishing kick.

WEEI.com (and friends) will be on the scene at Fenway Park as the Red Sox take on Mat Latos and the Padres in hopes of continuing the offensive brigade. For the latest news, analysis and updates from the game, join the Live Blog below.

Red Sox vs. Padres Live Blog, June 21

Terry Francona, Jon Lester and the art of saving ‘gas in the tank’

06.21.11 at 6:30 pm ET
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Terry Francona has earned a reputation of mastering his roster over the course of a 162-game season to keep it fresh for a playoff push. Whether you’re David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Josh Beckett or Jonathan Papelbon, the Red Sox manager has kept lines of communication open so he knows when his stars need rest while keeping his bench players alert to when they’re needed.

Jon Lester was the latest to be called into Francona’s office Tuesday to have a “long-run” discussion and how best to use him throughout the season.

“We actually sat with Lester today just to kind of get his feelings on some things because to get where we want to go, we’re going to have to lean on some guys, there’s no getting around it. However you say it, the more gas they have left in the tank, the better.”

In other words, Francona wants Lester fresh in August and September, when the team is either making a push to win the division title or trying to hold its playoff position. And obviously, the hope is he is just as fresh in October, just like closers Keith Foulke and Jonathan Papelbon were in 2004 and 2007, respectively.

“You’ve seen it in the past with Pap or Foulke, they’ve had a lot left and we’ve gone to them extensively, and it’s helped us win,” Francona said.

Francona said it’s not just Lester but it’s every pitcher on the staff he’s monitoring because each pitcher is built differently and pitches differently.

“Each guy, but if you get to the end of the season, and they’re dragging, that’s no good,” Francona said, before referencing the Yankees of the mid-90s and early 2000s.

“It seemed like a long time ago, the Yankees always took their guy and gave them – not a forced rest – but a little two-week [break]. It’s great idea because at the end of the season, guys feels good about themselves, but you also have to be good enough to do it, you have to win enough games to be able to do it.”

Of course, to be able to implement his plan, he needs reliable role players at the back end of his staff to be able to step in and help the team not miss a beat. With the 2011 Sox, those players go by the names of Tim Wakefield, Alfredo Aceves and now, Andrew Miller. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alfredo aceves, Boston Red Sox, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon

Terry Francona gives Josh Beckett some time to ‘get his legs back under him’

06.21.11 at 5:10 pm ET
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After a bout with “intestinal turmoil,” Josh Beckett will tentatively make his next start Saturday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced before Tuesday’s game with the Padres at Fenway. Alfredo Aceves was assigned with taking Beckett’s place in the rotation Tuesday night against the Padres.

“He actually looks just OK,” Francona said Tuesday of Beckett. “l’m glad we [pushed him back]. I think it was neccessary what we did. He didn’t look that good. What we’re hoping for, tentatively, is he’ll pitch Saturday. Because of some of the versatility of guys like Aceves, adding Miller and Wake, we can get around it, especially with an off day.

“What we’ll do is probably pitch him Saturday. That will allow him to have a side day and have a relatively normal week as opposed to just the first day he feels good, get him out there and pitch. Let him get his legs back under him and stuff like that.”

The rotation now sets up to have John Lackey pitch Wednesday, Jon Lester Friday in Pittsburgh, Beckett on Saturday and Tim Wakefield on Sunday in the series finale. Andrew Miller will start the opener against the Phillies in Philadelphia on Tuesday, eight days after his start Monday night against the Padres.

Read More: alfredo aceves, Boston Red Sox, Josh Beckett, Terry Francona

Terry Francona on The Big Show: Unsure about Adrian Gonzalez in outfield

06.21.11 at 4:16 pm ET
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When the Red Sox finish up their three-game series with the Padres on Wednesday, they will head to Pittsburgh to begin nine straight games against National League opponents. That’s an obvious dilemma for manager Terry Francona, who has to figure out a way to get David Ortiz in the lineup.

One scenario involves moving first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to right field, but Francona said on his weekly interview with WEEI’s Big Show that there is still much to be considered. Click here to listen to the whole interview.

“David is certainly not going to play nine games,” Francona said. “Gonzie has talked to us and we’ve gone back and forth with him about possibly going to right field. I don’t know how I feel about that. I’m a little bit confused. If we ever send him out there and something bad happens — and by that I don’t meaning a bad play. Do you move JD [Drew]  to left field for a couple of days. He’s never done that. I don’t know. That’s the best answer I can give you. We have a day off before we go to Pittsburgh. There’s a lot of things we need to talk about and then we’ll figure it out. There’s some anxiety. Just being truthful.”

This is a different scenario for Francona than in past years when he could mix and match Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis and Ortiz and third and first base. Also, the games in National League parks are consecutive.

“We have nine in a row in the National League. That hasn’t been the case since I’ve been here,” Francona said. “So again it’s going to be something we’ll have to deal with. I’m not excited about it. It puts at a real disadvantage, not just competitively but in keeping David sharp.”

Here’s the rest of the transcript from Francona’s appearance: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, andrew miller, Big Show, David Ortiz
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