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Tito: Beltre has ‘a little bit of Damon in him’

09.19.10 at 1:57 pm ET
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Certainly everyone at Fenway Sunday would’ve loved to have seen Adrian Beltre in Sunday’s lineup as he pursues Butch Hobson‘s team record of 30 homers by a third baseman set in 1977.

But Red Sox manager Terry Francona admitted that they have to keep the long-term interests Beltre in mind, even if he is a free agent at the end of this season.

‘€œWe love when he’€™s in the lineup because he’€™s really good but we don’€™t want to do anything silly,’€ Francona said. ‘€œHe obviously swings very aggressively. I thought I kind of saw him let go [of bat] a little bit but he still rapped a double. If you’€™re able to be productive, it’€™s one thing to play hurt and a lot of guys do, but when you can maintain your production.”

There was another Red Sox great of the past that also came to mind on Sunday in talking Beltre – Johnny Damon.

“He’€™s an impressive guy,” Francona said of Beltre, who entered Sunday with a .329 average, 28 homers and 98 RBIs. “He’€™s a pretty tough kid. He’€™s got a little bit of Damon in him.’€

Beltre had his ‘Damon’ moment on Saturday night when he injured his left wrist diving for a John McDonald grounder in the fourth inning of Boston’€™s 4-3 loss, only to stay in the game and double, nearly leading the Red Sox to a come-from-behind win.

“When he laid there, for a second, [I thought] a lot of things, dirt in the eye, who knows? Then when he didn’t get up, I was like, Oh [shoot] and saw [Scutaro wave], and then we get out there, it took a little while,” Francona said. “Then as he shook the cobwebs out, he said, ‘I’ll be alright.’ He wasn’t coming up to hit for a while. He wasn’t coming up first. He had nine hitters to go so he came up and had a flouroscan.

‘€œWe sent him over to MGH to get some further testing this morning,’€ Francona said Sunday. ‘€œThat’€™s why we [held] off on the lineup. He’€™s sore but not bad and his grip strength is down a little bit but not horrible. So we told him if you want to play go get checked and he obviously wants to play.”

Francona made Beltre make him a promise – tell the truth if you’re hurting.

“I said, ‘If you hit and something doesn’t feel good, you have to tell me.’ He said, ‘Okay, I will.” He’s a tough kid but he doesn’t want to do anything stupid.”

When the lineup did come out just about 45 minutes before Sunday’€™s game, it did not include Beltre or Marco Scutaro. Instead, Yamaico Navarro started at third with Bill Hall getting the start at second base.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, bill Hall, Boston Red Sox, Butch Hobson

Beltre rests sore left wrist, Navarro at 3B

09.19.10 at 12:58 pm ET
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Following a visit to Mass General on Sunday morning, the Red Sox have decided to sit third baseman Adrian Beltre for Sunday’s series finale against the Blue Jays. Beltre injured his left wrist diving for a grounder off the bat of John McDonald in the fourth inning. He stayed in the game.

Sunday’s lineups for the Red Sox:

Kalish CF

Drew RF

Martinez C

Ortiz DH

Lowell 1B

Lowrie SS

Hall 2B

Nava LF

Navarro 3B

Lester P

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Boston Red Sox, yamaico navarro,

Aggressiveness comes back to haunt Kalish

09.18.10 at 11:35 pm ET
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Ryan Kalish didn’t want to talk about the single ripped with one out in the Red Sox‘ half of the ninth inning, putting the potential tying run at first. He knew that wasn’t what the reporters after the game were lined up to talk to him about following the Sox’ 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays Saturday night.

The questions instead were going to be all about what happened after the single.

With Toronto reliever Kevin Gregg pitching, Kalish saw a pitch to Victor Martinez go into the dirt, wide of the plate. The rookie’s instincts told him to extend his lead in case the ball got past catcher Jose Molina. The problem was that Molina, considered one of the better defensive backstops in the game, never went to the ground to block the ball, instead picking the pitch clean and throwing it down to first in time to pick off Kalish.

“No. I want to win. That’€™s what I’€™m here to help do,” said Kalish when asked if he took any solace in getting what appeared to be a key hit. “Getting picked off doesn’€™t help that. Good at-bat, but right after that it kind of took it all away.”

Making the play even more painful for Kalish and the Red Sox was that Martinez proceeded to loft a triple off the left field wall, one which would have knotted the game if the outfielder was still standing at first. Adrian Beltre would ground out to shortstop to end the game, stranding Martinez at third.

“I’€™m out there trying to get a good secondary [lead]. I saw the ball in the dirt, and most catchers go to their knees to try and block it so you have a little extra room and I’€™m following the ball and I see him pick it. Right then and there I feel like I’€™m in a bad spot,” Kalish said. “Obviously I feel terrible. Victor’€™s ball of the wall things would have been different. That’€™s just being aggressive, a couple balls had gotten past him earlier so I’€™m trying to get into scoring position. It stinks, but it happens and you have to deal with it.”

Red Sox pregame notes: Doubront done for 2010

09.18.10 at 8:36 pm ET
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Talk about irony.

On the same day Felix Doubront was honored as the 2010 Red Sox minor league pitcher of the year, manager Terry Francona said the 22-year-old with a minor upper pectoral muscle injury likely won’t pitch again for the team this season.

“He will be re-evaluated on Monday,” Francona announced Saturday. “I think logic kind of says that this kid’€™s probably not going to pitch again. We’€™re getting to that point.”

Doubront, who was checked by Red Sox medical staff on Friday, hasn’t pitched since being sent home from Baltimore after giving up two home runs in a 5-2 loss to the Orioles on Aug. 31.

“I do think what we’€™d like to do is get him ramped up so when we send him off after the season we have a feeling that he can turn it loose and there’€™s not any issues,” Francona added. “Then he can go about his winter program. Because he’€™s a kid that has to, he needs to have a good winter program. He’€™s a young, really exciting pitcher. But he’€™s still got to work on his body, so he needs to have a good winter. But we’€™d like to make sure that he knows and we know that when he lets it go, and we kind of send him off knowing that he’€™s ok.”

J.D. Drew returned to the starting lineup Saturday night against Toronto after giving his sore ankle five days rest.

“He could have played [Friday],” Francona said. “Just with the day off coming from the coast and having him not play and wanting to play [Darnell McDonald], he was going to pinch-hit [Friday]. He was ready to pinch-hit the last couple innings.”

Terry Francona spoke with his father, Tito, on Saturday, passing along well wishes from his former Indians teammate Jimmy Piersall, who was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame on Friday.

Francona is also keeping close tabs on his father for another reason.

‘€œHe just had his pacemaker changed a couple of days ago,” Francona said. “He’€™s mad because he can’€™t golf for a while but it’€™s amazing what they can do. He’€™ll be [77] in November. He looks good.’€

Read More: Boston Red Sox, felix doubront, J.D Drew, Terry Francona

Tito on managing: ‘You have to be all in’

09.18.10 at 6:27 pm ET
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And to think Terry Francona once thought watching re-runs of “Gilligan’s Island” was how he was going to spend his days after his big league career.

He, like every major leaguer without a multi-million dollar contract in the bank, was just trying to let the dust settle. The year was 1990 and he had just been released by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Fortunately for Tito, his wife Jacque – a Ginger lookalike – interceded and asked him a blunt question.

“The actual truth of it, it was about May,” Francona recalled Saturday. “I had been home, for what, about six weeks? I was watching Gilligan’€™s Island. I remember my wife looking at me and she said, ‘Is this what you’€™re going to do?’ I was perfectly content. So I went and took a real estate course, just trying to get her off my
back, knowing that I didn’€™t want to do that.’€

Francona admitted thinking what a lot of people reading this might be wondering. Really? A real estate course?

‘€œYeah, that was stupid,” he joked. “Would you buy a house from me? I knew it too.”

Then, on the day after 70-year-old Joe Torre announced this would be it for him managing the Dodgers, he turned more reflective and serious and the rigors of the job, with Torre retiring at the end of the season and Cubs skipper Lou Piniella not even making it there because of the health of his mother.

Has Francona ever asked them how they last so long in the profession?

‘€œI’€™ve never really asked them that point blank,” Francona said. “I think everybody’€™s different. To do this job, I think you have to be all in. if you’€™re not, it doesn’€™t work. When it comes to a point where maybe you can’€™t be or you don’€™t want to be, it’€™s time to do something else. I can see where the travel, not the pressure, but kind of the pressure you put on yourself to do well. I can see where that can get at you a little bit.’€

Francona actually found out about Torre stepping aside for Don Mattingly from another Don who’s been around the baseball track a few times, Don Zimmer.

‘€œZim’€™s actually, I think the one who told me,” Francona said. “We were down there’€¦ somebody might have mentioned it but I was on the run out there. I don’€™t know. I actually sent him a note [Friday] night, was I hope that whatever he’€™s doing, he’€™s doing on his own terms. Because I think he deserves that. he’€™s been doing it for a long time and there’€™s a lot of respect from a lot of people in how he conducts himself. So I hope he’€™s happy with the decision he made. That’€™s kind of what I care about.’€

Francona, who had his celebrated season managing Michael Jordan with Birmingham in 1994, had to spend several seasons in the minors learning the managerial ropes after Buddy Bell gave him his first job. Mattingly will step right into the big league fire.

“I don’€™t know. I know I couldn’€™t have pulled it off but that doesn’€™t mean he can’€™t. I don’€™t know him
that well, I played against him. Obviously some people think highly of him. I would never be able to answer that. if they play well, probably.’€

What would it take for Francona to decide this was it?

‘€œOh, no goals. Nothing like that. if I can’€™t do the job, whether it’€™s physically or when you’€™re not all in,
I would never stick around. I have too much respect for hopefully the game and the people you work for.’€

So, could Francona ever see himself managing when he’s 70, like Torre?

‘€œI can’€™t even see myself being alive at 70,” Francona said. “I’€™m sure I’€™ll be I’€™ll be a heart attack or two into it by then.’€

Told that his dad, Tito Francona – with a newly implanted pace-maker within the last week – would order sardines from Jimmy Piersall when he played and that sardines could help his overall health, Francona had an answer in keeping with his single-minded approach to baseball and life in general.

‘€œI think I’€™d rather have the heart attack,’€ quipped the 51-year-old manager with two World Series titles on his resume.

Read More: Birmingham Barons, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Gilligan's Island

Red Sox announce minor league award winners

09.18.10 at 4:51 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced their Minor League Award Winners on Saturday. Here is the press release with details:

Pitcher of the Year: LHP Felix Doubront, Double-A Portland/Triple-A Pawtucket: Combined to go 8-3 with a 2.81 ERA (25 ER/80.0 IP) and 72 strikeouts in 17 games (16 starts) between Portland and Pawtucket as a 22 year old’€¦Has also appeared in 12 games (three starts) with the Red Sox this season in his Major League debut’€¦Held opponents to two earned runs or less in 12 of his 14 minor league starts’€¦Began the season as Portland’€™s Opening Day starter and went 4-0 with a 2.51 ERA (12 ER/43.0 IP) before a May 20 promotion to Pawtucket, where he went 4-3 with a 3.16 ERA (13 ER/37.0 IP)’€¦Signed with the Red Sox as an international free agent in 2004.

Offensive Co-Player of the Year: 1B Anthony Rizzo, Single-A Salem/Double-A Portland: Hit .260 (138-for-531) with 42 doubles, 25 homers, 100 RBI and 61 walks in 136 games between Salem and Portland’€¦At 21 years old, led the Red Sox minor leagues in home runs and ranked second in RBI’€¦Set a franchise record for the Sea Dogs with 32 RBI in August’€¦Was selected as the Eastern League Player of the Week for August 2-8, batting .444 (12-for-27) with four doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI in that span’€¦Was Boston’€™s seventh pick (sixth round, 204th overall) in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft.

Offensive Co-Player of the Year: C Ryan Lavarnway, Single-A Salem/Double-A Portland: Batted .288 (133-for-462) with 27 doubles, 22 home runs, 70 walks and 102 RBI in 126 games with Salem and Portland’€¦Led Boston’€™s minor league system in RBI and ranked second in homers’€¦The 23 year old was named Player of the Week in both the Carolina League (April 8-18) and Eastern League (August 23-29)’€¦Named to both the Carolina League mid-season and post-season All-Star teams’€¦Selected as the eighth pick by the Red Sox (sixth round, 202nd overall) in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Defensive Player of the Year: OF Che-Hsuan Lin, Double-A Portland: Committed just three errors in 338 chances for a .991 fielding percentage over 118 games between right field (four games) and center field (114 games) for Portland as a 21 year old’€¦Hit .275 (126-for-458) with 17 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 34 RBI and 72 walks in 119 games with the Sea Dogs’€¦Signed as an international free agent in 2007.

Base Runner of the Year: OF Jeremy Hazelbaker, Single-A Greenville: Led the Red Sox organization with 63 stolen bases, the most in a season by a Boston farmhand since Gus Burgess stole 68 bases in 1981’€¦The 23-year-old outfielder was caught stealing 17 times for a 78.8 percent success rate’€¦Hit .267 (118-for-442) with 29 doubles, nine triples, 12 home runs, 59 walks and 62 RBI’€¦Named a South Atlantic League post-season All-Star for the 2010 season’€¦Was Boston’€™s fourth pick (fourth round, 138th overall) in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.

Minor League Latin Program Pitcher of the Year: RHP Raul Alcantara, Rookie-Level DSL Red Sox: Was 5-3 with a 3.28 ERA (22 ER/60.1 IP) in 13 starts for the DSL Red Sox’€¦Tied for the team high in wins and ranked second in innings’€¦The 17 year old finished 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA (3 ER/21.0 IP) and 17 strikeouts over his last four starts’€¦Was named to the 2010 DSL All-Star team.

Minor League Latin Program Player of the Year: SS Xander Bogaerts, Rookie-Level DSL Red Sox: Hit .314 (75-for-239) with seven doubles, five triples, three home runs, 42 RBI and 30 walks in 63 games for the DSL Red Sox’€¦Paced the club in batting average, hits, homers, RBI, total bases (101) and slugging (.423)…The 17 year old was named to the 2010 DSL All-Star team.

Closing Time: Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 9

09.17.10 at 10:39 pm ET
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It appears safe to suggest that this is not what the Red Sox signed up for when they inked John Lackey to a five-year, $82.5 million deal this offseason. Friday offered more carnage, as the right-hander absorbed an 11-9 loss to the Blue Jays.

The snapshot of his brutal first year in Boston now looks like this:

–The Red Sox fell to 14-16 in games in which Lackey has been their starter.

–Lackey has now allowed five or more earned runs in 10 of his 30 starts this year, the most such outings he’s had in any of his nine big-league seasons.

–He has allowed 220 hits on the season, tied for the second-most (Curt Schilling in ’06, David Wells in ’05) by a Red Sox starter since 2000, behind only the 224 permitted by Derek Lowe in ’04.

–His ERA is now 4.63, which would be his worst since 2004.

In fairness, Lackey leads the team in innings (194 1/3) and starts of at least six innings (25) and is tied for the team lead in quality starts (18). Still, all things considered, it was an ugly night in a season that has featured plenty of them.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–Lackey lost his fourth straight start, the longest losing streak of his career. He exhibited little command, as evidenced by the fact that he matched a career-high with three hit batters.

Michael Bowden was hit hard, allowing four hits and three runs (including a homer by Jose Bautista that established a new Blue Jays single-season record with 48) while recording just three outs. Opponents are hitting .370 against Bowden.

–For the third time in the last four games, the Red Sox walked two or fewer times.

The Yankees won, moving them the seven games ahead of the Sox in the AL East, allowing them to leapfrog past the Rays in the division. As such, the Sox no longer control their own destiny, as they cannot close the gap on New York in the six remaining head-to-head contests between the two clubs. (The Rays are 6 1/2 games ahead of the Sox in the wild card.)

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Victor Martinez continued his rampage against left-handed pitchers, delivering a pair of two-run homers against Toronto southpaws, one against starter Brett Cecil, the other against reliever Jesse Carlson. His batting average is now .404 against lefties with a 1.203 OPS. Martinez has hit 11 of his 17 homers right-handed.

Tim Wakefield became the second-oldest Red Sox player in a game. At 44 years, 46 days, he surpassed Carl Yastrzemski (44 years, 41 days in his final contest). Next on the list: Deacon McGuire, who was 44 years, 280 days when he played for the Sox on Aug. 24, 1908.

Rich Hill, in his first appearance at Fenway Park as a member of the Red Sox, retired both batters he faced, including a strikeout of left-hander Lyle Overbay.

Read More: Blue Jays, john lackey, Tim Wakefield, victor martinez

How Jimmy Piersall set table for the original Tito

09.17.10 at 5:58 pm ET
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Jimmy Piersall is almost as famous for his unique baseball story-telling ability as he was for his great career with the Red Sox.

Both were recalled Friday as Piersall joined Tommy Harper, John Valentin and Don Zimmer and former club executive and manager Eddie Kasko as Red Sox greats of the past to enter the club’s Hall of Fame.

How legendary were his tales? Let the current Red Sox manager explain.

“My dad has some of the best Piersall stories,” Francona said. “I don’t know if they’re true or not, but they’re great stories. I’ve heard them and heard them and heard them and they never get old.”

But the best story of all to Terry Francona‘s way of thinking is how his dad – Tito Francona – got his big chance in the majors with the Cleveland Indians in 1959.

“Did Jimmy explain how my dad broke in?” Francona asked. “There was a Sunday day game but Jimmy didn’t want to play. Whether he was hurt, whether it was shadows, but my dad played center field that day and never looked back. That was the year he hit .363.”

“I think Jimmy is pretty dear to [baseball people]. My dad said, ‘Make sure you give him my best.'”

Tom Brunansky‘€™s catch on October 3, 1990 to end the regular season and give the Red Sox the Eastern Division title will also be recognized as a Red Sox ‘€˜Memorable Moment’€™.

The Class of 2010 will be recognized during pre-game ceremonies on the Fenway Park field, beginning at 7 p.m.

Francona said J.D. Drew [ankle] will start on Saturday after taking batting practice on Friday and getting the previous four days [three games] off.

“[He’s feeling] pretty good,” said the skipper. “After not playing for three days and a day off, we just thought we’d get him in here, hopefully have him take BP and get him back going. We’d start him [Saturday] and have him available today. We’ve got guys who’ve actually done a pretty good job. Get him a day to kind of settle in.”

Mike Cameron returned to the Red Sox clubhouse on Friday, seeing many of his teammates for the first time since abdominal surgery late last month.

“Cam had gone home for the week to spend it with family and you could see he was excited to be back in the clubhouse,” Francona said. “He may go in the pool soon and start moving around in the water. He’s been walking and doing some lifting off his feet. He looks good though. He looks like he’s excited to be back. He’ll go with us on our next trip.”

As for Dustin Pedroia, who remains on crutches with a Red Sox-styled removable cast on his surgically-repaired left foot, he was showing off his healing foot to several players around his locker.

Francona said he is not allowing himself to think what might have been with names like Cameron, Pedroia and Youkilis all in the clubhouse but unavailable.

“No, no I never think like that,” Francona said. “It’s not productive. I’m glad to see Pedey. He’s bright in the clubhouse and everything and I care about him getting better. But it’s just not productive. It doesn’t help. Our challenge is to win tonight and that’s what we’ll [prepare to] do.”

Read More: Cleveland Indians, Don Zimmer, Eddie Kasko, Jimmy Piersall

Red Sox fans, doesn’t this seem like a long time ago?

09.17.10 at 4:27 pm ET
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ESPN’s “30 For 30″ hasn’t been a disappointment yet (unless you’re counting the fantasy sports expose), and judging by this trailer they have kept the excellence rolling when looking at the Red Sox‘ comeback against the Yankees in 2004. Take a peak:

Closing Time: Red Sox 5, Mariners 1

09.15.10 at 9:27 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz once again showed why his 2010 season has represented a tremendous leap forward in his career. The key trait in his two-year turnaround from a demotion to the minors to top-of-the-rotation status has been keyed by the ability to isolate his struggles.

That has been most important on a pitch-to-pitch and batter-to-batter basis for much of the year, but on Wednesday, Buchholz showed the ability to prevent failure from bleeding from one outing into another. After turning in his worst start of the year in Oakland last weekend, allowing nine baserunners and five runs in one inning, he rebounded to shut down the Mariners.

For the 15th time in his 26 starts this year, Buchholz allowed one or fewer earned runs. In so doing, he led the Sox to a 5-1 victory over Seattle to complete a three-game sweep to give the Sox their 82nd win of the year. That, in turn, assured the Sox their 13th straight winning season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–Though the performance came against the anemic Mariners offense, Buchholz once again looked like one of the best pitchers in the American League. He struggled again out of the gate, allowing a solo homer in the bottom of the first and putting the first two runners of the second on base. But he worked out of that jam (thanks in no small part to a Victor Martinez pickoff of Casey Kotchman at third base), and ended up retiring 12 of 13 batters in a stretch. Buchholz did not allow another run in lowering his ERA to 2.48.

Victor Martinez made huge contributions both with a bat and behind the plate. He helped Buchholz get out of his early jam by picking Kotchman off of third and later caught Chone Figgins in an attempted steal of second. Offensively, he supported Buchholz with a two-run double against left-handed reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith. Martinez’ .405 average against lefties leads the majors; his 1.173 OPS against southpaws is second to Kevin Youkilis‘ amazing 1.311 mark (min. 100 PAs vs LHP).

Adrian Beltre was once again a force in the ballpark that did quite a bit of damage to his statistics over the previous five years. Beltre went 1-for-3 with a homer and two walks. For the year, he hit .297/.387/.481/.868.

Marco Scutaro, despite playing through injury, continue a September that has been his finest month of the season. He went 3-for-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Scutaro is now hitting .298 with a .952 OPS this month, the latter figure representing his highest mark of any turn of the calendar.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–Though Yamaico Navarro made some nice defensive plays at shortstop, he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, and flailed wildly at the plate as Seattle pitchers exploited his over-eagerness.

Daniel Nava, after going 0-for-3, is now hitting .158 with a .483 OPS in September.

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