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Tired of watching, Delgado wants a ring

08.08.10 at 12:50 pm ET
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PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Newly signed first baseman Carlos Delgado wrapped up his first workout as a member of the Red Sox organization Sunday. After stretching out along the third baseline, Delgado and Red Sox first base prospect Lars Anderson took ground balls at first base. Delgado then fielded some more ground balls from his knees, followed by questions from onlooking reporters.

Coming off two hip surgeries, the 38-year-old Delgado signed a minor league deal on Saturday and will eventually join a Red Sox team that has been bitten quite badly by the injury bug. Anticipated to split time with Mike Lowell at first base, Delgado stressed that he himself feels healthy enough to make a difference down the stretch.

“I’m not going to come here to embarrass myself,” Delgado said. “I wasn’t going to call anybody and say I’m ready to work out if I couldn’t run, if I couldn’t run the bases, if I couldn’t change directions.”

The veteran slugger garnered interest from the White Sox, Rockies, and Mariners, but ultimately said the Red Sox were his choice based on their playoff potential. Just 27 homers short of joining the 500 home-run club, Delgado noted that his decision to sign was based on the team’s regular-season record, and not his own records.

“I like to win. In the process, if I hit the home runs that I need, it will be great. I’ve played for almost 16 years in the big leagues and I’ve only been to playoffs one time, so you’re sitting at home and you watch these guys play in October and you see that intensity and the passion they have, and that’s where you want to be,” Delgado said. That’s the reason why I get motivated to do what I do to come back and play.”

Getting only one at-bat in Toronto’s 1993 World Series season and not having as much as a sniff of the playoffs since, Delgado, despite rewriting the Blue Jays’ record book and hitting less than 30 homers just once from 1997-2008 (he had 24 in 2007), seems to be far from concerned with personal achievement. The drive to win that he has built up over years of watching the teams in his division go on to win the World Series (it’s happened six times) is quite apparent. Now he wants his turn.

“That’s the only [reason] you should play — to win,” Delgado said. “Not everybody can win, but I’ll die trying.”

Delgado is no stranger to the AL East, as he established himself as one of the top left-handed hitters of his generation as a member of the Blue Jays. Though baseball in Toronto wasn’t awfully competitive in his time there, he still got a sense of just how intense the baseball atmosphere in Boston.

“They were tough. They were always tough, they were always cocky, very passionate, very driven to win,” Delgado said of the Red Sox as he recalled the 90’s all the way through 2004. “I played against them for 11 years in a row when I was in Toronto, and they seemed to always kick their [expletive deleted]. You’ve got to respect that. ‘€¦ They always find a way to put a good product on the field.”

Delgado hasn’t spoken to any current Red Sox players, but assured those on hand Sunday that although he is more reserved than Boston sluggers past, he will be a big part of the team on and off the field.

“I’€™m like a chameleon. I’€™ll blend,” Delgado said. “I’€™m probably not the rah-rah-rah kind of guy, but I’€™ve been around long enough and I’€™m confident enough that I can fit into any clubhouse.”

In his career, Delgado has hit .280/.383/.546 with 473 homers and 1512 runs batted in in parts of 17 seasons with the Blue Jays, Marlins, and Mets. He played in just 26 games last season, his last in New York.

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Ortiz: Strike zone was ‘a joke’

08.08.10 at 7:02 am ET
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NEW YORK — Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz could muster nothing against Yankees starter CC Sabathia on Saturday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts (two called) and a double play in Boston’s 5-2 loss to New York. Yet while Ortiz gave some credit to the Yankees ace, he also made no secret about his displeasure with the strike zone of home plate umpire Jerry Layne.

On both of Ortiz’ called strikeouts, he stood at home plate, hands on hips, with a look of disgust about the calls. After the game, he was feeling no more charitable towards the strike zone.

“It was a joke,” said Ortiz. “The fact is that on top of [Sabathia] being that good, he’€™s got [an ump] calling all kinds of [expletive]. That made him better.

“I didn’€™t see that many strikes that I can hit,” Ortiz added. “Swinging at all kinds of [expletive]. That’€™s what you’€™ve got to do. Swing, swing, swing, swing and good luck.”

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Sox sign OF Kendrick Perkins for $600K

08.08.10 at 7:00 am ET
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NEW YORK — Red Sox sixth-round draft choice Kendrick Perkins passed the physical that he took for the Red Sox on Friday, thus allowing him to finalize his $600,000 deal (spread over four years) with the club to begin his professional career. The two-sport star out of Texas had a scholarship offer from Texas A&M to play baseball and football.

“He has a unique power-speed combo. There’€™s a lot to like. He’€™s not raw by any means,” Sox amateur scouting director Amiel Sawdaye said shortly after the draft. “A lot of times, people envision two-sport athletes as raw players. He’€™s not raw. He’€™s got an idea up there.”

Perkins is the first Sox draftee to sign for a bonus above the Major League Baseball slot recommendation this year. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound outfielder is the fourth-highest Sox selection to sign this year.

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Closing Time: Yankees 5, Red Sox 2

08.07.10 at 6:58 pm ET
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NEW YORK — It was, quite simply, uninspired.

The Red Sox arrived at the ballpark on Saturday with an opportunity to trim their American League East deficit to four games, a disadvantage that would have been the team’s smallest since July 6. Instead, the Sox struggled in almost every way imaginable en route to a listless 5-2 defeat.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–The defense was horrible. The Sox were charged with two errors — one by catcher Victor Martinez on an errant throw to second on a stolen base attempt, another on a poor throw by Marco Scutaro on a run-down — but those gaffes told only part of the story.

Most critically, in a 2-2 game, J.D. Drew appeared to lose Robinson Cano‘s potentially catchable fly ball to right in the sun with runners on the corners and two outs in the bottom of the fifth. That scored one run, and spearheaded a two-run rally that proved decisive. Also in that inning, Mike Lowell showed almost no range at first base on a single just a few feet to his right. Scutaro likewise demonstrated little mobility on a liner slightly over his head.

Jed Lowrie also had a poor read on a ball off the bat, resulting in a single that helped the Yankees to push across an insurance run in the sixth. Scutaro seemed frozen on a ball hit only a couple feet over his head. Starter John Lackey fired an attempted pickoff throw at second into center field, with the runner unable to advance only because Scutaro pinned him to the dirt. And, finally, the Yankees were able to run with impunity, swiping three bases against the tandem of Lackey and Martinez.

–The Sox acquired John Lackey in part because he has been a pitcher who has craved a big-game label. But on a day when his stuff was plenty good — he struck out seven — he nevertheless failed to live up to that billing. Some of the blame belongs to the porous defense, but all the same, after the Yankees collected five runs on eight hits in six innings against him, Lackey has allowed a .289 average on the season and a .347 mark in his two August starts. On he year, Lackey is a very pedestrian 10-7 with a 4.60 ERA.

–The Sox offense got to Yankees starter CC Sabathia early, collecting a pair of runs on four hits before he’d retired his fourth hitter of he game. But after three straight hits to open the second inning, the Sox offense disappeared. From that point through the end of Sabathia’s outing, the Sox went 2-for-23, and did not advance another runner as far as second base. Sabathia logged eight innings in earning his 14th victory of the year.

David Ortiz was overmatched on the afternoon by Sabathia’s slider. The Red Sox DH went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Manny Delcarmen turned in his finest outing in some time, pitching a perfect seventh inning while getting two strikeouts (Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano) and a groundout. His changeup was excellent. It was the first time that Delcarmen had struck out at least two while not permitting a baserunner since May 27.

Felix Doubront left a positive impression in his first major league relief outing. He retired Lance Berkman on a first pitch groundout to short, fanned Curtis Granderson and caught Brett Gardner looking.

Victor Martinez crushed a homer to left-center in the top of the second inning against former batterymate CC Sabathia, ending a homerless drought that spanned 67 at-bats and dated to June 19.

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Sox do ‘due diligence’ in signing Delgado

08.07.10 at 4:44 pm ET
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NEW YORK — The Red Sox reached agreement with first baseman Carlos Delgado on a minor league contract. The deal carries little risk for the Sox, as they will pay the two-time All-Star just $20,000 per month while he is with Triple-A Pawtucket. If he is added to he major league roster, he would earn a prorated portion of $3 million. The deal (which was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com) gives Delgado the right to opt out of his deal on Sept. 1 if he has not been added to the major league roster.

The Sox are unsure what role, if any, Delgado might play for them in the majors this year. He has not appeared in a big league game since playing for the Mets last May. Since then, he has undergone two surgeries on his hip. While he represents a player with intriguing potential — his 473 career home runs rank 30th all time, and he hit .298/.393/.521/.914 with four homers and 23 RBI in 26 games last year — it is difficult to predict how he will perform after such a long layoff.

Delgado will report to Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday, where he will start working out with the PawSox. The Sox hope that he will be ready for games “soon after that,” said manager Terry Francona.

“[The Sox] will try to see how that hip responds and how productive he is with the bat and see where it goes from there,” said Francona. “This is us doing our due diligence. Mikey Lowell is the guy that we’€™re playing at first base. Whatever, whenever, whoever, would be to hopefully complement him.”

Lowell, who is playing on Saturday in back-to-back games for the first time since being activated from the disabled list, is taking a wait-and-see approach to the signing.

“I don’€™t have any thoughts on it. If he gets to Boston, we’€™ll address that,” said Lowell, who played with Delgado when both were with the Marlins in 2005. “We’ll see if he gets to Boston.”

When healthy and in the prime of his career, Delgado was one of the biggest offensive threats in the game. From 1998-2006, Delgado ranked fifth in the majors with 340 homers and third with 1,069 RBI.

“I hope it’€™s a good signing, because we could definitely use him, if he’€™s healthy, and puts together the type of at-bats that I saw in ’02, ’03, ’04,” said Sox catcher Kevin Cash, who played with him in Toronto during those years. “Anybody could use that.”

Yet whether he is able to perform to even a fraction of that standard — or at all — remains to be seen. The Sox evaluated him while he hit in a cage (though they did not ask him to don a glove), and also had a chance to assess his health. While Francona said that the 38-year-old “swung the bat great” during the workout on Friday, he also acknowledged that there is more that is known than unknown about what he might provide.

“He hasn’€™t played a game since two hip surgeries,” said Francona.

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Sox owner Henry believes in miracles (sort of)

08.07.10 at 2:54 pm ET
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NEW YORK — Red Sox owner John Henry turned a few heads when he was quoted by AOL FanHouse as saying that the 2010 Red Sox “need another miracle” in order to bypass the Yankees or Rays and reach the playoffs. Apprised of the statements, some Red Sox players seemed a bit stunned that their owner seemed to be expressing skepticism that the team could overcome its five-game deficit to the Yankees in the AL East or the 4 1/2 games separating the Sox from the Rays in the wild card.

Yet on Saturday, Henry clarified to WEEI.com that just because the odds are stacked against a Sox run at the postseason, it does not rule out the possibility. He cited recent experience in suggesting that he has not abandoned faith in his club’s ability to reach the playoffs.

“The playoff comebacks down 3-0 and 3-1 were nothing short of miraculous in 2004 [and] 2007,” Henry wrote in an email. “What were the odds of winning eight and then seven straight?”

Henry cited recent popular terms that suggest that unexpected events are both more common than expected and carry particular significance. He cited two theories to suggest why the suggestion that his club needs a “miracle” is not mutually exclusive with a belief in the plausibility of his team’s ability to come back.

“Black Swans and ‘fat tails’ have been in the media quite often of late,” Henry wrote. “There is quite a bit in the literature indicating the unexpected is more prevalent than we imagine.”

By way of explanation:

— “Black Swans” (a term coined by author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and explained in this New York Times excerpt of his book) are events outside the realm of expectation that carries an extreme impact and that can only receive proper explanation after the fact. In such terms, the fact that the Sox have never before come back from a five-game deficit at this stage of the season means that there is no historical precedent that would offer an expectation of success. And yet, “Black Swans” do exist — and are discovered — that can sometimes reshape our views of reality.

— “Fat tails” are extreme events that seem to lie outside the normal course of events, and yet that Taleb and others suggest are far more normal than is commonly believed.

So, apparently, the Red Sox owner is not giving up on the season. He is merely acknowledging that the odds are weighted against his club this year, but, as he notes, stranger (and more miraculous) things have happened in his club’s recent history, even as he acknowledged that it would indeed be unexpected for his club to make the postseason.”

“Unexpected? Baseball Prospectus gave us an 8% chance mathematically of making the playoffs a couple of days ago (Pecota-based) when I was asked. With all of the injuries I said it would be a miracle if we made the playoffs,” Henry wrote. “We’ve won two in a row and the teams we’re trying to catch have lost so I’m sure that percentage is higher now.”

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Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups, 8/7

08.07.10 at 12:55 pm ET
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After closing the deficit in the AL East to five games on Friday night, the Red Sox face their toughest test of the four-game series on Saturday afternoon against CC Sabathia. The New York starter has been unbeatable at home in not losing a start at Yankee Stadium in more than a year. John Lackey, meanwhile, will try to follow Clay Buchholz‘€™s performance with a rebound from one of his worst starts of the season in his last outing.

Lackey (10-6, 4.48 ERA) allowed six runs over 5 1/3 innings in a 6-5 loss to the Indians on Monday. The poor start came after he went 1-0 with a 1.61 ERA in his previous three outings, showing signs that he was finally finding his rhythm after a sub-par first half. Lackey’€™s last start against the Yankees came in his first outing with Boston on April 7, a game in which he tossed six shutout innings while allowing only three hits. He received a no-decision, however, as the Red Sox suffered a 3-1 loss.

For his career, Lackey is 5-7 in 17 starts with a 4.40 ERA against New York. Since 2007 though, the right-hander is 2-1 with a 2.76 ERA in seven regular-season outings. Saturday will mark Lackey’€™s first regular-season start at the new Yankee Stadium with his only appearance coming in Game 1 of last year’€™s AL championship series. In that playoff game, he allowed four runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 4-1 loss. While Alex Rodriguez has struggled against Lackey (.167 average), Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter have hit him hard, batting .380 and .348, respectively.

Sabathia (13-5, 3.19 ERA) will look to continue his dominance at home, where he’€™s 12-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 17 regular-season starts since last losing on July 2, 2009, against the Mariners. After winning nine consecutive decisions spanning from the beginning of June to late July, Sabathia has taken the loss in each of his last two starts. Despite allowing three and two earned runs against the Rays and Indians, respectively, he received only one total run of support. He’€™ll try to avoid losing three straight starts for the first time since April 2008, with Cleveland.

Against the Red Sox this year, Sabathia has three no-decisions and a 4.76 ERA. He pitched well enough to earn a win in his last start, tossing seven innings of one-run ball on May 18 at Fenway Park. The Yankees, however, dropped the game, 7-6, after allowing six runs in the final two innings. For his career, Sabathia is 5-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 14 starts against Boston. He’€™ll be fortunate not to face Kevin Youkilis, who’€™s enjoyed the most success against Sabathia on the Boston roster. Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Red Sox 6, Yankees 3

08.06.10 at 10:26 pm ET
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At one point, the Red Sox considered making a play for Javier Vazquez this offseason. With the Braves looking to unload the right-hander (and his salary), the Sox wanted to examine the acquisition cost of a pitcher whom they tried several times to acquire in deals early in the tenure of GM Theo Epstein.

But the Braves needed a big league-ready center fielder in any deal for the pitcher, and the Sox had no interest in sacrificing Jacoby Ellsbury in a deal. And so, Vazquez ended up going to the Yankees in exchange for outfielder Melky Cabrera and minor league pitchers Aroldys Vizcaino and Mike Dunn.

On Friday, the Sox had no sense of loss about their decision to stand on the sidelines with Vazquez. They tattooed the right-hander, whose stuff was eminently unimpressive, en route to a 6-3 victory that brought them within five games of the Yankees in the AL East, the closest they have been since the end of the first half. The Sox also picked up a game on the Rays, who suffered a 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays. The Sox are now 4 1/2 games back in the wild card.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Clay Buchholz had never beaten the Yankees entering Friday night, going 0-2 with a 6.53 ERA against New York. The Sox had lost all four of his starts against the Yankees.

But on Friday, Buchholz was terrifically efficient in earning his first ever win against the Pinstripes. Though he was a bit sluggish at the start, conceding a two-run homer to Mark Teixeira in the first, he quickly settled, employing a fastball down in the zone, a swing-and-miss changeup and a tough slider. As a result, he was able to fly through 7 1/3 innings of work in just 97 pitches. He minimized the damage after Teixeira’s first-inning homer, allowing just one more run the rest of the way and finishing the night having allowed three runs on nine scattered hits while striking out four and walking none.

Buchholz’ command against a Yankees team known for driving up pitch counts was noteworthy. He became just the fifth pitcher this year to throw at least seven innings against the Yankees in fewer than 100 pitches.

Ryan Kalish continued to make an impact in his early days in the majors. After he punched out in each of his first two at-bats, Kalish jumped on a first-pitch offering from Vazquez in the top of the sixth. He lined the ball into a jet streamthat carried it into the Yankees bullpen in right-center for a two-run homer, his first as a big leaguer. Kalish is now 9-for-20 (.450) with a 1.128 OPS in seven games.

Jed Lowrie continued to be a meaningful contributor in his return to the Sox. He reached base three times, going 1-for-2 with a pair of walks, and he is now hitting .289 with an .808 OPS. His at-bat in the second inning was particularly noteworthy.

Lowrie stepped to the plate with runners on the corners and two outs. After Vazquez threw three straight balls to start the at-bat, he worked his way back into the count with a called strike and foul. Lowrie then fouled off three straight full-count pitches (each different: a curve, fastball and slider) before taking a curve for a walk that loaded the bases. That kept the inning alive for the Sox, a pivotal development, as Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a two-out walk to score one run (tying the game at the time, 2-2) and Marco Scutaro lined a ball down the left-field line for a two-run double that gave the Sox a lead they would never relinquish.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Jacoby Ellsbury managed to drive in his first run since returning from the DL on the strength of a bases-loaded walk, but he otherwise offered no offensive impact. He went 0-for-4, at one point chucking a shard of a broken bat to the ground in apparent frustration. He is 0-for-12 in his three games since coming off the disabled list. That said, Ellsbury did make his presence felt in the outfield, including a diving catch of a sinking liner in the bottom of the eighth that helped to stymie an incipient Yankees rally.

–Struggling left-hander Hideki Okajima landed on the disabled list due to a right hamstring strain.

–The Sox had several opportunities to blow the game open, but went just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Sox owner Henry: Sox ‘need another miracle’

08.06.10 at 8:36 pm ET
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Red Sox owner John Henry told Tom Krasovic of AOL FanHouse that amidst an “almost astonishing” run of injuries, his team will “need another miracle” if it hopes to overtake the Yankees or Rays to reach the postseason. Henry said that the Sox, if healthy, would have been well-positioned to compete against their AL East rivals, but that — while not giving up hope for the 2010 season — the catastrophic run of injuries to key players will be difficult to overcome.

Henry also defended outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury from critics who suggested that he took too long to return from his broken ribs.

“No one should question his desire to compete,” Henry wrote to Krasovic in an email. “In fact, he came back too soon initially. We didn’t realize he was as badly hurt as he was. No one was looking forward to this season more than he was.”

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Okajima lands on DL due to hamstring issue

08.06.10 at 8:11 pm ET
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NEW YORK — In his first three major league seasons, the absence of Red Sox left-hander Hideki Okajima for an extended stretch would have represented a subject worthy of panic. The southpaw was an integral part of the bullpen, and in extended stretches, one of the best setup men in baseball.

That has not been the case this year. Of the 156 relievers to appear in at least 30 games this year, Okajima’s 5.85 ERA ranked 148th entering Friday.

“I understand that my results on the field haven’t been there,” Okajima acknowledged through a translator.

And so, after he struggled badly on Thursday, allowing a pair of hits and walking a batter while retiring just one hitter, the Sox could be forgiven if they were relieved when Okajima walked into the office of manager Terry Francona and informed him that he was feeling discomfort in his right hamstring, the latest hiccup in a season in which he’s dealt with both hamstring and back injuries since spring training.

“It hasn’€™t been a great year healthwise,” said Okajima. “I had a problem with my hip and back for a while, but I felt something in my hamstring yesterday when I threw, so I feel that the problem with my hip and back came down into my hamstring.”

Since Okajima would not have been available for at least 10 days, the Sox quickly made the decision to put him on the disabled list, and to summon minor leaguer Felix Doubront in his place. He left Yankee Stadium to head back to Boston on Friday in order to receive acupuncture treatment, and it remains to be seen when he will come back.

“I want to be back in the fifteen days, but I can’€™t predict how long it will take,” said Okajima. “I’€™ll get the treatment and see how it goes.”

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