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The Daisuke vs. Ino battle rages on

04.26.10 at 2:41 pm ET
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TORONTO — Here at the Rogers Centre, where Daisuke Matsuzaka is in the midst of throwing a simulated game. Matsuzaka’s opponents? Jonathan Van Every, Jeremy Hermida, and batting practice pitcher Ino Guerrero. You’re going to find this as a shock, but Daisuke was able to befuddle Guerrero, who did lead the International League in triples … in 1985. Guerrero, of course, has gotten at least one at-bat each spring training.

It’s a beautiful day here in the TO, but the roof is still expected to be closed.

Also of note:

– The Red Sox will clearly be out for blood with the Blue Jays ranked above the Sox in the latest Power Rankings.

Ryan Howard reportedly has agreed to a five-year, $125 million deal.

More to come …

MLB Power Rankings, 4/26

04.26.10 at 12:44 am ET
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1. Rays (14-5) DRaysBay: “Coming off his worst start of the young season, Price delivered arguably his best start ever.”

2. Yankees (12-6) River Ave. Blues: “I doubt [Vazquez] will miraculously round into form between starts, but he has to be better than yesterday, right?”

3. Phillies (11-7) The Good Phight: “While Rollins can’€™t be expected to break his career-long trend and keep walking at such a high rate when he returns, a bit more patience from Victorino, Polanco and especially Howard will be needed if the Phils plan to continue scoring at a league-best pace.”

4. Cardinals (11-7) Redbird Rants: “Forget about the score and the month and the stakes. These opportunities don’€™t come knocking often. The best of the era face off ‘€” mano y mano. Lincecum’€™s arm vs. Pujols’€™ bat. Think about it.”

5. Twins (13-6) Nicks Twins Blog: “Slowey and Liriano have both given plenty of reason to believe they can develop into top-end starters.”

6. Giants (10-8) Frisco Fastball: “Ugh. That’€™s the only word I can find in my small vocabulary to describe last night’s gem of a game. Well, I can find a few more, but, they’€™re not even appropriate on the raunchiest of porn sets.”

7. Tigers (10-9) Motor City Bengals“Damon had three hits, including two doubles. What’€™s more, he finally got rid of those horrid white shoes.”

8. Angels (10-10) Halos Heaven: “Hard to believe it sometimes, but Torii Hunter is 34 years old.”

9. Athletics (12-8) Athletics Nation: “Given the injuries that have already beset the A’s, and given the lineup on paper even on a good day, you have to be pleased with the first 20 games.”

10. Rockies (10-9) Rox Pile: “Jimenez is, obviously, the best pitcher in MLB right now, and I don’€™t expect him to slow down. Like the Babe, I’€™m going to call my shot: Jimenez WILL have another no-hitter this season.”

11. Padres (11-7) Friar Forecast: “As of this writing, the San Diego Padres are tied for the best record in the National League.”
12. Marlins (10-9) Fish Stripes: “Ichthyomancy is ready for Midnight Baseball.”
13. Blue Jays (10-9) Bluebird Banter: “I do consider Cito a good batting coach, but it isn’t working with this group. But then I think that many of these guys couldn’t learn to hit no matter who worked with them.”

14. White Sox (8-11) Sox Machine: The first step in the Rios Acceptance Plan was all his responsibility. He pretty much had to prove immediately that he wasn’€™t the absolute zero that bummed everybody out over the last two months of 2009.”
15. Cubs (9-10) Goat Riders of the Apocalypse:Right now, whether they are a good team or not, the Cubs are trending upwards. The offense is getting hits, the pitching is holding back Chicago’s opponents, and the Cubs are playing well.”
16. Red Sox (8-11) Over the Monster: “If this was Tim Wakefield’s last regularly scheduled start, it’ll be a shame.”
17. Mets (9-9) Kranepool Society: “The Mets right now are playing the way Epstein had hoped his Red Sox would when he ran all his statistical analysis that told him pitching and defense is the way to go. Right now the Mets are fueled on that formula.”
18. Dodgers (8-10) True Blue LA: “Counting the playoffs, the Dodgers have won just six of their last 22 road games, and they have lost six consecutive series on the road.” Read the rest of this entry »

Closing Time: Orioles 7, Red Sox 6

04.25.10 at 5:23 pm ET
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The Red Sox could not take advantage of a strong start by Tim Wakefield, falling to the Orioles by a final of 7-6 on Sunday. The loss drops the Sox to 8-11 as the club heads to Toronto on Monday to start a three-game series. The hapless Orioles move to 3-16.

The Sox tried to rally in the 10th following a three-run effort by the Orioles in the top half of the frame, scoring a pair on an RBI double by J.D. Drew and RBI single by Bill Hall, to cut the lead to 7-6 with just one out. But Darnell McDonald popped out to catcher Matt Wieters and Marco Scutaro lined out to second baseman Ty Wiggington and the game (and five-game losing streak for Baltimore) was over.

What Went Right For The Red Sox

Wakefield leaves rotation in style: If, as expected, this was indeed the last start (for now, at least) for Wakefield, the 43-year-old refused to go into the bullpen without submitting the kind of performance that gave the “Leave Timmy In The Rotation!!” wing of Red Sox Nation some ammunition. That the Orioles have the worst offense in the American League (last in runs scored and OBP heading into Sunday’s game) has to be considered when grading Wakefield’s start, but it was by any measure a solid effort: 6.2 innings, seven hits, 2 runs, five strikeouts and just one walk. His best start of the season and one to remember, perhaps, if Dice-K jumps out to an 0-4 record with a 5.88 ERA.

Adrian Beltre, Walking Man: The new Ed Yost? After walking one time in his first 59 plate appearances with the Red Sox, Beltre earned two free passes on Saturday night (his first multi-walk game since 4/9/09) and drew another walk on Sunday.

Kevin Youkilis is looking a lot like Kevin Youkilis: After the 8-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Patriots Day, Youkilis had a batting average of .217. He had gone eight games without a multi-hit effort. Since then, the first baseman has had four games with at least two hits and now his batting average stands at .268.

Terry Francona lets Ortiz have his moment: No one could have second-guessed Francona had he decided to pinch-hit Lowell for Ortiz against lefty Mark Hendrickson in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ortiz had managed just a single hit in 11 at-bats vs. left-handed pitching in 2010, after all, and this is following a 2009 season that saw the DH post a feeble line of .212/.298/.418 against southpaws in 2009. But Francona stuck with Ortiz and was rewarded, as the veteran beat the shift with a single to right, scoring Victor Martinez to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. And this allowed Francona to use Lowell later in the inning, and that move paid off as well, as he doubled in Ortiz to give Boston what seemed a comfortable 4-1 lead.

Daniel Bard Makes It Look Easy: Bard in the eighth inning: 15 pitches, 11 for strikes, three K’s. He hit 100 MPH on the gun (at least on the board at Fenway) and mixed in a nasty slider. The Orioles simply had no chance in that frame.

What Went Wrong For The Red Sox

Hideki Okajima Didn’t Read The Script: Wasn’t Tim Wakefield Day supposed to end with, you know, a win for Tim Wakefield? Sure seemed that way after No. 49 left in the seventh (to a huge Standing O) with two outs, a runner on third and a 4-1 lead. Well, a double from Nick Markakis and a homer from Miguel Tejada later the score was 4-4, and Okajima was standing on the mound to a decent chorus of boos (about a 3.5 on the scale, I’d guess.)

You Try Avoiding a Great Scott Joke Here: Not a pretty 10th inning of work out of the ‘pen from Scott Atchison and Scott Schoeneweis, as the two combined to give up three runs on four hits in just a third of an inning.

Rough first inning for Adrian Beltre: Though the leadoff effort by Reimold was later officially changed to a single, a case could be made that Beltre committed two errors in the first inning on back-to-back plays. The usually reliable third baseman was unable to handle Adam Jones‘ ground ball after the Reimold play. Beltre did bounce back, however, and made several outstanding plays in the game.

Ellsbury, Cam road tripping

04.25.10 at 11:39 am ET
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In a sign that both are making progress, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron will be making the upcoming six-game road trip with the Red Sox. The two disabled players will be able to take part in baseball related activities, according to manager Terry Francona.

“If we weren’t able to do baseball things, we would’ve left them home,” Francona said. “I don’t think we have any idea on timetables, if they’re going to travel with us, that means they’re going to be able to do some baseball things, which is good.”

Francona also indicated that the disabled Cameron [lower abdominal strain] will likely be able to take part in some hitting on the trip while he continues his recovery.

“Talking to our trainers, hitting will actually be before a lot of the harder running because that movement [hitting] doesn’t seem to be getting in the way as much as some of the lifting of his legs when he’s striding,” Francona said.

Meanwhile, Ellsbury is technically eligible to come off the disabled list from a hairline fracture of four ribs on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Jed Lowrie – currently on the 60-day disabled list – has been able to work out on consecutive days as he recovers from a bout of mononucleosis. “The last four or five days to a week, he’s been able to do a lot more of the back-to-back things,” Francona said. “He’s down about 10 pounds from when this happened.”

Francona said Alan Embree “has been very efficient” in his last two minor league outings.

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, mike cameron, Red Sox,

Red Sox trade for Van Every, demote Reddick

04.24.10 at 4:33 pm ET
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The Red Sox have traded for outfielder Jonathan Van Every, who was playing with Pittsburgh’s Triple A affiliate in Indianapolis. The Pirates will receive a player to be named later. To make room on the 25-man roster the Sox sent outfielder Josh Reddick to Triple A Pawtucket. The Red Sox also designated minor league pitcher Santo Luis for assignment.

The 30-year-old Van Every, who does have one option remaining, was hitting .314 with two homers with Indianapolis. He received word of the deal while in Indy at midnight Friday night. The outfielder spent parts of two seasons in 2008-09 with the Red Sox, going 4-for-11 with a triple, homer and eight RBI in 18 major league games with Boston.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona emphasized the importance of giving Reddick an opportunity to play more. The 23-year-old had made two starts in center field for the Sox, going 1-for-6.

Red Sox vs. Orioles matchups, 4/24

04.24.10 at 11:50 am ET
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John Lackey will try to recover after the wheels came off the tracks in his last start against Tampa. Lackey was solid in his first two outings of the season, but he got shelled for eight runs in 3.1 innings in last weekends demoralizing 8-2 loss to the Rays.

Again, the Orioles can help get his wheels safely back on the road. Lackey holds a career 8-3 record with a 3.16 ERA in 12 starts vs. the O’s.

In 2009, the Red Sox were 15-2 against the Orioles.

Orioles’ starter Brian Matusz has never faced the Red Sox in his brief career. In fact, the only Red Sox hitter he has faced is Marco Scutaro, and the Sox shortstop smacked a home run.

The 6-foot-4, left-handed pitcher is 7-2 with a 4.55 ERA in 11 career starts. This season he is 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA in three starts.

ORIOLES VS. JOHN LACKEY

Brian Roberts (33 plate appearances): .250 average/ .273 OBP/ .313 slugging percentage, 0 homers, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

Miguel Tejada (33): .303/ .303/ .455, 1 homer, 9 strikeouts

Nick Markakis (24): .304/ .333/ .348, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts

Julio Lugo (20): .222/ .300/ .278, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

Cesar Izturis (18): .222/ .222/ .222, 4 strikeouts

Ty Wigginton (13): .091/ .231/ .091, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Adam Jones (10): .100/ .100/ .300, 3 strikeouts

Nolan Reimold (6): .167/ .167/ .167, 1 strikeout

Luke Scott (6): .400/ .500/ .600, 2 homers, 1 walk, 1 HBP

Matt Wieters (6): .333/ .333/ .333, 1 strikeout

Garrett Atkins: 0-for-3, 1 stikeout

Felix Pie: 0-for-3, strikeout

Robert Andino: 1-for-2, strikeout

Never faced: Craig Tatum

RED SOX VS. BRIAN MATUSZ

Marco Scutaro: 1-for-2, 1 homer

Never faced: The rest of the roster

A few Red Sox leftovers from Friday night

04.24.10 at 11:24 am ET
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The story of the Red Sox‘ 4-3 win over the Orioles revolved around David Ortiz home run, Jon Lester’s solid performance, and the bullpen finally giving up some runs after 21 scoreless. But there was some more that might have gone under the radar:

– Before we get to the “I can’t believe Adrian Beltre walked with the bases loaded to win the game” talk, understand that Beltre had a history with the Baltimore reliever that issued the free pass, Jim Johnson.

Last season (June 3, to be exact), Beltre faced off with Johnson in the ninth inning with the bases also loaded and the game also tied. Beltre worked the count to 3-2, but didn’t get that final fourth ball, instead winning the game for his Mariners with a single to left field.

Beltre did touch on his penchant to swing, swing, and then swing again, even issuing the classic “You can’t walk your way off the island” line so many baseball players coming from the Dominican Republic  live by. Beltre has swung at the first pitch 31 percent of the time this season, and had drawn just one walk all year up until notching a pair Friday. In fact, he has seen a 3-0 count just twice this season.

To show what an aberration the moment was, Beltre actually said he was taking on 3-and-1, a count he has also seen only twice this season. But before you think the free-swinger has never experienced walking with the bases loaded understand that he has actually walked 14 times in the situation, with his last run-producing free pass coming last year.

“It just doesn’t work for me,” said Beltre of being to patient. “It’s doable for me, but it just doesn’t work for me to go to home plate to walk. It’s not easy to pick up a ball, see what it is, react, and no that it’s going to be ball. It’s not easy. I don’t have that talent to do that.”

Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan was impressed, if not a bit surprised

“I knew it all the way, never a doubt. That’s how we draw it up,” Magadan joked regarding Beltre’s walk. “I guess he had a 300 percent improvement in his walk total.

“I think he went in with a good plan, and with him that’s everything. We talked right before the at-bat and he went in with a really good plan. When he does that he has a chance to get his pitch to hit. When you’re trying to cover the whole spectrum of pitches from the get-go it’s going to be tough to get your pitch to hit. You don’t want (the strike zone) to be a picture window, you want it to be a shoe box. We want to shrink it down a little bit.”

– A lot of folks might raise some eyebrows regarding Jonathan Papelbon’s shaky outing, in which he allowed a pair of walks and one hit in one inning of work (getting somewhat saved by Bill Hall’s play in left on Nick Markakishit off the left field wall, throwing out the Baltimore baserunner at second to lead off the ninth).

But for Papelbon, who still has allowed runs in just one of his eight games (giving up a pair to the Yankees in his second appearance of the season), Friday night presented some of his biggest obstacles of the year.

“It was a grind for me, from top to bottom,” Papelbon said. “Getting ready in the eighth, sitting down, getting back up in the ninth, going through 20 pitching changes. The grind with getting up and down, waiting, following the game, and along with that there was the mental grind. Tonight tested every last bit of me. I just had to grind it out.”

– Before this year, the only position Hall had played at Fenway Park was third base. He, like so many others, said before coming to Fenway and just watching games on television. he thought the left field wall was much bigger.

Dustin Pedroia was limping after the game, with a wrap on his left ankle. His response when asked about the ailment? Predictable. “You can’t hurt steel.”

Jacoby Ellsbury took a few swings Friday. But before you get too excited about the outfielder’s return understand that he executed the swings at what he called “one percent” effort. He said he can still feel his rib injury when he breathes.

Closing Time: Red Sox 4, Orioles 3

04.23.10 at 10:47 pm ET
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The Red Sox narrowly avoided handing the Orioles their third win of the season, beating Baltimore 4-3, Friday night at Fenway Park. The final out came when closer Jonathan Papelbon struck out former Sox Julio Lugo with runners on first and second.

Key play of the game

Adrian Beltre drawing a two-out, bases-loaded walk off Baltimore reliever Jim Johnson in the eighth inning, scoring J.D. Drew and giving the Red Sox the lead for good. It was just Beltre’€™s 14th career base-loaded in 190 plate appearances in that situation. It was just the third baseman’€™s third free pass of this season (second of the night).

What went right for the Red Sox

– A starter stepped up: Jon Lester turned in his best outing of the season ‘€¦ not even close. The lefty, who entered the game with an 8.44 ERA, wasn’€™t as pitch efficient as he might have liked, but he was effective. The lefty was able to lower his ERA to 6.23 after not allowing a run, and only four hits, over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out seen, and walked four in throwing 113 pitches.

Ortiz answered the call: David Ortiz talked before the game of how important it was for him to ‘€œmake sure everybody gets me out of their head and lets me play the game.” With one swing of the bat in the second inning he certainly took a few steps to doing just that. As encouraging as the homer was for Ortiz (who didn’€™t hit his first of the season until May 20 last year), the circumstances added to the optimism. The designated hitter was able to take a 95 mph fastball and drive it over the left-center field wall, a trait that is a constant when Ortiz is hitting well. It also certainly helped the Red Sox creep closer to getting out of last-place in the American League‘€™s batting average race for the designated hitter position. (Minnesota is second-to-last.)

The defense (especially at third base): Adrian Beltre finally got to make the play so many said he is the best in baseball at ‘€“ fielding the slow roller. Leading off the seventh inning, Baltimore’€™s Cesar Izturis pushed a bunt down the third base line. Beltre swept in, fielded the ball with his bare hand, and promptly fired a strike to first baseman Kevin Youkilis for the out. The image included Beltre’€™s trademark high leg kick he typically includes in making such an out (a picture Scott Boras has framed in his office). Bill Hall also threw out Nick Markakis with one out in the ninth, with the O’s outfielder trying to stretch a ball off the left field wall into a double.

What went wrong for the Red Sox

Pedroia scuffling: Dustin Pedroia continued to struggle in the No. 3 spot. He entered the game 2-for-18 when hitting in the three-hole, with no RBI. The second baseman is now 4-for-34 on the homestand ‘€“ scoring just one run — after going 0-for-4 against the Orioles.

– The bullpen had a hiccup: Stat man Gary Marbry pointed out in his latest post that the Red Sox relievers have had more multiple-inning than any team in baseball (20). While the member of the pen didn’€™t have to overextend themselves in terms of innings worked, they were called into action fairly early on, with Daniel Bard making just his 10th career appearance prior to the seventh inning when he came on to retire Garrett Atkins with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth. But while the 3-0 lead was initially held, Bard and Hideki Okajima allowed Baltimore to creep back within a run heading into the eighth. Manny Delcarmen then gave up the game-tying run in his one inning of work. It ended a streak of 21 scoreless innings for the Red Sox’€™ relievers.

Gammons on Big Show: Sox starters must dramatically improve

04.23.10 at 6:32 pm ET
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NESN analyst and Hall of Famer Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Big Show to discuss the state of the Red Sox.

The Sox will open up a three-game series at Fenway against the Baltimore Orioles Friday night after taking two out of three from the Texas Rangers. With the Yankees and Rays opening up the season with great starts, the Red Sox need to capitalize against weaker opponents if they want to stay in the race in the AL East. In order to do that, Gammons said that the starting pitching will need to be significantly better than it has been. “Their starters are last in the American League in ERA, quality starts, wins’€”if that doesn’t change dramatically they are not going to catch the Rays or Yankees,” he said.

Gammons was asked if Daisuke Matsuzaka will be ready to help the rotation. “I don’t know,’ he said. “I know that when he had the shutouts in the first two starts, he was okay’€”89-91 mph with an occassional 92. He may get to the big leagues and really dial it up. I feel very badly for Tim Wakefield for having to be the guy who has to step aside for awhile, but they need to find out what Daisuke is going to be.”

Gammons did say that he thought Victor Martinez’s troubles at catcher have been a factor in Wakefield’s performance, though not as big as some have made it out to be. “I guess so, although Victor last year caught him better than Mirabelli caught him,” he said. “It is one of those issues, and I think also because they want Buchholz to be in the rotation and they have to find out about Daisuke, Wakeifled ends up being sacrificed as usual.” Gammons did add that with the issues Wakefield has had with his back as well as his age, the eventual move might leave him better off in August.

Gammons was asked if the performance from the rotation has been the team’s biggest disappointment, considering the high expectations. “Yeah, it has been,” he said. “I don’t think that is going to continue. I thought Buchholz’s stuff last night was the best I have seen all year. I’m not worried about him.”

” I think that this week that Delcarman through the ball better than he has since May or June last year and Bard continues to make huge leaps,” he added.

Gammons commented on a rumor that came out today that the Red Sox might be interested in acquiring catcher Chris Snyder from the Arizona Diamondbacks. “The report is a little misguided because they actually talked about Miguel Montero,” he said. “That was a year and a half ago and Bard’s name came up. But it was Montero that they wanted.”

“I think they should get Snyder,” he added. “Arizona has had a terrible start and they are down I believe 20% in attendance. The problem is that Snyder is a $5 million contract and the Red Sox have been a little touchy about the money. Are they going to spend $5 million dollars on Chris Snyder when they may have to hold that money to get a big piece come July? I don’t know whether they’d go that way.”

A full transcript of the interview is below. To listen, click here.

How are you doing, Peter?

I’m doing well. This is kind of an important stretch for the Red Sox to get the ship righted against Baltimore, Toronto and then Baltimore’€”although Toronto is a lot better than people thought at the start of the season. Although they’ve got to get their starting pitching going. OK, it is very early in the season but their starters are last in the American League in ERA, quality starts, wins’€”if that doesn’t change dramatically they are not going to catch Tampa Bay or Yankees.

When you look at this, I think we thought there would be some challenges to this offense. But isn’t this the most surprising and disappointing part, that their starting rotation has really been awful?

Yeah, it has been. I don’t think that is going to continue. I thought Buchholz’s stuff last night was the best I have seen all year. I’m not worried about him. The other three guys will be fine. The front four I think will be outstanding. I will say that I think that this week [Manny] Delcarman threw the ball better than he has since May or June last year and Bard continues to make huge leaps forward. That is okay. They probably need a couple more relievers somewhere along the line, but I don’t know. I look at them and I say, ‘OK, you are probably going to be a month on [Jacoby] Ellsbury and maybe two months on [Mike] Cameron.’ That is a big problem. And then you’ve got the issues of what are they going to do about David Ortiz and how long are they going to go. And are they going to continue to catch Victor Martinez ‘€” they have allowed 36 stolen bases and The next team in the Major Leagues has allowed 18, Florida or Arizona. If they decide that they have to DH Victor, not only who catches but how do they work this arrangement where they have three DH’s on the roster: Martinez, Ortiz and [Mike] Lowell. So they have some issues that have to be resolved in a division where you don’t have a lot of time. You may have until May 10th or May 15th if you really pitch well, but you have to figure out how all those things are going to come today.

There is a report on foxsports.com that the Red Sox are interested in Chris Snyder, the catcher from Arizona. But they won’t be able to get him for another five weeks until Miguel Montero comes back from knee surgery. Can they wait five weeks, Peter?

Well a) the report is a little misguided because they actually talked about Miguel Montero. That was a year and a half ago and Bard’s name came up. They didn’t offer Bard for Snyder in spring training. That was a year and a half ago during the offseason, but it was Montero that they wanted. Montero is a really good player. Although, they are not going to trade Daniel Bard now. There is no way. I think they could get Snyder. Arizona has had a terrible start and they are down I believe 20% in attendance. The problem is that Snyder is a $5 million contract and the Red Sox have been a little touchy about the money. Are they going to spend $5 million dollars on Chris Snyder when they may have to hold that money to get a big piece come July? I don’t know whether they’d go that way. I have been scouring every catching name possible. One would be, would you trade a big pitcher to get ‘€” probably the best guy in the minor leagues that might be traded is Wilson Ramos with Minnesota, because obviously he is not going to replace Joe Mauer. But I don’t see a match there. They would want Buchholz or Bard and I don’t think that is going to happen. So I don’t know where they go. I raised the question yesterday that if Ortiz doesn’t hit, how much difference is there between the offense of David Ortiz and Mark Wagner? Because Wagner can at least catch and throw. But they set this team up to get offense out of catcher and DH, so that is a tough change in direction without a real answer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ortiz on being pinch-hit for: ‘It was just embarrassing’

04.23.10 at 6:10 pm ET
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Speaking to WEEI.com prior to the Red Sox‘ series opening game with the Orioles, Friday night at Fenway Park, David Ortiz called being pinch-hit for Tuesday as “embarrassing” although he didn’t blame Sox manager Terry Francona. The move by Francona to pinch-hit Mike Lowell for Ortiz came in the seventh inning with lefty Darren Oliver on the mound, marking the first time the manager had ever pinch-hit for Ortiz in a meaningful situation since Francona took over in 2004.

“It was just embarrassing, getting pinch-hit for,” Ortiz said. “I understand. I’m not swinging the bat good, with a lefty and whatever. I’ve got to come through and do my thing and get that out of people’s heads. When I’m swinging the bat good that’s not going to happen. Basically it was a wake-up call to say, ‘You better start hitting or you’re going to get pinch-hit for.’

“You saw my reaction. I just came back tot he dugout. Of course, I was embarrassed, but I took it like a man. It wasn’t Tito’s fault that I was pinch-hit for. It was my fault because I’m not hitting. I know it’s not going to get me any confidence, but it’s telling me to work on your (stuff) and start hitting.”

Ortiz is in the Red Sox’ lineup for the first time since the move by Francona. The designated hitter is batting .146 with no homers and two RBI. He has used the time off to taking extra early batting practice both Wednesday and Thursday.

“I’ve just got to regroup, go back to doing my thing and make sure I get in the lineup,” Ortiz said. “A lot of people have a lot of questions about me not hitting. It’s not a good situation to be in. I’m still working and trying to make things happen. I want to make sure everybody gets me out of their head and lets me play the game.”

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