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Ortiz to talk Saturday

08.06.09 at 8:46 pm ET
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David Ortiz let it be known right when the clubhouse doors opened and the media was allowed in.

‘€œNothing today,’€ he said. ‘€œLike I said, when I find out something I’€™ll let you know.’€

Well, whatever Ortiz knows about how he got on the list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in  will be finally verbalized Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Greg Bouris, a spokesman for the Major League Baseball Players Association who was in the Red Sox‘€™ clubhouse prior to Thursday night’€™s game, said that Ortiz will address the media in a press conference along with incoming union chief, Michael Weiner.

Later in the afternoon, Ortiz, who was in a spirited mood throughout the pregame, was surrounded by the throng of media ‘€“local and national ‘€“ looking to see if Ortiz would comment on his situation at all. But all they got was the slugger sitting in front of his locker, uttering few words before sending the gathering scattering by cranking the music atop his cubicle.

In each of Ortiz’ at-bats the designated hitter was booed loudly .

Red Sox at Yankees Match-Ups, 8/6

08.06.09 at 3:25 pm ET
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You couldn’€™t find two more different teams than the Red Sox and Yankees at this juncture in the season.

In 18 games since the All-Star break, Boston forgot their winning ways and forfeited first place in the AL East en route to an unimpressive 8-10 record. New York, on the other hand, could hardly be stopped as they went 14-5 and reassured Mr. Steinbrenner that he was getting plenty of bang for his buck(s).

Now the Yankees (65-42) sit atop the AL East standings with Boston (62-44) trailing by 2.5 games as the two teams prepare to begin a four-game series in the Bronx this weekend.

Although Boston leads the season series 8-0 in 2009, it might be wishful thinking to assume the Red Sox will continue their dominance over the Yankees during this rough stretch. If anything, the odds are stacked against the Sox. The two biggest concerns seem to be that slugger Jason Bay is set to miss the first two games of the series, and the bullpen is fatigued after pitching 8.2 innings in just two games against Tampa Bay this week.

Not to mention the series opens tonight with John Smoltz facing the 23-year-old Joba Chamberlain, who is 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA in his last three starts. Smoltz, in contrast, is 2-4 with a 7.12 ERA in seven starts this season. But what’€™s perhaps most notable about Smoltz’€™s poor pitching performance this season is that it’€™s almost unprecedented. As WEEI.com’€™s DJ Bean writes in today’€™s LEEInks:

‘€œSmoltz has now given up at least five earned runs in three consecutive starts dating back to July 20 (1-2). The last time Smoltz had such a stretch, the Braves were in the NL West in September of 1993’€¦ For what it’€™s worth, Smoltz has never seen one of these streaks reach four games.’€

But that could all change tonight as Smoltz faces a Yankees lineup that’€™s first in the American League in OPS, OBP, and slugging percentage. New York has been outscored 55-31 in their eight losses to Boston this season, but don’€™t expect that discrepancy to stay so lopsided this weekend.

Still, there might be hope after all: Chamberlain is 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in two starts against Boston this year, and recently acquired All-Star Victor Martinez has gone 10 for 21 with two doubles, a homer, and six RBIs in four games since being traded from Cleveland.

RED SOX VS. CHAMBERLAIN
J.D. Drew (14 career plate appearances vs. Chamberlain): .000 average / .071 on-base percentage / .000 slugging, BB, 6 SOMike Lowell (14): .385 / .429 / .692, homer, BB, 2 SO

Dustin Pedroia (14): .500 / .571 / .667, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 SO

Jacoby Ellsbury (12): .182 / .250 / .182, BB, SO

David Ortiz (12): .273 / .333 / .273, RBI, BB, 4 SO

Kevin Youkilis (11): .333 / .636 / .333, 5 BB, 2 SO

Jason Bay (9): 4-for-7, homer, 3 RBI, BB, SO, HBP

Jason Varitek (7): 1-for-5, BB, 3 SO, HBP

Victor Martinez (6) 2-for-5, homer, 2 RBI, SO

Nick Green (5): 2-for-5, RBI, 2 SO

Casey Kotchman (3): 1-for-3

Jed Lowrie (2): 0-for-2

Rocco Baldelli (1): 0-for-1

YANKEES VS. SMOLTZ

Johnny Damon (9): 0-for-7, 2 BB, SO

Derek Jeter (5): 1-for-5, double, 3 SO

Alex Rodriguez (5): 1-for-5, RBI, SO

Melky Cabrera (4): 1-for-4, SO

Nick Swisher (4): 1-for-4, SO

Eric Hinske (3): 0-for-3, 2 SO

Jorge Posada (3): 1-for-3, homer, 2 RBI

A.J. Burnett (2): 0-for-2, 2 SO

Mark Teixeira (2): 1-for-2, SO

Jerry Hairston (1): 0-for-1, SO

Read More: joba chamberlain, john smoltz, Match-Ups, New York Yankees

Bay doesn’t look good for tomorrow

08.05.09 at 11:57 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Jason Bay didn’t come out to left field for the bottom half of the eighth inning in the Red Sox‘ 6-4 loss to the Rays, getting replaced by Nick Green, who made his fourth appearance in a major league outfield.

The reason for Bay’s absence? A right hamstring injury that won’t seem to go away.

“I re-aggravated the tweak running down to first in the eighth inning there,” said Bay, who go the Red Sox on the board first with a second-inning, solo home run. “It doesn’t feel real bad, but it’s definitely going to be a couple of days.

 “It’s basically the same thing. It just kind of calmed down and I kicked it right back to where I was three, four days ago, I feel like. We’ll go tomorrow and see what’s going on. I have no idea as far as a day. I couldn’t even tell you. I would say the chances of playing tomorrow probably aren’t good.”

The hamstring issue is foreign territory for Bay, who hasn’t endured such an injury prior to this season. It seemingly comes at a bad time with the slugger hitting his first homer since July 7, a 20 game stretch that included 61 at-bats.

“It’€™s something I thought I could play with,” he said. ” I just went down the line and it kind of grabbed me again and now knowing, I guess, how I felt when I started today, maybe that’€™s not good enough to play. I felt like it was and it kind of set me back a little bit. Knowing that now, I might take a few more days on top of that to make sure but I don’€™t think it’€™s a long-term problem at all, no.

“I’m unfamiliar with it. You’€™re going on feel and I take a lot of pride in going out there and playing every day or as much as I can and this is a little bit new for me but getting banged up along the way is part of it. It doesn’€™t make it any easier. ‘€œ

The hamstring issues isn’t the only thing Bay isn’t used to. Simply not being on the field doesn’t feel right for the player who has played in at least 155 games in four of the last five seasons.

‘€œI think any time you can’€™t play, you feel like you’€™re letting your teammates down,” Bay said. “Regardless of it’€™s Tampa Bay or the Yankees, definitely more than anything, I would love to be out there but for the next day or two, I don’€™t think that’€™s going to happen.”

Read More: jason bay,

Byrd: ‘Maybe I can get that World Series ring’

08.05.09 at 11:21 pm ET
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Patience paid off for Paul Byrd.

After taking a chance and spurning free agent offers in the offseason to spend time with his family throughout the school year, Byrd found himself without any major league suitors throughout May and June, when he thought the door would re-open to get back in the game. 

But Wednesday the 38-year-old hurler found his opening as he agreed to a minor league deal with the Red Sox.

“I’€™m excited,” Byrd said. “I think I can be back in shape and help them out in whatever role they need me to help them out in in September. Maybe I can get that World Series ring.”

Byrd, who had been working out near his home near Atlanta, will report in the next few days to the Red Sox Gulf Coast team in Fort Myers where he will “go down there, throw some innings and get back on track and get some arm strength”. And although the team didn’t see him workout, the impression the righty left on the Sox during eight starts in 2008 was enough to allow warrant the deal.

“No, I wasn’t,” said Byrd when asked if he had been working out consistently throughout the season. “I did a little bit of a roller coast and when I say that I mean I’€™m not ready to throw five innings tomorrow. I am in shape I have been throwing. It’€™s not like I haven’€™t picked up a ball. I have been throwing, I’€™ve been off a mound twice in the last three days, six times in the last two weeks. There’€™s  a difference between pitching in a game and throwing a bullpen. I would need to start out at one or two innings and build up arm strength.”

Byrd was hoping for a bigger midseason payday, but was clearly excited to be back with the team he helped get to the postseason a year ago.

“It’€™s structured to where I have to get myself ready. It’€™s not something where I have a ton of money and everything is guaranteed,” said Byrd, who had a 4-2 mark with a 4.78 ERA with Boston last season. “My hearts in it, everything is in it. It was just a situation where the timing had to be right and I feel like it is now.”

Daisuke speaks to the media … in English

08.05.09 at 8:32 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Prior to Wednesday night’s Red Sox game at Tropicana Field, Daisuke Matsuzaka answered questions from both the Japanese and American media. Tuesday he had met with Sox manager Terry Francona for approximately 45 minutes, and had another hour-long get-together with pitching coach John Farrell Wednesday afternoon.

But prior to answering questions through translator Masa Hoshino, Matsuzaka asked if he could read a statement in English, the first time he has addressed the American press in the language. The statement — which centered around the controversy from a Japanese-language article first surfaced in the United States by WEEI.com — was as follows: 

‘€œI want to clear up a few things. It was not my intention to make the meeting public or to criticize the Red Sox. The person who wrote the article is my old, old friend. I still trust her and this has never happened before. Training, no problem. No problem with the Red Sox. We will work it all out. I want to thank all my fans for their support and I can’€™t wait to see all of you when I go back to Fenway Park. Thank you.’€

Then came the question and answer portion of the afternoon…

How hard working on English? ‘€œI’€™m very well aware of all the difficulties and communication because of the language barrier, is a source of stress for the coaches and for the manager. It’€™s just another obstacle to having good communication. So I’€™m aware of that, and recently, bit by bit, admittedly, I’€™ve been taking steps to study a little bit of English every day.’€

Are you in better physical shape? ‘€œI think you can tell, just sort of by taking a look at me. But compared to really the beginning of the season, I feel much fitter and just gradually every day, I’€™ve been feeling stronger and more ready physically.’€

What date are you targeting to pitch for the Red Sox? ‘€œOf course I feel that once I feel physically ready then that’€™s going to be the time I’€™m also ready to pitch. I’€™m going to leave those decisions up to the discretion of the manager and whatever the coaching staff and the manager decides for me, I’€™m just going to do my best to hopefully meet whatever target they come up with.’€

Is the goal to pitch this season? ‘€œOf course.’€

 How were meetings with the manager, pitching coach?  ‘€œJust like you said, I think it was very meaningful and valuable for me to come up here and speak to them face to face. I think, by actually having those conversations face to face, I was able to clear up some misunderstandings that were still lingering so I think it was a very, very valuable opportunity to see them. And precisely because of this opportunity and the time that they set aside for me, I feel that I’€™m going to be able to go back and really work hard and get back to focusing on my training, which is what I need to be doing.’€

Will struggles make him stronger mentally and help him understand what he needs for long term success? “Yes, definitely. I want to keep playing baseball for a long, long time. I think those experiences I’€™ve had this year that have been difficult are all very, very important and very, very meaningful. And I think that precisely because there has been so much to learn, I just hope that I can take those lessons and apply them to my career down the line.’€

Red Sox at Rays Match-Ups, 8/5

08.05.09 at 2:49 pm ET
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DAVID PRICE VS. RED SOX

With a tough loss last night, the Sox will be looking for a win tonight against David Price, the pitcher who delivered the signature outs of Game 7 of last year’s American League Championship Series.

Price has had a bumpy introduction to life as a big-league starter. He is 4-4 with a 5.10 ERA, and his control (5.3 walks per nine innings) has been an issue. The stuff is still considered elite — he is striking out almost a batter an inning — and there’s plenty of reason to believe that patience with his development could reap huge rewards in the long term for the Rays.

In his last start against Kansas City, Price went seven innings and gave up five hits and one run while striking out three. The only other time he went seven innings was on June 17 in a 5-3 loss in Colorado. While Price has been in the league since last year, this is the first time that the Sox will see him as a starter. There will almost surely be many more to come. Among current members of the Sox, only Victor Martinez (0-for-2 with a strikeout) has faced Price in a regular season game.

BRAD PENNY VS. RAYS

With two months left in the regular season, Penny has struggled to achieve consistency. Over the past two months, he is 2-4 with a 4.53 ERA, and the Sox are 4-6 in his last 10 starts. He has pitched into the seventh inning just once in that time.

Now that the trading deadline has passed Penny can focus on his first post-deadline start. If he can repeat his last start in Tampa on May 8, when he pitched 6.1 innings, surrendering three runs on eight hits good for a 7-3 win, it would give the Sox a solid shot at salvaging a split before heading into the two-game series against the Yankees.

Here are the Rays’ career numbers against him – it is worth noting that Carl Crawford has been successful against him at the plate, which has led to havoc on the bases:

Pat Burrell (48 at bats against Penny): .229 average/.275 OBP/.438 slugging, 3 homers, 14 SO

Carl Crawford (8): 6-for-8, 1 RBI, 1 BB

Carlos Pena (9): 2-for-9, 1 RBI, 3 SO

Gabe Kapler (7): 3-for-7, 2 homers, 1 SO

B.J. Upton (6): 0-for-6, 1 BB, 2 SO

Jason Bartlett (6): 4-for-6, 2 RBI

Gabe Gross (5): 2-for-5, 1 RBI, 1 BB

Michel Hernandez (6): 1-for-6, 1 RBI

Evan Longoria (3): 0-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO

Ben Zobrist (2): 0-for-2, 1 BB, 1 SO

Lance Cormier (1): o-for-1, 1 SO

Read More: Brad Penny, David Price,

Terry Francona on Dale and Holley

08.05.09 at 1:25 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona appeared on the Dale and Holley show (with NESN’s Tom Caron sitting in for Dale). Francona talked to the guys on a wide array of topics. (Click here for the full audio.)

Here are some of the highlights, including Francona’s comments on the wait for David Ortiz to address his positive test for a performance-enhancing substance in 2003, the decision not to walk Evan Longoria in the Sox’ 4-2 loss to the Rays on Tuesday and the state of the roster – including the health of outfielders J.D. Drew and Jason Bay, as well as the need to add another pitcher to the bullpen:

On finding out about Ortiz’s 2003 positive steroid test – was it when the report came down?: “I may have found out a little later than that. I was doing some Daisuke stuff. My door was closed. Guys know my door isn’t closed very much, but when it is closed, leave it closed…I opened my door up, and knew something was going on. I said, if David needs me, I’m here. He was okay to play the game. I talked to him a little during the game, and that’s not the easiest time to have those conversations. Then sat down with him quickly after the game….There’s a lot out there that nobody knows, there’s a lot of opinions. Go about the process properly, it’s tough, but it’s what we have to do.”

On playing the waiting game with the Ortiz steroids saga: “There’s a lot of things out there that nobody knows. There’s not a lack of opinions, but there’s a lack of informative opinions. What we need to do is be patient and let the process, go about it properly. It’s not easy to do, but it’s the only way to do it. It’s tough…Nobody knows. I don’t know. But I’m certainly not going to go out there and say something that I don’t know. There certainly needs to be answers. I think David is very adamant that he wants answers. And when we get those answers, we’ll deal with them.

On the 2003 steroid list and recent leaks – should it be disclosed?: “We’re talking about something illegal. It’s illegal to do that, so there’s no discussion. I don’t know how there can be…However many people tested positive, I’m not coming to their defense. But it was done for a reason. It was probably done too late. But it did get done, and what’s in place now is good — maybe not perfect, but good. If we’re guilty of anything, it’s probably acting a little bit late as an industry, which we’re all responsible for. But for what’s happening now with these leaks, you’re talking about lawyers that are knowingly betraying an oath and a trust. I think that’s reprehensible. I’m not coming to the defense of someone who has done performance-enhancing drugs, but what they’re doing is reprehensible.”

Is it surprising that there’s no answer yet?: “What do you want him to say? We were very honest. We need to let this process play out. There are things that I’m sure are happening that are way over my head, that Major League Baseball, the union, lawyers are taking care of. David said when he has answers, he’ll address it. We don’t have answers. I don’t know how much more explicit I can be. That’s where we’re at.

There was a belief that people on the list would have known that, in which case, they would have had six years to get answers: “You’re getting into an area that needs to be addressed not by me. I understand the question. I think it needs to be addressed to someone with the Players Association, to a lawyer with direct knowledge of that. I’m not the right person to answer that.”

Any feel for a timeframe?: David doesn’t know. You’re asking me stuff that’s impossible. Believe me, we’d love to deal with this and move on. Nobody on this end is dragging their feet. I told you guys upfront: when it’s appropriate, it will be dealt with.

How is Ortiz doing: “I think he’s okay. That makes me feel better. He seems okay. We’re in a business that’s emotional anyway. You lose the game last night, it’s a tough loss, you feel like you lost a fight with your pillow. It’s part of what makes our game special. I think he’s okay. He knows he has a lot of people who care about him.”

On the loss last night: “Everybody can have an opinion. In my opinion, we were running on fumes. To ask a guy like Saito, who was going to be up north of 40 pitches, to walk the bases loaded, there’s absolutely no wiggle room to make a pitch. I understand Joe Dillon didn’t have a lot of at-bats. He was 5-for-10 off of right-handers coming into the game, in very limited at-bats. I think you’re putting somebody in an unfair position. I respect how good Longoria is. I respect how good the guy behind him is, too — Zobrist, the way he’s swinging the bat. I thought our best opportunity was to allow Saito, with Tek back there, to act almost like it’s an 0-2 count. Because we have the open bases, we have the ability to expand the strike zone. We didn’t do that. That’s part of the game. That’s why they won. There’s a lot of things I do lose sleep over. Last night, I did. It was one of those tossing and turning nights, but not because of that. It was a tough game. I had no problem with how we handled our pitching or things like that. I’m closer to it than anybody, so I probably have a better understanding. We were not going to bring Buchholz into a game in that inning. The reason he was up was that Clay would have pitched if there had been another inning. We wanted to give him ample opportunity to get loose, because we didn’t want to hurt him. There’s no way we were going to bring Clay into the middle of an inning after throwing 72 pitches the day before.

On the approach the team went with during Saito’s outing last night: “You’ve gotta take this further. It’s not just pitch count. It’s the ability to expand the zone. Saito is a guy we’ve tried to protect more than anyone on this staff. He pitched two innings on Sunday. So you’re asking a guy to come in and execute pitches when we’ve pushed him harder over the last three days than at any point in the year. My opinion is, let’s give him a chance to expand the zone. If you fall behind, you can always walk him. But let’s give Longoria a chance to get himself out. He had done that a couple of times earlier in the game. He also hit another home run. The safe thing is for a manager to walk people and go to Joe Dillon. I didn’t think that put the team in the best position to win. It didn’t work.”

On whether the four balls in an intentional walk factor into pitch count: “It doesn’t factor in…We’ve asked Saito to do more than we’re comfortable with. We’re doing some mixing and matching yesterday not based on matchups. We’re trying to go not just on matchups and rest. We’re trying not to hurt anybody…I think regardless of who’s hitting, we want our pitchers to expand the zone, especially a pitcher like Saito, who has had some command issues.”

On what kept Tito up last night: “Just losing. Sometimes you lose tough games. You lose a tough game, it’s hard to turn the button off and sleep…There wasn’t a whole lot to second guess because we used just about everyone on our team.”

On making a move to help ease the strain on the bullpen after last night’s marathon: “Yeah, we will. We’re gonna have to cover ourselves tonight, We’re in the process of doing that.”

On Victor Martinez’s daily effect on the lineup: “Who’s pitching for us, who’s pitching for them, rest, production, health. There’s a number of things taken into consideration. Tonight, we’re going to get into New York probably 4, 4:30, 5 in the morning. We probably won’t catch Tek tomorrow. We’ll catch him tonight, even though last night was a long night… We’ll catch Victor tomorrow. It’s Smoltz, who hasn’t been here for years and has that relationship with Tek etched in stone. Even though Victor’s new, Smoltzy is relatively new too. There’s a level of cooperation that needs to go on here right now, which I think our guys are doing a great job of. Ultimately what we’re tying to do is win, and guys are sacrificing a little bit of their personal stuff for the good of the team. I think it’s working out really well.

“There’s probably some comfort level with guys who Tek has caught here, and caught very well with success. There’s a lot of things that go into it. We try to use good judgment. We try to look ahead and have somewhat of an idea, and when things crop up, you’re prepared to make a change and have some balance in your lineup.”

On his latest conversation with Daisuke Matsuzaka: “We had a pretty good conversation on the phone the other day, but like he said, we need to have a face-to-face, which I agree with. We had a tough week. It was a good meeting, a real productive meeting. I stressed that we all make mistakes. It’s how you go from there that’s important. He understands that and wants to, and I think he’s actually in a good place. He looks terrific…He’s off the mound again in about a week. I know that’s a little bit of a slow progression, but I think we made some huge strides. The one thing we’ve done is we communicated, and we forced ourselves to communicate. It doesn’t mean it’s always going to be all fuzzy and hugs and stuff like that, but we’ve had some good honest communication, and that’s important. I think this will be better going forward.”

On Matsuzaka conversing with Francona in English: “He read me something he wrote in English…It meant a lot to me. He’s working on his English. This is a good kid here. We’re talking about one of the premier pitchers to come out of Japan. We’ve had our ups and downs and differences of opinion, but he’s s good kid. Everyone makes mistakes. I think this is going to be good going forward.

On the recent new look of the outfield: “Jason Bay is ready to play tonight. JD ran pretty well last night…We’ll play Rocco in right. They’ve got Price pitching, a left-hander, having Rocco’s bat will be helpful, and with a quick turnaround we don’t push JD where he ends up missing a couple games against those righties in New York. Reddick has been good for us. He gave us a surge of energy. This kid will run right through the wall if you tell him to. He’s still learning. There’s times when he will expand the strike zone…He’s got some thunder in is bat, and he has some bat speed. It’s been kind of fun to watch him. It’s going to be interesting to see where his career goes, because when he squares the ball up, it comes off the bat like he’s a lot bigger than he is.”

Read More: 2003, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz, jason bay

Red Sox won’t sign international amateur Payano

08.04.09 at 8:48 pm ET
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Though the Red Sox had been widely expected (according to multiple reports) to sign Victor Payano, a left-handed pitcher out of the Dominican, for a bonus of roughly $900,000, the team decided not to sign the hurler after he failed to pass a team physical, according to multiple baseball sources. The 16-year-old, listed by his agent at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, reportedly features a mid- to high-80s fastball, breaking ball and changeup. His frame suggests the possibility of future increases in velocity. But once the Sox determined that he was a medical risk, they decided not to sign him.

The Sox have reached agreements with other prominent players during the current international amateur signing period, which runs from July 2 through the end of August. The players whose signings have already become official include shortstop Jose Vinicio and pitchers Mario and Raul Alcantara. The team, however, is holding off on the announcement of those signings or any others until it concludes physicals and background investigations on all the  players with whom it has reached agreement.

Read More: jose vinicio, mario alcantara, raul alcantara, victor payano

What’s up in the outfield

08.04.09 at 8:18 pm ET
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J.D. Drew got to the park, ran a bit, and deemed himself ready to go after nursing an injured left groin muscle. Jason Bay also thought he could be in the lineup if need-be, having had the last three days off because of a right hamstring cramp/strain. The decision was made: Tuesday Drew would get the nod, with Bay returning Wednesday against lefty David Price.

“It’s kind of smart to take another day,” Bay said. 

‘€œA leg cramp and a mild strain are basically the same thing. You know, when your leg cramps up, it gets tight in there. It feels a lot better than it did yesterday. In a pinch, I could have played today. but the consensus is rather than push it, we’€™ll give it one more day. Barring anything setback-wise, I fully expect to be in there tomorrow.’€

Drew seemed at ease with the decision after testing his ailment earlier in the day.

“I went out and ran a little bit earlier, it felt good enough to play, so like I said Sunday, I’m going to gauge it,” he said. “Try not to do anything crazy, but hopefully it can last the entire game this time. We’ll see how it goes.

“On Sunday, I didn’t know, because we didn’t have BP before the game or anything like that. Then, I could tell when I ran my sprints that it was tight. I could feel it a little bit today when I was running, but not to the extreme or severity that I felt Sunday, before the game. Hopefully, that’s a good sign — I’ll go out there, take it an at-bat at a time, play at a time, and see how it goes.”

Read More: J.D Drew, jason bay,

The State of the Red Sox after the Deadline

08.04.09 at 4:07 pm ET
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In Victor Martinez, you have an RBI machine. After having a guy like Manny Ramirez in Boston for years who thrived with men on base, Victor will fill the void that Manny left when he was traded to the Dodgers last year.

Playing with Victor in Cleveland in 2004 and again in 2006, I saw a very similar approach to Manny’€™s, and he was at his best when men were on base. His work ethic is also like Manny’€™s as far as he’€™s in the batting cage often and always watching game film. When I first played with him, he was still getting his feet wet. It’€™s tough to be a young catcher with everyone expecting you to be the leader of a team, not to mention the fact that you’€™re a rookie. So he was quiet at first and just professionally went about his business. After some initial struggles, he soon went on a tear and it was Dustin Pedroia-esque. It wasn’€™t just one hit a night ‘€“ it was two, it was three, sometimes it was a five-hit night. He’€™s the kind of guy who, when he gets hot, you just can’€™t get him out. It’€™s fun to watch. He’€™s one of the best pure hitters in the game, and one of the top offensive catchers in the game, but it bears repeating: when guys are on base he drives them in.

He’€™s a great addition to this lineup and a very hard worker. He doesn’€™t have the strongest arm, and I actually think Jason Varitek throws better to second. But the biggest question remains: how will he be as a catcher in this organization, especially considering Varitek has been a valuable asset in dealing with the pitching staff? How quickly can Victor adjust to being a catcher with this team, and how comfortable will pitchers feel with him behind the plate? It will be especially interesting to see how this affects Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.

That leaves us with the underlying issue to an otherwise excellent trade: where does Martinez play with this ballclub?

For the time being, the plan is to give Mike Lowell some days off every week with him coming off the DL following hip injuries, and Tito’€™s done a good job with that. But will one or two days a week turn into three or four? That’€™s certainly a possibility. Having Victor catch will probably be the team’€™s best offensive lineup because you get a healthy Lowell at third, David Ortiz in the DH spot, and Victor catching.

But like I said, Varitek is very comfortable with this pitching staff (particularly the big two) and I’€™m not so sure you want to take him out of this lineup come Game 1 or Game 2 in the first round of the playoffs. So that’€™s going to be the challenge for Tito. You can see Victor playing a bit as a DH because he’€™s a switch hitter and can play against the lefties, but I think the bulk of his work will be replacing Mike Lowell in this lineup.

Although getting Victor was a great move, I’€™m still not so sure how I feel about this team post-deadline.

They’€™ve added a bat and some insurance for Mike Lowell in case there are some injuries down the road, and it’€™s still a great lineup. But I think this weekend, following the passing of the deadline, we saw John Smoltz struggle, we saw Clay Buchholz struggle, and Brad Penny‘€™s last outing wasn’€™t his best either. So this highlights the point that we’€™re not so sure about this pitching staff.

The other day, the team gave up Justin Masterson to get Victor, and you always have to give up someone good to get someone good. But on Sunday with Buchholz struggling in the fourth inning and Manny Delcarmen up in the bullpen, you have to wonder how this team can get through the game. They had the luxury of having Monday off, but starting Tuesday the team will have to play 25 games in 26 days. Currently with six men in the bullpen, the team will have to go out and add yet another arm because a bunch of those guys are struggling to get to the sixth inning.

We also can’€™t forget about Daisuke. He’€™s having spring training all over again, and I think deservingly so. I don’€™t think he came into the season conditioned properly, ready to go through the grind of a six-month season. He also used up all of his bullets in the World Baseball Classic. I know there’€™s a lot of stuff that’€™s been going on in the papers, and he’€™s sitting in the doghouse right now as far as the organization goes, but I don’€™t see any reason why he can’€™t come back and still give them some quality starts in September. Let’€™s face it: his arm’€™s going to be fresh and for the last two months he’€™s been doing nothing but conditioning. His arm’€™s stronger and his body’€™s in better shape, so I expect him to come back right before the playoffs and give some good innings.

There are also glaring needs in the outfield. The fourth outfielder is Rocco Baldelli who can possibly only play once every third or fourth day. Is Josh Reddick the answer? I’€™m not sure that he is. They might need to go out and get a fourth outfielder off waivers.

This also brings up the issue with another position ‘€“ shortstop. With Jed Lowrie a few weeks removed from his stint on the DL, he hasn’€™t yet proven himself as the everyday shortstop moving forward and into the playoffs. Nick Green was playing great defensively at the position for a couple months, but three quick errors later you wonder if they have enough defensively.

The Sox will explore the waivers, but the wavier period will be guys with high-priced salaries that teams are looking to dump. One guy who I loved about two weeks ago coming into this trade deadline was Josh Willingham of the Washington Nationals. He’€™s a great young player, a solid right-handed bat, a high on-base percentage guy, and I thought he would be a perfect fit for this club. If anything happened to Rocco, he could fill that void. It’€™s nothing against Rocco, who’€™s been having a solid season, but the team needs a right fielder who can play more often than Rocco.

They could also use a Paul Byrd type of guy, a solid pitcher who can go out and eat up some innings. A bunch of their pitchers are only lasting five innings per game, and I’€™m not sure how long they can stick with that.

So as great as the Victor Martinez pickup was at the trade deadline, I still have a lot of questions about the roster and I don’€™t think that Theo’€™s done. They’€™ve done this a lot in the past where they’€™ve gone out and gotten guys off waivers to solidify the team, and I completely expect them to do the same this year.

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