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Red Sox call up Milton native Rich Hill

09.13.10 at 3:29 pm ET
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According to a major league source, the Red Sox have selected the contract of left-hander Rich Hill from Triple-A Pawtucket. The 30-year-old, who hails from Milton, Mass., will join the Sox for Monday night’s game in Seattle.

Hill signed a minor league deal with the Sox in June after being released by the Cardinals. He worked both out of the bullpen (13 appearances) and rotation (six season-ending starts) for Pawtucket, forging a 3.74 ERA while striking out 55 and walking 29 in 53 innings.

Hill last pitched in the majors with the Orioles in 2009, for whom he went 3-3 with a 7.80 ERA while walking 40 and striking out 46 in 57 innings. The left-hander, who owns what is considered one of the better curveballs in the game, has struck out 8.1 batters per nine innings in parts of five big league seasons.

Hill’s call-up was first reported by the Boston Globe.

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Padres owner: Adrian Gonzalez won’t be traded

09.11.10 at 4:36 pm ET
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San Diego Padres principal owner Jeff Moorad told Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com that the Padres will not be trading Adrian Gonzalez this offseason. The first baseman, who has long been of interest to the Red Sox, will become a free agent following the 2011 season if he does not sign an extension with the Padres. Rosenthal quoted Moorad as saying, “It’s a foregone conclusion that he will be back with the team.”

Rosenthal reports that is still uncertain what will transpire after this offseason, with the 28-year-old most likely looking at something closer to Mark Teixeira’s deal (8 years, $180 million) rather than a three-year contract with the same relative annual average.

Gonzalez is currently hitting .305 with a .394 on-base percentage, .512 slugging and 27 home runs.

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&#038;brand=foxsports&#038;from=foxsports_en-us_videocentral&#038;vid=2f37fc14-25ba-46cf-8c80-2c00a06f6f30" target="_new" title="Full Count: Gonzo staying put">Video: Full Count: Gonzo staying put</a>

Closing Time: Athletics 5, Red Sox 0

09.11.10 at 2:22 am ET
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Good bye, Cy.

The idea that Clay Buchholz might be able to thrust himself into contention for the Cy Young Award was already a longshot. Though he entered Friday with a 15-6 record and an American League-leading 2.25 ERA, the fact that Buchholz had thrown just 151 2/3 innings — more than 60 fewer than Felix Hernandez, and more than 50 fewer than CC Sabathia — suggested that Buchholz would need a remarkable final few starts to have a legitimate shot at pitching’s most prestigious honor.

Any improbable visions were dispelled on Friday night, however, as Buchholz delivered his worst start of the year, and indeed one of the worst of his career. He had little on the mound, failing to record a single out in the second inning while getting shelled for five runs on five hits and four walks. It was the shortest start of his career that did not involve an injury.

Meanwhile, Oakland counterpart Trevor Cahill sailed through the Sox lineup over seven shutout innings as Oakland won, 5-0. (Recap.)

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–Buchholz had been the team’s most consistent performer this year, having allowed two or fewer earned runs in a remarkable 17 of his 24 starts. But Oakland has been his undoing this year, posting two of the three contests in which Buchholz a) failed to record five or more innings and b) allowed five earned runs. For the season, Buchholz now has an 18.00 ERA against Oakland, and a 2.01 ERA against the rest of the majors.

–The Sox suffered their first shutout since June 9, ending a streak of 79 straight games in which they’d scored at least one run, the longest such streak in the majors this year.

Coco Crisp put on a show for the A’s against his former team. He robbed Ryan Kalish — batting leadoff — of a homer to lead off the game in the top of the first inning, and went 3-for-3 with three steals and a walk.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

–The Boston bullpen turned in an impressive night to prevent the game from getting out of hand after Buchholz’ departure. Dustin Richardson, who had allowed all five batters he’d faced over his previous three appearances to reach base (four walks and a single), elicited a double play grounder after inheriting a first-and-second, no-out situation in the second, allowing him to avoid any further damage. He produced a pair of shutout innings, the longest relief outing of his career. He was followed into the game by Michael Bowden (two shutout innings), Robert Coello (two shutout innings) and Robert Manuel (shutout inning).

Ryan Kalish, in addition to nearly hitting a homer to lead off the game before it was pulled back by Crisp, also once again demonstrated his strong arm, cutting down Crisp at third with a strong throw on a fly out to center.

Josh Reddick continued his impressive run, as his double improved him to 5-for-10 since his call-up earlier in the week, a continuation of his scorching conclusion of the season with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Lars Anderson, playing his first big league game in the ballpark where he grew up attending games, drew his first career walk. For more on Anderson’s homecoming, click here.

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Gammons: ‘Improving dramatically’ not necessary for Red Sox

09.10.10 at 5:40 pm ET
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Hall of Fame baseball analyst Peter Gammons of the MLB Network and NESN joined The Big Show on Friday to discuss the future of the Red Sox, who seem to be all but out of the playoff race. With the discussion ranging from free agency, to the bullpen, to Manny Ramirez‘ struggles in his return to the American League, there was plenty of interesting chatter. Here’s what he had to say.

Are the Red Sox going to get any ratings playing the A’s this weekend?

“I think it’s going to be tough. It hurts them that the focus has moved over. Patriots are opening [with] very big expectations. The Bruins are opening training camp. The novelty of having young players playing this last week and having them do pretty well is great, but it’s a lot different when it’s in Fenway Park than when it’s out on the west coast. My guess is unless there are a lot of people that want to see [Clay] Buchholz pitch or whatever, I think it’s going to be tough to get a huge audience.”

There were a lot of empty seats by the sixth inning at Fenway this last series.

“They were three blowouts and they were three long games. There’s so much expectation here and there should be that [fans think], ‘It didn’t work out, and I’m going to move on,’ and that’s the nature of entertainment.”

How much pressure is on the ownership in the offseason?

“I don’t think improving dramatically [is necessary]. They’re going to end up with the fourth best record or fifth best record in the league. They missed more games than any team in the league. I think to go out and throw tons of money — there are only really two free agents that would create a buzz. One is Cliff Lee, who has been terrible down the stretch, and the other is Carl Crawford, who wouldn’t come here anyway. … I think they’re going to be so focused on this season. How does the whole Adrian Beltre thing play out?

“This is a very difficult offseason, because Scott Boras not only has Jayson Werth, he has Werth and Beltre. He has two of the three best position player free agents. Those two guys are going to be available for business at the winter meetings in December, so nothing’s going to happen on either one of them until then. I do think that the whole Victor Martinez may get dragged out dramatically because I know the Red Sox aren’t going to sign him for four years as a catcher. Let’s face it, his worth as a DH is a lot less than what it is as a catcher. I think that’s going to play out to see if someone is willing to give him four years as a catcher. I don’t think it will happen, but I think both of those things have to play out for a long time. I just think this is going to be a very prolonged winter in which we probably won’t know a lot until Christmas or New Years.”

Was the two-year deal a message that they only view Martinez as a catcher for two more years?

“Yeah. I think that’s the way they look at is as, ‘OK, he’ll catch for two more years, if that. You also have in this equation of Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz. The question is how many of those [do you sign], or do you move onto Jason Werth, who is a skilled who is a skilled corner defender. He’s a Gold Glove right fielder. Where do you move all these guys? My guess is most teams try to go to David Ortiz and say, ‘Look, $13.5 million is probably not what you would come close to on the market.’ He signed below market at the time that he did sign his contract, but [they'll say], ‘we really need you to be a platoon player.’ If you take his numbers against left-handed pitching over the last six years, they have depreciated staggeringly. I mean, to a point where he’s basically a backup middle infielder against left-handed pitchers now.

“I think there are so many factors here and I don’t think there’s a lot of money. I think that they’re up pretty high, I think there’s not a lot of money to spend, so how they put all this stuff together is going to be fascinating to watch.

“I just remember people saying in spring training last year, ‘Well, they didn’t get anybody.’ Well, Beltre’s turned out to have a better year than [Evan] Longoria or Alex Rodriguez. Are you going to be able to find another one of those? Are you going to be able to get Carlos Quentin from the White Sox, for instance, for next to nothing and use him? I don’t know. I think they’re in a lot of pretty treacherous water right now.” Read the rest of this entry »

For McDonald, a unique neighbor

09.10.10 at 1:39 pm ET
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Darnell McDonald began the season as a new kid on the block. Thanks to his closest neighbor in the clubhouse, it took no time to feel at home.

David Ortiz welcomed McDonald to the Red Sox neighborhood.

“David’s just an all-around good person, a great soul, and he’s really been welcoming to me,” said McDonald. “He makes it a joy to come to the field every day.”

McDonald didn’t know what to expect when he walked into the Red Sox clubhouse for the first time in April. He had just been called up from Pawtucket and hadn’t been told where his locker would be, nor did he try to guess.

There was an open space next to Ino Guerrero, the team’s batting practice pitcher. The locker had once been occupied by Manny Ramirez, and now it belonged to McDonald.

But it wasn’t about who used to call that spot home. It had everything to do with who lived just two lockers away.

“I was happy that I was next to Ino. Ino is one of the best locker mates ever, but it’s Big Papi,” said McDonald. “You see what he does on the field, but the biggest thing is he’s a good person. I can’t say enough about how he just makes you feel comfortable from day one. He’s just a friendly person, always there to give you advice, pick you up, have a positive attitude.”

“He’s passionate about the game and he has a lot of fun,” he added. “I just think his personality is the type of personality that can rub off on everybody else.”

McDonald, 31, had been a journeyman throughout the majors and minors before joining the Red Sox this season. He soaked up Ortiz’s words of wisdom and learned from watching him “go about his business.” This season McDonald is batting a career-high .276 and has appeared in over 100 games, more than his previous three stints in the majors combined.

The pair has shared plenty of laughs this season, too. McDonald credits Ortiz for providing comic relief with humorous YouTube videos, notably the “Batting Stance Guy’s” take on Kevin Youkilis’ routine.

But it is Ortiz himself who has generated the biggest amusement. McDonald paused to think of his funniest moment, then flashed a big smile and chuckled.

“He has this dance he does,” McDonald explained. “It’s kind of a mix between Michael Jackson and Usher. It’s Usher’s ’OMG’ and it’s a mix between a moonwalk-slide-shuffle.”

With everything McDonald has learned from his neighbor, has he picked up any of his moves along the way?

“He might have a copyright on it,” McDonald laughed. “To see someone that big dancing is hilarious.”

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An early Red Sox report card

09.10.10 at 6:35 am ET
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Dustin Pedroia's season was an example of how uneven a good part of the Red Sox' 2010 campaign proved to be. (AP)

I know that the season isn’t officially over yet, but I think its time to reflect on the 2010 campaign.

I’m really not putting much stock into the remainder of the year. If Adrian Beltre or Clay Buchholz struggle down the stretch, will that change your opinion on the type of years they had? If John Lackey or Josh Beckett are lights out the last three weeks, does that mean they’ve had good years? No, I don’t think so. So here it is, the not quite end of the season report card:

Victor Martinez: B-

Missing five weeks obviously hurt, but Vic is still one of the best offensive catchers in the game. Defensively, he really struggled early in the year.  It was tough to watch at times, but if you’ve been watching lately, his throwing has improved. He’s now thrown out 23 percent of would be base runners this year. Given where he was in April and May, that’s quite an accomplishment.

Jason Varitek: C+

I would have given Tek a higher grade but its awfully tough to give a ‘B’ to a guy that has missed as much time as he has. I think that the one thing that Tek proved this year is that he can still produce when healthy. He will continue next year to be one of the best backup catchers in the game, if he can stay healthy.

David Ortiz: B-

After another slow start, Papi has put together a good year. Let’s face it, these days there aren’t as many guys in the league that hit 30 HR’s. He became the type of hitter that pitchers had to be worried about again. I don’t expect his numbers to jump in the future.  At this point, he is what he is.

Kevin Youkilis: B

Youk was having another very good year for himself before his season ending thumb surgery. His grade is as low as it is because he missed the final two months of the year. To me, his injury was the nail in the coffin for the 2010 Boston Red Sox.

Dustin Pedroia: C+

This is a tough one. Pedey had a good April, a bad May and a very good June. He is by no means a ‘C+’ player, but when you miss half the year that’s what can you expect. He’s the leader of this team. That’s why his injury may have been the biggest blow.

Marco Scutaro: B

Where would the Sox have been without Scutaro leading off this year?  The downside this year was his defense. But keep in mind what this guy played through. First, is was a herniated disc in his neck. Now we find out that he is playing — for some reason — with a torn labrum. His arm came up short this year, no question, but it had a lot to do with injuries.

Adrian Beltre: A-

He is the co-MVP of this team, (see Clay Buchholz). Offensively, he was an absolute machine, carrying this lineup at times. The only reason I didn’t give him an ‘A’ was because defensively, I was a little disappointed. Too many errors and, to be honest with you, I think that the official scorer was extremely generous at times.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Nuggets from a homer-rific series with Tampa

09.09.10 at 8:54 am ET
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A few Red Sox notes as they play out the string:

—————————————————————————————————————————–

* – The just completed series between Boston and Tampa Bay featured a total of 15 home runs, an average of one homer for every 16.73 batters. It was the 5th lowest BF/HR series of 3 games or more involving the Red Sox since 2004:

13.53 – Boston vs Toronto – Sept 28-30, 2009 – Sox allow 13 HR and 31 runs while getting swept;
15.13 – Boston at Tampa Bay – Sept 15-17, 2008 – Sox outhomer Rays, 8-7, but lose two of three;
15.87 – Boston at Baltimore – April 30-May 2, 2010 – Sox outhomer Birds, 9-6, but are swept;
16.33 – Boston at Toronto – May 29-31, 2006 – Sox outhomer Blue Jays, 8-7, but lose two of three;
16.73 – Boston vs Tampa Bay – Sept 6-8, 2010 – Sox outhomer Rays, 9-6, and win two of three;

The lowest BF/HR rate for an MLB series of 3+ games since 2004 is 12.63, in a 2007 series between the White Sox and Yankees where the two teams combined to hit 19 HR in three games. The Yankees hit 15 of them.

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* – Red Sox pitchers have committed 20 errors this season and have a .925 fielding percentage. It’s the lowest since at least 1952 by a Red Sox staff:

.925 – Red Sox, 2010
.927 – Red Sox, 1993
.931 – Red Sox, 1992
.931 – Red Sox, 1962

It would be the lowest in the AL since the Orioles staff posted a .922 mark in 2004.

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* – While Daniel Bard ranks just 8th in the AL in batting average allowed to the first batter faced (.167), he’s been pretty torrid during the season’s second half:

Opening Day through June 7: 7 for 25 (.280) with 3 walks;
June 8 through Sept. 8: 2 for 29 (.069) with 4 walks;

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* – Entering Tuesday’s game, the Red Sox had not allowed a HR in 6 straight games, tying their longest streak since they went 8 in a row in 2006. Their longest streak since 1952 is 11 straight games, set in August, 1975.

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* – The Red Sox have allowed 55 unearned runs this season, the most since they allowed a whopping 94 while becoming 2004 World Champions. Here are the teams that have allowed the fewest unearned runs in 2010:

25 – San Diego Padres
26 – Cincinnati Reds
28 – Minnesota Twins

And the most:

94 – Chicago Cubs
75 – Washington Nationals
64 – Milwaukee Brewers

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