|04.18.10 at 12:21 am ET|
The Red Sox saw momentum come at funny times against James Shields and the Rays in a 6-5 loss on Saturday night. A sloppy first-inning followed by lights-out stuff from Clay Buchholz had Rays hitters just as confused as the fans who stayed for the late game. Additionally, poor defensive play from Marco Scutaro was atoned for when he crushed his first home run in a Red Sox uniform, though it was another Sox infielder that slugged his way into the record books. Though all of the Sox’ runs came from homers, exposed was the fact that they went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
All four of the of the first-inning runs scored by the Rays unearned thanks to a two-out miscue by Mike Cameron in center. After Jason Bartlett gounded to short and Carl Crawford singled to right on a 94-mph fastball, Zobrist grounded to first on a play that advanced the already off Crawford. Crawford’s steal of third didn’t even get a throw from Victor Martinez given that there were two out. Following a walk issued to Evan Longoria, the slowly charging Cameron dropped a fly from Carlos Pena, allowing the inning to continue and the flood gates to open.
What Went Right for the Red Sox
– Pedroia’s two-run bomb in the bottom of the seventh inning made him the first second baseman in Red Sox history to belt five round-trippers in the month of April. Tim Naehring (1994), Mike Andrews (1969), and Bobby Doer (1941) had all hit four in April. The blast made it a three-run game at 6-3.
What Went Wrong for the Red Sox
– Run-prevention became quality start prevention when Mike Cameron blew the easy lineout in the first. As a result of the blunder Buchholz unraveled in the first and had thrown 43 pitches and allowed four unearned runs before the first frame was over. The game eventually strayed from being a low-scoring affair on both sides, but had Cameron not dropped the ball and the wheels not fallen off in the first inning, the Red Sox may have had themselves a comfortable margin of victory.
– Mike Cameron wasn’t the only Red Sox defensive upgrade to downgrade sprits at Fenway on Saturday. Scutaro booted a routine grounder to short in the top of the sixth inning, allowing B.J. Upton to reach base and eventually advance into scoring position. The error did not prove costly as Red Sox reliever Scott Atchison escaped the inning by striking out Pat Burrell
– The Rays continued to run against the Red Sox from the get-go. Carl Crawford took off on a 3-1 count to Ben Zobrist and as a result wasn’t doubled up when the Rays right fielder grounded to second. On the very next at-bat the Rays left fielder stole third uncontested and scored on the error to Cameron with two down.
B.J. Upton also got in on the action, stealing second base after reaching on an error to Marco Scutaro. He appeared to have also stolen third base during Pat Burrell’s at-bat in the inning, though the scoring was changed later in the game to state that he had advanced on a wild pitch from Atchison.
|04.17.10 at 8:23 pm ET|
The game began that began Friday night as a pitcher’s duel continued to be an April nail-biter as it extended deep into extra innings on Saturday. Josh Beckett went seven innings and allowed and allowed an unearned run to counter Wade Davis‘ five innings of one-run ball, yet it was the Jeckyll-and-Hyde Red Sox bullpen that ironically sealed the game’s fate.
With Jonathan Papelbon, who pitched the ninth on Friday, unavailable after the birth of his son, Gunner, Daniel Bard entered the game to begin extra innings. He promptly fanned Burrell on three pitches before inducing a groundout to first from Reid Brignac and fanning Dinner Navarro on an 83-mph slider. All nine pitches Bard threw in the tenth went for strikes. Following the clean innings from Bard, Delcarmen’s 12th was nothing short of ugly.
Delcarmen walked Evan Longoria on a full count to begin the 12th and got Carlos Pena fly out on a lazy ball to left field. Jeremy Hermida remained busy when B.J. Upton promptly scorched one into the glove of the left fielder on the next pitch. Delcarmen was an out away from escaping the inning before Pat Burrell send a 2-0 fastball into the Monster seats to make it a 3-1 game. Brignac flew to Drew to end the inning.
The game had appeared to be in the bag for the Red Sox in the 11th inning when an error by Evan Longoria with two men on loaded the basses for David Ortiz. With the five-man infield installed for the Rays, the struggling designated hitter again grounded one to Pena, who got the force-out at home. Adrian Beltre then gave Longoria a shot at redemption by grounding into a 5-3 double play.
Ortiz had nearly ended it immediately upon the game’s resuming. Ortiz blasted Lance Cormier’s third pitch, blasting it just foul down the right field line. Ortiz worked the count full and and eventually grounded out on a hard-hit ball to first baseman Carlos Pena. Adrian Beltre bounced to third before Jeremy Hermida went down swinging on a 78-mile-an-hour curveball.
Rafael Soriano pitched the bottom of the 12th and earned the save. The newly acquired reliever fanned Hermida to begin the bottom of the inning before Varitek drove a fastball to centerfield for a double. Mike Cameron, who had entered the game after Bill Hall was pinch-hit for Victor Martinez, flew out in foul territory to Longoria and Scutaro flew to right field to end the game.
Lance Cormier, who had appeared to have gotten himself into trouble in the 11th and allowed some hard-hit but harmless balls in the ninth and 10th, earned the victory, throwing three scoreless innings while allowing two hits and picking up a strikeout.
The previous highlight of the game had been a throw from second baseman Reid Brignac. Kevin Youilis was easily gunned down at the plate in the sixth inning after Tim Bogar sent him from first base on a David Ortiz single, keeping the game at a deadlock.
|04.17.10 at 6:00 pm ET|
Ashley Papelbon gave birth to the couple’s second child Saturday, rendering closer Jonathan Papelbon unavailable for either of tonight’s games between the Red Sox and Rays. Daniel Bard will continue the first game, currently tied 1-1, should the Red Sox not score in the bottom of the ninth.
The newborn Gunner Papelbon weighs 8 pounds, 8 ounces and is 21.5 inches.
|04.17.10 at 5:15 pm ET|
“I’m pretty happy with how today went,” Ellsbury said, adding that he’d “like to hope [the middle of the week] would be a reasonable time” to return.
|04.17.10 at 3:33 pm ET|
According to a team source, relief pitcher Alan Embree has agreed to push his opt-out date back from April 15 to April 30. If Embree is not on the Red Sox‘ 25-man roster by that date then he will be eligible to become a free agent. Embree has pitched in four games for the PawSox, allowing three runs on two hits in 3 1/3 innings, walking five and striking out three. Pawtucket Red Sox radio broadcaster Dan Hoard was the first to report the news.
|04.17.10 at 1:32 pm ET|
Sometime on Saturday night, the Red Sox and Rays will conclude their suspended Friday night affair (left in limbo in a 1-1 tie entering the bottom of the ninth inning). Then, approximately 30 minutes later, the two teams will plow ahead and start their second game of the series.
When they do so, the Sox will be sending a pitcher to the mound who has had great success against the Rays in Clay Buchholz.
Buchholz has probably been at his best against the Rays during his career. He is 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA, his best against any big league club, in four starts. That record includes a complete game effort in a 2-1 loss in 2008.
In his first start of the season vs. Kansas City, Buchholz got plenty of support from the Sox offense, as Boston tagged Gil Meche and scored eight runs in the game. That was more than the Sox starter would need, as he allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings. The most egregious mistake that Buchholz made was to Jose Guillen in the second inning, as the red-hot Royals outfielder smacked a homer to left-center field.
Buchholz made two starts against Tampa Bay last September, and looked good in both of them. He went six innings and allowed three runs in a 6-3 Sox victory on Sept. 3, and was even more impressive on Sept. 13, when he let up just one run in seven innings of work, allowing just five hits and striking out five as well.
The Rays will go with James Shields, who has been solid in his two appearances in 2010. He scattered nine hits and allowed three earned in a no-decision against Baltimore in his first start, striking out six and walking two. The long ball was a problem for Shields in that one, as he allowed three solo shots to the Orioles. Shields followed that up with a better day against the Yankees, allowing two earned runs in 5-1/3 innings while striking out five and walking three.
Shields has not been at his best against the Sox in his career, with a 3-7 record and a 5.32 ERA in 12 starts. He did toss a complete game shutout in April of 2008, but other than that he has had his troubles. Last year he made four starts vs. Boston and was just 1-3 with a 5.47 ERA. He gave up five earned in two of those starts, but was much better in the other half, allowing just two earned runs in 7-1/3 on May 3 and three earned over six innings on Sept. 13.
Two Sox hitters who are struggling, J.D. Drew and David Ortiz, have excellent career numbers against the Tampa starter. As good as Shields can be, he might be a good pitcher for the Sox to be facing in this series.
Red Sox vs. James Shields
Marco Scutaro (39 career plate appearances vs. Shields): .216 average/.231 OBP/.243 slugging, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts
J.D. Drew (27): .417/.481/.833, 2 home runs, 4 doubles, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
David Ortiz (27): .391/.481/.870, 5 doubles, 2 home runs, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
Kevin Youkilis (26): .130/.231/.174, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
Jacoby Ellsbury (25): .167/.200/.167, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Mike Lowell (25): .360/.360/.480, 3 doubles, 2 strikeouts
Dustin Pedroia (24): .455/.500/.636, 1 home run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Jason Varitek (22): .190/.227/.333, 1 home run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
Adrian Beltre (19): .167/.211/.389, 1 home run, 11 strikeouts
Jeremy Hermida (19): .294/.368/.353, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Victor Martinez (12): .333/.333/.417, 4 strikeouts
Shields has never faced Mike Cameron or Bill Hall.
Rays vs. Clay Buchholz
Carl Crawford (13 career plate appearances vs. Buchholz): .250 average/.309 OBP/.333 slugging, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Jason Bartlett (12): .273/.333/.273, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Evan Longoria (12): .182/.250/.364, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Carlos Pena (9): .125/.222/.125, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Pat Burrell (6): .000/.167/.000, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Ben Zobrist (6): .400/.500/.400, 1 walk
B.J. Upton (5): .500/.600/.750, 1 double, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Dioner Navarro (3): .333/.333/.333, 2 strikeouts
Buchholz has never faced Willy Aybar, Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez or Gabe Kapler.
|04.17.10 at 4:30 am ET|
The Red Sox issued the following explanation about how tickets will be handled for the conclusion of Friday’s suspended 1-1 contest between the Sox and Rays, which was halted entering the bottom of the ninth inning due to heavy rain:
“The continuation of [Friday’s] game is governed by the rules of Major League Baseball. In accordance with those rules, the first game of the series must be played to completion before the second game may commence. Thus, tonight’s game will be continued tomorrow, Saturday, April 17, at 7:10 p.m., due to the likelihood of adverse weather earlier in the day. The Saturday game already scheduled will start approximately 30-45 minutes after the completion of the suspended Friday night game.
“Fans holding tickets for tomorrow’s regularly scheduled Red Sox-Rays game on Saturday, April 17, may use them for both the conclusion of tonight’s game, which will begin at 7:10 p.m., as well as for the game originally scheduled to be played. Tickets for tonight’s suspended game, April 16, will not be valid for use tomorrow for either one. Gates will open at 5:10 p.m. [Saturday].”
|04.17.10 at 2:16 am ET|
Setting the scene …
Ortiz rifles a ball down the right-field line, towards the wall. Tampa Bay right fielder Ben Zobrist scoops it up, throws to cut-off man Reid Brignac, who tosses a strike (slightly up the line) to catcher Dioner Navarro.
Youkilis is waved home by Red Sox third base coach Tim Bogar. The end result has Youkilis being tagged out by Navarro, allowing for the first out of the inning and plenty of questions for Bogar after the game. Here is what the first-year third base coach had to say after the game was suspended in the ninth inning, still tied at 1-1 (click here for the ‘Closing Time’ recap):
(What did you see?) “The ball hit down the line, wet grass, mud, right against the wall. I felt like they had to make two perfect throws to throw him out and they didn’t make two perfect throws but it was pretty close though. I obviously understand with no outs getting thrown out at the plate, but I thought there was a chance to take the lead.”
(Thoughts about holding the runner with nobody out) “I think it’s obvious in normal baseball that’s what you do. I just felt like it was an opportunity to score a run right there, especially with the conditions of the field. It was a play they had to make perfectly, and he was thrown out. That’s the way it goes.”
(Dealing with the uniqueness of Fenway’s dimensions) “For me personally that’s just a ball down the right field line. I know he was up against the wall. I thought he had an opportunity to score. You have to give them some credit too, they made a good replay. Navarro made a nice tag on a ball that was a little bit up the line. It wasn’t like he was out by 30 feet. It was pretty close.”
(Would you have done it again?) “I think so. The same scenario, with the weather the way it was, and what was coming. Obviously you can always go with the percentages of nobody out, hold him, and then you got your chances. At that point I just thought it was a good opportunity for us to pick up a run right there with nobody out. In hindsight, yeah, I should have held him. But if he scores we’re not talking right now.”
(Having to answer these questions) “It happens. I guarantee you before the year is over I’m going to be talking to you again. That’s baseball. That’s not going to change the way I approach the game. Obviously it didn’t work out for us so I’m held accountable for that, and I’m fine with that.”
(Was Youkilis slowing down coming around third?) “If you’re trying to say Youk was laboring, I didn’t think he was.”
(The dynamic of being a third base coach) “It’s a tough job. It’s not an easy job and DeMarlo [Hale] did it good, if not better, than anybody ever has. It’s kind of nice that he’s on the staff that I can go and talk to him. The best thing you can do as a third base coach is not see you guys, and I don’t think he talked you a whole lot.”
(Did you know there were going to be night’s like this one) “I think if there’s not a night like this there’s something wrong. I don’t think you’re going to be 100 percent every time. If someone is perfect every night they will have a job forever. It’s one of those things where you make a big decision, things don’t go your way and you’re accountable for that decision. That’s why I’m standing here, I’m accountable for getting him thrown out.
(Why you sent him) “I thought he was going to score, it just didn’t turn out our way. Statistically, with nobody out, sometimes you want to hold him. I just thought it was a good opportunity to score a run right there.”
|04.16.10 at 11:24 pm ET|
On a frigid night at Fenway Park, the Red Sox and Rays engaged in a compelling pitcher’s duel. Yet while Rays starter Wade Davis (5IP, 2H, 1R) and Sox counterpart Josh Beckett (7IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER) were both dominant, neither factored in the decision on a night when offense was in short supply.
Nor, for that matter, did anyone else. With the game tied, 1-1, entering the bottom of the ninth inning, home plate ump and crew chief Brian Gorman called out the tarps with the rains intensifying. Amidst miserable, rainy and cold conditions, the game was not resumed. Instead, the two sides will resume the contest on Saturday evening at 7:10 p.m., prior to the start of the scheduled 7:10 p.m. game between the two teams.
The Sox are scheduled to send David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and Jeremy Hermida to the plate for the inning. Jonathan Papelbon is in the game for the Sox, while Lance Cormier was announced as having entered the game in the bottom of the ninth for the Rays, just before the tarps were spread on the field.
Ortiz is 1-for-7 in his career against Cormier, while Beltre is 1-for-4 and Hermida is 1-for-5. The Sox will have bench options available in Mike Lowell (3-for-10, 2 double), Victor Martinez (3-for-9) and potentially Mike Cameron (1-for-1) against the Rays right-hander, assuming that he is indeed asked to pitch when the game resumes.
The game likely could have ended on Friday night but for the first visible lapse in judgment by new Red Sox third base coach Tim Bogar.
With Kevin Youkilis on first and no outs in the bottom of the sixth, and the game tied, 1-1, David Ortiz rifled a double down the right-field line. But the ball was handled cleanly by Rays right-fielder Ben Zobrist, who cleanly fired the ball back to second baseman Reid Brignac (possessor of a strong arm). Yet Bogar sent Youkilis, who was gunned down handily at the plate on a 9-4-2 relay.
The decision would have been perfectly understandable with two outs, but with none, it was a poor risk. Instead of having runners on second and third with no outs, the Sox had a runner on second with one down.
The threat quickly fizzled, as reliever Grant Balfour settled to get a ground out and strikeout to end the inning. In fact, three Rays relievers (Balfour, Randy Choate and Dan Wheeler) combined to retire the next eight Sox hitters prior to the delay.
What Went Right for the Red Sox
—Josh Beckett was exceptional in his third start of 2010. The right-hander featured a tremendous curveball and an array of fastballs (four-seam, two-seam, cutters) that left the Rays completely unbalanced. Beckett threw seven innings, allowing just one unearned run on four hits and one walk while striking out a season-high eight.
Beckett was on the familiar end of a hard-luck no-decision. Since the start of the 2001 season, there have been 15 occasions on which a Sox starter has gone at least seven innings without allowing an earned run while taking a no-decision. Beckett has three of those, tied with Derek Lowe for the most by a Red Sox in that span.
–With the Sox trailing, 1-0, in the bottom of the fifth, Jason Varitek golfed an 80 mph curveball for a leadoff homer to left against Rays starter Wade Davis. Varitek has now homered three times in his two games this year, marking the first time he’s gone deep in back-to-back games since he homered in three straight contests from Aug. 18-22, 2008.
–Not only did Mike Cameron not require an appendectomy, but he was able to fly back with the Red Sox to Boston on the team charter on Thursday after being diagnosed with a kidney stone. The stone was removed — in terribly painful fashion — on Friday morning, and the Sox were hopeful that their center fielder might be able to return to the lineup as soon as Saturday.
What Went Wrong for the Red Sox
–It started to get ugly for David Ortiz. The Red Sox slugger got booed after striking out in both his first and second plate appearances of the night. In the first, he had a 3-2 fastball down the middle that he fouled back before whiffing on a 95 mph fastball up and out of the zone. In the second, he fouled back a 95 mph fastball down the middle on a 3-1 count, then struck out on a 96 mph fastball on the outside corner.
He did, however, deliver a double down the right-field line against reliever Grant Balfour in the sixth. He now has doubles in each of his last three games.
That gave him greater offensive production than J.D. Drew, whose offensive woes deepened. Batting in the second spot in the order, he was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and walk. Dating to last Saturday, he is 0-for-14 with eight strikeouts (and three walks).
–In fairness to Ortiz and Drew, no one on the Red Sox was hitting. The Sox mustered just three hits, after all.
–The Red Sox defense struggled for the second straight game. Marco Scutaro kicked a two-out Carl Crawford grounder for his second error of the season. After Crawford stole second, Adrian Beltre lost a high chopper off the bat of Zobrist in the lights, kneeing the ball into center field for what was ruled a run-scoring single. On a night when the Sox were struggling for offense, a single unearned run changed the complexion of the game.
Jeremy Hermida likewise whiffed on a Reid Brignac pop-up to left that may have been wind-aided. It was ruled a double.
The net effect of those three plays was not merely to give the Rays an unearned run, but also to force Beckett to throw more pitches than would have been necessary. While Brignac ended up being doubled off of second on a liner, Beckett threw 13 pitches after Scutaro’s two-out misplay, likely resulting in one less inning of work for him.
–The Rays, as expected, ran wild on the Sox. Tampa Bay stole four bases in as many attempts, giving Sox opponents 16 steals in 17 tries this year. Had Crawford not stolen second after Scutaro’s two-out error in the third, he wouldn’t have been in position to score of Beltre’s muff on the next play.
The Rays have now been successful on 35 of their last 39 stolen base attempts against Boston, dating to the start of last year. The game reinforced the notion that the Sox’ defense behind the plate is a growing according to NESN analyst and Hall of Famer Peter Gammons during his Friday visit to the Big Show (transcript), is a growing concern.
“This is an issue,” said Gammons. “I don’t know if, unless [bullpen and catching instructor] Gary Tuck comes up with some miracle way of getting Victor more consistent, I don’t know if they can do this and have so many stolen bases against them. Which may require going out and finding another catcher or bringing up [Mark] Wagner or whatever they want to do.”
|04.16.10 at 7:27 pm ET|
Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Peter Gammons made his weekly appearance on the Big Show on Friday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. With the lineup coming out for tonight’s game against Tampa Bay featuring Jason Varitek at catcher, Gammons said that he thinks the Sox captain will regularly be behind the plate when Josh Beckett is on the mound.
“Josh is very comfortable with him and Victor Martinez is going to catch Wakefield,” Gammons said. “So I think it works. I really do believe, and I agree with Jason, that this is a role he can do for awhile. He is more relaxed and you are getting more production from him.”
Staying on the topic of the catching situation, Gammons also talked about the concerns with Victor Martinez’ play in the field. Gammons said that his problems behind the plate in Cleveland led to the Indians stop playing him at catcher, and that his difficulties controlling the running game (opponents are now 12-for-13 on attempted steals against the Sox) might have a negative impact on the pitching staff.
“I think it impacts the pitching staff. You have guys thinking about, ‘Uh oh, I better be quicker about getting to the plate.’ … Unless [Red Sox bullpen coach] Gary Tuck comes up with some miracle, I don’t know if they can do this.”
Gammons gave an update on the injury situations of Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury. With the Sox becoming woefully thin in the outfield, Gammons said that the team believes Cameron will be ready to play tomorrow.
As for Ellsbury, that issue is more foggy. “There are a lot of questions,” Gammons said. “It is more like a pull because [of] the way the rib separated when Adrian Beltre crashed into him. They don’t want to put him on the DL and then find out in three days he can play. So they sort of put the whole Josh Reddick thing on the backburner.”
Gammons did say that there should be a decision in the next few days as to whether the Sox will call up Reddick and put Ellsbury on the DL.
Bullpen troubles have also plagued the Sox early in the season, and Gammons said that he believes the team might be overworking Daniel Bard. The big issue for the Sox is that there does not seem to be much help on the horizon in the minor leagues in terms of middle relief.
“What worries me about the Red Sox is that I don’t see a Daniel Bard coming up from Pawtucket,” he said. “Their relievers in Pawtucket are probably not going to be guys that you are going to be using in the 7th or 8th inning in July. They might have to go outside the organization to get someone.”
A full transcript of the interview is below. To listen, click here.
Interesting to look at the starting lineup tonight. Pedroia third, Drew second and Jason Varitek is catching. Is it safe to say with him in the lineup that that might be the battery from here on out?
Yeah, I think so. Josh is very comfortable with him and Victor Martinez is going to catch Wakefield. So I think it works. I really do believe, and I agree with Jason, that this is a role he can do for awhile. He is more relaxed and you are getting more production from him playing a lot less frequently because he is such an intense player. I think that part of the catching situation will work out pretty well.
What does worry me is Victor Martinez behind the plate, and the way he is throwing the ball. He has had this problem in the past, but what about this weekend against a team that likes to run to begin with and may be looking at the video from the last few games and saying, “Let’s go out and have a field day here, boys.”
Well, there is no question that becomes a major element. They were 31 out of 35 running on Boston last year in 18 games. I think it is going to be a track meet this time around. Lou knows. [Martinez] had problems throwing in Cleveland, that is why he stopped catching. This is an issue. To me there are three issues on this team: obviously the Ortiz issue is a major one that is related a little bit to the Martinez issue, and then middle relief. I don’t know if, unless Gary Tuck comes up with some miracle way of getting Victor more consistent, I don’t know if they can do this and have so many stolen bases against them. Which may require going out and finding another catcher or bringing up [Mark] Wagner or whatever they want to do.
With this whole run prevention thing, you are going to be victimized an awful lot if you are putting guys on first base and they are automatically getting to second.
Oh, absolutely. And I think it impacts the pitching staff. You have guys thinking about, ‘Uh oh, I better be quicker about getting to the plate’ or I better do this or that. If you start worrying about the base runner and not the hitter I think that you end up diminishing yourself by 10 or 20 percent. I think it is something they will monitor very closely. I think it will be an interesting month as they watch Ortiz, as they watch Martinez and as they decide what to do with the pitching staff as Daisuke [Matsuzaka] is going to be, what, one more start in the minors and then see who heads to the bullpen and who do they keep in middle relief.
Well, I look at it two ways. I know exactly what you are saying. In the long run, you’d like to think that Buchholz is going to be the best of the three. But in the short time, with the problems they have in relief, would Buchholz be okay with them saying, ‘Okay Clay, go out there and concentrate on throwing your two-seamer down in the strike zone and just concentrate on throwing pitches’? As Daniel Bard likes to say, dumb-down and go from hitter to hitter. Maybe he would be better off in the long run if he goes out there and throws strikes and keeps the ball down. I think there is a chance that would really work with him. And then come June or July he is back in the rotation and ends up fine.
There are injury concerns with Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury.
They think Cameron will play tomorrow.
What about Ellsbury?
There are a lot of questions. It is more like a pull because [of] the way the rib separated when Adrian Beltre crashed into him. They don’t want to put him on the DL and then find out in three days he can play. So they sort of put the whole Josh Reddick thing off for a couple of days until they determine what Ellsbury’s situation is because they can backdate his time on the DL back to when he got hurt. But he was starting to really hit and they don’t want to be caught in a situation when he is able to play for five, six or seven days and he doesn’t. I think they will probably make that decision today or tomorrow on whether to bring Reddick up.
We talk so much about David Ortiz and his slow start. People talk about leash, and this year there are other options out there. How long is this leash?
I think one month. I think what has been discouraging for everybody is he has been getting in hitter’s counts. He had that one game against the Yankees where he had 2-1, 3-1, 3-1 and got fastballs over the plate. He is leaking so much that he is not driving the ball in the air to left center like he did in his prime. The other day against Kansas City, on Sunday, I can’t remember what reliever it was ‘ it was a guy who was completely clueless ‘ he had him 3-0 and he still threw the ball by him.
Tejeda. Right. That is what they worry about with him. Is this that he is embarrassed or has he just lost his reflexes. I think they will give him as much room as they can, but against left-handers you will see Mike Lowell in there. I thought at the time when they got [Jeremy] Hermida it was a fascinating move and I think he is going to end up a guy who is going to be important to them. When they are facing Jake Peavy and [AJ] Burnett, good breaking ball right-handers, I thought all along as the season wore along that he would be playing left field and Ellsbury would be in center, and they would give Mike Cameron the day off. If he hits the way most people in baseball thought he was going to hit when he came up ‘ and he just turned 26 in January ‘ I think he becomes a very important guy.
I agree with you. They gave nothing up to get him and he was a guy who was highly touted a few years ago. But why has this happened to him? He is kind of a guy like J.D. Drew with his personality, not driven enough. Is that it?
If you go and ask Joe Girardi, he will say just the opposite. He came up with Joe, and Joe really likes him. The current group of people … they believe in swinging the bat. That is why they didn’t draft Jason Heyward, because they thought he was not aggressive enough. Well, he is the best young hitter in the sport. So plate discipline is a part of it. I would be very interested to see ‘ I have [not] found anyone to complain that Hermida is too low-key here in Boston. Is he quiet? Yes. But it is one of those things where he just bounces back and says, well, it is not my day. I think he will be a fascinating guy as this season comes along. He came up the same time that Jeff Francoeur did and I remember people all around baseball when Francoeur had that one great month, they said to me, ‘Well, measure them up over their careers and Hermida is going to be a much better player than Francoeur.’ So he has definitely come to the right park and the right situation in the right time in his career. He is 26 so he has plenty of time to go back and restore himself.
Peter, is the bullpen going to be alright and what is wrong with Daniel Bard?
I think Bard just got used so much. He pitched in five of the first six games because Manny [Delcarman] was struggling and [Ramon] Ramirez has really struggled. I am not particularly worried about Bard. He has given some up but I think he is so vital to that team. When he gets that breaking ball going a little bit he will be fine. I think there are serious concerns otherwise. I think the Delcarmen, Ramirez, Schoeneweis group is who they are really concerned about. I don’t think they are worried at all about Bard, especially as he keeps honing that changeup. But the rest of the group, I think there are some serious concerns there.
You look at the three teams ‘ the Red Sox, the Yankees and the Rays ‘ and you could argue that this division, and maybe the postseason spot, is going to be won out of that bullpen.
It could be. The Rays have really struggled in the bullpen as well. I personally thought that the move of Joba Chamberlain back to the bullpen was absolutely the right move. I think Phil Hughes has the better chance to be a good starter, especially with that changeup he is honing now. It is amazing that the Texas Rangers have the best ERA and the best starter’s ERA in baseball right now, so those things do change. Tampa’s starters have been terrific, but their bullpen is a little shaky. Not as shaky as Baltimore’s, but it is a little shaky.
Well, they need Rafael Soriano to have a big year for them.
They do. Dan Wheeler is good, but they need some more guys. They are not going to get [J.P.] Howell back probably until June. I don’t think [Randy] Choate is going to be an answer. So they will probably make some changes there. What worries me about the Red Sox is that I don’t see a Daniel Bard coming up from Pawtucket, where you say, ‘OK, this guy is going to come up and help.’ Their relievers in Pawtucket are probably not going to be guys that you are going to be using in the 7th or 8th inning in July. They might have to go outside the organization to get a guy or two.
That bullpen has really been a concern even before the season started. When you have question marks and you can’t go to these guys in big situations, two things are going to happen. One, you burn out the good arms and then those other guys are not sharp when you need them. This year is not starting off at all like last year.
No, it’s not. That game last Sunday against the Royals, you figure that Delcarmen gets through and goes two innings. You figure they can go to Ramirez and he can finish up an 8-3 lead, but they ended up having to use Bard and [Jonathan] Papelbon at the end of the game. At that point, that was the sixth game. Bard had already appeared in five. I actually texted him after and asked if he had an incentive clause if he made 135 appearances.
If Ortiz doesn’t hit in a month, what happens to Big Papi?
I don’t think they are going to keep him here and sit him on the bench. Every bit of my heart says I hope he bounces back. I think it is going to be a very difficult decision for Tito [Terry Francona] and Theo [Epstein] to decide what to do.
Would they let him go?
If it was bad enough, I think they might have to. It is tough to have David Ortiz and Mike Lowell sitting on the bench because you need 12 pitchers at some point or another and you can’t have a totally inflexible bench. It is one of those things where we are getting ahead of ourselves because there have only been nine games, but at the same time it is one of those things where they are very much aware that this kind of decision is eventually going to have to be made.
Lou mentioned the other day that he might be looking at this differently than a year ago because now he is down to the last year because that option year is looking less and less likely to be exercised. His whole career suddenly changes dramatically. How much do you think that is playing on a guy like David Ortiz this year vs. last year?
I think that is something to think about. I think there are so many things going on in his head, which is why more than nine games is required to decide where he is.
The least of them being Jay-Z, right?
Yeah. Come on Jay-Z, when he is striking out, don’t be picking on him. But that business of ‘ he seems so afraid to get to two strikes, and that used to be his hallmark. Obviously take, take, take until he got something he wanted to hit. And that is a tough thing for hitters. I think I mentioned here last week that was something Travis Hafner and I talked about a lot this spring. He got hurt and he got afraid, and Lou knows from playing with him that he used to be great. He used to sit up there with two strikes fearlessly. And he told me he got so afraid about getting to two strikes when he got hurt that he was swinging at everything. Papi is kind of that way right now. And Hafner got healthy and he has had some great at bats this year. So maybe there is a hope that Papi gets his confidence and his health back and all of a sudden he starts putting the ball in the air to left-center field, which is how he became a great hitter.
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