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Saltalamacchia prepared for ‘fresh start’

08.06.10 at 10:34 am ET
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After being traded from the Texas Rangers organization in a July 31 deadline deal, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was ready to pack up his bags and move towards a fresh start with the Red Sox system with the man who had just given him a new opportunity, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. The GM kept his conversation brief ‘€” there was still time left before the deadline to make additional moves that never transpired ‘€” but two words summarized the call.

‘€œBig plans.’€

Epstein isn’€™t the only one with high expectations for the catcher who was named at one point the best prospect in the Atlanta system and was long considered one of the premier catching prospects in the game. Red Sox fans remember these labels and almost immediately pointed to Saltalamacchia as the catcher of the future before he had even taken a swing for the Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket.

But Saltalamacchia’€™s troubles behind the plate are also well-documented. He’€™s known in some circles as ‘€œthe guy who can’€™t throw back to the pitcher.’€ That’€™s led others to question his value as a catcher at the major-league level.

One thing is for sure. The 25-year-old switch-hitter is willing to do anything and play anywhere if it means getting another taste of the big leagues, where he’€™s played 241 games.

‘€œWhatever they want me to be. They want me to move to another position, I will. They want me to catch, I will. I have to be ready to do whatever they want me to do,’€ Saltalamacchia said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Closing Time: Red Sox 6, Indians 2

08.05.10 at 10:12 pm ET
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The Red Sox earned a spilt of their four-game series with the Indians on Thursday, riding eight strong innings from Daisuke Matsuzaka and a grand slam from Adrian Beltre to a 6-2 victory. The win moves the Sox to within 5.5 games of Tampa Bay for the wild card and six games behind division leader New York, who begin a four-game series with Boston on Friday. Clay Buchholz and Javier Vazquez (career 3-7 vs. Boston) are the scheduled starters for the series opener.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Adrian Beltre continued his brilliant 2010 season, hammering a 1-0 pitch from Indians starter Josh Tomlin over the Monster for his eighth career grand slam. Beltre’s 20th homer of the season (and eighth career grand slam) gave the Red Sox a 4-1 lead. With Kevin Youkilis now gone for the season it is impossible to make a case for anyone (assuming he stays healthy) but Beltre as the team MVP.

– Save for one pitch to Shin-Soo Choo in the top of the first inning (a 3-1 fastball that was blasted by Choo some six rows deep over the center field wall) Daisuke Matsuzaka was in control for his entire start on Thursday. The right-hander pitched 8.0 innings, allowing just the single run on five hits while striking out six. An economical outing — particularly by Matsuzaka standards — as well, throwing 109 pitches (just two walks). Matsuzaka improved to 8-3 on the season, and his 3.96 ERA is the lowest it has been all year (in fact, the last time Matsuzaka finished a start with a seasonal ERA under 4.00 was September 28, 2008).

J.D. Drew — who has just four extra-base hits in the last month — came through in the eighth with a one-out single to score Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz. It was a much-needed hit for Drew, who was in a 3-for-21 slump prior to the eighth-inning at-bat.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

— Before the game Terry Francona announced that Kevin Youkilis would undergo season-ending surgery on Friday to repair a tear in the adductor muscle of his right thumb. Youkilis joins Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek and Mike Cameron on the disabled list for the Red Sox, who have already seen Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, Victor Martinez, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Manny Delcarmen all miss significant time with injuries. Youkilis was having his third consecutive standout season in 2010, ranking in the AL top 1o in walks, OBP, slugging percentage, extra-base hits and total bases.

Jacoby Ellsbury is now hitless in his eight at-bats since returning to the Red Sox lineup, posing an 0-for-3 in the leadoff spot Thursday.

— With a 6-1 lead in the ninth, Hideki Okajima could only record a single out, walking leadoff batter Matt LaPorta and giving up a pair of hits. Jonathan Papelbon was forced to come in and close the game out, instead of having the night off and entering the Yankees series with two days of rest.

Pregame Notes: Francona not surprised at Youkilis news

08.05.10 at 7:02 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters prior to Thursday’s series finale with the Indians that Kevin Youkilis will have surgery Friday to repair a torn muscle in his right thumb. The surgery will be performed in Cleveland by Dr. Thomas Graham, who examined Youkilis on Thursday.

“He’ll be immobilized for approximately six weeks, and be evaluated from there,” Francona said of Youkilis. “I think Youk was pretty resolved to the fact that this was probably what was going to happen. It was pretty consistent what they [the doctors] were telling him, so I think he kind of had an idea what was going to happen.”

Francona was asked if there was a chance Youkilis would return this season.

“We’d have to drag it out until about Thanksgiving,” Francona said. “I don’t know how we are going to do that.”

The manager noted that a full recovery is expected and Youkilis should be “ready to go” for spring training.

Francona has Mike Lowell slated to play four of the next five games at first base.

Indians third-base coach Steve Smith received a two-game suspension and fine for his role in Monday’s bench-clearing alteracation, one that saw a heated Francona exchage words with Smith. Francona, though, was not surprised that he wasn’t fined for his part in the incident. Josh Beckett, Mike Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis were all fined.

“I wasn’t expecting one [a fine],” Francona said. “The DL guys, they have to get the fine, which we understand. That was fine. The league does what they need to do and our players did what they needed to do. We’re a team and pay the fine. We knew that would happen. But I didn’t expect to be fined.”

Nothing new on Jason Varitek or Mike Cameron. Francona said with the rain on Thursday afternoon it would be a “limited” day for injured players in pregame workouts.

Carlos Delgado to Red Sox ‘seems a reach, but you never know’

08.05.10 at 7:02 pm ET
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While there is always a chance that Carlos Delgado could sign with the Red Sox — they are searching for a left-handed hitting first baseman and that’s exactly what the 38-year-old is — a source familiar with the situation said Delgado filling the Sox’ void “seems a reach, but you never know.”

The source suggests the Red Sox will first monitor which players pass through trade waivers in the coming days. And while Delgado has drawn interest from the Sox in the past — and is, according to the Boston Herald, ready to participate in a workout for the Red Sox in the coming days — there are concerns regarding the fact he hasn’t played in the big leagues since May 10, 2009, having spent the 15 months recovering from hip surgery. Still, the Sox are keeping in open mind as Delgado’s return seemingly draws near.

Another factor in weighing the potential acquisition of Delgado is exactly how much Mike Lowell is able to play with Kevin Youkilis now out for the season with a thumb injury. Both Red Sox manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein said Thursday that Lowell would start four of the next five games.

One major league source familiar with Delgado’s medical history suggests that because of the uncertainty regarding how much Lowell can play at first Delgado would be a “poor fit” for the Red Sox, noting, “He is worth a dice roll, but not for the Sox.”

According to ESPN.com, the White Sox have had extensive conversations with Delgado’s representatives, hoping he could fill a role as the team’s left-handed designated hitter. Delgado’s agent, David Sloane, was quoted in the report as saying that the first baseman would need a minor-league rehab assignment.

Ortiz on Youkilis: ‘A major hit’

08.05.10 at 6:14 pm ET
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David Ortiz was asked by a reporter on Thursday if he had heard the news about Kevin Youkilis.

“What happened with Youk?” asked the All-Star DH.

When he was told that the first baseman would be undergoing season-ending surgery Friday morning to repair  a tear in the adductor muscle of his right thumb, Ortiz just shook his head.

“Man, it’s a major hit,” Ortiz said. “Things just get worse around here.”

Youkilis joins Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek and Mike Cameron on the disabled list for the Red Sox, who have already seen Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, Victor Martinez, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Manny Delcarmen all miss significant time with injuries.

“Everbody knows that Youk is a guy that plays the game hard,” Ortiz said. “He’s just like Pedroia — when you see those guys coming out of the game, something’s wrong. I remember the way he looked after he hit that ball, his last at-bat, I knew that something was definitely wrong with Youk. He never does that, he plays through pain. Something that everyone’s aware of. Now that I heard the news that he’s not going to play again this year, it’s going from worse to worse.”

Ortiz was asked how much of an impact the injury will have on the team for the rest of the season.

“He’s one of the best players we have, no question about it,” said Ortiz of Youkilis, who ranks among the AL top 10 in walks, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs and extra-base hits. “He’s …. it’s crazy. Not what you want to see.

But you gotta do what you gotta do. You have to take care of that [thumb] and come back healthy next year.”

Ricciardi on The Big Show: Saltamacchia ‘a smart move’

08.05.10 at 5:24 pm ET
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Former Blue Jays general manager and current ESPN baseball analyst J.P. Ricciardi joined The Big Show Thursday to discuss the “art” of the waiver wire and whether or not the Red Sox have a shot to stay in it with Tampa and New York as they finish out the regular season.

Following are highlights. To listen to the full interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

On how the waiver wire works:

It’€™s really simple. Everybody usually gets put on waivers, very few players aren’€™t put on waivers. They put them through and they put them through at different times. You’€™re only allowed to put seven players up on a day, so you can only put seven players up, say, on a Monday, and they have 48 hours to clear. In that 48-hour period, if someone claims them, then you can basically work out a trade with that team, you can pull the player back, or you just flat out allow the team to take the player. Sometimes that’€™s what happens when you’€™ve got a big salary, maybe you want to dump, and someone claims it and you say, ‘I’€™m out from under this salary, you guys got him.’

On using the waiver wire to gauge interest in dealing somebody in the offseason:

Oh, yeah. I think you definitely do. I think really what happened with Adam Dunn when you think about him is the fact that so many times, the White Sox, Tampa, the Yankees showed interest in this player. I think what it shows the agent at least is that in the free agent market, this upcoming season, that at least there’€™s other teams out there that are interested in him and maybe his only option isn’€™t to go back to the Nationals, so it works the same way with the waiver.

It’€™s not that the agents will know, but the team will know that there’€™s enough [teams] that have interest in that guy, and maybe they can go back to them over the winter. Now, that may change, because the team may at the time really need that bat, and want that bat, and that’€™s the time they want to get him, and that may change in the offseason. But there still may be some interest from teams, and then they can say, “Hey, listen, if he’€™s not interested in the trading period, let’€™s call him up in the winter,” and see if they want to deal with him.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Youkilis to undergo season-ending surgery

08.05.10 at 4:29 pm ET
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Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis will have surgery on Friday and will miss the remainder of the season, manager Terry Francona said on Thursday.

Youkilis suffered a torn muscle in his right thumb in Monday night’s game against the Indians. Francona had said on Wednesday that Youkilis would be traveling to the Cleveland Clinic to be examined by Dr. Thomas Graham. That exam suggested that the torn adductor muscle at the base of the thumb required surgical repair.

“He’ll be immobilized for approximately six weeks and then be reevaluated from there,” Francona said. “I think Youkilis was pretty resolved to the fact that this was probably going to happen.”

The Red Six have battled injuries all seasons and have seen key players that included Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Josh Beckett, Jason Varitek, Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron go on the DL, but Youkilis is the first to be shut down for the season.

“It feels like we can’€™t have our feel team on the field,” Sox GM Theo Epstein said on Tuesday, before the need for season-ending surgery had been confirmed. “That’€™s nothing new for this group this year. We just have to continue to find a way to battle through it. We’€™ve been looking forward to getting our full complement of players back to get really hot and get back to where we want to be. … If we are without Youk, we have to find a way.”

The 31-year-old Youkilis was hitting .307 with 19 homers and 62 runs batted on the season. He had a .411 on-base percentage and .564 slugging percentage.

Youkilis was initially placed on the disabled list on Tuesday, prompting Mike Lowell to be activated from the disabled list and inserted into the lineup as a first baseman. It remains to be seen whether the team will make a move for a bat to pair with Lowell at first base for the remainder of the season. GM Theo Epstein said on Tuesday that the Sox would wait to find out the duration of Youkilis’ absence before deciding how to proceed on potential acquisitions.

“We’€™ll see. Right now, we don’€™t know the extent of his injury or the duration of his absence,” said Epstein. “We’€™ll probably get a handle on that first and then see what may be out there.”

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has noted that the team could consider signing free agent Carlos Delgado. Delgado last played in the majors in 2009, playing in 26 games for the Mets with .292/.393/.521 numbers and four homers. But he has been limited by a degenerative hip condition similar to the one that has limited Lowell.

D.J. Bean and Alex Speier contributed to this report.

Read More: carlos delgado, Kevin Youkilis,

Pedro rejects offers to return to baseball

08.05.10 at 2:35 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez said he recently received offers from several teams that were “very tempting,” but the former Red Sox ace has decided to remain retired. Speaking at a promotional event for Gillette in New York, Martinez told The Associated Press he was “really happy” to receive the offers the past two weeks from teams he did not identify. He said he will spend the rest of the year with his kids and go on vacations.

Martinez signed with the Phillies last July and went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts, helping Philadelphia reach the World Series. He threw out the first pitch at Fenway Park for the Red Sox’ home opener this season.

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Nearly a Red Sox, LaPorta’s case a familiar one

08.05.10 at 2:24 pm ET
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The Red Sox have been taking chances on big-time prospects with signability issues for years now, a trend that dates back to the Dan Duquette era and is highlighted by such players as 1998 ninth-round third baseman Mark Teixeira. Sometimes they sign, and, as was the case with Teixeria, sometimes they don’t.

There certainly are more recent examples, with LSU righty and 39th overall pick Anthony Ranaudo getting plenty of attention as the baseball world awaits his decision to either sign with the Sox or head back to school. A Scott Boras client whose top prospect status took a hit in his junior year, Ranaudo apparently has a price that requires meeting and is not afraid to return to college and re-enter the draft like so many Boras clients before him.

One of those clients is current Indians first baseman/outfielder Matt LaPorta, whose case is very similar to that of Ranaudo. A standout player at Florida in 2005 with a .328 average and 26 homers, LaPorta was a year away from draft eligibility (he elected to not sign with the Cubs out of high school) and one of the country’s best prospects. A poor junior season in which he battled injuries (most notably, an oblique) and hit just .259 with 14 homers in 43 games made LaPorta less appetizing in the draft given that his production was down and the fact that he, thanks to Boras, carried a high price tag. Only a few teams were viewed as realistic suitors for LaPorta, and the Red Sox took the power hitter in the 14th round of the 2006 draft.

Despite a summer of negotiations, the Red Sox and Boras failed to agree on a deal. The slugger sought a bonus in the vicinity of $2 million, and while the Sox made offers in line with early-round picks, they did not get close to meeting that asking price.

LaPorta was content to return to Florida in an attempt to repair his stock. The slugger did just that, raising his average to .402 and belting 20 homers in 52 games in his final campaign at Florida.

As he and his camp hoped, he appeared to be worth every penny and was snatched up by the Brewers with the seventh pick in the ’07 draft. He signed quickly with Milwaukee for the $2 million he had sought one year earlier.

The Red Sox, however, didn’t let it happen that easily. The team made a realistic push to convince LaPorta that coming to be Boston would be worth his while.

“Their offers were fair and were strong,” LaPorta said before Wednesday night’s game. “I just felt that I had a lot more to prove by going back to school. I wanted to go back to school, finish up school, and play my senior year.”

LaPorta proved to carry tremendous value for the Brewers, who sent him to Cleveland in 2008 in exchange for CC Sabathia‘s incredible, 130 1/3 innings performance in 17 starts for Milwaukee. The Red Sox, meanwhile, seemingly missed out on a top prospect who could have offered a formidable power-hitting prospect or a chip to increase the odds of pulling off a major trade.

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Read More: anthony ranaudo, draft, Matt LaPorta, Scott Boras

Gammons: Sox made inquiry about Masterson

08.05.10 at 11:32 am ET
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According to a tweet from MLB Network analyst Peter Gammons, the Red Sox contacted the Indians at the trade deadline in an attempt to bring former Sox hurler Justin Masterson back to Boston. Gammons reported that the Indians replied, “No, thanks.”

Masterson is just 4-10 this season with a 4.52 ERA, but he beat the Sox Wednesday night for the second time this season, pitching five innings of one-run ball. He compiled a 9-8 record for the Sox in 2008 and ’09 before being traded to the Indians in a 2009 deadline deal with minor leaguers Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price for Victor Martinez.

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