|05.28.10 at 5:29 pm ET|
—Red Sox manager Terry Francona announced that the team had placed Jacoby Ellsbury on the 15-day disabled list in his pregame press conference Friday afternoon. Reliever Scott Atchison was called up to replace Ellsbury on the 25-man roster.
According to Francona, Ellsbury met with a thoracic specialist earlier in the day to discuss the rib injury that has plagued him since an April 11 collision with Adrian Beltre, and the developments from that meeting led to Ellsbury’s placement on the DL. He has played three games since his return to the lineup on May 22 but has not seen action since Monday.
The manager, however, was quick to say that Ellsbury’s trip to the DL may not be solely due to his ribs.
‘When he swings or when he does some things, even when he breathes, he’s got some sharp pain there,’ Francona said. ‘He was hit pretty hard. There’s a lot of trauma, not just to the ribs but to the soft tissue and all through his back. He’s feeling some pain so we’ve got to deal with it.’
There appears to be no immediate timetable for Ellsbury’s return to his spot in centerfield, but Francona hopes he won’t have to wait too long.
‘I think the best we can say is we hope it’s quick, but [we] don’t know,’ Francona said.
He added that Ellsbury is ‘probably healing faster than a normal person, but the normal person doesn’t try to play centerfield and lead off.’
With Atchison now up, the Sox have seven men in the bullpen, with six of those being right-handed relievers. Atchison last pitched in a Red Sox uniform on April 26 and had 6.10 ERA over seven appearances during his stay in the Boston bullpen.
–Francona also discussed the return of Victor Martinez to the starting lineup after he hurt a toe Monday. With Tim Wakefield taking the hill Friday night, Martinez’s return came at a perfect time for Francona.
‘Victor said he was OK to go today. We’ll certainly keep an eye on him, but with Wake pitching, it’s a convenient time for him to be available.’
–Also on the injury comeback trail is Josh Beckett, who went on the DL with a lower-back strain last Thursday. Beckett threw a side session with Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell overlooking and did well according to his manager.
‘He ended throwing 22, 25 pitches,’ Francona said. ‘Where that leads, we hope it’s good. If there’s any hesitancy, we’re going to be cautious with him. I think we need to be. I think the good news is he was able to throw a side. That’s good. But we don’t want this to turn into something it shouldn’t so we’re going to keep a close eye on him.’
However, Francona was hesitant to give a specific time when Beckett would throw another side session, saying that the team needed to continue to observe the ace before making any further decisions.
–Continuing on the injury theme, Francona discussed the ‘lower-body problems’ that Daisuke Matsuzaka mentioned to the press after his four-run performance over 4 2/3 innings Thursday night. Farrell had mentioned earlier on the Dale & Holley show that Matsuzaka’s comments were the first time he had heard anything of an injury, and Francona echoed that remark in his press conference.
‘I have lower body problems,” Francona said. “I don’t know. That was the first I had heard of that. He had a good bullpen [session today]. He didn’t express that to us.’
|05.28.10 at 5:24 pm ET|
Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was placed back on the disabled list before Friday’s game with the Royals and said he and the team were on the same page about coming back last weekend but doing so worsened his sore ribs.
“Basically, I tried to played with a level of discomfort, knowing I wasn’t 100 percent and doing so worsened my condition,” said Ellsbury, who said he saw a thoracic specialist on Friday who told him that he will need to be at a further level of healing when he returns to action.
[Click here to listen to Ellsbury explain his condition that landed him back on the disabled list Friday.]
“I guess way it looks now I came back too soon. With the way I felt and the way medical staff felt, we felt it was time to go. But we knew I wasn’t fully healed.” Ellsbury said.
The following is the full transcript of Ellsbury’s pre-game meeting with the media:
|05.28.10 at 2:48 pm ET|
After losing the opener of a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals Thursday night and seeing their five-game winning streak disappear in the process, the Boston Red Sox look to get back on a roll against Kyle Davies tonight at Fenway.
Tim Wakefield, who is 1-2 with a 4.44 ERA on the season, will go for the Sox. Wakefield pitched tremendously in his last outing against the National League champion Phillies, going eight strong innings to earn his first victory since last July. Although he has been unhappy with his back-and-forth roll as a middle reliever and starter, he has continued to show how invaluable he is to this organization. With Daisuke Matsuzaka struggling again last night and Josh Beckett on the disabled list, the Sox have been in need of good, solid starting pitching. The 43-year-old knuckleballer has 190 career victories, which is good for third among active pitchers.
The Red Sox, who have won or split the season series against Kansas City in eight of the past nine years, hope to keep the Royals’ league-leading offensive attack grounded.
The Royals counter with Davies, who will try and stop a Red Sox offense that has been fairly dangerous all year. Davies has allowed two earned runs or fewer in three straight outings, and is currently 3-3 with a 4.53 ERA. The 26-year-old righty will look to follow up an impressive outing from Brian Bannister, and take control of an important four game series. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.28.10 at 11:10 am ET|
Oh, how things have changed around Red Sox Nation the last few weeks.
This team was left for dead after struggling out of the gate in April. There was talk on whether the Sox would be buyers or sellers come trade deadline. The blame game went from Theo Epstein to Terry Francona. So who gets the credit now that the Sox have played much better baseball during the month of May?
It amazes me that fans in Boston put themselves through the emotional roller coaster that is a baseball season year in year out. Haven’t we seen this before? A player struggles through the first month. Fans call for his release or benching only to see that player turn things around and finish with a very productive year.
The problem this year was that it wasn’t just one player, it was the team as a whole. There is no question that, as a group, the Red Sox underperformed out of the gate. But just like a proven player who has his early season struggles, you had to believe that they would turn it around.
This winter we all had a lot of fun mocking the phrase “run production.” What did it mean? Was this Theo’s way of telling us that this team was not going to score runs and had to win games 2-1 or 3-2? Or was he saying something that we’ve all known for years, that pitching and defense wins championships? Why did we all get so caught up in Theo using another way of stating the obvious?
The Tampa Bay Rays have gotten off to an historic start. Can anyone tell me why? Pitching, that’s why. The Red Sox went 9-4 through the toughest stretch of the year playing the best teams in baseball. Can anyone tell me why they were so successful? Pitching, that’s why. There was no way that this Sox starting rotation was going to remain at the bottom of the AL in ERA. At the end of April, this staff had an ERA hovering just under 6.00. I guarantee you that by the end of the year, this rotation’s ERA will be below a 4.00. If anything, we should be excited because the best is yet to come.
John Lackey will be better. Josh Beckett will get healthy and be better. Daisuke Matsuzaka may not be as good as he was against Philly, but I don’t think he’ll be as bad as he was last night against the Royals either. Jon Lester will continue to roll because thats what we’ve come to expect from the “ACE” of this staff. Clay Buchholz has finally lived up to the billing, although I am still a little concerned about him getting through his first full season in the big leagues.
It’s just a matter of time before this rotation settles in and becomes exactly what we thought they were at the beginning of the season, the best rotation in baseball.
As for this offense, I think it has been a pleasant surprise. It was the talk of the town this offseason. “This lineup won’t score enough runs to win.” So far this season, the offense has been the least of this club’s concerns.
It was easy to be critical at the beginning of the year. Individuals weren’t playing up to their potential. David Ortiz got off to another bad start. J.D. Drew was struggling. Victor Martinez wasn’t himself. We even got on Adrian Beltre because he wasn’t hitting enough home runs, even though he finished the month of April hitting .338. But just like this team’s starting rotation, we should have realized that in time, all of those players would become the hitters that we think that they are.
So why do we do this to ourselves every year? When are we going to realize that a baseball season is a six-month marathon, not a sprint?
Championships are not won in April. They are won in October. If a career .300 hitter is hitting .250 for the first half of the season, that tells me that he is going to hit close to .350 for the remainder of the year. That’s just the way it is. This Red Sox team has enough guys on this roster that have already proven themselves in this league. It’s just a matter of time. For some players, that time has already come. For others like Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Victor Martinez and Jacoby Ellsbury, the sky’s the limit for the next four months. Sit back and enjoy.
|05.28.10 at 10:54 am ET|
In spring training, the Delcarmen Watch was in full effect. On a near-daily basis, updates and answers would be sought about the Manny Delcarmen‘s velocity and stuff.
Delcarmen’s 2009 season had ended miserably, as his 8.59 ERA from July 28 through the end of the year was the worst in the majors. That performance was attributed in large part by both the pitcher and the Red Sox to the fact that he was fighting elbow soreness that he did not mention to the team’s training staff. His mechanics fell out of whack down the stretch, resulting in his poor performance.
His fastball, a mid- to high-90s offering for most of his major league career, sat in the low-90s at the end of last year. And this spring, it was in the high-80s to low-90s. Though Delcarmen insisted that he was healthy (an assessment with which the Sox agreed, based on the arm strength he was showing in his long-toss sessions), the questions about where his once-explosive stuff had gone were nearly constant.
Delcarmen was bemused.
“I thought it was pretty stupid,” said Delcarmen. “I told everyone, ‘The velocity is going to come back. Give it time.'”
A couple months later, the velocity is indeed back. In one of his best outings of an excellent 2010 season, Delcarmen retired all six batters he faced on Thursday, blitzing through two scoreless innings in just 21 pitches. He struck out two, and featured a 94-95 mph fastball that he complemented with a swing-and-miss changeup (as well as a curveball that he used just once).
He dropped his ERA to 1.88. He is allowing opponents a microscopic .127 batting average, the lowest mark in the American League (min. 50 plate appearances). Though his strikeout numbers are down this year (14, against 12 walks, in 24 innings), he has been as effective now as he was for a roughly two-year stretch from 2007 until late-July of last year, when his 2.65 ERA placed him among the top 10 in the American League during that span.
Delcarmen said that the turning point came late in spring training, when sat down with pitching coach John Farrell to examine video comparing his mechanics in 2007 and 2008 to his delivery this spring.
“It was completely different extension, getting my arm out. Now, I’ll feel it if I short-arm it a little bit. I’m able now to recognize it and get it back to getting it out,” said Delcarmen. “Little by little, the velocity came back and it’s helped all my pitches out. … Right now, [the fastball] is 93, some days 94, 95. But as long as I’m hitting my spots and my ball isn’t flat, I don’t care how hard I’m throwing.”
The right-hander suggests that he feels immensely better now than he did during the final days of 2009. There has been relief and exhilaration in his renewed ability to unleash the baseball without hesitation. He is no longer forced to short-arm the ball because he no longer feels pain when he extends his elbow.
“I feel normal,” said Delcarmen. “I’m not afraid to reach back and let go.”
With the return of his fastball has come a return of both Delcarmen’s effectiveness and the trust that the team places in his ability to navigate the middle innings. He is once again viewed by the club as a stabilizing element on the bridge to closer Jonathan Papelbon, and whereas the team tried to hide him from pivotal late-game situations at the end of last year and beginning of this season, Delcarmen is once again being asked to record key outs when the Sox have a chance to win.
‘He’s in a very good stretch right now. He’s pitching ahead in the count, he’s pitching with a lot of confidence,’ said Farrell. ‘He’s got three pitches he can go to at pretty much any time. Most importantly, he’s throwing his fastball to both sides of the plate. As he does that, he’s gaining confidence each time out and he’s gaining responsibility as well.’
|05.28.10 at 10:00 am ET|
It was not the start to the season that Stolmy Pimentel wanted. The 20-year-old, one of the top pitching prospects in the Red Sox system, is pitching at an advanced level for his age, having been assigned to the High-A Salem Red Sox of the Carolina League. But after consistent excellence in his first three minor league seasons, Pimentel struggled out of the gate in Salem.
He had a 5.02 ERA through his first seven starts of the season, and an unimpressive 20-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His fastball command, one of his strengths en route to a 3.41 ERA in his first three minor league seasons, could benefit from refinement.
But Pimentel’s season has taken a striking turn of late. On May 15, he threw six perfect innings in Salem, striking out four. Then, after allowing three runs in 5.1 innings in his next outing, he fired six no-hit innings on Thursday night, permitting just one walk and striking out six. That no-hit effort gave Pimentel a three-start stretch of games in which he had a 1.56 ERA and 15-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“He’s been very good after a rocky start,” said Sox assistant GM Ben Cherington. “[He’s had] better fastball command, and his velocity ticked up a little bit. He’s been very good.”
Salem manager Kevin Boles was also Pimentel’s manager in Greenville a year ago, when the young right-hander went 10-7 with a 3.82 ERA and 7.9 punchouts per nine innings. Boles suggests that Pimentel has shown tremendous progress this season, particularly amidst his recent run of excellence.
“I think he’s been able to make adjustments from inning to inning. [The six no-hit innings on Friday] night was a perfect example. He was missing his fastball down in the zone. He actually spiked his fastball a few times,” said Boles. “Normally, from what we saw in years prior, last year, he wouldn’t be able to make those adjustments in game. It would usually take until the next outing. Now what he’s doing is, he’s able to make those adjustments from hitter to hitter. The process has been fun to watch. He doesn’t lose his composure. He maintains solid mound presence. He’s starting to get the ability to make adjustments from batter to batter, which is fun to watch.”
Boles cited several other improvements by Pimentel this season. Among them:
- A slight improvement in a changeup that was already established as the pitcher’s out-pitch.
- A more consistent curveball that still rates as Pimentel’s third-best pitch, but that the pitcher is able to better utilize for strikes early in counts, and to use to expand the zone when he is ahead in the count.
- Maintaining his stuff and controlling the running game while working effectively out of the stretch. (It is, however, worth noting that Pimentel is allowing a .207 average to opposing hitters with the bases empty, and a .271 mark with runners on. That said, for obvious reasons, he has done very little pitching with runners on base in two of his last three outings.)
- Heightened confidence and mound presence.
- An improved between-starts routine, as his already strong work ethic has only gotten better.
- Trusting in the game-calling of his catchers, thus maintaining a crisp pace on the mound, something that had been an issue last year when Pimentel would often shake off his signal callers and step off the mound. (Pimentel’s recent outings have featured Ryan Lavarnway behind the plate.)
The right-hander has been working with a 92-94 mph fastball, and his curveball has shown improvement from a year ago, giving him two effective secondary pitches (along with his swing-and-miss changeup) in his recent outings. Overall this year, opponents are hitting just .229 against him (after hitting .290 against him a year ago, in Low-A Greenville) and his groundball rate has ticked up, as he is recording 1.69 groundouts per flyball out (after having a 0.88 ratio in 2009).
Considering that he is the fourth youngest pitcher in the league, there is plenty to be impressed with. Pimentel is now 4-2 with a 3.72 ERA, continuing his steady progression through the Sox’ system. Though he was unheralded at the time he signed with the Sox, receiving just a $25,000 bonus out of the Dominican in the summer of 2006, his steady year-to-year progression, three-pitch mix and terrific pitcher’s frame have established him as one of the top pitching prospects that the Sox have. His recent performances have done nothing to detract from that status.
“He wants to be a major league pitcher,” said Boles. “He wants to be a quality major league pitcher, and I think he wants to be one of the better pitchers to come through our system. He’s driven, takes a lot of pride in what he does, and his focus is the major leagues. It’s fun to work with guys who have his drive.
“He’s been taking it to another level this year. It’s been fun to watch this last month. It’s been pretty interesting to see how he’s developed. Things have happened pretty quickly this year,” Boles added. “The scouting department has done a tremendous job, and this is a great example of it. Seeing him these past couple of years, how he has developed physically and mentally and the fact that he’s still just 20 years old, our scouting department, they have definitely done a great job getting us quality players with tools who have the makeup, too, and want to become major league ballplayers.”
|05.28.10 at 9:25 am ET|
Reliever Scott Atchison, just demoted from Boston, gave up all four Tidewater runs, but Brown sent the fans home happy when he homered off Kam Mickolio.
|05.28.10 at 9:07 am ET|
* — Kansas City’s bullpen retired all nine Red Sox batters it faced Thursday night. It was just the fifth time since 2000 that an opposing ‘pen has faced nine-plus Red Sox at Fenway without allowing a baserunner. What’s more, it was the first time since Sept. 28, 1968 (Lindy McDaniel of the Yankees), that an opposing ‘pen has done that to preserve a one-run Red Sox loss.
* — Daisuke Matsuzaka walked eight of the 24 batters that he faced last night (32 percent). It’s the second time that Matsuzaka has faced 20-plus batters in a start and walked 30 percent or more of them. Only five other Red Sox starters since 1952 have had such a start:
Chris Nabholz – 1994 – 8 walks, 25 batters
Jim Dorsey – 1985 – 8 walks, 24 batters
Tracy Stallard – 1961 – 10 walks, 24 batters
Earl Wilson – 1959 – 9 walks, 20 batters
Ike Delock – 1957 – 7 walks, 22 batters
Wilson’s 1959 start in which he walked 45 percent of batters faced is the highest walk percentage in any major league start since 1952 (minimum 20 batters faced).
* — Thursday night was just the third time since 1984 that a Red Sox starter has walked eight-plus batters (Matsuzaka last night and in 2008 and Beckett in 2006). Matsuzaka joins Doug Davis and Jason Jennings as the only two pitchers since 2000 to have two starts of eight-plus walks. How much has the game changed? Here are the pitchers with the most such starts since 1952:
29 – Nolan Ryan
19 – Bob Turley
12 – Herb Score
10 – Bobby Witt
|05.28.10 at 12:03 am ET|
A few items from the Red Sox clubhouse following the end of Boston’s season-best five-game winning streak:
—Daisuke Matsuzaka suggested that he has been dealing with “lower body soreness” after his eight-inning, one-hit effort against the Phillies. More on that here. He suggested that he is frustrated by the fact that his body “didn’t cooperate.” Yet none of the other key observers on the Sox (Terry Francona, John Farrell or Jason Varitek) suggested that there was a physical cause for Matsuzaka’s eight walks (tied for most in his career).
Varitek, for instance, noted that the pitcher was just as “powerful” on Thursday as he was against the Phillies last Saturday. The catcher spent quite a bit of time after the game talking to Matsuzaka (through translator Masa Hoshino) in the clubhouse.
“Obviously, he was struggling with his command and his release point,” said Varitek. “At different times, he was able to throw through me. At other times, his arm would drag or his arm would be in front. I don’t know what the answer is, but I know he’ll do the work to try to figure it out.”
Nor did Farrell suggest that any physical factors were in play in Matsuzaka’s struggles against a Royals team that entered Thursday with the fewest walks (129) in the American League.
“He seemingly lacked command from start to finish tonight,” said Farrell. “The delivery tonight was very similar to what we’ve seen, yet the ability to repeat and execute some pitches in the strike zone was obviously varied.”
—Jacoby Ellsbury has shown no improvement in the discomfort in his ribs over the past few days. The Sox will have him further examined on Friday morning to try to determine the issue. A return to the D.L. would appear possible, depending on the diagnosis.
Earlier on Thursday, Ellsbury discussed both his “setback” as well as his recent comments about how the Sox’ medical staff has handled his injury.
“I think he wants to play tomorrow, and as long as he can do it, we’re OK with that, especially with Wake pitching,” said Francona. “He’s done a good job of trying to get himself back in there.”
—Josh Beckett is scheduled to throw long-toss on Friday. If that goes well, then the Sox could have him throw his first side session since he went on the disabled list on May 19.
—Manny Delcarmen turned in an outstanding two-inning outing, needing just 21 pitches (16 strikes) to make it through his frame. Opponents are hitting just .127 against him this year.
“He’s in a very good stretch right now. He’s pitching ahead in the count, he’s pitching with a lot of confidence,” said Farrell. “He’s got three pitches he can go to at pretty much any time. Most importantly, he’s throwing his fastball to both sides of the plate. As he does that, he’s gaining confidence each time out and he’s gaining responsibility as well.”
|05.27.10 at 11:47 pm ET|
One outing, he shows the brilliance that attracted scouts from all over the baseball world to Japan five years ago to watch him pitch.
The next outing, those closest to him can’t understand why he can’t throw a strike.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the latter Matsuzaka was the one that showed up Thursday night at Fenway Park against Kansas City and it came with another red flag – another potential ailment to watch.
After walking eight batters and hitting another over 4 2/3 innings against Kansas City on Thursday night, Matsuzaka said he experienced ‘lower body soreness’ since allowing just one hit over eight shutout innings last Saturday in Philadelphia.
“It’s tough to say how much effect there was because it’s really a matter of my personal feel,” Matsuzaka (3-2, 5.77) said through interpreter Masa Hoshino. “So I don’t think I can describe. I think, looking back on it, yes, there was an effect.”
The eight walks by Matsuzaka matched a career high with the Red Sox, equaling eight free passes on May 5, 2008.
“I don’t think that’s the most important issue,” Matsuzaka said of his lower body issue. “It might have looked like I got out of those innings OK but in my mind, I still felt there were still adjustments I needed to make. It’s been a long time since my body didn’t cooperate like this. I had to rely a lot on my upper body. My velocity was there but there was no movement or bite to my pitches, not to mention any command.”
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