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Ricciardi on The Big Show: ‘It’s in there’ for Sox to come back

07.29.10 at 6:45 pm ET
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Former Blue Jays manager and current ESPN analyst J.P. Ricciardi joined The Big Show Thursday to talk about what’s going on in the world of baseball the last two days before the trade deadline, whether the Sox can recover in terms of the pennant race and their ratings, who the biggest surprise is in baseball this season, and how the votes should work for Hall of Famers from the steroid era.

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

On Theo Epstein’s thoughts at the trade deadline:

I think he’s definitely been looking at relief pitching, I don’t think there’s any question about that. I think they’ve been in with a lot of good guys. I think the price tag is really high right now, so they’re trying to address their relief pitching, they’re trying to add one more bat which may be in the outfield because their outfield is still banged up. I think they’re just getting everyday players back like [Victor] Martinez, and ultimately their lineup will start to get together a little bit more, but I think they’re going to need one more bat, which I think they’re going to try to get. They might have as much luck on the waiver wire when guys start going through waivers, they’ll get more luck than what teams are asking for right now — straight up trades. So, I think they’re going to address some of that bullpen help.

On general managers feeding rumors to the media:

Well, I don’t know so much if the general manager would be out there doing it. I would say in today’s game, it might be the agent who’s doing it. I think the agent has more contact with writers today than they’ve ever had, I think they are the ones who a lot of the times bring us some interest, and say, “Hey, this team is interested in signing this player,” when there’s absolutely no truth to it. But they’re trying to create a market and drive a market, and I think the one thing in  Boston is the Red Sox and Yankees are always cognizant of what the other is doing. It’s almost like the old Mad magazine “Spy vs. Spy.”

On whether the Yankees are more inclined to look for bullpen help:

I think they’ll try to get some bullpen help. I think they’re going to really try and deliver a knockout punch and try to get an Adam Dunn. I don’t know if it will happen. But I think if they can put that cycle back in their lineup it finishes up their lineup and absolutely it may deliver a knockout punch to the division.

On whether the Sox can stay in the pennant race:

I think they can. They remind me a lot of what the Phillies are doing. The Phillies are really starting to make a push, they’re starting to play their best baseball. I think it’s really incredible what the Red Sox have been able to do this year, to be able to hang in this race, to be that banged up and really hold the fort down while they’re starting to get these guys back. I think their best baseball is still in front of them, being able to pitch, being able to hit, being able to do it all together.

I think they’ll get something in the way of something small, but they’re not going to trade [Jose] Iglesias, they’re not going to trade [Casey] Kelly.  They’re not going to bite on that bullet, but they’re going to get some guys in there that can help them, whether it’s a group of smaller guys. Even if it’s just changing scenery in the bullpen to give them a different look. He’ll do some different things but I think the big pieces are coming back. … They have to have a push, that’s the only way they’re going to get back into it, but I do think it’s in there.

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Read More: J.P. Ricciardi, Theo Epstein,

Source: Padres not pursuing Lowrie

07.29.10 at 6:04 pm ET
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According to a major league source, the Padres ‘€œkicked the tires’€ regarding the availability of Red Sox infielder Jed Lowrie, but San Diego will not pursue him as a solution for their depleted infield. Lowrie has played in six games since returning from the disabled list with mono, hitting .250/.318/.400/.718 with 3 RBI in six games.

Multiple reports suggest that the Padres have acquired Miguel Tejada from the Orioles as a replacement for injured middle infielder David Eckstein.

Read More: Jed Lowrie, Padres,

Sox prospect Iglesias nearing return

07.29.10 at 5:28 pm ET
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Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias, who has been out since May 29 due to an occult fracture of his right index finger, has resumed taking batting practice and could return to games as soon as this weekend. The Sox have yet to decide whether he will return for Double-A Portland — with whom he was enjoying a very strong professional debut, hitting .306 with a .340 OBP, .408 slugging mark and .748 OPS in 40 games — or whether he will break back into games at a lower level.

The Sox initially plan to have Iglesias serve as a designated hitter, and then begin to work him back into playing shortstop, perhaps in about a week. The team is taking a more conservative route with his return to the field because the injury is irritated most by splitting his fingers to throw a baseball. Once the fracture was diagnosed, the Sox initially had hoped that the 20-year-old might be able to return to games in earlier July, but whenever the shortstop increased his level of activity, the injury would swell up and he had to be shut down.

While Iglesias will end up missing roughly two months, the Sox are hopeful that he will be able to make up his lost at-bats in winter leagues.

“It’€™s unfortunate the amount of time he’€™s missed,” said farm director Mike Hazen. “We’€™re going to work hard to make up those at-bats somewhere. He’€™s obviously had a good start to this point in the season. We’€™re hoping he gets a solid month to build on that. And then hopefully we can make up 100-150 at-bats in winter ball.”

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Boxscore breakdown: Scutaro slam solidifies Sox sweep!

07.29.10 at 11:58 am ET
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A few notes slapped together from Wednesday’s happy box score:

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* – The last time that a Red Sox player hit a grand slam on the road that put them ahead in the 7th inning or later was April 26, 2007, when Wily Mo Pena hit one at Baltimore with the Sox trailing 2-1 in the 8th inning off Chris Ray.

It was the 7th such granny in the majors this season.

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* – Boston clubbed 4 home runs yesterday. It was the 8th time this season that they’ve hit 4+ HR in a game, the most such games by a Red Sox team in any FULL SEASON since 2003 when they had 11 such games. They lead the majors in 4+ HR games this year:

8 – Boston Red Sox
7 – Toronto Blue Jays
7 – Arizona Diamondbacks

Want some perspective? The Royals have not had a 4 homer game in 2010 and their last one was 136 games ago. That’s the longest current streak in the majors, followed by… and I never would have guessed this… the Yankees (130) and Angels (117). Actually, the Royals have had only one such game since May, 2007. That’s when they began a 403 game stretch before they hit 4 bombs on August 27, 2009, after which they began their current 136 game streak.

The Angels had not allowed a 4+ HR game in 159 straight games prior to yesterday.

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* – The Sox scored 7 runs on Wednesday and all of them came by way of the homer. It was just the 5th time this season that a team has had such a game (7+ runs, all by HR) and three of those have been by the Red Sox (the others were May 14 and April 24). Detroit and Arizona are the only others this season. It appears that the Red Sox never had such a game in 2008 or 2009.

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* – Marco Scutaro reached base 5 times yesterday. It was the 7th time that a Red Sox player has done it this season and Scutaro became the 5th different Sox player, along with Victor Martinez, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Lowell, and Kevin Youkilis (3 times).

It was the first time that a Red Sox leadoff man had reached base 5+ times in a game since Julio Lugo did it in 2007. Prior to Lugo, Johnny Damon accomplished the feat 8 different times between 2002 and 2005. The Sox are 9-1 in those 10 games.

MLB teams are now 18-0 this season when their leadoff man reaches 5+ times. The Angels have now allowed 3 of those 18.

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* – Boston is one of 10 major league teams to have gotten 6+ total bases in a game from the 9th spot in the batting order this season. The Red Sox have done it 3 times (Patterson, Nava, Hermida) as have the Blue Jays, tied for the most in the league.

Butch Hobson had 9 such games for the Red Sox between 1976 and 1980, the most by any Red Sox player.

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* – Josh Beckett allowed fewer baserunners than he had innings pitched yesterday (i.e. a WHIP under 1.00) for just the 2nd time in 2010. He had 9 such starts last season and 7 each in 2007 and 2008.

Three Red Sox pitchers combined for a WHIP under 1.00 yesterday for the 17th time this season and the Sox are 15-2 in those games. Dating back to mid-2008, the Red Sox are 49-5 when their game WHIP is less than 1.00.

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* – The Red Sox received 8 walks from the Angels yesterday and have now gone just 5-5 in the last 10 games in which they’ve received 8+ free passes (dating to last August). Prior to that, they had gone 38-1 in such games.

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* – Angels pitchers threw a total of 214 pitches yesterday, the most in a nine-inning game against the Red Sox since last September 24, when the Royals needed 229 in a 10-3 Red Sox romp.

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Harvard pitcher dominates in second stint in CCBL

07.29.10 at 6:47 am ET
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Playing baseball for the Harvard Crimson has allowed Max Perlman to understand and appreciate the rich complexities of Boston and its sports-crazed inhabitants.

Representing the Western Division for the second time in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game, the Longwood, Fla., product also understands what playing baseball in this area really means.

“This is awesome,” Perlman explained prior to the game Wednesday night. “This is my first time ever playing a game [at Fenway Park]. I’m real excited to throw off the mound.”

The 6-foot-7 righty suffered through an elbow injury that kept him out of the majority of his sophomore and junior campaigns at Harvard. Although he did make five appearances for the Crimson in 2010, posting a 1-2 record, he had a not-so-pretty 9.60 ERA that had him searching to regain his form.

“I mean, it was just a long rehab process,” he explained. “A lot of work in the gym, it was a long throwing program. Once your arm gets back and healthy, you really just have to get the feel of all your pitches, get the feel of the game back. Being out of it for close to a year, you lose a lot of the feel. So it really helps to just get out there and play.”

He has since made the injury a thing of the past, and is currently dominating some of the best young hitters from across the country. As he certainly knows from experience, the CCBL is a great stage to compete with the best of the best.

“One through nine, everyone [in the Cape Cod league] is such a good player,” he explained. “You have to get up and ready for every game, there’s no weak spots in any lineups. It’s just fun to play with good competition both against you and on the same team.”

So far this season he has made six starts for the Gatemen, going 3-1 with a dominating 1.65 ERA, which is good for sixth in the league. In addition, he is in the top five in strikeouts and innings pitched.

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Read More: Cape Cod Baseball League, Cooper Farriss, Max Perlman,

Ranaudo still mulling decision to turn pro or return to LSU

07.29.10 at 5:42 am ET
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In Wednesday’€™s Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game, the East Division All-Stars certainly could have used the pitching prowess of Anthony Ranaudo in some capacity as they fell to the West 5-0 at Fenway Park.

Alas, Ranaudo, the Red Sox draftee who decided to leave the Brewster Whitecaps of the East Division on July 19 after pitching 29 2/3 innings over five starts without allowing an earned run, was nowhere to be found on the mound, field or dugout, leaving just his absence to be the two-ton elephant in the stadium of the team that had drafted him 39th overall in June’€™s MLB Draft.

Ranaudo’€™s absence in any manner from the Cape League came as a slight surprise given his comments earlier in the season concerning his stay with Brewster.

‘€œI’€™m here to play for the rest of the summer,’€ Ranaudo said on July 2. ‘€œI’€™m here to develop. I’€™m here to get better and move on from there.’€

Ranaudo’€™s manager in Brewster, Tom Myers, however said that he and the rest of his team knew they would eventually lose their ace, especially after his hot start.

‘€œWe knew it was only a matter of time before he would go. He’€™s at a crossroads between going back to LSU or signing a professional contract. It’€™s something he wanted to spend some time at home with his family to discuss and really think it through,’€ said Myers, who added that Ranaudo told him he was ‘€œdisappointed’€ to be leaving the Cape so early. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, Cape Cod Baseball League,

Sources: Red Sox priority remains bullpen help

07.29.10 at 12:10 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. ‘€” According to multiple sources, the Red Sox‘ primary focus heading into Saturday’€™s non-waiver trade deadline remains finding help in the bullpen, although they are continuing to see how the catching and outfielder markets develop. The sources indicate that the likelihood is that if a deal is to be made it will most likely be completed either Friday or Saturday.

One team source characterized a potential deal for bullpen help as “risky business,” in which the top available arms command a high price. Leery of overpaying for a volatile commodity, the Sox are also trying to identify candidates who have, perhaps, underperformed but who possess the stuff and/or track record to think that they could improve with a change of scenery. That said, there is also a feeling across baseball that the demands for higher end relievers could drop as the deadline nears.

Sox CEO Larry Lucchino told WEEI.com following the Red Sox’€™ 7-3 victory over the Angels Wednesday that the Red Sox were approaching the deadline ‘€œaggressively.’€

‘€œI think there’€™s an obligation we have in ownership and the front office to look aggressively to see if there’€™s a way we can make the team better as long as we have a chance in July,’€ said Lucchino. ‘€œAnd I think we absolutely have a chance.’€

Source: Rangers not ruling out Lowell

07.28.10 at 11:37 pm ET
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According to a major league source, the Rangers haven’t ruled out attempting to acquire Red Sox infielder Mike Lowell, although Texas’ interest will most likely depend on how the market unfolds in the days leading into Saturday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

The Rangers have expressed interest in various first base options, such as Florida’s Jorge Cantu, Baltimore’s Ty Wigginton, and Prince Fielder from the Brewers.

Lowell had three more hits while rehabbing with Triple A Pawtucket Wednesday, including his fourth home run in the last two days. The 36-year-old, who could be activated with the Red Sox Friday, is hitting .500 (11-for-22) with four doubles, four homers and 10 RBI in five rehab appearances.

The Tigers’ interest in Lowell diminished with the acquisition of Jhonny Peralta from Cleveland Wednesday. Detroit had been scouting Lowell since the third baseman Brandon Inge suffered a broken hand.

For more Red Sox coverage see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

With Beckett back on track, Red Sox coming up aces

07.28.10 at 11:22 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — The blueprint is taking effect.

The Red Sox rotation was sturdy in the first half of the season, but despite All-Star performances from Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, it rarely achieved top-to-bottom dominant. Certainly, there was nothing along the lines of what has been seen from the rotation over the last few turns, particularly now that Josh Beckett has moved on from a first half that was largely lost to injury and poor performance to resemble a potentially dominant addition.

On Wednesday, in his second outing since returning from the disabled list, Beckett appeared to be in vintage form in his team’s 7-3 victory over the Angels. (Recap.) He turned in seven innings in which he allowed three runs on just five hits while walking one and striking out five. In the process, Beckett (2-1) earned his first victory since April 10, in his team’s fifth game of the year.

And yet, as manager Terry Francona suggested after the game, Beckett was “better than his line indicated and his line was pretty good.” The Sox had a pair of defensive misplays that were responsible for all three of the runs allowed by the Sox’ Opening Day starter. The first two stemmed from a play with two outs in the second inning, and the Sox leading, 2-0. Jeremy Hermida stopped short of making a play on a soft (and catchable) liner to left that resulted in a two-out, run-scoring single, and the Angels went on to plate a second run. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the Angels scored another run after Bill Hall lost an infield pop-up in the sun.

But for those plays, Beckett might have finished his afternoon without allowing a single earned run. Though he ended up being charged with three, the bigger picture was the more relevant one. Beckett was dominant, looking very much like a pitcher who can contribute to his team’s success going forward. The first-half struggles (1-1 record, 7.29 ERA in eight starts) seem increasingly distant. Now, two starts into his return from a two-month stint on the DL, the big right-hander has a 2.84 ERA, and the Sox believe that there is more to come.

“Now we’€™ve got Beckett back in the rotation, it’€™s just going to make us that much better and that much more dominant,” said Hall. “He’€™s a top of the rotation guy. He’€™s going to be key for our second half success.”

Perhaps the best indicator of that notion came in the seventh inning of the outing. Beckett had already thrown 96 pitches, nearly matching the 98 he’d thrown in Seattle last week in his first outing since coming off the disabled list. And yet he had plenty in the tank in the seventh inning, which was arguably his strongest of the game.

At that late stage of the game, he was still featuring a 93-94 mph swing-and-miss fastball (as well as a swing-and-miss cutter). He recorded two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 seventh inning, getting stretched out to 112 pitches.

“I feel like I’m strong. I felt good,” said Beckett. “In fact, I felt better today throwing that many pitches than I did the other day throwing 96 or 98 or whatever I threw.”

“He’€™s kept himself in great shape. I thought he held his stuff pretty well, which is very encouraging,” added Francona. “We want him to build, not come back and pitch and go backwards. It looks like the hard work is paying off.”

That payoff is being felt not just in the person of Beckett, but also in the form of the entire rotation. The re-emergence of Beckett is coming at a time when both John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka have been pitching some of their better games of the year. As such, the Sox rotation appears more formidable than it has at any point this season.

In their last 12 games, Sox starters have a combined 2.91 ERA, with 66 strikeouts and 25 walks in 80 1/3 innings. In seven of those games, a Sox starter has lasted at least seven innings. A Sox starter has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of the last 12 contests.

And lately, Beckett has been a part of that excellence, rather than an exception to the fine work of the rotation. Two starts hardly qualify as a meaningful barometer. Nonetheless, there has been plenty of promise in what Beckett has done in his two healthy outings. If he continues to build on those initial showings, then it is certain that he will not have to wait multiple months for his next victory.

“The most important thing is for the team to win right now. When I look back at my season, there’s not going to be enough wins to really worry about it,” said Beckett. “We’ve still got guys to get back healthy. we’ve got a few of us back now. Hopefully, we can be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, john lackey, Jon Lester

Lucchino: Sox ‘aggressively’ approaching trade market

07.28.10 at 8:06 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, following his team’s three-game sweep over the Angels, suggested that the Sox have positioned themselves to contend over the duration of the season. As such, he suggests that the Sox are approaching the July 31 deadline for non-waiver trades aggressively, looking for opportunities to upgrade over the next three days.

“I think there’€™s an obligation we have in ownership and the front office to look aggressively to see if there’€™s a way we can make the team better as long as we have a chance in July,” said Lucchino. “And I think we absolutely have a chance.”

Lucchino could not say with any certainty whether the Sox would actually be able to make a move, but he made clear the thrust of the team’s efforts. Even though the Sox seemed in some danger of falling out of contention during the 10-game West Coast roadtrip, the team’s 6-4 mark during the stretch left it 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees and 4 1/2 games behind the Rays (pending the results of both clubs on Thursday evening). That margin, Lucchino suggested,  was one that left the Sox inclined to continue the pursuit of reinforcements.

“Look at our track record. Look at all the moves we’€™ve made,” Lucchino said. “I said the other day, there is no such thing as a do-or-die game in July. There is plenty of time for us to qualify for the postseason. We’€™ve got the cavalry on the horizon with injured players, and we’€™re going to make continuing efforts to do something by July 31 if it’€™s practical or possible.

“You don’€™t know this far in advance [whether the team will make a move],” he added. “I’€™m told by [GM Theo Epstein] that it’€™s a harder market climate in which to make a deal, but we always want to do it. When we have a chance, when we’€™re in the hunt, we always want to do it.”

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