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Lackey: Boos ‘won’t be forgotten, for sure’

07.28.10 at 2:42 am ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Red Sox starter John Lackey, after his first outing in Angel Stadium as a visiting player, made no secret of his displeasure in the face of the wave of boos that greeted him at his former home ballpark. Lackey (10-5), who earned the victory on the strength of 7 2/3 innings in which he allowed two runs on seven hits while matching a season-high with 124 pitches, admitted that there were hurt feelings based on his reception by the fans of a franchise for whom he went 102-71 with a 3.81 ERA over eight seasons.

“Definitely heard a lot of [the boos]. … That won’t be forgotten, for sure,” said Lackey. “Nobody wants to get booed like that. Scoreboard talks the loudest.”

Lackey earned the praise of his teammates for his outstanding performance in a setting that was potentially emotionally charged.

“That’€™s what happens man. Good players always go to the top of their game when they are facing their ex-team,” said David Ortiz. “Lackey, man, he was on. It was on.”

With his win, Lackey became the third pitcher in the majors to reach 10 or more victories in each of the last eight seasons, joining CC Sabathia and Derek Lowe. Lackey is the only pitcher to accomplish that feat solely in the American League.

Read More: Angels, john lackey,

Lowell goes deep three times for Pawtucket

07.28.10 at 12:17 am ET
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Red Sox corner infielder Mike Lowell hit three homers and drove in five in a rehab game for Triple-A Pawtucket against Toledo Mud Hens on Tuesday. It was his fourth rehab game. He is now hitting .471 with three doubles and three homers during his rehab stint.

Lowell became the first PawSox hitter with three homers in a game since both Jonathan Van Every and Brandon Moss accomplished the feat in 2008. Lowell also has a three-homer game to his credit in the majors, having accomplished the feat in 2004 with the Marlins.

Lowell, who played third base on Tuesday, could be activated by the Red Sox as soon as this weekend, when the team returns home.

The performance also no doubt will catch the attention of the teams that have been following the 36-year-old’s rehab. The Tigers scouted Lowell in Pawtucket last week, and the Rangers have been monitoring him as a potential fallback option depending on whether they are able to acquire another player prior to the trade deadline.

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Pedroia told to slow down in efforts to push his recovery

07.27.10 at 8:37 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, out since fracturing the navicular bone on his left foot on June 25, visited with Dr. Lewis Yocum on Tuesday. While the 2008 MVP was told that he continues to progress well in his recovery, and remains ahead of schedule, he was also told that he will need to slow down his efforts to push through any discomfort to return to the field.

Pedroia was warned that he must let the injury fully heal before he begins playing. If he does not, then he would risk another, potentially worse break that would threaten the rest of this season and perhaps his future.

“It kind of scared me a little bit,” said Pedroia. “There’€™s nothing really I can do. It’€™s just time it’€™s got to heal. He kind of told me I can’€™t play unless I feel no pain, which isn’€™t good. He did say that when I do my next CT-scan, we’€™ll be able to tell a lot more. Hopefully that’€™s good. … Where I broke it, I didn’€™t realize how serious it was and how long it was going to take.

“I thought I could play, that if I feel hurt, you can just play through it. You really can’€™t do that with this injury. That’€™s hard to deal with. That bone will break off, then they would have to put pins in it. It would be a disaster. It could go into the offseason and then maybe next year,” he added. “I want to get back more than anyone in the world and play, but I don’€™t want to do anything stupid where I can never play again. I’€™ve got to lay out rockets, man.”

Pedroia tried doing some running on Monday, and still felt discomfort at the point of the fracture. Yocum cautioned him that he could not push through that sort of pain, and instead had to avoid activities that led to that sort of discomfort.

After the consulation, Pedroia said that he was unsure what the timetable of his return might be. He is still hoping that he might be able to make it back within the six-week prognosis that he was given (Aug. 6 represents the six-week mark), but he admitted that he was uncertain whether that remains realistic. He will find out more when he undergoes a CT-scan on Friday back in Boston.

“Everything looks great. I’€™m ahead of schedule. It’€™s just my schedule and their schedule were a little different,” said Pedroia. “I don’€™t really know how long it’€™s going to be. They said six weeks at the start, but I have yet to meet somebody who has come back in six weeks from this injury. I’€™m trying as hard as I can to do that.”

Pedroia is hitting .292 with a .370 OBP, .502 slugging mark, .871 OPS and 12 homers in 73 games.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, lewis yocum,

Sources: Sox, Ranaudo have yet to start talks

07.27.10 at 8:08 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox and supplemental first-round draftee Anthony Ranaudo have yet to begin contract negotiations. The right-hander recently concluded a summer pitching for Brewster of the Cape Cod League, having accomplished his goal of demonstrating that he was once again healthy. In 29 2/3 innings for the Whitecaps, he did not allow an earned run while striking out 31, walking eight and allowing just 10 hits.

Ranaudo, who is advised by Scott Boras, entered 2010 regarded as the best college pitcher in the draft, but his stock slipped due to a stress reaction in his right forearm that resulted in both time missed and then a performance setback, as the 6-foot-7 hurler went 5-3 with a 7.32 ERA. That struggle left him available for the Sox with their third overall pick, the 39th in the draft.

After being drafted, Ranaudo went to the Cape and rebounded, showed low- to mid-90s velocity, a strong breaking ball and a changeup. A report in the Cape Cod Times this summer suggested that if he did not receive a bonus commensurate with a top 10 draft pick, the 20-year-old would be willing to return to LSU and re-enter the draft in 2011.

Because Ranaudo is certain to seek an above-slot bonus, any deal would be unlikely to be reached until shortly before the Aug. 16 deadline for picks to sign. Boras and his advisees typically do not begin negotiations until close to that deadline.

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Ortiz on The Big Show: ‘We’ll be fine’ toward end of season

07.27.10 at 6:00 pm ET
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Red Sox slugger David Ortiz joined The Big Show on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his many critics this season and last, what value he has set for himself in the league, and how the team will fare once it gets fully healthy.

Said Ortiz: “People don’t understand sometimes that it hurts, when you do nothing but work your butt off every day trying to get a team to win, and people already want to watch you retire.”

Following is a transcript of the interview. To hear the full interview visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

Why did you have difficulty last season getting on track?

I guess sometimes it’s just how things are going to be. Sometimes it’s part of the game, sometimes it’s that you have to figure things out. The one thing I really worried about is finishing good. Of course, everybody wants to start good and finish good. Some people start on fire and the next thing you know you never heard of them. Some people start slow, and then at the end of the season their name is the only thing you heard about. Everybody is different. The one thing I always say that kind of picks me up was when people give up on you in the first month of the season.

Do you have look at the next two years and approach the game differently?

I don’t know. Sometimes it’s hard for me during the season to pull myself together for a whole bunch of different reasons. I just keep on working, and get where I need to be.

Does it help to not worry about everything going on around you?

You know, what people don’t realize is that [Ortiz] sees at least six pitches per at-bat. The pitchers, they try to get me to hit their pitches, before they even try and give me something to hit because they know what can happen. I need to figure things out on my own. It’s not like I can send somebody else to hit for me, or having someone tell me what to hit; it doesn’t work like that. I have to figure things out, see what the pitchers going to work me with, and then I have to move on and try to do my thing. You put work into it, and then at the end of the season you see the results, you see what happens. Everybody keeps talking to me about my first two months last year in April this year. But in April this year, what was closer was the last four months of last year. What was the point? The point was they doubt and they doubt. “OK, if he starts slow like last year what is going to happen?” You know, and then your putting pressure on me, your putting pressure on my manager, your putting pressure on everyone. It’s pressure coming from all over the place, and I think the best thing about the whole situation is, let me play. Let me play, let me do my thing, whatever happens, happens.

I think people were supportive of you on the whole.

I never said the fans turned their back on me. The fans, they are my No. 1 supporter since Day 1. But you earn that, remember that. It’s not something like, “Oh, David Ortiz is coming from Japan because he got paid tons of money.” He earned the fact that the fans are going to be supportive to him no matter what. David Ortiz got here, he did what he was supposed to do, and that’s how you earn things from the fans. Don’t take me wrong, the fans have always been supportive. Now, everything starts with reporters. The reporters have been the problem here in Boston. That’s why you see players say they don’t want to come play here, it’s because of the fact they had to deal with reporters. They have to deal with this one guy, just because you had a bad week, is throwing you down. And putting in people’s minds that you can’t play any more, you’re over with, you’re this, you’re that. I heard that every day. I’m not a guy that likes to put attention to any of that. But, it was in the news every day. ‘€¦ I work hard every day to do my thing, and that’s when you’re going to get good results. I’m not a guy, just because someone is saying negative stuff, I’m just going to shut it down. That isn’t me. I work, I fight back my whole life being tough.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox bullpen in a state of flux

07.27.10 at 2:26 pm ET
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Clearly, the Red Sox bullpen is in a state of flux.

The team has been exploring the trade market, trying to see if there is a midsummer cure to its middle relief crisis. Thus far, however, signs are not promising that the Sox will match up with the Blue Jays on a deal that might net the most attractive reliever known to be on the market, Scott Downs.

At the same time, the Sox have explored the possibility of dealing some of their current relievers. The Sox have talked with the Mets about the possibility of shipping Ramon Ramirez to Queens, although that, too, appears unlikely to take place, though it is noteworthy that other clubs are viewing a pitcher like Ramirez as a change-of-scenery candidate whose stuff represents a kind of lottery ticket, capable of becoming an impact arm in a new environment.

The Sox are also engaged in a period of internal experimentation. Michael Bowden ‘€“ currently in Triple-A Pawtucket ‘€“ is being groomed to work out of the bullpen down the stretch this year. In the interim, the roles of the team’€™s current middle relievers appear to be in a state of change. In Monday’€™s 6-3 Red Sox victory over the Angels, the Sox needed just six outs of relief after Clay Buchholz delivered seven innings of one-run ball. Daniel Bard, the most reliable Sox reliever, was unavailable after having thrown in five of the previous seven days.

‘€œAs much as we like Bard, our goal is not to have him leading the league in appearances and innings,’€ manager Terry Francona said later. ‘€œSome nights you’€™ve got to win without him.’€

Monday was such a night. Yet instead of turning to longtime mainstays Hideki Okajima or Manny Delcarmen or even Ramirez to start the eighth inning, the Sox went instead to Scott Atchison, whose recent strong performance (9 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run prior to last night) at a time when the aforementioned non-Bard middle relievers have struggled has resulted in a role of growing importance.

Turning to Atchison for the eighth inning may have represented an effort to see whether another member of the bullpen might be able to step up in support of Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, given the significant struggles of both Okajima and Delcarmen. On Monday, the experiment did not work as hoped.

Atchison surrendered a two-run homer to Hideki Matsui, necessitating the entry of Papelbon into the game with two outs in the eighth. Though Papelbon delivered a four-out save ‘€“ his first save of more than three outs since last September ‘€“ the Sox were less than thrilled that his services were needed for that duration, particularly given an lengthy top of the ninth that required the closer to stretch and struggle to stay loose in the dugout.

‘€œI’€™d rather [the save] have been three [outs],’€ mused Francona. ‘€œAs soon as the tying run came to the plate, Pap knew he was in the game. Three is a lot better. That’€™s a long inning in between, a lot of waiting, but sometimes you’€™ve got to do it.’€

Increasingly, as was the case on Monday, the Sox’€™ management of the bullpen appears to be driven by necessity, rather than choice. That, of course, is an uncomfortable position for a club. That has made the team’s interest in aggressively exploring the market for relievers natural.

It has become, at least in passing, a topic of conversation among players whether the Sox might make a move for a reliever. Asked whether the team needs to make such a move, Bard answered cautiously.

‘€œIt’€™s not my decision to make. We’€™ve got a good group of arms that when we’€™re playing up to our full ability, we’€™ve got a really good bullpen. It’€™s a matter of finding some more consistency,’€ said Bard. ‘€œWhether or not we have the personnel there to do it is not up to me. I think we have some talented guys who have proven themselves for a long time. If we can get back as a whole like we’€™re all capable of, I think we’€™re a really good bullpen. I guess we’€™ll see in the next few days if they feel like we need some more arms out there.’€

The answer is almost certainly that the front office does feel like the team needs more — or perhaps different — arms. The bullpen’s 15 blown saves are tied for the most in the American League, the group’s 4.47 ERA ranks 11th and the 43 homers allowed are easily the most in the AL. So, the desire for change — internal, external or both — is apparent. The next few days will reveal the cost that the team is willing to pay in order to change the group’s composition.

Read More: Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Jonathan Papelbon, manny delcarmen

Red Sox vs. Angels matchups, 7/27

07.27.10 at 12:15 pm ET
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Even though David Ortiz hit two home runs and the Red Sox lineup roughed up new Angels starter Dan Haren (literally, for Kevin Youkilis), Boston’€™s 6-3 victory over the Halos wasn’€™t enough to cut into the division deficit at the end of the night. With the Yankees beating the Indians, and the Rays’ Matt Garza throwing a no-hitter against the Tigers, the Sox gained no ground in the tough AL East. On Tuesday night, they’€™ll look to take the second game of their three-game series against the Angels and win their first series since before the All-Star break.

John Lackey will get the call for the Sox, and he might be just what the team is looking for. Lackey (9-5, 4.36 ERA) pitched the first eight years of his career with Angels Stadium as his home ballpark, and he’€™s done fairly well there, posting a .605 winning percentage with a 3.72 ERA. The last time Lackey faced the Angels this season, he went seven strong innings, giving up one run on two hits. That performance was strikingly similar to his last outing, in Seattle, where he gave up one unearned run on two hits over eight innings. The Red Sox will be looking to see the same numbers out of Lackey this time around, even though this will be the first time in his career that he’€™ll be coming out of the visitor’€™s side of Angels Stadium.

Facing him will be the Angels’€™ 27-year-old ace, Jered Weaver. After starting out strong ‘€” losing only three games in the first three months of the season ‘€” Weaver (9-6, 3.22 ERA) has hit a rough patch in the month of July. He’€™s lost three of his last four, including his last game, against Texas. Weaver gave up three runs on seven hits, and that ended up being the losing differential as the Angels fell 9-6, giving Cliff Lee his first win with Texas.

In terms of matchups, keep an eye right on the middle of the Red Sox lineup, as Ortiz and Youkilis are a combined 13-for-46 against Weaver with four home runs and 13 RBI. Meanwhile, the only three Angels who have more than one game’€™s worth of at-bats against Lackey are players that the Angels have acquired within the past few years (Torii Hunter, Hideki Matsui and Bobby Abreu). Of those three, Hunter has the best statistics against the native Texan with two doubles, two homers and three RBI. On the flip side, Hunter has nine strikeouts against Lackey.

After Tuesday’€™s game, the Red Sox will play one more game in Anaheim on Wednesday afternoon before returning home to take on the Tigers this weekend.

Red Sox vs. Jered Weaver:

Adrián Beltré (39 career plate appearances against Weaver): .222 BA/.256 OBP/.306 SLG, 3 doubles, 2 RBI, 7 strikeouts

David Ortiz (24): .350/.417/.700, 2 HR, 1 double, 9 RBI, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

Marco Scutaro (23): .227/.261/.318, 2 doubles, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Kevin Youkilis (22): .300/.364/.600, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

J.D. Drew (18): .353/.389/.529, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Eric Patterson (13): .250/.308/.250, 1 RBI, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Jed Lowrie (5): .200/.200/.400, 1 double, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Kevin Cash (2): .500/.500/.500, 1 strikeout

Bill Hall and Darnell McDonald are 0-for-3 against Weaver. Dusty Brown, Mike Cameron, Jeremy Hermida, Gustavo Molina and Ryan Shealy have yet to face the Los Angeles starter.

Angels vs. John Lackey

Torii Hunter (39 career plate appearances against Lackey): .243 BA/.282 OBP/.459 SLG, 2 HR, 2 doubles, 3 RBI, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts

Hideki Matsui (35): .258/.314/.419, 1 HR, 2 double, 7 RBI, 3 walk, 3 strikeouts

Bobby Abreu (31): .185/.267/.333, 1 HR, 1 double, 3 RBI, 2 walk, 7 strikeouts

Maicer Iztruis (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 walk

Mike Napoli (2): .000/.500/.000, 1 strikeout

Brandon Wood (2): .500/.500/2.000, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout

Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick are 0-for-3 against Lackey. Cory Aldridge, Alberto Callaspo, Kevin Frandsen, Jeff Mathis, Paul McAnulty, Juan Rivera, Reggie Willits and Bobby Wilson have yet to face the Boston starter.

Read More: Angels, jered weaver, john lackey, Red Sox

Joe Maddon, meet Dustin Pedroia’s list

07.27.10 at 11:09 am ET
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Joe Maddon’s defensive analysis always seems to make news.

Last offseason the Tampa Bay manager told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier that Adrian Beltre might be the best defender he’s ever witnessed. (Maddon since altered his view after breaking down Beltre’s performance this season.) Now he is going on record as saying that his collection of second basemen are tops when it comes to looking at which team has the best defense at the position.

The combination of Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, and Ben Zobrist has Maddon offering this analysis:

“I’m here to tell you I’ve often said this year that I think Sean is possibly the best second baseman I’ve seen all year in this league, and I’m not going to back off on that, I believe that,” Maddon told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. “Our other guy is right behind him, and if you put Zorilla out there there’s not a whole big dropoff there. ‘€¦ We have had nothing but great second base play this year.”

Maddon continued, explaining why a Gold Glove might not be coming any of the Tampa Bay fielders’ way.

“The Gold Glove to me a lot of times is an offensive award, so with that I can talk all I want about it,” Maddon said. “But I’m telling you, if you think about it, (RobinsonCano plays a good second base in New York and he’s there every day, (Boston’s DustinPedroia‘s good, but on a night-by-night basis, nobody exceeds our play at second base.”

While we understand that certain stats sometimes don’t paint the whole picture when talking about defense, it should be noted that Tampa Bay’s second basemen this season are seventh in the American League in fielding percentage with seven errors. They do, however, have the AL’s best zone rating at the position (.863).

As Pedroia said this offseason on The Laser Show, “I don’t really know how the zone stuff works … I don’t know where these zone ratings come from … As a baseball player we don’t tend to read into zone ratings on how we win ballgames.”

Boxscore breakdown: Welcome back, Vic!

07.27.10 at 9:25 am ET
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Just a couple of quick notes from last night’s win in Anaheim:

———————————————————————————————-

* – David Ortiz homered twice on Monday night, the 37th time that he’s hit multiple home runs in a game. Since 2000, he is tied for 3rd in multi-HR games:

43 – Alex Rodriguez
38 – Vladimir Guerrero
37 – David Ortiz
37 – Albert Pujols

That gives Papi 34 homers in Anaheim this month (including the home run derby).

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

* – The Red Sox scored 6 runs last night. It was just the 2nd time in the last 14 games that they’ve put up 6+ runs. They are still 2nd in the majors as they’ve scored 6+ runs in 43% of their 2010 games (43-100):

48% – New York Yankees
43% – Boston Red Sox
42% – Texas Rangers

They have scored 6+ on the road in 20-50 (40%). That trails several teams including Tampa Bay, who leads the majors at 50%. But it’s better than the Yankees (38%).

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* – Since the all-star break ended, the Red Sox bullpen ERA is … Before I tell you, let me say that I didn’t believe it either until I checked it again … The Red Sox bullpen ERA since the all-star break is 2.91. That’s 4th best in the AL in that span:

1.61 – Cleveland Indians
2.19 – Oakland A’s
2.40 – Texas Rangers
2.91 – Boston Red Sox

Here are the individuals since the break (with IP in parentheses):

Papelbon – 0.00 (6.1)
Bard – 1.59 (5.2)
Atchison – 2.35 (7.2)
Ramirez – 3.86 (4.2)
Okajima – 4.50 (4.0)
Delcarmen – 10.13 (2.2)
Others – 3.38 (8.0)

The Royals pen ERA since the break is 9.56 with a 2.18 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) over 37 innings.

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

* – Clay Buchholz has now allowed multiple baserunners or a HR in the 1st inning in 9 straight starts (dating back to May 24). His first inning OPS allowed in that span is .874, but after the first inning it’s only .527. That’s the 3rd lowest such OPS allowed in the majors in that span (min. 130 batters faced from 2nd inning on):

.504 – Felix Hernandez, SEA
.519 – Cliff Lee, SEA/TEX
.527 – Clay Buchholz, BOS
.532 – Josh Johnson, FLA

Source: Blue Jays, Red Sox not matching up

07.27.10 at 12:01 am ET
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According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the Red Sox and Blue Jays currently aren’t a match in terms of making a deal for reliever Scott Downs. While the source points out the dynamic could change before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, there is “nothing right now.” WEEI.com’s Alex Speier is reporting, however, that the Jays continue to aggressively scout Red Sox Single-A pitcher Roman Mendez.

Speier reported earlier Monday that the Blue Jays have been asking for organizations’ “elite prospects” in return for Downs. When appearing on The Big Show last Friday, Peter Gammons reported that the Jays asked for Sox shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias in exchange for Downs.

As for Mendez, a source has told Speier that the Jays have sent multiple scouts to see a number of the young right-hander’€™s starts. Mendez, who turned 20 on Sunday, was dominant in his U.S. debut in 2009, producing a 1.99 ERA and striking out 47 while walking eight in the Gulf Coast League.

This year, however, he has struggled. He started the year at Single-A Greenville, but that assignment was short-lived after he got off to an 0-2 start with an 11.40 ERA, striking out 18 and walking 10 in 15 innings. He was sent to extended spring training and then reassigned to the Lowell Spinners, for whom he is 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 17 walks in 28 innings.

Mendez, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, features a big arm, occasionally touching the mid-90s with his fastball while still working to develop a secondary arsenal.

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