|Red Sox Lineup vs. Rays, 4-8||04.08.09 at 3:42 pm ET|
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
Rocco Baldelli, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Mike Lowell, 3B
Jed Lowrie, SS
Jason Varitek, C
|Rocco Baldelli to start in place of J.D. Drew||04.08.09 at 12:39 pm ET|
Outfielder Rocco Baldelli will start in right field for the Red Sox on Wednesday, replacing J.D. Drew in the lineup against Rays left-hander Scott Kazmir. The news was offered by Red Sox manager Terry Francona on his weekly visit with the Dale & Holley Show. Baldelli has never faced Kazmir (his former teammate with the Rays), but his strong performance against lefties (.292 average, .382 OBP, .500 slugging, .882 OPS in 2008) was a key reason for his acquisition last year. Drew, meanwhile, has struggled against Kazmir, going 1-for-7 with a walk in eight career plate appearances.
If Baldelli takes the fifth spot in the lineup customarily occupied by Drew (a strategy that would permit the Sox to have Drew on the bench as a potential left-handed pinch-hitter between right-handers Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay), the Red Sox lineup against Kazmir might look like this:
Jacoby Ellsbury (14 regular-season plate appearances against Kazmir): .286/.286/.357/.643
Dustin Pedroia (30): .560/.621/.840/1.461
David Ortiz (44): .205/.295/.385/.680
Kevin Youkilis (42): .200/.310/.286/.596
Rocco Baldelli (0): n/a
J.D. Drew (8): .143/.250/.429/.679
Jason Bay (11): .333/.455/.778/1.233
Mike Lowell (39): .265/.359/.647/1.006
Jed Lowrie (5): .000/.600/.000/.600
Jason Varitek (39): .214/.410/.357/.767
|Jason Varitek: the postscript||04.08.09 at 1:29 am ET|
In today’s story about Jason Varitek’s attempt to recover from a very below-average offensive season in 2008, the Sox captain is described as having produced one of just 25 seasons in the last 50 years in which the player a) was 36 or older; b) produced an OPS+ of 73 or worse, meaning that his OPS was just 73 percent of that (or lower) than the average major-league player; and c) had at least 400 plate appearances.
Here is the complete list of the company in which Varitek landed as a result of his dismal 2008 season at the plate. The company is actually rather illustrious, featuring a bunch of once-great players on the down slope of their careers.
|Beckett was ‘that good’||04.07.09 at 8:55 pm ET|
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon wasn’t sharing any trade secrets when he made his post-game observations of Josh Beckett on Tuesday.
“When you face a guy like Beckett throwing as he is right now, you really have to consider all of that,” Maddon said. “Our guys were prepared. They were working good at-bats. Everybody’s ready to play that game. Their pitcher was really good today and sometimes you just have to admit to that. He was that good.”
Beckett, indeed, was in 2007 form when he went seven innings, allowing just one run and two hits, walking three and fanning 10 in Boston’s 5-3 over Tampa Bay in the opener at Fenway.
Beckett came out strong in the first two innings, retiring the side in order, striking out three. He got an extra boost when Dustin Pedroia went deep to the Monster seats in the first.
“It was good,” an understated Beckett said, pointing to Pedroia’s homer. “It was big. Petey got me on the board in the first inning. I had a lot of adrenaline. If anything, it let me calm down a little bit with the home run. You go out there and don’t really feel like you have to be that perfect in the second. It was good.”
“It was nice to get on the board,” added Sox skipper Terry Francona. “The way Beckett was throwing, he was phenomenal. That fastball that he was throwing front door to the lefties, it was coming back. He had the breaking ball. Except for the third inning when he lost his breaking ball, and they were able to sit on a couple of fastballs. He was good all day.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Jason Varitek’s triumphant start to 2009||04.07.09 at 3:26 pm ET|
It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that the question mark hovering over Jason Varitek’s 2009 season is one of the largest of any Red Sox player. So for those who look for omens, it is worth noting that on a rained-out Opening Day, the Sox captain achieved a signficant triumph.
With North Carolina’s victory over Michigan State, Varitek clinched victory in the team’s March Madness pool. (He had both teams in the finals.) According to clubhouse sources, John Smoltz – who also had UNC over Michigan State – finished second, but Varitek was believed to have enjoyed a significant margin of victory. Read the rest of this entry »
|Burrell optimistic about Ortiz||04.07.09 at 2:57 pm ET|
Tampa Bay outfielder Pat Burrell has walked in David Ortiz’s shoes.
In 2004 Burrell suffered through almost an identical injury — a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist — as Ortiz suffered through last season. He was so familiar with the ailment that the outfielder called his former manager in Philadelphia, Red Sox skipper Terry Francona, to relay his thoughts on how to approach setback.
Burrell was adamant that the way to go for Ortiz was not to undergo surgery, which was the course taken by the Red Sox DH. The strategy had paid off for Burrell, who went on to hit six home run in Sept. after missing almost all of August. Ortiz also rebounded nicely from his mid-season absence, hitting six homers in the regular season’s final month.
But, according to Burrell, it is the offseason after the surgery that the true dividends could be found.
“That’s the whole thing,” Burrell said, “you don’t have to think about it, and once you get to that point where you don’t have to think about it you’re in a good place. I would imagine after the offseason, after the layoff, that was the case. It was for me.”
|Opening Day, Part 2: WEEI.com Virtual Pressbox||04.07.09 at 10:49 am ET|
Join WEEI.com in the virtual pressbox during Opening Day this afternoon. You’ve been waiting all offseason to talk about baseball – today’s game between the Red Sox and Rays marks your chance to do so with a host of insiders, including Curt Schilling, Lou Merloni, Rob Bradford, Alex Speier and Mike Petraglia. First pitch is at 4:06 p.m. – don’t miss it!
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