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Friday’s Red Sox-Athletics matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Josh Outman

06.03.11 at 8:59 am ET
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After winning 13 of 15 games, the Red Sox have lost four straight. Clay Buchholz will look to stop Boston’s skid Friday night as he takes the mound against the Athletics, who will pitch Josh Outman.

Buchholz (4-3, 3.41) has been churning out quality start after quality start. He has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last six outings, most recently in a 4-3 victory over the Tigers on Sunday. Buchholz pitched six strong innings, allowing three runs on three hits. In his last three starts, Buchholz has a 2.21 ERA and has struck out 14 batters. Opposing hitters have a .251 average against him this season.

One of the best fielding hurlers in baseball, Buchholz leads the American League in putouts as a pitcher (11) and range factor per game as a pitcher (2.18). However, he enters the game battling lower back stiffness and a blister on his right big toe.

Outman (1-0, 2.08) has started just two games this year, recovering from Tommy John surgery that caused him to sit out the entire 2010 season. Outman made his season debut May 23 in Anaheim, going seven innings while allowing one run on five hits. He picked up his lone victory in his second start, against the Orioles. In that appearance, Outman went six innings and allowed three runs on six hits. The left-hander has shown some control issues, walking five batters against Baltimore.

Current A’s hitters have had success against Buchholz, but mostly in limited action. Overall, they hold a .358 batting average (24-for-67) and seven extra-base hits. They only have six RBIs but have drawn 13 walks while striking out only five times. Former Yankee Hideki Matsui has faced Buchholz the most times (20) and is the only Athletic to have faced the Boston starter at least 10 times. Another familiar face in the Oakland dugout is Coco Crisp. Crisp played in Boston from 2006-08. His season got off to an ignominious start when he was arrested in spring training on DUI charges.

Boston batters, on the other hand, have a combined seven plate appearances against Outman and no hits. However, the Red Sox have had success in first appearances against pitchers. On Tuesday, the Red Sox faced the White Sox and Philip Humber, who no Boston starter had hit against before. The Red Sox recorded nine hits and four runs against Humber. They can only hope that they can have similar success against Outman. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Clay Buchholz, Josh Outman,

Why the 2011 draft may represent an opportunity the Sox never have again

06.02.11 at 1:35 am ET
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The Major League Baseball amateur draft always represents a pivotal moment. The early-June process is always treated as a potentially franchise-changing moment, when teams lay the foundation of their future — for better or for worse.

That being the case, the 2011 draft could be particularly important for the Red Sox. The team has four of the first 40 picks in the draft — the first time the franchise has had four picks that high since 1982 — thanks to the departures of free agents Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre.

The Sox got the Tigers’ No. 19 overall pick as well as a sandwich pick (No. 36 overall) when Martinez signed with Detroit. Beltre’s signing, meanwhile, netted the Sox the No. 26 overall pick in the first round that had belonged to the Rangers, along with the No. 40 overall pick in the 2011 draft.

‘€œIt’€™s always a great feeling to have extra picks,’€ Epstein said. ‘€œI think it energizes the scouting staff the whole year because they know going in and seeing players, there’€™s a much better chance you can actually get a guy. They see someone they like, and realize he’€™s going to go before we pick or if we only have one pick before we get to the second round, we’€™re unlikely to get that guy.

‘€œIt energizes the whole staff and when you get in the room and put them all together, it’€™s exciting. You know when you rank the first 40 guys, you know you’€™re getting four of them. That’€™s a nice feeling. We just have to do our job and get them in the right order and see how things break.’€

This could be the last draft where the Sox, or any team, has this many picks. A new compensation system for the departure of free agents could be put in place with the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). That being the case, the Sox know they have to make the most of the opportunity.

“There might be a day we wake up and we’€™re talking fondly about bygone days when we had four of the first 40 picks in the draft and no team will ever have that again,’€ Epstein said. ‘€œWho knows what the next system will be. We have to take advantage of this one.’€

Since the Sox have so many picks, it could permit them to be flexible and take risks on some players. That was the prevailing philosophy of the club in the 2005 draft, when it started making the transition from low-risk college picks from prominent programs to players with less certainty but higher upside. The team took college stars Jacoby Ellsbury, Craig Hansen and Jed Lowrie, while also plucking junior college standout Clay Buchholz and high schooler Michael Bowden when they had five of the first 47 selections.

‘€œYou want to get good players,” Epstein said. “You want to combine upside and probability but when you don’€™t have extra picks, it’€™s sometimes hard to take that extra risk with the very high upside. You can diversify your portfolio a little more when you have more picks and take that chance.”

Epstein is quick to point out that the organization does not want to focus solely on the first four picks, as there is much more to the draft.

‘€œThis year we are spending a lot of time on players 10-40 on the list because we will probably end up getting four of those players,’€ he said. ‘€œAt the same time, you don’€™t want to ignore the rest of the draft just because you are picking so often in the first round. You often make or break your draft later on.’€

According to Sawdaye, who is heading his second draft after replacing Jason McLeod, this year’s draft class is pretty solid, especially with an impressive crop of college pitching.

‘€œIt’€™s a pretty talented class ‘€¦ Nothing historically great, but a good draft,’€ he said. ‘€œYou see most of the depth probably in college pitching ‘€¦ there’€™s a good group of high school pitching. I’€™d say the top five to 10 picks in the draft [will be pitchers], guys that we probably aren’€™t going to get.’€

The importance of the draft is well known to Epstein and he enjoys being involved in the draft process.

‘€œIt’€™s one of my favorite aspects of the job and it is one of the most important things we do as an organization. I am here with [amateur scouting director] Amiel [Sawdaye] and supporting him any way that I can,’€ said Epstein.

‘€œI have seen a lot of the players for the first four picks, so I will give my input over the week to 10 days leading up to the draft,’€ he added. ‘€œI think our process is for everyone to speak their mind, have an opinion about the player and develop a consensus as we rank the players on the board and make sure we stay true to our principals in what we believe in a player.’€

‘€œIt’€™s been probably the biggest factor of this organization from a baseball operations standpoint over the past 10 years. We’€™ve built much of this team through the draft and also used the draft for prospects to trade for other important members of this team,’€ Epstein added.

How a team drafts one year can have a major affect on the organization four or five years down the road.

‘€œIf you have bad drafts two out of three, three out of four years, that is going to be reflected in a downturn of the success overall of the organization four or five years down the line so the work that our scouts are doing now will play an important role in how we feel about the Red Sox four or five years from now,’€ Epstein said. ‘€œIt is really hard, pretty fascinating and really important.”

Read More: 2011 MLB Draft, amiel sawdaye, Theo Epstein,

Sources: No decision yet on Matsuzaka surgery

06.02.11 at 12:14 am ET
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According to multiple industry sources, a final decision has not yet been made by the Red Sox and pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka regarding the next course of treatment for what has been described as a sprained ulnar collateral (Tommy John) ligament and strained common flexor mass of his right elbow. Matsuzaka is scheduled to meet with Sox team officials on Thursday to discuss treatment options.

There have been reports that Matsuzaka has already decided to undergo Tommy John surgery — first from Nikkan Sports, and then from Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports (who declared via twitter that Matsuzaka was “leaning towards” surgery) and Gordon Edes of ESPN.com, who reported that the pitcher has made the decision to have surgery and will inform the club of that choice on Thursday.  If Matsuzaka undergoes the operation, it would prevent him from pitching until at least 2012.

However, one source suggested that no decision has been made at this point about how the injury will be treated. Another source indicated that the decision will be made by Matsuzaka and his family after his meeting with the team to discuss treatment options.

Matsuzaka, 30, is 3-3 with a 5.30 ERA in eight games (seven starts) this year. He experienced tightness in his right elbow in a start against the Mariners on April 29, then after returning to the rotation, suffered a sharp drop in his velocity in a 4 1/3 inning outing against the Orioles on May 16 in which he walked seven. When he was placed on the DL on May 17, the Sox suggested that they were hopeful that Matsuzaka’s injury was manageable through rehab, and that they were relieved to have avoided a more significant injury.

However, Matsuzaka received a second opinion from Dr. Lew Yocum on Tuesday. In the aftermath of it, while no one ruled out the possibility of the right-hander undergoing surgery, Sox manager Terry Francona suggested that there were no immediate plans to operate on the pitcher. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, lew yocum, tommy john,

After 20 games in 20 days, Sox hope to rest, regroup

06.01.11 at 5:58 pm ET
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How to explain it? How does a team go from the hottest team in baseball into a four-game nosedive without warning? The Red Sox have a theory.

On Wednesday, the Sox concluded a stretch of 20 games in as many days with a 7-4 loss to the White Sox, their fourth straight loss and a contest that turned their tremendous 13-2 stretch into a seemingly distant memory. While their level of play during their four defeats — a 3-0 loss to the Tigers on Sunday night in the second half of a day-night doubleheader, and a three-game sweep at the hands of Chicago — was relatively poor, the Red Sox feel as if their struggles could be explained in part by sheer exhaustion.

After a Saturday rainout in Detroit, the Sox were forced to play that doubleheader against the Tigers, then fly back east. They landed in Boston at roughly 4 a.m., and then, at the end of their 20-day run, seemed flat against the White Sox.

“It’€™s a lot of games in a row ‘€“20 games in a row. I think Detroit kind of killed us, for real, as far as that’€™s concerned,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “But we have an off day [Thursday] and we’€™re going to come back strong. … I think everyone is just tired and needed a day to relax.”

After the contest, the Sox were dressing to attend a Kids Kick-Off Celebration/Poker Party being co-hosted by Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield. Then, finally, on Thursday, for the first time in three weeks, the players will have a chance to catch their collective breath away from the ballpark before returning to action on Friday against the A’s.

The rest, the Sox hope, will permit them to return to the form that had vaulted them to the top of the division before they were outscored 24-14 in the home sweep at the hands of the White Sox.

“I think playing the doubleheader on Sunday, getting home at 4 in the morning tired us out. I’€™m not going to make excuses for how we played the last three games, but that could have factored into it,” said Wakefield. “I think a day off [Thursday] is well-needed for us.”

Rich Hill may have dodged a bullet, based on what he told Daniel Bard

06.01.11 at 5:19 pm ET
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The Red Sox are holding hope that lefty reliever Rich Hill escaped serious structural damage to his left forearm and elbow after leaving the game injured during the seventh inning of Wednesday’s 7-4 loss to the White Sox at Fenway Park. Hill was sent for an MRI on his left arm after grabbing his left elbow following a walk to Adam Dunn. Initial physical tests at Fenway indicated the left-hander might have avoided serious structural damage, including a major injury to the ulnar collateral ligament (also known as the Tommy John ligament) in the elbow.

“I think Rich is OK, from what I heard … He passed all the testing for [the ulnar collateral ligament],” said Daniel Bard, the Red Sox reliever who came on immediately after Hill left the game in the seventh. “They think it was just scar tissue that popped. Hopefully, that’s the case and hopefully, he’s OK.”They did all the tests and he said it was no structural damage is all I know. It’s terrible. I don’t want to see it happen to anyone, our team or another team. It’s the pitcher’s worst nightmare. Hopefully, he’ll be OK.”

During the game, the team initially announced a left forearm injury for Hill before sending the pitcher for further tests.

“He felt some obvious discomfort in his forearm,” added Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “Just on his cursory examination, he actually looked OK, which is good. But certainly when somebody comes off the mound like that, we have to get him checked thoroughly, and we will. Hopefully, we’ll know a little more tonight.”

Read More: Adam Dunn, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Daniel Bard

Closing Time: Red Sox get swept away by White Sox

06.01.11 at 4:27 pm ET
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Paul Konerko’s RBI single in the seventh inning put the White Sox in the lead for good as Chicago went on to a 7-4 win over the Red Sox, Wednesday afternoon. It completed the three-game sweep of the hosts, and gave the White Sox seven straight victories over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Konerko added a two-run homer against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning to add insurance runs for the White Sox, cementing Boston’s fourth straight loss.

Here is what went wrong (and right)


– The fifth inning was a rough one for Dustin Pedroia. First, the second baseman dropped a pop up from Gordon Beckham down the right field line (which was ruled a hit), and then second base umpire Marty Foster said that Pedroia failed to tag Juan Pierre after the White Sox baserunner was caught in a rundown. All of it contributed to a two-run frame for Chicago.

– Wakefield allowed his sixth home run of the season, a first-pitch bomb by Brent Lillibridge that sailed well over the ‘€˜Triple A’€™ billboard atop the left field wall. It gave the White Sox a 4-3 lead.

Matt Albers ran into a tough outing, allowing the White Sox to reclaim the lead in the seventh inning thanks to three singles, the last being an RBI hit from Konerko. According to WEEI.com stat man Gary Marbry, opponents were 5-for-26 on grounders coming into the game (.192) after totaling a .248 clip last season.

Rich Hill, who was off to a superb start in a Red Sox uniform, not having allowed a run in any of his previous 14 appearances, grabbed his elbow after a 3-2 pitch to Adam Dunn. Hill was immediately removed from the game. All seven pitches to Dunn were curveballs. The team classified the injury as a left forearm ailment.

– The homer by Konerko came off a 95 fastball from Papelbon, who had allowed just one homer this season coming into what was his 23rd appearance.


Jed Lowrie notched his seventh extra-base hit hitting from the left side (where came in with a .240 batting average), launching a ground-rule double to right field. The hit scored David Ortiz, who had doubled, with the game’€™s first run, in the second inning.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia continued to display a solid stroke from the left side, picking up his 11th and 12th RBIs with a two-run single up the middle in the Sox’€™ three-run second. The catcher came into the game hitting .233 from the left side, and .189 from the right.
Jacoby Ellsbury saved a run with two outs in the sixth inning, making a head-first, diving catch of a sinking liner off the bat of Chicago’€™s Gordon Beckham.

– David Ortiz stayed red-hot, hitting his 13th homer of the season to tie the game up at 4-4. The solo blast, which reached the left field seats, was his second in as many games. The DH now has as many home runs as Albert Pujols since May 1, 2010.

– Wakefield pitched well enough to win, giving up four runs on seven hits over six innings, with a two-run fifth inning by the White Sox serving as the pitcher’€™s really only big hiccup. The 44-year-old’€™s ERA stands at 4.40.

Daniel Bard pitched a perfect 1 2/3 innings, striking out three. He got the Red Sox out of a major jam following Hill’s injury in the seventh, preventing the White Sox from scoring with one out and the bases loaded thanks to a strikeout of Lillibridge and ground out by Omar Vizquel.

Red Sox notes: Terry Francona still has faith that J.D. Drew will heat up

06.01.11 at 2:11 pm ET
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The first two months of 2011 haven’t been the best for J.D. Drew, which is why Red Sox manager Terry Francona decided to give his right fielder the day off on Wednesday.

“He’s just been kind of scuffling a little bit,” Francona said before Wednesday’s matinee.

Josh Reddick started in place of Drew, who entered Wednesday batting just .228 with three homers and 10 RBIs in the final year of his five-year, $70 million contract.

“Maybe Red will give us a little, sometimes day game after a night game you’re looking for some energy, maybe Red will bump into one,” Francona said of Reddick. “He’s been playing pretty well, maybe just will give us a little boost.”

As for Drew, he is just 3-for-19 in his last nine games, giving Francona a reason to sit his starting right fielder.

“I think we keep waiting for that,” Francona said, referring to Drew’s usual mid-season hot streak. “J.D. has kind of a track record of grabbing on to that one month and really kind of almost put us on his back, and certainly you always wait for that, and he hasn’t gotten to that point yet. no he’s taken good swings for sure at times, but he hasn’t strung em together like he’s capable of.”

When the Red Sox do see the Drew they’re accustomed to, he’ll be spraying the ball all over the field. Right now, not so much for the 35-year-old veteran.

“You’ve seen him probably a lot lately taking that cutter, slider away and kind of rolling over to second and first probably more than we’re used to,” Francona said. “He’s trying to, he’s trying to stay back and drive it, he’s just getting out ahead of it and the bat head’s coming with it with his hands he’s getting that weak groundball with a popup.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: bobby jenks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Dustin Pedroia

Live Blog: Red Sox close out series with White Sox at Fenway Park

06.01.11 at 1:34 pm ET
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Red Sox/White Sox Live Blog

David Ortiz on Bruins-Canucks: ‘I hope they kick their ass’

06.01.11 at 12:21 pm ET
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Like many Boston sports fans, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has been closely following the Bruins in their run towards a Stanley Cup. He is hoping for a Bruins victory.

‘€œI hope they are going to kick their ass,” Ortiz said before Wednesday’s game. “They need to win it.’€

‘€œThey’€™ve gone this far, I know Vancouver has a great team but we’€™re cheering for them.’€

The Red Sox have been traveling for a good amount of the postseason, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been keeping up with the team. ‘€œWe’€™re pulling for them, we’€™re watching their games all the time,” he said.

Ortiz has not made it to the TD Garden this postseason, but he wishes he could have. He has developed relationships with a few of the Bruins, including Shawn Thornton and Milan Lucic. Ortiz helped Lucic with his baseball swing before his celebrity softball game last summer.

‘€œI haven’€™t talked to any of the guys, but I am going to send a message to my ‘boy’ Thornton later,’€ he said

Read More: David Ortiz, Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton,

Still no surgery seen for Daisuke Matsuzaka

06.01.11 at 11:44 am ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Wednesday that the team does not expect Daisuke Matsuzaka to undergo surgery after getting a second opinion on his injured right elbow in Japan.

“Diagnostically, everything is kind of the same,” Francona said before Wednesday’s matinee with the White Sox at Fenway Park. “We have to figure how to best go about this. The player or pitcher has to have some opinion, too. But I think you’re always going to go about it non-operatively, first. That just seems like it makes sense to me.”

Matsuzaka is expected back in Boston Wednesday night after getting recent consultation in his homeland of Japan. Matsuzaka is expected to sit down with Red Sox team officials after team doctor Tom Gill and renowned orthopedic specialist Lewis Yocum confer.

“We’re going to meet with him, again we got the day off [Thursday],” Francona said. “I don’t know what our timetable is. Theo and those guys got all those meetings going on. We will certainly meet with him the next couple days. We want to sit down kind of put our heads together, see how he feels, we’ll let Dr. Gill have their talk with Dr. Yocum and then try to plan out how we go about this the next couple weeks.”

Asked if the plan was still to have Matsuzaka rest the arm and not throw, Francona joked that the plan is still the same.

“Well he’s not going to throw on the plane, yeah,” Francona said with a laugh.

The righthander went on the disabled list on May 17 with a strained right elbow after posting a 3-3 record with a 5.30 ERA in eight appearances for the Red Sox this season.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka, japan, MLB
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